Israel is a land of immense geographic diversity. As you make the five and a half hour drive from Eilat, at the country’s southern tip and the Egyptian border, to the Golan Heights, at its northernmost border with Syria and Lebanon, the landscape changes quickly. From the arid Negev desert to the humid beaches of Tel Aviv and the lush greenery of the Galilee, the views don’t remain the same for long.
This diversity has blessed Israeli winemakers with numerous microclimates and ever-changing soil types. But it’s also fortunate for travelers who want to experience all of the region’s beauty in a short period of time. Here are seven outdoor activities that highlight some of Israel’s natural offerings, from south to north.
It may sound cliche and touristy, but it’s a fascinating test of physics, and you’ll experience a landscape you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
While you’re near the Dead Sea, head over to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve for a hike among beautiful spring-fed waterfalls with panoramic views of the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi is also home to one of the largest herds of Ibex (mountain goats) in Israel.
Tel Aviv has a great bike share system. Take a bike for a spin along the beach in a dedicated bike lane. When it’s time to grab a coffee or go stretch out in the sand, just ditch your bike at the nearest docking station.
This meticulously landscaped garden graces the northern slope of Mount Carmel in the city of Haifa. Built and maintained as a holy site by the people of the Baha’i faith, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for good reason.
North of Haifa at the border with Lebanon, the powerful Mediterranean has carved breathtaking grottoes over thousands of years. After taking a cable car down down the cliff face, tour this geological wonder on foot, dodging sea spray. Stick around for an incredible sunset over the Mediterranean.
Also known as Lake Tiberias or the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee is known to Christians for being the location where Jesus walked on water. It’s also Israel’s largest source of fresh water, and is surrounded by lush greenery that’s hard to find in other regions of Israel.
Mount Bental, in the northeastern Golan Heights, is a dormant volcanic mountain that’s home to a former Syrian military base that’s now open to the public. From its peak at 3,842 feet, gaze down across the border into Syria, for a humbling sense just how small Israel really is.
Josh Zoland is a wine professional who took a deep dive into Israeli culture and wine while briefly living in Jerusalem. He has since shown full-fledged support for the American adaptation of hummus as a culinary cornerstone.