Things to do in Israel

Leisure activities in Israel
Updated 2023-10-20 12:40

Israelis have a strong enthusiasm for cultural and sports activities, and with the pleasant climate, there are numerous chances to enjoy both indoor and outdoor leisure activities in the country.

Every city possesses its unique personality, directly shaping the kind of leisure pursuits it provides. Nevertheless, the major cities share a common thread, albeit in varying degrees: their abundance of high-quality cultural establishments like museums, theaters, cinemas, stadiums, and sports clubs. This profusion can be attributed to the cultural enthusiasm of the country's youthful population, as well as the clustering of esteemed educational institutions in Israel, resulting in an informed and demanding public.

To provide a glimpse, the nation has recently flaunted 402 cinemas spread across 56 complexes and 92 diverse museums encompassing art, history, science, archaeology, and more. Additionally, there have been over 1,200 exhibitions, excluding private galleries, and a wealth of 84 theaters (with 38 located in Tel Aviv), numerous concert halls, gymnasiums, stadiums, and more.

Plastic arts in Israel

Enthusiasts of visual arts will find joy in the plethora of independent galleries and outdoor exhibitions. One noteworthy example is the esteemed Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem, situated at the gateway to the ancient city. Its main walkway showcases creations by Israeli sculptors, with the displayed artworks being frequently refreshed. This unique setting blends the delight of shopping with the excitement of uncovering emerging artistic talent.

Dance and music hold their spotlight, highlighted by the Tel-Aviv-rooted Batsheva company, celebrated worldwide for its uniqueness, expressive power, and high caliber. Equally renowned is the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which is globally acclaimed for its exceptional performances. A diverse range of musical genres, including jazz, pop, and folk, thrives in the country. Many local artists and groups, each with varying levels of recognition, grace concert venues, bars, and clubs. Some even take their performances to private living rooms, utilizing social networks to showcase their talents.

Furthermore, Oriental music has experienced a revitalization in recent times. Fueled by the passion of young individuals from the Arab Jewish communities, who assert their connection to this oft-overlooked culture, a wave of bands specializing in this music has emerged. Some opt to preserve its traditional essence, while others tailor it to contemporary preferences. This vibrant community is brimming with talent that resonates with the audience. Certain artists in the realm of music have gained recognition on the global stage, including conductor Daniel Barenboïm, violinist Ivry Gitlis, and vocalists Ofra Haza, Mike Brant, and Yaël Naïm.

Israeli cinema has carved out a notable reputation on the global stage, sharing its talents and concepts worldwide. Especially sought-after are its screenwriters, who often find demand in Hollywood, while certain actors have also established themselves within the industry. Israeli filmmakers have explored various genres, from documentaries and comedies to psychological and political dramas, thrillers, and action movies.

The proliferation of film schools throughout the country serves as clear evidence of the fervor for this artistic medium. However, this doesn't imply that French or American cinema fans will go without European and international releases. Mainstream theaters showcase commercial films catering to a wide audience, while cinematheques feature movies with lower budgets and niche audiences.

Read also: Traveling around Israel

Sports in Israël

Like numerous other countries, the most beloved sport in Israel is soccer. Fans can participate and practice within clubs, and it's a common sight to encounter spontaneous matches between teams on park grass. It's practically impossible to avoid the rhythmic sounds of Matkot, the wooden paddle ball game along the beaches. Along the shoreline, you'll spot countless men and women engaging in the distinctive tac-tac exchange of these balls. This sport holds widespread appeal and comes at a minimal expense.

Additional popular beach activities encompass surfing, windsurfing, and scuba diving. Those drawn to the underwater world will discover a paradise in Eilat, where the Red Sea teems with marine life. However, the array of sports available extends beyond these options. Tennis, basketball, paragliding, swimming, krav maga, and many others find their enthusiasts in Israel. The nation can also proudly lay claim to several Olympic medalists, particularly in disciplines like judo, sailing, and artistic gymnastics (earning two gold medals in 2020).

Cuisine in Israel

Delving into the realm of culinary culture is practically inevitable. Israelis have a genuine passion for food and are curious about their meals. The culinary options are abundant given the diverse composition of Israel's populace, stemming from various corners of the globe. The culinary landscape ranges from traditional fare originating in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Iraq, Iran, India, and Ethiopia to fusion creations, timeless classics, and innovative “new” Israeli cuisine. Esteemed chefs in the country have mastered their craft domestically and made a mark internationally. In addition to this, the fast food scene caters to various tastes.

Restaurants and bars in Israel

Finally, touching upon leisure without overlooking the vibrant bar scene is essential. The major cities are brimming with bars and clubs, but Tel Aviv stands out with its nightlife, often likened to the younger sibling of the Big Apple by many.

Remember that only a handful of restaurants remain open on the Sabbath in Jerusalem. Yet, an alternative option is to dine out in the Arab Old Town, where operations continue as usual on that day. On the other hand, in Tel Aviv, there's minimal contrast between this day and the rest of the week.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.