Jerusalem is the historical, spiritual and political focus for the country. Regardless of their inevitable preconceptions, visitors cannot fail to be stunned by this city’s extraordinary archaeology, weighty history and intense spirituality. Among many, many highlights, the iconic image of the Dome of the Rock becomes inseparable from any visitor’s memories of Jerusalem. Beyond Jerusalem are countless religious and historical sites, rich in biblical associations: the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, for example, or the remains of ancient Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
But though the tangible sense of history and the wealth of archaeology are almost overwhelming, Israel is a place where past and present live side by side. For every holy site, there is a café, bar or restaurant where you can recover from the rigours of sightseeing and sample Israel’s varied cuisine, which incorporates Mediterranean, Arab and Jewish elements. Finally, for the ultimate relaxing experience, soak in the steamy Dead Sea waters and take time to reflect on the wonders of this extraordinary country.