ISRAEL21c is all about uncovering Israel. And while reading about the most creative startups and their fantastic technologies is always enlightening, getting a hands-on experience of Israeli-innovation-in-progress can’t be beat. You don’t have to be a CEO or coder to access Israel’s flourishing startup scene.
Add these five technological travel destinations to your next itinerary if you’re interested in meeting the people who build globally important startups, formulate groundbreaking technologies and create agricultural miracles.
1. TEL AVIV STARTUP TOURS
The Tel Aviv Startup Tour raises the curtain on the city’s dynamic innovation. The group tour – led by a certified tour guide – takes visitors behind-the-scenes of the city’s brewing startup scene. It begins with a quick overview of how this first modern Hebrew city founded in 1909 went on to become a global city and one of the most important financial centers in the world.
Rothschild Boulevard – the street best known for its collection of Bauhaus buildings – is a focal point of the tour. The outside architecture of these UNESCO-designated buildings is not the only interesting feature along this central thoroughfare. Many of the city’s startups and sparkers of innovation are found inside, and the city has the key to let you in.
The tour also includes a visit to its municipal library, which serves as a co-working space for up-and-coming high-tech entrepreneurs; the HerzLilienblum Museum of Banking and Tel Aviv Nostalgia; Independence Hall, where Israel was declared a state; and a startup company.
2. SALAD TRAIL
Israel’s tastiest tourist attraction is more than just a touch-and-taste farm. Agronomist Uri Alon, the founder of this educational farm in the Hevel Habesor region of the northern Negev, encourages visitors to get a firsthand feel for Israeli agriculture technologies in use.
This is the place to see, touch, taste and learn about Israeli water and agriculture technologies helping Alon and other farmers succeed in growing 80 different crops in the desert.
3. WEIZMANN INSTITUTE VISITORS CENTER
The world-renowned Weizmann Institute of Science regularly ranks high on global lists grading research institutes. You may have heard about the top-quality research going on within the Israeli public research university’s labs in Rehovot, but you may not know that you’re welcome to come inside for a tour.
The Weizmann’s Levinson Visitors Center presents interactive exhibits and a state-of-the-art multimedia experience. Tours of one to three hours are available in English and Hebrew and must be arranged in advance.
Visitors can also explore the Weizmann House, the home of Israel’s first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann; and the world’s only outdoor science museum, the Clore Garden of Science. Among the hands-on exhibits here are a solar furnace that sets wood on fire, water sprinklers that surround visitors with a full-circle rainbow, a moon-walking simulation, and a water channel that shows the physics of wave action. Audio guides in English and Hebrew are available at Weizmann House and the Clore Garden of Science.
4. ARAVA VIDOR CENTER
The Vidor Center is an interactive museum that introduces visitors to advanced agriculture – showing off the country’s best technological advances in growing produce no matter how little rainfall or how rocky the land.
Other innovations tied to the Arava include better biological pest-control methods, groundbreaking water solutions and aquaculture advances.
Tours run every hour from 9am, seven days a week, and cost ₪22-NIS 28 per person. The tour – which is English friendly and wheelchair accessible — includes a 3D film, a visit to local greenhouses, and time in the interactive museum.
5. SCIENCE MUSEUMS
Six of Israel’s 12 Nobel laureates won for their scientific breakthroughs. While having a one-on-one tea time with them is unlikely, visitors can take in a fun scientific day at one of the country’s science museums.
MadaTech, Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa, offers more than 20 interactive science and technology exhibitions that beseech visitors to touch, try and experience science up close.
The Technoda in Hadera has an interactive science museum, an outdoor scientific lab, a medical simulation unit and a stellar observatory.
The Carasso Science Park in Beersheva has an interactive museum, a scientific outdoor garden with hands-on activities, and an interactive fountain. The exhibits cover various fields of science including genetics, microelectronics, nuclear energy and communication.
There’s also the aforementioned Clore Garden of Science in Rehovot that is best combined with a visit to the Weizmann Institute.
And the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem is all about arousing curiosity with its interactive science and technology displays. If possible, time a visit with the annual Jerusalem Mini Makers Faire to see young Israeli “makers” transform common household items into new products with technology. This event mashes together creativity, technology and fun and is a highlight of the museum’s exhibits.