When one thinks of Israel, crowded cities, bustling streets, and ancient history often come to mind. However, tucked away on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea is a charming city that often goes unnoticed by tourists – Herzliya. Located just 20 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, this coastal city offers a unique blend of modernity and traditional Israeli culture. From stunning beaches and luxurious marinas to diverse culinary experiences and vibrant nightlife, Herzliya has something for everyone. So, let’s dive into what makes this hidden gem of Israel worth a visit.
History and Culture
Herzliya was named after Theodor Herzl, the visionary behind the establishment of the State of Israel. The city may be relatively new compared to other historical cities in Israel, but it boasts a rich history that dates back to biblical times. It was once a stop on the ancient trade route Via Maris and has seen ruling empires of the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, and Ottomans, leaving their mark. Today, the city is a hub of modern-day Israel, home to embassies, high-tech companies, and a diverse population.
The heart of Herzliya is the picturesque Herzliya Pituach neighborhood, known for its luxurious villas and tree-lined streets. It’s also home to the iconic Herzliya Marina, a popular spot for strolling, shopping, and dining. The marina is lined with yachts, sailing boats, and fancy restaurants, offering a glimpse into the city’s upscale lifestyle. Another noteworthy landmark is the Apollonia National Park, which features ancient ruins from the Crusader period, including a citadel, a church, and a harbor. The park is also a prime spot for whale and dolphin watching.
One of the biggest draws of Herzliya is its pristine beaches. The city boasts 7 kilometers of coastline, with something for every type of beachgoer. Surfers can hit the waves at Herzliya Beach, a popular spot for both locals and tourists. For a more laid-back beach experience, head to Acadia Beach, which is known for its shallow waters, making it perfect for families with young children. Those looking for a more secluded and serene experience can visit Apollonia Beach, tucked away in the Apollonia National Park.
Herzliya is a foodie’s paradise, with a diverse culinary scene that reflects the city’s diverse population. From street food stalls to upscale fine dining, the city has it all. Herzliya is best known for its seafood, fresh from the Mediterranean Sea. One of the must-try dishes is shrimp stuffed falafel, a unique twist on the traditional Middle Eastern dish. The city also has a thriving cafe culture, with countless trendy cafes and bakeries serving up delicious coffee and pastries. Make sure to try the famous Israeli breakfast, shakshuka – eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and served with fresh bread.
As the sun sets, Herzliya transforms into a hub of nightlife, with a myriad of options for every taste. From upscale lounges and bars to vibrant nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. The Rothschild Boulevard is a popular spot for bar-hopping, with live music performances and a lively atmosphere. The Herzliya Marina is also home to several trendy nightlife options, with stunning views of the sea.
Shopaholics will not be disappointed with Herzliya’s wide range of shopping options. The Herzliya Marina is not just known for its restaurants and nightlife, but also for its high-end fashion boutiques, offering the latest designer collections. For a more traditional shopping experience, head to the Herzliya Market, where you can find everything from fresh produce and spices to local handicrafts and souvenirs.
Nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts will also find plenty to do in Herzliya. The Apollonia National Park is not just a historical site, but also offers hiking trails, perfect for a tranquil walk amidst nature. The Herzliya Park, known as the “green lung” of the city, is a popular spot for picnics, sports, and family gatherings. The park also hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year.
Herzliya may not be the first city that comes to mind when planning a trip to Israel, but it’s one that should not be missed. With its unique blend of history, culture, beaches, food, and outdoor activities, the city offers a well-rounded experience for travelers looking to explore Israel beyond its popular tourist destinations. So, next time you plan a trip to Israel, be sure to add Herzliya to your itinerary.