Today, Israel is known as the Start-up Nation, home of high tech, but almost everywhere you go in this small country you’ll find archaeological sites or come across some kind of ancient ruins, in fact the whole country seems like a huge museum.
Tourists in Israel are spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting some of the world’s most ancient places, and as we all know, the more choice we have the more overwhelming it is to decide. That’s why we’ve made a list of some of the most ancient cities in Israel that you can visit today.
We’ve based our list of ancient places to visit in Israel on sites that are easy to get to for tourists who are staying in a hotel in Tel Aviv, which is located at the center of the country.
1. Jerusalem: The Old City of Jerusalem that has a history of over 3,000 years, lies within today’s modern city. The Old City is the site of the Western Wall, all that remains from the Second Jewish Temple, built by King Herod the Great. The wall dates back to the 2nd century BC. Jerusalem is number 1 on our list because it is a must see if this is your first visit to Israel, and even if it isn’t, you will probably want to visit again.
2. Old Jaffa: Picturesque Jaffa is situated just south of Tel Aviv. The Old City was built on a 40m high ridge with a view of the Mediterranean coast. Archaeological evidence shows that Jaffa was been inhabited constantly since around 7500 BCE. Tourists can learn about the history of this magical place at the Jaffa Visitors’ Center.
3. Ashkelon: An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv will bring you to Ashkelon, one of the oldest cities in the world. You will find relics of history, like Roman sarcophagus and ruins of Byzantine churches scattered all over the city, both in the neighborhoods and in the Ashkelon National Park.
4. Caesarea: Less than an hour from Tel Aviv along the coast lies the ancient Herodian port city that was founded in 30 BCE. Caesarea’s National Park houses some of Israel’s most impressive ancient ruins.
5. Acre: An ancient port city, with a rich history that includes the Romans, Ottomans, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Byzantines, and British, situated on the Mediterranean coast in northwest Israel. Acre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, both in recognition of the remains of the Crusader town and because the city is a preserved Ottoman walled town with citadels, mosques, khans and baths. You can book a tour of Acre from Tel Aviv, don’t miss its interesting stories, the newly renovated visitor center and colorful shuk.
6. Masada: Masada is not a city, but it is one of the most famous ancient sites in Israel, so it deserves a place on this list. It is an ancient fortress, where the Great Revolt of Masada took place, located on a high flat mountain above the Dead Sea.
The good thing about the country the size of Israel is that it’s quick and easy to get almost everywhere.
If you have a rental car you can get to all of these sites. You can also get to the closest cities by bus or train and from there ask the locals how to reach the sites, either by foot, bus or taxi.
Another option that we recommend is taking an organized tour to any of these sites. Ask at your hotel about these tours, which usually include pickup and drop off from Tel Aviv hotels.