The Dead Sea, the old streets of Jerusalem, the Jordan Desert, the Sea of Galilee, … Israel has many beauties, and famous ones at that. But, as most travelers on Israel tours follow the well known path from historical wonder to natural gem, some of the most beautiful places in the country get a bit forgotten. To remedy that, try and explore the 5 most beautiful landscapes off the beaten path in Israel!
1. Negev Desert
The Judean Desert is magnificent and deserves all its glory, but it’s a shame that the nearby Negev Desert gets forgotten by comparison. Covering the southern point of the country, the Negev Desert offers the typical dust and sand desert experience, but also a beautiful spring cover of flowers. Several trails and jeep roads crisscross the area in order to explore these unique landscapes or rejoin one of the many small Bedouin cities. At the very southern tip of the desert by the Gulf of Aqaba leading to the Red Sea, Eilat is the perfect accommodation for those wanting to enjoy the beach or the pool after a day of desert adventures!
2. Carmel National Park
Mount Carmel National Park is the biggest national park in Israel. If you’re craving some mountain exploration and hiking, this is the place to go in Israel! Many walking and cycling trails wander around this beautiful mountain range. The Hai Bar Nature Reserve inside the main park is a great conservation effort where animals like deers, gazelles, eagles and many others are visible. The nearby city of Haifa is a perfect choice for staying in the area, since it makes everything accessible: the sea, the city, the mountains and the many archeological wonders of this region.
In the Judean Desert, right by the Dead Sea, Masada is an ancient fortress sitting on top of a mount. Although climbing up to Masada, on foot or by cable car, is a short excursion, the view from the top might be the best in the country. From there, you’ll see the desert stretching around you in beautiful shades of oranges, with the Dead Sea bringing some blue colors on the horizon. The fortress is also a very interesting visit, but the point of view is one of those things that burns itself in the mind forever.
The Mediterranean coast of Israel has some beautiful beaches, but it’s often forgotten by tourists intent on visiting the desert and the Dead Sea on the other side of the country. One area in particular stays miraculously empty of tourists despite its incredible beauty: the beaches near the small town of Jisr Az Zarqa, somewhere on the coast between Caesarea and Haifa. There, you’ll have beautiful golden postcard perfect beaches all to yourself, some of the best and sunniest in the world, as well as the opportunity to explore the rugged coastline on foot by following the walking trails around this green bit of coast. The town itself, right by the sea, is also very charming!
5. Lake Hula
As far as lakes go in Israel, the lake Tiberias (also called Sea of Galilee) is often the first choice for tourists, but that might be because many don’t know about Lake Hula. At the foot of the Golan Heights in the north of the country, the Hula Valley is a wetland, the only ecosystem of its kind in Israel.
Although the landscape is already charming on its own, especially the protected Hula Nature Reserve around the lake, the most striking views are happening twice a year, when millions of birds land in the area during migration. If you can go in the fall, you’ll get the experience of a lifetime watching thousands of cranes, pelicans, herons and much more land at sunset and leave at sunrise, their flight sending ripples of light on the waters of lake Hula.
Desert, beach, mountain, sea, lake, … Israel is a small country on the map, but definitely one with an incredible diversity of landscapes! If these off the beaten path landscapes don’t prove it, go see for yourself. But hurry, these kinds of gems don’t stay ignored by tourists for very long!