Galilee, Israel
Galilee, Israel © Itamar Grinberg

As the cradle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel is a land heavy with history. This cultural complexity is reflected in the diversity of its natural landscape, which varies from the salty serenity of the Dead Sea, to verdant national parks and parched desert plateaus.

Most visits to the Holy Land begin with a trip to the capital city of Jerusalem. Its streets bustle with activity and busy markets lie against a skyline of sacred sites. By contrast, the modern commercial centre of Tel Aviv is dedicated to more hedonistic interests, such as sun-drenched beaches, good restaurants, designer-clothing stores and sophisticated nightclubs.

Sunbathing and scuba diving draw visitors to the Red Sea port of Eilat, while relaxation and spa resorts characterise the Dead Sea experience. The Galilee area, north of Jerusalem, appeals to pilgrims and nature-lovers alike. The region's concentration of holy sites is fascinating, particularly around the Sea of Galilee. Haifa provides a glorious, cosmopolitan base from which to explore the Galilee area, as well as the magnificent sea grottoes of Rosh Hanikra.

Israel is home to more than 200 museums, further underlining its status as one of the most culturally rich destinations on the planet. Its national parks are roundly celebrated for their beauty and accessibility. Of course, the country's chief attractions are religious, with sites of profound spiritual importance drawing pilgrims from three religions.