Israel with Birthright
This summer I had the pleasure of visiting Israel with Birthright! Although they provide many different trips ours was, of course, focused on food. However, we did incorporate many other non-food related activities that were super fun and came highly recommended! See below for an overview of our trip to Israel.
Where we ate (and different foods we got to try)
Old Man and the Sea
Mediterranean restaurant right on the Jaffa Port. Be wary, they start by bringing A LOT of small mezze plates for appetizer, so don’t get full before ordering main dishes! Try dishes like falafel, hummus, tabouleh, and fresh pita.
We ended up coming here 3 more times after our first visit. The falafel and Shawarma are THAT good. While waiting in line, they hand out freshly baked falafel (you know, just so you don’t go hungry). The pitas are piled high with shawarma, veggies and sauces. You should also order their sabich and hummus as they are known for it.
We stopped in here for a quick sweet bite after a day touring Jaffa. The line wasn’t long, and you get to watch the process of each Knafeh being made so the time passes quickly. I definitely recommend stopping here for your own personal-sized Knafeh. For those who don’t know, Knafeh is a dessert made of cheese, and sugar-syrup soaked shredded dough.
Mahane Yehuda Market
Arbes – great spot for hummus. One of my favorites in Israel
Hachapuria – Georgian Bread. Thats all I have to say.
Jachnun Bar – besides the fun show they put on for you, the Jachnun is made super well here! And they have a bunch of toppings to choose from.
Marzipan – absolute BEST chocolate rugalach you will ever have in your life. ever.
Exploring this market is a must when visiting Israel. We had the pleasure of walking the alleys for quite a while, trying over 10 different vendors. They have everything from breads to candies and from halva to fresh juices. They also have an entire butcher area, spices area, and produce area for those planning to cook that night! If not, there are plenty of restaurants in and around the market that are filled with people enjoy a glass of wine and a delicious plate of food no matter what time of the day it is!
If you’re ever getting me up at 3am, it’s to hike up this mountain. Masada is roughly a 2 hour drive from Israel. The park opens at 6am with two different trails leading to the top: one is an easy 15-min hike up the stairs and one is a harder, more dangerous hike up. We chose the easier path because, lets be honest, it was 6am. The top has the most beautiful view of the sunrise. So beautiful that it will be hard to top the experience. There are many ruins to see, and even more stories to be told about them. I highly recommend this experience as it was my favorite of the whole trip. There is nothing quite like the beauty of nature.
Swimming in the Dead Sea
This is a must for anyone visiting Israel. If you have starting doing your research, chances are you already have this experience on your list. The Dead Sea is about an hour from Masada, so its a good day to do both. However, there are parts of the Dead Sea that have mud at the bottom, and parts that have salt rocks. Do NOT go to the part with the salt rocks! While it is beautiful to see (and pretty for pictures), it HURTS haha. The muddy bottom isn’t as pretty, but you can walk freely and even use the mud on your face and body as an exfoliator. Either way, the Dead Sea is a must.
Ate Breakfast in a Druze Community
This was one of my favorite experiences with Birthright. Immersing yourself in another culture, especially while sharing a meal, is truly one of a kind. We joined a Druze family in their home for a beautiful meal. They greeted us with open arms, as they do with any one else who is in need of a meal or a place to stay. We ate traditional foods and spoke about their community, ideas, values, and customs. Besides being wonderful people, it really was one of the most delicious meals we had the whole trip.
Areas We Visited
- Oldest port city in Israel
- very popular for its flea market
- small, narrow streets are filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and other unique shops
- try Old Man and the Sea here!
- a walled city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians
- perfect for a full-day visit as you can explore the surrounding areas as well
- visit the Western Wall and place a letter in the wall
- check out Mahane Yehuda market after your tour of Jerusalem for lunch
- great place to stay during your visit to Israel
- known for its vibrant nightlife, great restaurants, and beaches
- check out the Carmel market and artisan market for local goods
- walk everywhere you go!