Fall Time is Prime Time for an Alternative Israeli Vacation
While hordes of tourists flock to Israel during the school summer holidays, the best time to travel to Israel is the fall. That starts about now. While the flights may be more expensive if you fly in around the month of Jewish holidays in September (there is Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot), the spirit is festive, and the weather starts to get bearable. I cannot stand Israel in July and August for the searing, humid heat and do my best to be in countries with more moderate climates.
It’s really common for people to book all inclusive holidays to Israel, complete with pre-booked hotel rooms, bus trips and an overloaded itinerary to the Dead Sea, Jerusalem’s Old City and the Sea of Galilee. Maybe it should be done once if you are limited in time. But your second visit to Israel should be more authentic.
My favorite way of travel is to book a little, adventure a lot. And for those afraid of travelling adventurously in Israel, don’t worry. It is a safe place, with more or less organized train, bus and plane schedules. Small planes can get you from the north to the south quickly, but if you have lots more time consider hitchhiking, making local friends and having them drive you to cool places, or cycling.
Here are a few ideas for alternative travel to Israel:
1. A cycling holiday. You can bring your own bike, or rent one in Tel Aviv. Israel’s Tourism Board has put together a list of routes for your cycling adventures, whether it’s far up in the north (try HooHa Cycling) or cycling around the biblical Ellah Valley on a wine tour. Just don’t get in the saddle if you’re feeling wobbly.
2. Walking the land. If you have a few weeks or more, consider seeing Israel by foot. There is the Gospel Trail, or the National Trail, both lauded as authentic ways to see the land of Israel as pilgrims of the past once did. Guest houses can be found along some of the trails, or camp en route. Some pre-planning would be needed to ensure you’ll be able to get enough water for your journey. Even in the cooler climate of fall, staying hydrated is essential.
3. Visit the Arabic side of Israel. Whether it’s the city of Jaffa, Acre, or Ramle, there is a rich Middle Eastern-Arabian culture to be discovered in Israel. While much is infused in daily life and food customs of Israel anyway, get some authentic experiences in Israel’s Arab cities where the populations are mixed between Muslims, Jews and Christians. One of my favorite places is the Faudi Azar Inn in Nazareth. A night there plus a free tour of the market the following day will shock your taste buds, and enlighten your sense of smell.