So I will start by confessing that it is nearly impossible to choose only a few favourite places and so I expect that in the future I will have to produce another list of more favourite places. Meanwhile here goes and I have decided to choose the places by categories.
1. Holy Place
So for this one I have to be conventional – I am going to go with the Kotel – but with a difference. I personally prefer to visit the Kotel in the late evening/night – its cooler, less crowded and I think easier to pray and to contemplate. Another good alternative is evening services on the Sabbath or Festivals – more people but more atmosphere. If you want to visit during the day then I recommend going to the Davidson Center – its the same wall or you can visit the Southern wall and the Hulda Gates (where pilgrims entered the Temple in ancient times) – its quieter and again more intimate. The snag – you have to negotiate opening times and admission.
2. Galilee & Golan
Overall the Galilee and the Golan are favourite places. In this category I will go with the view from Bental – clean air, history and a feeling that you can see for miles.
On the other hand it is impossible to let such a large part of Israel be mentioned with only one place so I am also going to mention Rosh Haniqra the caves are beautiful and the sea exciting. In the area I would spend some time on Achziv beach and for history – the story of the bridges at Rosh HaNiqra and Lohamei HaGhettot nearby.
Much easier this one – without a doubt Palmachim – pretty, much more natural and apart from the weekends in the summer generally not packed (maybe it will be now that I have blown its cover.) There are certainly another 2 or 3 contenders in this category – another time perhaps.
4. Tiyul – Ramble
There are many great tiyulim or rambles in Israel and there are many that I frequently return to once every year or so – just because they are always good fun and pretty much guaranteed to be a successful day out. In the north Arbel is a firm favourite – not too long, a little bit challenging and great views of the Kinneret.
Overall, however, I think my most dependable tiyul is Nahal David at Ein Gedi. Not a hard tiyul at all, and often busy – but because of the easy access to the water it is great in the summer and the route is warm enough in all but the coldest wettest days of winter. Nahal David has it all, wate, desert, a waterfall, great views and cool animals within easy reach. You can choose some of the extra options to make it a bit more challenging – but overall you can’t go wrong with Nahal David.
5. Sunset Spot
Lots of strong candidates in this category – watching the buildings in Jerusalem turn gold in the sunset, almost any beach on the Mediterranean, but my favourites are sunset over the Kinneret. This way you get the sunset, beach, water and landscape in the same view. Any of the beaches themselves (on eastern shore) are excellent. Other good places can be found on the roads in the Golan – for example road 789 (Mitzpe Ofir and other lookout points.)