Situated on the shores of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Israel combines everything from arid plateaus to laid-back beach resorts. As might be expected, the country is also chock full with fascinating sites of historic and religious significance, including mosques, temples and churches.
High summer is generally extremely hot. Most tourists tend to avoid this season, coming instead during spring or autumn when the heat is more tolerable. Of course, that makes summer time a perfect option for the cold-blooded travellers out there looking for a good deal. However, places like the Dead Sea – although definitely worth a visit – should be avoided during the hottest times of year, even for the hardy. From December to March you will likely find better deals on flights.
Ben Gurion Airport, the busiest international airport in Israel, lies about 10 miles south of Tel Aviv. Widely considered one of the best airports in the Middle East, both for amenities and security, it handles 20 million passengers every year. Flights here largely serve the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. However, if you're content waiting for a connecting flight, you can also fly to Ovda Airport in the south of the country.
Air carriers travelling to Israel include:
Getting around in cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem won't pose much of a problem, with buses, trains and sherut (shared taxi vans) all available.
When travelling between Israeli towns and cities, the InterCity bus service is the cheapest and fastest form of transport. While trains are available, these are quite a lot more expensive than bus travel. Additionally, because the rail network is still being developed, train stations are not always situated in very convenient locations.
The two most famous cities in Israel are Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem is one of the world's most ancient cities, having stood here for 4,000 years. A religious focal point for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, here you'll see the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as countless places of worship. Jerusalem is also home to a fantastic selection of museums and annual festivals, and it boasts some excellent hiking nearby.
The most cosmopolitan city in Israel though is undoubtedly Tel Aviv. A modern metropolis, Tel Aviv acts both as the country's business centre and as a popular seaside resort. Packed with sandy beaches, delectable dining and a thriving nightlife, it's quite the contrast to Jerusalem.