There’s an alluring mystery to the land of Israel. It brings us back time and time again, and each time we come, there’s something new to discover.
That mystery never stops. Whether you came decades ago and stayed on a Kibbutz, or visited to explore the Start-up Nation, it’s always a surprise how much the country continues to reinvent itself. Especially for senior travel, Israel is a land that continues to provide amazing opportunities for seniors at all activity levels. From walks around the city to artist colonies, this is a country with something for just about everyone.
Located in Jerusalem, a block away from the Knesset, this comprehensive history and art museum is wheelchair accessible. See the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Shrine of the Book, or imagine yourself in another time at the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. This is one of the best museums in Israel, and a great way to get some context about what led Israel to where it is today.
If you like animals, this is a unique experience in Israel and a great idea for a group of friends. The Afrikek Monkey Park houses 250 species of monkeys. There’s a special section where monkeys from South America and visitors to the park can interact with nothing between them. Every section of this park is accessible to wheelchairs, and it’s a fun and unique way to enjoy Israel.
This area between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem is called “Biblical Tuscany” by some. Walk to biblical sites, through pine tree forests and vast fields. Take a 4X4 SUV to the various sites like Beth-Shemesh where the ark was kept briefly, or Ziklag, where King David Lamented upon hearing of Saul’s death. Visit the studio of David Gerstein for a view into the local art scene. Finally, try some of the local wines. It’s a great group activity and a wonderful place to meet other seniors
Caesarea, a city founded in the 1st century BCE by Herod the Great, is a national park filled with ruins and special places to explore. View the sunken harbor and the Roman era theater, the remains of an ancient aqueduct by the beach. Caesarea is home to one of the best beaches in Israel, so be sure to pack a bathing suit!
Israel has always attracted the seekers among us, from adventure seekers to spiritual seekers. There’s another type of seeker in Israel, though, that’s populated some of the more interesting parts of Israel. The country is home to several artist’s colonies, including this one in Ein Hod. This secret gem lies in the heart of the Carmel Forest. Populated with many art galleries in the homes of residents, this is a great place to wander quaint streets and into galleries and homes of artisans. This is one of the best places to really get to know artists in their own homes. The village was created in 1953 by Marcel Janco, an artist of the Dada movement. Today the village is still filled with artists including sculptors, writers, poets, painters, and playwrights. There’s a community gallery at the center of the village and another museum that shows off Marcel Janco’s work. The village also hosts music events and guest lectures, as well as free outdoor jazz concerts on Saturdays. The workshops at the colony are a great way to meet other seniors.
Hula Park is a haven for wild birds. This nature preserve is easy to get around, as it’s covered in wooden walkways and bridges. There’s a lake where you can view birds from a floating bridge, an observation tower, and opportunities to view other wildlife like the herd of water buffalo and another herd of Persian fallow deer. The Europhoria visitor’s center has an interactive presentation on the history of the reserve and its fauna and flora.
If you find yourself in Haifa, this beach rolls down from the Ajama neighborhood to the mediterranean sea. A calm and family-oriented place, there are grass lawns, bike path, and walking lanes. It’s accessible and easy to get around. Families come here for dinner, couples and kids enjoy the sunset, and it’s not quite as packed as the other beaches in Israel. If you’re looking for a local experience, this is the beach to go to.
This museum has seven different spaces, each dedicated to a different type of music. One has musical instruments from Morocco and Andalusia, another from Syria, egypt, India, Iraq and Iran. Another is dedicated to Ashkenazi and European music. The final space is about the Israeli melting pot, where ancient scriptures tell the history of music in Israel and Jerusalem from biblical times. The museum is a unique and interactive experience, where people can answer questions, wear virtual reality glasses, or listen to original music and experiment with sound.
This museum in Jaffa was created by the artist Ilana Goor in 1995, View antiques, drawings, African and Latin American pieces, sculptures and many more objects in this collection. There are close to 500 works, so it’s surely enough to fill a full afternoon, and there are works by international artists like Henry Moore and Diego Giacometti. The building itself is from 1743, and was originally used as an inn for pilgrims to stop overnight on their way to Jerusalem. The roof terraces of the building have great views of the area and the Mediterranean sea. The museum is worth it just for the view.
This park has something for all ages. It’s a great place to see a lovely river, waterfalls, and pools. Get a massage by standing under the waterfalls or walk among the lush gardens. There’s even an archaeological museum with a section on regional and Mediterranean Archaeology and another on pioneer settlement. At the Tel Amal Tower & Stockade, visitors can see a watchtower, a stockade where gravel was stored, and reconstructed houses of pre-state settlers. There’s also an Israeli Orchard in the park with trees mentioned in the Bible like figs and pomegranates.
This synagogue was built in the 6th century on the foothills of the Gilboa Mountains. It was found by members of a nearby Kibbutz and excavated soon after. Through excavations, it was discovered that the synagogue was once the heart of a Byzantine-era Jewish village. Today you can view the remains of the synagogue at the Beit Alpha National Park, including a stunning floor mosaic with three panels, each comprising a different theme from the Bible. There’s even a Jewish version of the Zodiac wheel, a thought provoking look into Jewish philosophy at the time the synagogue was built.
If you like walking, explore the cobbled streets of Rosh Pina. This city is full of art galleries and restaurants, and is a perfect off the beaten track place for people seeking to learn about Israel culture. There’s an antique synagogue, a great view of the Hula Valley, and Baron Rothschild’s gardens from the late 19th century.
If any of these locations have piqued your interest, start planning your senior Israel trip today. It’s a country full of hidden treasures, and it’s always a good time to visit. Happy traveling!
Iris Hami is President of Gil Travel Group, the largest travel management firm sending people to Israel. She has over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, and uses that knowledge to craft unique Jewish journeys around the world. Her company has won multiple awards, including one from State of Israel Bonds for Extraordinary Achievements Promoting the State of Israel. They send over 40,000 travelers to Israel and other international locations each year and their clients include well-known Jewish organizations such as Birthright, Maccabi USA, Israel Bonds and many more.