To celebrate that September 27 is World Tourism Day and the number of tourists in Israel is almost at pre-pandemic levels, it has Israel Ministry of Tourism made a list of free activities and places of interest in Israel. Put away your wallet and cross these free activities off your bucket list!
Table of contents
1. The Old City of Jerusalem
The number one on the list will come as no surprise. The most visited free tourist spot in Israel is the Western Wall (location here). The Wailing Wall is a remnant of the Second Temple. It is the holiest site in Judaism. Visitors leave a note with their wishes or prayers in the crevices and joints of the wall.
Fun fact: it's also Israel's most photographed place! Other famous holy sites that you can visit in the Old City for free include the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock (Al-Aqsa Mosque), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa.
Each district of the old city - Armenian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim - has its own atmosphere. With a story behind almost every stone in the Old City, this is the place to learn about history, theology and archaeology. Visiting the Old City of Jerusalem is recommended for both young and old, religious and secular and interesting for new visitors and people who have been there many times before.
Also read: Israel | The 5 Best Sights in Jerusalem
2. Baha'i Gardens
Northern Israel's most Instagrammed location can be found in Haifa (location here). The Baha'i Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a sight to behold. Nineteen carefully landscaped terraces, designed as waves of light, extend on the northern slope of Mount Karmel. All the lines and curves of the gardens lead visitors to the golden-domed sanctuary of the Báb, the resting place of the prophet-herald of the Baha'i Faith, on the central terrace. There is no charge for entry to the gardens or for the guided tours. Four sections are open to walk-in visitors seven days a week, while walk-in tours run daily except Wednesdays.
3. Tel Aviv's Beaches
The most obvious free attraction in the city that never sleeps are the twelve beautiful Mediterranean sandy beaches. The coastline extends from Jaffa in the south (location here) to the harbor in the north. No less than fourteen kilometers of sparkling coastline offers space for activities for every season. Whether you want to enjoy the summer sun, use the stormy winter weather to go surfing, or go for a run along the boardwalk, you can always choose your personal favorite beach.
4. Red Canyon near Eilat
The Red Canyon in the Eilat Mountains (location here) is one of the most beautiful and accessible hiking trails in Israel. Admission to the park is completely free. Twenty minutes north of Eilat, this stunning geological wonder offers an undisturbed walk through the natural gorges.
The Red Canyon gets its name from the phenomenon that occurs when sunlight hits the reddish rock along the canyon. It then glows with an intense reddish color. The rock varies in color and surfaces in shades of white and yellow. The colors come from the sandstone that has been carved by wind and water over the centuries.
5. Wohl Rose Garden in Jerusalem
The Wohl Rose Garden (location here) has been declared one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the world. This 15.000-hectare public garden has 450 rose bushes of more than 1995 different varieties. Different countries have their own section in this garden, the Netherlands is also represented. The Dutch garden was opened by Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus in XNUMX. It is the only rose garden in the Middle East.
6. Ramon Crater
The Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert (location here) in Israel is the world's largest erosion crater or makhtesh. Unique to the Negev Desert in Israel and the Sinai Desert in Egypt, this landform was created 220 million years ago when the oceans covered the area. The Ramon Crater is forty km long and between two and ten km wide, and forms Israel's largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve.
You can admire the natural beauty here on foot, by bike and/or by car. A visit to Ramon Crater can range from a stop on a journey through the Negev to view the crater from above, or a longer visit to absorb the history and science of the area.
7. Stitching Museum
The Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa (location here) offers free admission and free guided tours for groups, if booked in advance. The permanent exhibits include: “Archaeology of the Land of Israel in Roman and Byzantine Periods,” “Phoenicians on Israel's North Coast in the Biblical Period,” and “Ancient Crafts and Industries.” A special wing is devoted to the study of ancient seafaring and contains the hull of a 2400-year-old ship, the anchor and cargo.
This museum also displays Reuben Hecht's private collection of Impressionist and Jewish schools of Parisian painters. Among the artists are Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Van Gogh, Modigliani and Chaim Soutine. Within the grounds of the museum are reconstructed remains of ancient buildings, including residences and a funeral complex from the Negev highlands, and an oil press from Hurbat Castra, located at the southern entrance to Haifa.
8. Free City Walks in Tel Aviv
There are a number of options in Tel Aviv to take a free guided city walk. Tel Aviv Greeters offer free walking tours of two to four hours to numerous municipal destinations, led by local volunteers willing to share their love for the city. Completely free, even tipping is not allowed!
The Tel Aviv Greeters are part of the International Greeter Association, an association of Greeter programs around the world. Walking around the city with a local is a great option for families, groups of friends, or solo travelers. The Tel Aviv Greeters can take you to museums, archaeological sites, eateries, nightlife and hotspots such as Neveh Tzedek, the Yemeni Quarter, Tel Aviv Port, the hip Florentin neighborhood, Jaffa and the Carmel Market. Book online at least five days (but no more than a month) in advance.
Also, the Tel Aviv Municipality offers a variety of guided free walking tours for a wide variety of interests, available in English. There is a lot to choose from, including: Rothschild Boulevard, Sarona Market, the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood with a visit to Hatachana (the old train station from the Ottoman period from which passengers traveled between Jaffa and Jerusalem), Jaffa, the Carmelmarket and the Florentin district, with the focus on street art.
9. Holon's Story Playgrounds
The Tel Aviv suburb, Holon (location here), known as the “Children's City” of Israel, is home to many fun attractions, such as the Israeli Children's Museum, the Design Museum, the Cartoon Museum and a puppet theater. An entrance fee has to be paid for this. However, there are more than forty special story playgrounds scattered throughout the city, which are free to visit.
The playgrounds are a project by leading Israeli artists who, inspired by beloved Hebrew children's stories. Kids literally climb over the characters from these stories, which are fun even to an outsider. You don't need to know the story to enjoy yourself in these unique playgrounds.
10. Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
Visiting Yad Vashem (location here) belongs on every travel plan. This museum consists of a memorial room, a historical museum, a “Hall of Namur”, an archive, a library, the “Valley of the Destroyed Communities” and a park dedicated to the people who have received an award from Yad Vashem, the “Righteous Among the Nations”. These are all non-Jews who saved Jews during the persecution.
The main building, the Holocaust Historical Museum, highlights the experiences of individual victims through original artifacts, survivor testimonies and personal effects, and opens to the Hall of Names – a repository for the pages of testimonies of millions of Holocaust victims and a memorial to those who died at the hands of the Nazis. Visits must be scheduled online. Admission to the Holocaust Historical Museum is for ages 10 and up.