Israel’s comfortable weather allows tourists to enjoy all it has to offer year-round. However, there are some activities that one can only experience in Israel during the winter.
The Chanuka Season – Oil, Lights and Fun!
To many, the Chanuka season officially starts right after Sukkot – that’s when sufganyot (donuts) begin to appear in bakeries EVERYWHERE! Donuts, fried in oil, have replaced the potato latke as the official Chanuka food! The jelly donut has been the standard delicacy for years – but it’s rapidly losing ground to donuts filled with anything from chocolate, caramel or vanilla cream to fruit fillings, etc. They vary in sizes and flavors. Try them all!
From “Mr. Donuts” to the big bakery chains to the small makolets (local Igrocery stores in Israel), the search for the best donuts in Israel during the winter is a delicious challenge! To get you started on your search, see Top 13: Places to eat doughnuts in Israel
From the huge chanukiyot (Chanuka menorahs) you will find at many major intersections and entrances to cities, towns, moshavim, kibbutzim, and yishuvim, the Chabad organization makes sure to light them each night of Chanukah, to offer everyone – especially those who might not be able to light one at home, a chance to participate in this special mitzvah!
Take a walk through the neighborhoods (especially in Jerusalem through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the neighborhood of Nachlaot), where you can see the many beautiful and originally designed chanukiyot in the windows of private homes and public buildings, as well as in the glass-framed boxes found in courtyards and doorways – all prominently displayed to publicize the miracle of Chanuka!
For another variation on activities with lights, check out The Night Spectacular, a sound and light show at the ancient citadel in Jerusalem. It’s a spectacular multimedia show (lasting about 45 minutes) where the audience, seated among the archeological ruins of the citadel’s courtyard, is treated to historical scenes from the Crusaders to the Turks and the British… – a perfect activity, well-suited to Chanuka. For more information, see: http://www.towerofdavid.org.il/English/Night_Spectacular_Performance_Schedule
Snow! Ice! Israel Winter…
Sometimes during the winter in Israel, especially in the higher altitudes (Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, Mt. Hermon, etc.), Israel is “treated” to the wonders of snow during the winter! An inch or two of snow is treated as a foot or two in places like New York City – as the cities with the snow totally shut down! Kids pray for it to last long enough to play and the improvised snow equipment (plastic bags over sneakers to keep the moisture out, heavy socks on hands for warmth ; cardboard boxes and trays for sledding) become more creative all the time!
When the snow falls up north, you can visit Mt. Hermon, which opens for skiing and “real” snow play (sledding, tubing or just building snow forts, snowmen, etc.). It’s fun for the whole family!
Israel Winter – Flexibility is the Key!
Israel’s north is a beautiful place to hike and explore – everything is green and filled with colorful flowers, the beauty is there to behold. The Galilee area especially (Bet She’an and the surrounding area), has a small chance of rain, though it is usually too cold to swim. You can enjoy the hot springs in Hamat Gader – especially pleasant when the weather is chilly.
Hamat Gader is a 40 acre park on the south-eastern part of the Kinneret. It is Israel’s oldest and largest spa. Explore ancient Roman baths or relax in thermal mineral pools circulating every four hours at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. Enjoy the Jacuzzi beds and chairs, water jets, a hot waterfall and a bubble pool.
Location: Northern, Sea of Galilee
Address: Hamat Gader
Head on South to Ein Gedi
While you run the risk of a few rainy days in the north, if you can be flexible, when the rain comes, head to Israel’s south.
If you’re coming to Israel winter time, plan your days according to the weather reports, which you could check using NES Mobile’s Israel MiFi with unlimited data or on your smartphone with NES Mobile’s Israel SIM card. There is a high probability of great weather in the south (less chance of rain than in the center or north of the country), without the oppressing heat of the summer. Depending on your idea of fun, you can explore the Negev (national parks close a bit earlier in the winter) and see nature at its best.
Masada, and Ein Gedi are much more pleasant in the winter and you might even get a chance to go into the Dead Sea for a quick dip. There are jeep tours in Mitzpe Ramon and there are many opportunities to explore archeological sites in the Negev.
Remember that Israel is a small country and you can make the Masada area a day trip – finishing off the day back in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv (or other cities) where the nightlife is much more active.
Israel Winter Flood Watching and Watching for Floods!
One of Israel’s most dangerous natural occurrences, flash floods, have been known to sweep across the Negev Desert every so often the winter. Each year, hikers and travelers are caught unprepared and stranded. The speed and power at which the water floods the desert landscape is dazzling. Traveling in the south during the winter should always and only be done in coordination with weather reports and travel advisories.
As dangerous as being caught unprepared in these flash floods can be, when watching from a safe viewpoint, the flash floods can be beautiful and amazing. The water rejuvenates the desert, transforming the golden sands into dazzling rivers. In recent years, many tourists go down south to watch the floods (from a safe distance) as they develop.
There is so much to do and see (and eat!) in Israel in the winter. This is just the tip of the iceberg!
Let NES Mobile make your stay more convenient. Keep in touch with everyone back home (share your experiences with them)!
- Waze – This app can help you find your way to wherever you need to go in the fastest most efficient way or via a scenic route if you prefer – all over Israel! Waze also provides traffic updates – even police and radar traps.
- Google Maps – Is also an option for planning routes to where you want to go… By car, public transportation or even by foot!
- Trip Advisor – One of the best apps for independent travel, Trip Advisor is a wonderful resource to search for restaurants or hotels in Israel.
- Google Translate can help you communicate – even though almost everyone can speak some English… if you want to try to go “native” and speak the local language, this useful app can help.
- Instagram – Use this app to take pictures and post them to share with your friends and family.
- Skype – You can make free video calls, show your friends and family where you are – in real time!
- Whatsapp – This is one of the most popular messaging apps – how did we ever get along without this one?
- Gettaxi – a great app for grabbing a taxi.
This is just a small sample of apps that can help make your visit more pleasant.
Let NES Mobile help you access all of these and more at competitive prices, with no hidden fees. You get the best network coverage in Israel and friendly and helpful Customer Service in English.