The holy land that brings a lot of media attention, might just be the best family holiday you’ve had in a while.
‘Israel’ and ‘family friendly holiday’ might not be a sentence you would ever expect to utter but minus the obvious geo-political-mess it really is a wonderful family vacay.
Add in desert landscapes, the sacred sites and the wineries, and you just may have found yourself (and the fam-bam) the perfect getaway.
The least family-friendly element, right off the bat is location, location, location. Israel, is two long-a** flights away, this sadly cannot be changed. Be prepared because 20 hours in the air is not child’s play, pardon the pun.
Once you’re there, travelling in Israel with children is generally a breeze: the foods are varied and tasty, the distances are short, there are child-friendly activities at every turn, and the locals absolutely love children.
FOOD: The backbone to any good trip, at least for my family, is good food.
As a fairly regular visitor of Tel Aviv, when I return I’m asked, what was the highlight. Without fail, it’s the food.
The produce, all locally sourced, is out of this world; tomatoes that taste like candy, coffee that won’t leave you begging for Aussie style cafes, breakfast options for days, did I mention hummus, falafel and pita, oh my!
For fussier children, there is always a kid friendly option, that involves chips — remember sharing is caring kids!
Parents, don’t forget to find a babysitter, dining options after the sun goes down are a-plenty, from Yemenite, Moroccan, Tunisian, Spanish, to home-cooking style Israeli food, there’s something for everyone.
Usually too much food at the end of the meal, but that’s what holidays are for. And if you’re not into the mama’s kitchen style street food, there’s fancier dining destinations too.
PLAYGROUNDS-A-PLENTY: You’ll never have to take more than 50 steps (in Tel Aviv) before the next one.
Travelling with active toddlers? This would be a total nightmare for walking museum mile, but total win for walking around Tel Aviv and the beaches.
You’ll wonder, why a metropolitan city packed with clubs and bars, has so many playgrounds. It is an energy-filled city with young families with kids often choosing to stay in the city.
The birth rate in Israel is 3.09, (the highest birth rate in the developing world) combined with very few rainy days, means playgrounds are essential to everyday life and parents sanity. For the gym-loving parents, you’ll have your choice of playgrounds too, with many outdoor gyms adjacent to the kids’ parks.
A few faves:
– HaYarkon Park
– Gan Mier Park
– The Namal
– Independence Park
BEACH RESORTS: Because after travelling for 24 hours to get there, mum and dad need a break too.
With 300 days a year of sun, this family vacation requires some pool time, and there are plenty of family-resorts and beach side hotels to choose from.
Nahariya, Israel’s northernmost coastal city and a popular holiday destination for locals, is trying to emulate the high-end weekend getaway feel of the Hamptons in New York (minus the pretentious celebrities), with a small batch of luxury hotels cropping up in the area.
Hotels that are family friendly can be found in Eliat, which should be ticked off on the Israel bucket list.
If your family loves the water, get ready for the ultimate float, the Dead Sea. Because, who wouldn’t want to float like a flamingo inflatable? Speaking of inflatables, there is an entire inflated water park, Aqua Kef, that is suitable for children of all ages, and their parents.
HISTORY: OK, this is the kind of history that any age can get on board with.
No visit to the region would be complete without a trip to Jerusalem. With a history stretching back almost 5,000 years, and sights including the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and al-Aqsa Mosque.
Younger children can probably handle shorter stops at these spots, but when you’ve finished up at more heavy-hitting sights, try out a few action-packed places, such as some of the underground tunnels burrowed below the ancient city—perfect for a hot day.
For the junior archaeologists and cave explorers there’s Dig for a Day, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Run by the Archaeological Seminars Institute, Dig for a Day is a one-of-a-kind experience that gives families the chance to go underground to dig, sift and examine pottery shards, ancient jewellery or even bones at the ancestral home of King Herod.
MUSEUMS: With more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world, there’s no doubt the kids will be occupied.
With more than 230 museums spread across a relatively small plot of land, Israel is a great option for sunseekers who also want culture. There are a few stand-outs, Israel Children’s Museum, Cartoon Museum, Tower of David, Coral Beach Underwater Observatory, and Clore Garden of Science.
With more than a dozen child-friendly museums across the country to choose from, and given that nothing is too far in proximity, you won’t have to hear ‘are we there yet?’ too often in the car, and your children will be entertained, as will you.