5 must-visit historic sites in Israel

05.06.2019

Israel is well known for its incredible history and epic stories of the past. If you’re a history buff then you’ll certainly feel like a kid in a candy store while touring this amazing country

מנו גרינשפן קיסריה (55).jpg Caesarea National Park. Photo Credit: Manu Grinspan

With so many different historical and biblical sites to explore, you’re bound to get a bit dizzy, but no worries – we got your back – rounding up five must-visit sites you just got to put on the top of your list.

Here we go:

Apolonia National Park

Treat yourselves to an epic crusader adventure just 15 min. away from Tel-Aviv!

This gorgeous 13th century fortress site (also known as the ancient city and fortress of Arsuf) offers a rare and exciting look at one of the most ancient crusader castles in the world with stunning views out over the Mediterranean ocean. Also, nearby, you can see the remains of a Roman villa and the well-kept 13th-century Sidni Ali Mosque.

The site also offers you and your family a wonderful day out with many hiking and picnic opportunities. It has both paved routes and dirt ones so it’s fully accessible for everyone. The park is built around the historical ruins of a crusader’s strong keep that is still partially intact and has a lot of informational boards and maps that give you insight to the history of the castle (inhabited for 18 successive centuries). With stunning lookout points and a tour of the ancient ruins you’re in for a real treat.

Apollonia National Park. Photo Credit: Mano Gershon

Caesarea National Park

This is by far one of Israel’s most important and impressive archaeological site and a “must visit” for anyone who has ever dreamed of a place that magically combines glorious Roman and Crusader-era ruins, breathtaking sunsets, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. Add to that the fact it is located a mere 40 min. drive from Tel Aviv (approx.) and you got yourselves an unforgettable family trip day. It is also every history buff and photography lover pure definition of heaven so don’t forget to bring your camera!

Located right off the coast of the Mediterranean, it was built by the great builder Herod 2000 years ago (now in ruins) and is considered by many as one of Israel’s great archaeological treasures. Beside it’s beautiful, sweeping views of the Mediterranean, this site has many points of interest for you to explore and enjoy: superb Roman Era ruins, the restored Caesarea massive Roman amphitheater (where 2000 years ago the citizens of Caesarea were entertained. You can even climb all the way to the top!), the Hippodrome (where spectators would come to see gladiators), the Reef Palace (the remains of Herod’s palace and a great vantage point from which to see the beauty of Caesarea today), the Bath Complex, fabulous and perfectly preserved mosaic floors as well as impressive examples of a Second and Third Crusade citadels.

Bet Shean National Park

This site is truly mind boggling and a must-see in Israel. It is located in the Galilee region of northern Israel and offers you a rare glimpse into the history of Israel through the archaeological remains from each historic period. This is by far one of Israel’s’ largest and most thrilling archaeological sites, with many wonderful historic ruins that are still in awesome condition. You’ll have a blast exploring the restored ruins of the 7,000-seat Roman theater, the colonnaded streets and the gladiator amphitheater, among many others. As you explore these ancient roman empire ruins, you listen to an audio presentation at each point while walking on the spectacular ancient mosaics, touching the walls and sitting on the roman theater seats.

Other must-see attractions are the Byzantine bathhouse and marketplace, the roman temple as well as the temple of Zeus and the Samaritan synagogue. Obviously, there’s a lot of rich history in Bet Shean and this stunning site is definitely a one of a kind experience to really go back in time (2000 years back to be precise) and feel what it was like to live in the fifth millennium B.C.E.

Also, beside these delightful views of ancient Roman empire, make sure you don’t miss the site’s ‘city by night’ option, “Shean Nights” – a breathtaking audiovisual display taking place after sunset. This incredible sound-and-light show brings alive the ruins with projected images in a way that guarantees a night to remember.

 

Bet Shean National Park. Photo Credit: Tal Glick

Masada National Park

Here’s one of Israel’s most stunning archaeological sites and an absolute “must-see”. From its Wonderful views of the desert and the dead sea to the legend behind it, everything about this mountaintop fortress screams “come visit”!
Located just a mere 20 min. drive off the dead sea, this site is a such a major historical, religious, and archaeological find that is a joy to explore. This mighty fortress built by King Herod the Great offers you a chance to experience the amazing history of Masada first hand while enjoying the magnificent views of Jordan and the Dead Sea. That Herod was able to create such a gorgeous hideaway place in the ancient world is almost unbelievable. From its grand palace that is three levels of gorgeous mosaics to the bath house and the storage area, there’s so much incredible history here to soak in. On top of that, of course there’s also the moving history of the fortress siege and capture by the Romans (you can clearly see the ruins of the Roman siege camps in the surrounding valleys).

Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve

Have you ever wondered what it was like living in prehistoric times, cavemen style? If so, boy have we got a treat for you and your entire clan (no pun intended) to enjoy.

Named by UNESCO as a world heritage site, this extraordinary place will leave you and your loved ones in complete awe and wonder for its rich history, geology and wonderful nature experience.

Located in the Carmel mountains, just about 15. minutes’ drive south of Haifa, this site offers a great memorable and exciting outdoor activity, while exploring prehistoric caves that have been here since basically the dawn of men (about 500,000 years ago!). These 3 caves allows for a rare glimpse at how people lived, ate and hunted back in the day (5 prehistoric cultures lived in these caves!) and in case you’re travelling with your kids, make sure you don’t miss out on the 3rd cave’s illustration audiovisual movie that will surely get your kids truly hyped.

This awesome nature reserve also has several marked trails for easy walking (paved routes), plenty of shaded picnic areas, clean bathrooms and even a small gift shop.

 

Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve. Photo Credit Avi Behari