While the coronavirus crisis created here and there new business opportunities, most industries suffered significant losses. However, nothing is compared to the devastating storm that hit the travel industry. Israel’s tourism, being a small country, connected to the big world only with air travel, is hit even harder.
With Israelis gradually starting to regain traveling and with hopes that international tourism will slowly start coming back in the coming month, let’s have a look where and how to travel in Israel while staying as safe as possible with regards to the pandemic.
If you are coming from abroad, the first thing is to make sure you are well insured and carefully check the small print of your contract. Prices, cancelation coverage, and reimbursement in case you get infected by the virus outside your home country vary from one company to another!
Staying safe means getting away from crowded areas. With some “out of the box” thinking this can be solved quickly.
It is not necessary to stay in a hotel. In the cities there are plenty of Air B&B’s and in the countryside houses that offer private country lodging called by the locals “Zimmerim”. Many of them are offered only on Hebrew websites, so ask a local to help if you do not speak the language. Another safe alternative is tent camping that can be lots of fun for the kids. If you want the safety of camping and still keep a high comfort level, Glamping (Luxury Camping) can be a fantastic alternative.
Luckily, some of the best food in Israel is street food. You can eat out without sitting in a crowded restaurant. Much loved food such as Hummus, Falafel, Burekas, Sabikh, and Shawarma can be found almost anywhere. Besides safety, easting street-food in Israel has other advantages. It’s cheap, tasty, has many vegan options, and kids love it.
Many of us travel with kids. It’s much harder to expect kids to practice social distancing or to wear a mask when entering crowded places. However, you must be the perfect role model, and with some creativity, they can even have fun from this awkward situation.
Save the obvious top attractions like Jerusalem, Masada, and other crowded sites to a post Coronavirus trip. There are plenty of lesser-known and beautiful places to visit. Here are a few unconventional examples of alternatives to the familiar and obvious choices. Use your imagination and Google a bit. There are always less-crowded alternatives hiding somewhere.
You don’t need to mingle with the crowds in Tel-Aviv beaches or other famous spots like Dor or Palmachim. Go to a beach that has a long strip of sand extending to the north and/or south of it. Park at the beach and walk a few hundred meters. You can easily find your private spot. Some good choices are:
- Park at Gaash Beach and walk north. (beautiful spots under the limestone cliff).
- Park at Caesarea and walk north past the aqueduct towards Jasser a’zarka.
- Park at Betzet Beach and walk south towards Achziv.
The famous archaeological sites like Caesarea and Masada might be too crowded for you. There are plenty of archaeological sites that are less spectacular, but still exciting and much more intimate. A few good examples:
- Shivta – A remote Nabothian town in the Negev Desert.
- Rujum el Hiri – A mysterious, ancient megalithic monument in the Golan Heights. (Nicknamed the Israeli Stonehenge)
- Ancient Yodfat – A second temple period town that was the last stronghold of the Jewish rebels in the Galilee during the Great Revolt.
The Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre might be off your list during Corona times. But you can feel close to the holy land also away from the crowds. Few examples:
- A tour between ancient synagogues in the Galilee. Gush Halav, Arbel, Naburia, and Baraam. (There are 50! ancient synagogues in the Galilee)
- A tour between ancient monasteries in the Judean Desert. Faran, Marsaba, and St. Geroge. (There are 25! ancient Monasteries in the Judean Desert)
- Visit famous biblical spots that are also great view-points. For example, Mount Tabor(Song of Deborah), Muhraka(Prophet Elijah), and Tel Azekah (David and Goliath).