Standing outside the Church of the Beatitudes reading the Sermon on the Mount overlooking the Sea of Galilee - and then dipping my feet in.
Eleanor, Original Traveller
The fickle nature of luxury travel in the 21st Century is summed up pretty neatly by Israel. Who would have thought just a few years ago that this tiny state with a turbulent past would be considered one of the safest places in which to enjoy a luxury holiday in the Levant (or the Eastern Mediterranean in unromantic 21st Century-speak)? Sadly with Libya and Syria remaining out of action, Israel - while remaining as wary as ever - is thriving.
Why we think you’ll love it
- Take a jeep trip inside the vast Makhtesh Ramon Crater to see amazing geological formations
- Jerusalem is every bit as fascinating as a city that's central to three religions should be
- Tel Aviv is quite simply one of the most happening cities anywhere in the world just now
From the gallery
Tailor Made Holidays to Israel: the Detail
Nowhere is this spirit of confidence and creativity more obvious than the beachfront bars, boutiques and galleries of the financial capital, Tel Aviv, which was barely a one camel town a century ago. The contrast could not be stronger than with the city just 45 minutes up the road, a certain Jerusalem, the ongoing focal point of the competing claims of three of the world's great religions with its multiple millennia long history.
Did you know
- Cows in Israel produce more milk per cow than in almost any other country in the world
- Tel Aviv is a UNESCO Heritage Site
- There are more than 40 kosher Mc Donald's in Israel
Away from the famed cities, and despite a population of eight million souls in a relatively small area, there are areas of staggering beauty and remoteness such as the Negev Desert, which remains home to Bedouin settlements, and the freakish phenomenon of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth.
Israel is also a country that engenders a strange sense of reassurance, even in first time visitors. After all, anyone raised in a Christian country will have a certain innate familiarity with places such as Nazareth, or Bethlehem and Jericho in the Palestinian West Bank which can be explored on a day trip. Put simply, collectively this small sliver of Eastern Mediterranean Holy Land packs more of a historical punch than any place on the planet.
But it's not all about history and places - Israeli food is as good as most in the Middle East, the locals have a strong and infectious desire for living life to the full and this is also a surprisingly good destination for family holidays. All this, and weather to knock ours into a cocked hat, is just a five hours away with daily direct flights. We predict this could be one of the big destinations for 2014.