Israel is situated at the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. With Jerusalem as its capital, and many other religious highlights, Israel is a top pilgrimage destination. But there are plenty of other attractions. The Dead Sea is an amazing natural wonder, the Galilee region's natural beauty is perfect for hiking, and the Negev desert's raw and rocky landscapes are excellent for adrenaline-fuelled activities.
Flights to Israel from the UK generally take between four and eight hours, depending where you fly from, with a possible layover in places such as Amsterdam.
One of the most important destinations for Christian pilgrimages, Bethlehem is home to the famous Church of the Nativity, built over the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born. The church and the busy nearby bazaar make this the West Bank's number one highlight.
Its vital place in the traditions of all three monotheistic faiths has led to it being continually fought over through the centuries and, for believers, Jerusalem is one of the most sacred sites in the world. Jerusalem's most iconic landmark, the Dome of the Rock, is where Abraham (father of all three monotheistic faiths) is said to have offered his son up as a sacrifice to God. It's also where Solomon built the First Temple for the Ark of the Covenant, and where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven. To the south of the mount is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said to be one of the oldest mosques in the world.
Another of Israel's main pilgrimage destinations, Nazareth is where the Annunciation took place, where Jesus Christ was brought up, and the home of important churches such as the Basilica of the Annunciation. Visit also the vibrant bazaar area, which is an experience in itself.
The Dead Sea
One of the world's strangest natural wonders, the Dead Sea is the mineral-rich and overly salty sea where no one can sink. Take a float and you'll be amazed.
Rugged desert scenery at its best, Timna Park, near Eilat, is one of the most beautiful corners of the Negev Desert. With towering cliffs and surreally-shaped boulders set between vast tracts of multi-hued sand, the area is also full of ancient remains. Hikes and driving tours, passing between Solomon's Pillars into a valley surrounded by cliffs, are a wonderful way to enjoy the area.
Food and drink
Israeli cuisine comprises local cuisine and dishes brought to Israel by Jews from the diaspora. Since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s, an Israeli-Jewish fusion cuisine has developed. Foods such as falafel, hummus, msabbha, shakshouka, couscous, and za'atar are now widely popular in Israel, while the coffee, fruit shakes and lemonade served in the cafés come highly recommended, because the produce is grown locally.