Israel is a must see country for all digital nomads and tech optimist. The startup scene is bustling, the weather is perfect for touring the cities and experience the complicated history of the country, and being such a small country, everything in Israel is within reach.
Some say you risk suffering from psychotic delusions when coming to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Syndrome it is called. A strong religious feeling striking people who have not earlier been particularly religious.
And it is a unique experience visiting Jerusalem; visiting all of Israel really. The complicated story, the mix of ethnicities and religions, the innovation and different ways of life is truly eye-opening.
As a digital nomad, Israel is a must see country, and an easy state to get around in and feel welcome in. Here are my suggestions for three days in three different cities in the Startup Nation of the Middle East.
Day One – Tel Aviv:
Given that you flew into Tel Aviv, you’ll want to find a hotel here. Hotel Rothschild 22 is a modern luxury hotel at one of Tel Aviv’s main streets, Rothschild.
The rooms are fitted with all the amenities you’ll need from slippers and a bathrobe to shoe shine, a large desk with power outlets, a huge flatscreen, a rain shower head – and if you’re lucky to stay at one of the upper floors, a fantastic view.
The hotel offers a small but adequate fitness room and a breakfast buffet out of this world.
You’ll have to pay around 200 dollars a night, but with the level of comfort, the price is worth it.
Where to work:
The global co-working brand WeWork have several entities in Tel Aviv. The biggest, HaZarem at HaPelech Street 7, also features a fantastic maker space in the basement. At WeWork, you’ll also find a spacious café with a limited offer of plastic-wrapped sandwiches, Middle Eastern sweets, coffee, juice and the basics you’ll need for a days work. A clear upside though, is the networking that goes on here, the phone booths and booths for nursing mothers wanting to feed their babies without having to choose between the bathrooms and the open public space.
What to see:
You cannot miss the shuk when you’re here. Take a stroll at Shuk Ha’Carmel and afterward head for the Levinsky Market and indulge yourself in spices, street vendors, and local delicacies. The Levinsky Market is located in the Florentin neighborhood, a Berlin-style hip quarter with cool street art and stylish cafes.
Hungry for more: Take a bite of Israel
Day Two – Tel Aviv and Haifa:
Leave Tel Aviv early in the morning to beat traffic and head North to Haifa. If you take the coastal highway, you’ll get to see both the Medditerean Sea, the Carmel Mountains, and the many, many R&D centers that global enterprises place in Israel.
What to see:
Spend some time walking around the German Colony, an area full of shops, restaurants, and galleries at the foot of the Bahá’í Gardens. The centerpiece of the gardens is the Shrine of the Báb, one of the holiest places on earth. At the top of the shrine is a dome made from more than 12000 fish-scale tiles.
Where to eat:
When all the fresh air and beautiful views have built up a hunger, go to Ha-Namal Street to find a good place to eat. Here are several options but I’d recommend stopping by Libira Brewery, a local brewery with handcrafted beers in a variety of nuances from light pilsners to dark stouts. The food is abundant and features all the flavors you’ll crave from a real Israeli meal.
Where to work – and eat at night:
When you head back to Tel Aviv after a late lunch, get your work done quickly at the hotel. You’ll want to go out to eat at night in one of the many restaurants in Tel Aviv.
My recommendations are:
Vong for a great Vietnamese meal, open kitchen, and excellent service.
L’entrecote Club for a kosher meal that’ll leave you full for days. Book a table or come early.
Eatwith. A digital service that lets you eat with a local chef in his or her home. Search for Maya and Yonatan.
Read more about innovative Israel: “In Israel, everyone is a CEO”
Day Three – Jerusalem:
Where to stay:
Your last night, you should spend in Herbert Samuel Hotel, a part of the Orchid chain. Herbert Samuel is a 5-star hotel placed in the city center right next to the I (heart) JLM center and only a short walk from the Old City.
Herbert Samuel has all the convenience you need, and every morning, the staff leaves little packets of chocolates on the desk. The rooms are not as well insulated as 22 Rothschild so if you get a room near the elevator and is easily disturbed remember to bring earplugs.
Again, this hotel has the most bountiful breakfast buffet with live cooking, a table just with different types of bread, a bar, and instead of the usual honey in pots, you’ll have a real honeycomb dripping with the golden sugar. Luckily, there is a spa with pool and fitness center a few floors further down!
Where to work:
Get your work done at the Herbert Samuel reception where you can choose from comfy chairs or café tables to get a seat at the bar, sipping a whiskey with your writing. If you want to get out, walk out the front door and choose one of the cafes in the by-streets to Yafo Street.
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What to see:
You’ll need more than one day to explore the whole city. But you can’t leave without having been to the Old City. Within the ancient walls, you’ll find the Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim quarters. The Old City is also where you’ll find the Golden Dome and the Wailing Wall. Take the Old City Rooftop Walk to see the city from above. This particular rooftop, from where you can see the Golden Dome, is also the center where all the four quarters come together. Remember to stroll down the Christian and Muslim market and haggle for spices, menorahs, t-shirts, and fabrics, and take a step inside the Great Sepulcher and feel the Jerusalem Syndrome slowly creeping in.
Where to eat:
If you didn’t get a kebab at the Old City, where you can find the best in town, buy all sorts of different delicacies at Machane Yehuda marketplace. Once a dining and shopping place for the working class, now a world-famous culinary center of the Middle East. In the evening, you’ll easily find good spots for trying out beers from around the world, taste local sweets, or chill out at hookah cafes.
In the evening you’d want to go to The Eucalyptus at Felt street. Chef Moshe Basson is a real showman and treats his guests to biblical food and homemade juice or local wine. He named the restaurant after the eucalyptus seed he planted here 56 years ago. He’s born in Iraq, and his food has notes from the traditional Christian, Jewish, Italian and Spanish kitchen. Try the hibiscus ice tea and get the maqluba as your entrée.
Remember to go to the airport at least three hours early! You’ll likely be queuing for a long time. It can help if you check-in your luggage. Be prepared to answer questions about your stay, why you were here, where you lived, your previous travels and so on. Pee beforehand, because there is no leaving when you first stand in the line.
But if you should end up missing your plane, there plenty more to see in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Gaza, and the West Bank.