Wintertime can be the most advantageous time for you to take advantage of your free time and enjoy Israel. Israel is such a small yet amazing country you can because it’s just so easy to get around; to travel relatively short distances and experience varying geographical terrains, weather conditions and attractions. Chances are if you’re reading this you have already started to plan your Birthright trip for this the winter with the hopes of experiencing a life changing connection to Israel. So let’s assume that you’re having such a legendary time that you have decided to extend your trip. Now what? Here are my favorite picks for making the most out of Israel’s magical winter wonderland.
Despite Israel’s mild climate, the country does experience much-needed rainy days during the winter months. Yet, we Israelis do not hibernate from December to February. Take advantage of the cold day and warm your belly with spongy sufganiyot, the filled donuts hawked by every bakery all December long in abundant flavors ranging from halva to vodka melon. Saidel’s Artisan Baking Institute offers tour groups “The Secret of the Donut”in English. Prepare yourself to gain a few pounds. If you are going for a really exotic chaser, wash down your donut with “the hot cocoa of the Middle East,” sachlav (or sachlab), a thick milk-based cinnamon-laced drink made with ground orchid bulbs. Street vendors and cafés sell it.
Though Israel isn’t known for its snow, it does exist. During winter, droves of Israelis head to Mount Hermon. This is the place for having a snowball fight, sledding, skating and skiing. Apart from engaging in winter sports, you should definitely book a weekend at the famous ‘Moving Castles’ hotel. Located in Nimrod, it’s a three-hour drive from the center of the country. The Southern edge of Mount Hermon guarantees spectacular views on mountain slopes from your hotel room. There’s also a chill restaurant called ‘The Witch and the Mikman’ so you don’t need to worry where to have dinner. Since you’re already in the area definitely try and check out the Druze village Majd alShams to get a true feel of local culture.
Just because some parts of Israel are cold and rainy doesn’t mean that you have to suffer the drab weather. Only in Israel can you take a short drive to Hamat Gader Park and find yourself next to thermo-mineral springs. (I know, it’s incredible) which provide a warm and relaxing outdoor activity, even when the weather is cold. Without traveling as far as Eilat, If you’re looking for something a bit more interactive try out that involves creepy reptiles visit CrocoLoco for a guided tour of the swamps where hundreds of African Nile crocodiles enjoy their adopted home in Israel.
The Judean Desert is dry and arid and a major draw for hiking enthusiasts. Ein Prat and Ein Gedi are oases in the middle of the desert, featuring surprising amounts of water in between the rocks. Wadi Qelt is an excellent hike for the more adventurous, while Har Sedom offers an unforgettable lookout over the Dead Sea. Masada can be reached by cable car, but if you love hiking, you will want to get up at the crack of dawn and hike up the “snake path” before it gets light. There is nothing as magnificent as a sunrise atop Masada after a long and satisfying hike.
The annual Sha’On Horef Festival returns to Jerusalem this winter – and continues all through February! Sha’on Horef Festival (translated it means Winter Noise) turns Jerusalem into a happening, vibe-packed entertainment hub! What’s already lined up? Now is your chance to try some gypsy folk music, or maybe you dig the more classical vibe– your in luck as the Jerusalem Street Orchestra will be playing, of course street food parties, tetris competitions, wine-tasting, drum workshops, and many many more great little events! Just pick a Monday night and you’re guaranteed to enjoy whatever’s on the line up.
Did you enjoy this post on magical ways to enjoy your winter wonderland? What are you looking forward to in Israel? Hope that you enjoyed! Please feel free to share, like and comment:)