As temperatures climb and the humidity soars during Israel’s holiday months, many Israelis escape the heat by traveling to cooler climes. But for the tourists who come visit, and the locals who stay at home, Israel’s summer has its very own special charms.
The roads are quieter, the mood is relaxed, there are rooftop bars, iced drinks, long summer nights on the beach, and virtually zero possibility of rain.
Here are some of ISRAEL21c’s favorite things about summer in Israel. Add yours in the comments section below.
- WET & WILD
Wherever you are, it’s the perfect time for the water. Put on your swimsuit and cool down at any Israeli beach, pool, natural spring, water hike (see our top 10 list here), waterpark or city fountain. Thanks to the strong sun, you’ll dry off in a jiffy. If you prefer to swim at night, the seawater is as warm as a bath this time of year. In August, the average sea water temperature of the Mediterranean is about 29C.
Red, juicy watermelon (avatiach) grown in Israel and available only through the hot summer months is the refreshing quintessential taste of summer. Eat it plain, blend it into a smoothie or top it with Bulgarian cheese for a flavor that really pops. It’s on sale everywhere. Check out our special watermelon recipes here.
- FESTIVALS, FESTIVALS, FESTIVALS
Summer is high festival season throughout Israel. Check our guide to this summer’s festivals to find one that’s just right for you. You can take your pick from sports events like the Maccabiah Games, to the Tel Aviv Blues Festival, the Akko Opera Festival, the Jerusalem Puppet festival and the Red Sea Jazz Festival.
As usual, there are also many outdoor concerts taking place this summer in Israel. Britney Spears kicks off July, followed by Tears for Fears, Guns N’Roses, RadioHead and the Pixies are among the stars expected to perform through the summer months.
- ROOFTOP BAR/RESTAURANTS
Looking for a breeze? Then take to the Tel Aviv rooftops to relax with a cocktail in the nighttime air high above the city. Some of the hottest rooftop hotspots in Tel Aviv are the Brown boutique hotel, 2C on the Azrieli Towers and B on Top at Hotel Indigo. In Jerusalem, try Rooftop at the Mamilla Hotel, or Rooftop Cheese & Wine at the Notre Dame guesthouse.
- JERUSALEM AT NIGHT
Among its other unique qualities, Israel’s capital city is famous for its deliciously cool nights, even during summer. Pack a light sweater for an after-hours stroll in the Old City, Machane Yehuda marketplace, Emek Refaim, Mamilla Alrov mall, The First Station leisure/dining complex or the Sherover and Haas promenades.
The 45-minute Night Spectacular sound-and-light show on the walls of the Citadel at the Tower of David Museum takes place twice a night (except Fridays); buy tickets on the website.
- KIDS EVERYWHERE
Israel is well known as one of the most child-friendly places on earth and you’ll soon see why. During summer vacation, special activities for youngsters are available daily in museums, parks and malls across the country. Kids are out in force on the hiking trails, beaches and parks, and the fun doesn’t stop during the day. At night you’ll find the streets, restaurants and cafes are bursting with children enjoying the cooler air of night. And don’t expect them to go to bed early, you’ll find kids still enjoying the night time fun long after midnight.
- Ice cream
Well of course. Ice cream is a no-brainer on hot summer days. The average Israeli eats about 10 liters of ice cream every year and most of it is during the summer. Try Mideast-inspired flavors such as hummus, halva, tahini, 10-spice, fig and pomegranate, as well as fresh fruit sorbets.
Two unusual ice-cream parlors in the Galilee are Bouza, co-owned by a Jewish kibbutznik and an Arab Muslim; and ILO Natural Ice Cream (vegan) at Kibbutz Hagoshrim. You don’t have to go that far, however, if you’re searching for good ice cream – it’s everywhere!
- Israeli lifeguards
If you’re looking for a show on the beach in the summer, you don’t need to look much further than Israel’s lifeguards. They are a unique breed unto themselves. Perched up in their towers through the long summer days in little red shorts and a dark tan, they’re loud, abrasive, and sometimes rude.
While on duty they punctuate the seaside air with a string of assertive demands, and often hilarious asides if you don’t do what they suggest. So if you are happily bathing in an area you really shouldn’t, hear a loud voice on the tannoy, and find the entire beach staring at you, just get out of the water.