When you think of hot spots in Israel, the first places that spring to mind are the famous restaurants, cafes, beaches and museums in Tel Aviv, and the major historical and religious sites of Jerusalem.
Here we are going to introduce other hotspots that you may not be familiar with because they are not in either of those cities. They’re in the fourth largest city in Israel, Rishon LeZion.
Rishon LeZion (Hebrew for “First in Zion,” as it was one of the first Jewish settlements in pre-state Israel, dating to 1882) is 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) south of Tel Aviv, giving it a bustling city feel with a tranquil suburban air.
Rishon is also renowned for its rich modern Jewish history. The first Hebrew school and kindergarten was founded in Rishon and it was the first city to raise the prototypic Israeli flag. It was here that poet Naftali Herz Imber wrote the words of Israel’s national anthem, “‘HaTikva,” in the late 1880s.
Indeed, Rishon LeZion is fundamental to the history of Israel, but there is a myriad of aspects to explore in the present day — whether it’s sunbathing on beautiful beaches, strolling around the unique Agam Museum or having a super fun day out at Superland amusement park.
These are our recommended activities:
- Spend a day catching rays on the beautiful 4×4 Beach
Rishon LeZion’s 4×4 beach has lots of sofas to lounge on all day long, with the option of renting an umbrella. You can grab a quick lunch at the restaurant with your family or get tipsy off a pina colada with your friends.
On summer evenings, you can even take part in karaoke and sing along to Israeli songs. There is the opportunity to participate in yoga in front of the picturesque sunset a few times a week if you want the ultimate in relaxation on the beach.
- Take a stroll around the Yaacov Agam Museum of Art
Pioneer of the kinetic art movement, Rishon LeZion resident Yaacov Agam is renowned worldwide for his monumental creative works that offer different perspectives depending on the angle from which you view them. The museum showcases six decades of Agam’s artistic expressions, transformable sculptures and paintings, polymorphic relief paintings, interactive digital art, objects and installations.
Guided by gloved docents, visitors have the opportunity to explore and interact with Agam’s everchanging artwork and submerge themselves in a sphere of time and movement, change, and the unexpected.
- Whizz down some rides at Superland
In central Rishon LeZion, an extravagant amusement park called Superland stretches over 20 acres. If you are an adrenaline chaser, you can enjoy a range of whizzing rides and spectacular scenes. Superland is suitable for both children and adults, as there are rides appropriate for people of all ages and sizes.
- Say hello to some exotic animals at Hai Kef Zoo
Hai Kef is a small and therefore accessible zoo that ensures families will have a day full of fun. The site is green, welcoming and appropriate for children. If you want a day at one with wildlife and to immerse yourself in the habitats of exotic animals, a visit to Hai Kef looks like it would be perfect.
- Take a history lesson at Rishon LeZion Museum
The informative yet captivating Rishon LeZion Museum is a historic site on Achad ha-Am Street. This and other buildings in the vicinity date from the Ottoman Empire, when Jews from Russia, Romania and Yemen began arriving in the First Aliyah of the 1880s.
The museum’s exhibitions allow visitors to gain insight into the lives of the pioneering settlers and an audiovisual display tells the story of finding the first well of water in the city. For me, the Rishon LeZion Museum sparked a desire to discover more about modern Israeli history.
- Watch a basketball game at Gan Nahum
Maccabi Rishon LeZion is one of the most popular basketball clubs in Israel. Crowned the 2016 champion in the top-tier Israeli Basketball Premier League, this basketball team rivals some of Israel’s best clubs, such as Maccabi Tel Aviv. The Gan Nahum stadium can hold 1,500 roaring fans and is known for its vibrant atmosphere.
- Immerse in nature at Palmachim Beach National Park
Palmachim Beach National Park is notable for its impressive Mediterranean beach as well as its natural landscape including wandering dunes and a kurkar ridge — a habitat for rare species of plants and animals including a type of sea turtle that is in danger of extinction throughout the Mediterranean basin.
Additionally, Palmachim Beach is a fascinating historical site as it holds the remains of the ancient port city, Yavne-Yam. These ruins, including ancient waterworks and agricultural implements, date back to the Middle Bronze Age. An enchanting natural site, definitely worth a visit.