Depending on what you’ve planned for your vacation to the Holy Land, your pick of where to stay in Israel will be very different.
Whether you want to explore the beautiful landscapes, the stark desert, or just rest on the beach in Tel Aviv, your choice of accommodation will differ.
Israel is a small land, but there are a lot of different things to see. That is why choosing where to stay is important to make sure you make the most out of your vacation.
Why You Should Visit Israel in 2023
There are thousands of reasons to visit Israel, just like there are thousands of years of history packed into this small corner of the world.
From sites holy to three major world religions to architectural remnants dating back millennia to bustling modern metropolises, Israel has something for everyone. The biggest draw in Israel is definitely the spectacular history.
You can visit sights such as the spectacular preserved fortress of Akko or the cliffs of Masada.
The city of Jerusalem has sights important to all three major religions, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Wailing Wall, and the Dome of the Rock, and winding streets home to many ethnicities.
Israel is also home to some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, such as Jaffa. Israel is also a great destination for the hedonistic traveler thanks to Tel Aviv, one of its biggest cities.
Tel Aviv is a bustling modern city with a diverse foodie scene, famous café culture, and thumping nightlife, including a considerable gay-friendly scene.
It’s also located right on the Mediterranean coastline, so you can also spend a lot of time on the beach. The country’s stark natural landscapes are full of eerie beauty.
You can float in the lowest point in the world and the saltiest body of water at the Dead Sea. The Negev Desert, with its lunar desert landscapes and opportunities to stay with local Bedouins, is another must-visit location.
Israel has something for everyone, from history lovers to beach-loving hedonists. The real challenge is figuring out where to start your exploration.
The good news is that this decision is fairly low-stakes: with a great bus network and a compact land mass, every site in Israel is a doable trip from wherever you choose to base yourself!
The Best Places to Stay in Israel
Our top 5 picks for the best areas to stay in Israel include:
- Tel Aviv: Best area for nightlife and the beach
- Jerusalem: Best area for history and religion
- Dead Sea area: Best area for swimming and family travel
- Carmel area: Best area for history and fewer tourists
- Negev Desert: Best area for adventure tourism and nature
Where to Stay in Israel: Best Areas & Hotels
For such a small country, Israel has a lot to offer. Depending on where you stay, you could have a completely different experience — either a luxurious beachside experience or a rough trip in the desert to remember.
This guide can help you figure out which region of Israel is best for you, and which hotels you should choose once you get there.
1. Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital or its biggest city, but it is the center of life in the country in many ways.
This bustling modern metropolis is the center of Israel’s business landscape, making it one of the wealthiest areas in the country and a top destination for young Israelis looking for jobs.
The youthful population is also responsible for making Tel Aviv one of the coolest places on the planet. Tel Aviv is a young city by Israel’s standards, but it has absorbed the older city of Jaffa, whose Old Town, full of winding alleyways and unique galleries, is over 3,000 years old.
Most of Tel Aviv’s attractions are far newer such as its café culture, restaurant scene, and artisanal boutiques and markets on every corner.
After dark, the city turns into the party capital of Israel thanks to its vibrant nightlife, including the most LGBT clubs in the Middle East. Not only this, but it also has the fortune to be right by the beach.
The city has over ten miles of coastline and 16 different beaches, including beaches just for religious people and beaches that are pet and family-friendly. If you want to soak up the sun and splash in the warm Mediterranean Sea, then Tel Aviv is the perfect city in Israel for you to visit.
Tel Aviv is a fascinating place to visit, but keep in mind that it is a modern city, with many of the same problems as other big cities around the world, such as traffic and crowds, which may not feel super relaxing on vacation.
It is also the worst place on this list if you are a history lover since it is a newer city, so go looking for ancient ruins elsewhere.
Things to Do
- Check out Tel Aviv’s great nightlife, such as the iconic LGBT-friendly club Shpagat.
- Go shopping for souvenirs in Nachalat Binyamin or one of Tel Aviv’s other markets.
- Wander the old streets of Jaffa/Yafo.
- Laze on one of the over one dozen Tel Aviv beaches such as Metzitzim Beach.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy modern twists on Israeli cuisine at Mashya.
- Head to OPA for vegan twists on Mediterranean foods.
- Sample some international delicacies at Thai House.
Tel Aviv Budget Hotels
- Rena’s House. One of Tel Aviv’s coolest hotels, guests here can enjoy spacious suites and apartments and an in-house gallery hosting works by local artists.
- Beach Boutique Hotel & Spa by TLV Hotels. Guests at this hotel can enjoy comfy rooms, including the option to upgrade to a suite with hot tub, and a shared pool.
Tel Aviv Mid-Range Hotels
- Hotel Saul. This stylish boutique hotel has an in-house restaurant serving Israeli cuisine, a sun terrace, and a great location in the center of town.
- Ink Hotel. This stylish modern hotel has extremely clean, recently renovated rooms and a rooftop perfect for relaxing.
Tel Aviv Luxury Hotels
- The Norman Tel Aviv. This sleek modern hotel is housed in recently renovated historical buildings and features top-notch amenities such as a fitness center and pool.
- Renoma. Guests at one of Tel Aviv’s most stylish properties can stay in spacious rooms or suites with their own seating areas, bathrooms, and TVs, and have every need met by patient staff.
Even if you’re not religious, it’s hard to deny that the city feels like no other. It contains holy sites important to all three Abrahamic religions, as well as historic buildings dating back thousands of years.
It is the perfect destination for lovers of history, especially religious history. The sites of Jerusalem show why Israel is nicknamed the Holy Land.
For Muslims (and Jews), the glimmering Haram Al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, and Al-Aqsa, is an important holy site. Jews from all over the world flock to the Western Wall to pay their respects to the remnants of the ancient temple.
For Christians, the focal site of Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Jesus was supposedly crucified.
There are plenty of things to do in Jerusalem for more secular-minded travelers as well. Walk through the narrow streets of the Old City, which has buildings that are sometimes a thousand years old, especially in the Armenian Quarter.
The city is also full of archeological landmarks, such as the Roman-era Citadel or the Ottoman-era City Walls.
In terms of more modern history, you can visit museums dedicated to the city of Israel, including the somber Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Jerusalem is a wonderful city to visit, but probably not the best place to stay overnight if you are overly concerned about safety.
Clashes between different communities are common (and the city itself is contested between Israel and the Palestinian Authority). Learn all about whether or not Jerusalem is safe to visit in our complete guide. You’ll be glad you did!
Things to Do
- Admire the religious sites such as the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
- Follow the Via Dolorosa pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a somber trip even if you’re not Christian.
- Shop for souvenirs in the Souk of the Muslim Quarter in the Old City.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy farm-to-table treats at Machneyuda.
- Start your day with brunch and pastries at Café Nadi.
- Try the best hummus, a favorite local snack, at Hummus Ben Sira.
Jerusalem Budget Hotels
- White Moon Inn. This simple modern inn has rooms with wardrobes and private bathrooms that feature new furnishings, all in a great location near the center.
- Jerusalem Hotel. This hotel feels like a step back in time thanks to its location in a 19th century mansion and authentic local décor but has modern amenities including air conditioning.
Jerusalem Mid-Range Hotels
- Biazi Hotel. This stylish little hotel is located right in the city center, but with comfy rooms and welcoming staff, it will be a welcoming oasis from the bustle outside the front door.
- Azzahra Hotel. Feel even closer to the city’s history by staying in this repurposed 19th century mansion, which has modern rooms and a breakfast buffet that is the best in the city.
Jerusalem Luxury Hotels
- The American Colony Hotel. This boutique hotel has rooms equipped with designer touches such as luxury bed linens and toiletries, a pool, a garden, and an on-site restaurant.
- Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. Wherever you go in the world, it doesn’t get more luxury than the Waldorf, whose Jerusalem outpost features chandeliers and marble bathroom furnishings in every room, three restaurants, and a Guerlain spa.
3. Dead Sea Area
If your primary goal for visiting Israel is to hang out on the shore and swim the day away, then you can’t go wrong with staying around the Dead Sea. Plus, this will be a beach vacation like no other.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and has some of the saltiest water in the world (it’s actually an inland lake, not a sea, despite the deceptive name).
The Dead Sea Area is perfect for families because kids will get a kick out of swimming and floating in the saline waters of the lake, where it is nearly impossible to drown (although paper cuts will really sting).
Adults will enjoy the spa treatments available at many hotels and spas around the area that use the healing Dead Sea mud, which has health properties. The area also has a few attractions close by that are well worth a visit.
You can go hiking in the national park Ein Gedi, on the site of a famous kibbutz, or visit the steep hillside fortress of Masada. The sunrise view from the top is world-famous — and now accessible by cable car as well.
The Dead Sea region is perfect for a relaxing vacation, but if you prefer staying in a city, you might get a bit bored by all the relaxation. Plus, it’s not the most budget-friendly destination in Israel.
Things to Do
- Swim in the famously salty Dead Sea.
- Relax in one of the nearby spas and receive Dead Sea mud spa treatments.
- Visit the spectacular ruins of Masada, a UNESCO-protected site.
Where to Eat
- Sample pastries at Desert, kibbutz Ein Gedi’s café and bakery.
- Enjoy a meal with a view at Kalia Beach Restaurant.
- Taste local specialties at family-owned Last Chance.
Dead Sea Area Budget Hotels
- Kalia Kibbutz Hotel. For an authentic Dead Sea experience, stay at this kibbutz hotel a few miles away from the sea itself, and enjoy the run of the property including a pool.
- DUKE of the Dead Sea by CROWN. Guests at this elegant hotel can stay in air-conditioned suites and enjoy great service by the hosts.
Dead Sea Area Mid-Range Hotels
- Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel. Located in the oasis that is Ein Gedi, this hotel welcomes guests with spacious rooms, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and spectacular views.
- Noga by Isrotel Collection. Guests at this classy hotel can swim in several pools, including two indoor options and one just for children, and enjoy spa treatments for relatively affordable prices.
Dead Sea Area Luxury Hotels
- Nevo by Isrotel Collection. When you stay at this hotel, you can enjoy views of the Dead Sea from your private room’s balcony, pamper yourself in the spa, and lounge on the private beach.
- Herods Dead Sea. Be pampered like royalty at this hotel thanks to the world-class spa, spacious rooms, and easy beach access.
4. Carmel Area
The region of Carmel in northern Israel is centered around Mount Carmel, a spectacular coastal mountain range. Mount Carmel is close to cities such as Haifa and Akko, which are some of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and other historic sites.
This region is perfect for history lovers, and it receives fewer tourists than the more popular sites around Jerusalem. The Carmel area and the rest of Northern Israel is packed with historic sites.
You can visit Tzfat, a holy city in Judaism famous as the seat of Kabbalah. Beautiful Haifa is an elegant city that was designed during British occupation and features spectacular landmarks such as the Holy Baha’i Gardens.
Acre, or Akko, was first settled by the Phoenicians and boasts thousands of years of history, including a medieval Old Town.
The region around Haifa and Mount Carmel is packed with historic ruins, such as the Roman port of Caesarea. The Carmel area is also a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the sights of the Galilee area.
Popular attractions in this area include Nazareth, which is cited in the Bible as Jesus’s hometown.
The Carmel area is a beautiful place to visit and packed with history, but not quite as lively as other parts of Israel such as Tel Aviv, which is the better choice if you are interested in nightlife.
Things to Do
- Hike the rolling peaks of Mount Carmel and learn about the local Druze community.
- Get lost in Akko/Acre’s Old Town, a UNESCO-protected site with remnants from Crusader times.
- Visit the Roman ruins of Caesarea, right on the Mediterranean coast.
Where to Eat
- Taste the multicultural influences on Haifa in Douzan.
- Taste Druze cuisine, the minority living on Mount Carmel, at El Kheir.
- Enjoy delicious seafood at Acre’s El Marsa.
Carmel Area Budget Hotels
- Hebi House. There’s nothing more historic than staying in an old house in Akko’s historic center, but one that has modern amenities such as wifi and a kitchenette for each suite.
- Carmel Pearl. This soothing Haifa hotel has comfy rooms and a garden with a sauna perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring.
Carmel Area Mid-Range Hotels
- Bat Galim Boutique Hotel. Guests at this stylish Haifa hotel can enjoy well-appointed rooms, a tasty breakfast, and a great location close to the beach.
- Schumacher Hotel Haifa. This elegant hotel has a rooftop with great views of the Baha’i Hanging Gardens and small touches that set it above the rest, such as a signature room scent.
Carmel Area Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Botanica. Guests at this bespoke hotel enjoy elegant, well-designed rooms and access to a seasonal outdoor pool.
- The Efendi Hotel Akko. Step back in time at this glorious hotel, where guests sleep in modernized historic buildings, eat around a knight’s table, and relax in the spa, all while surrounded by stunning interior design.
5. Negev Desert
In the south of Israel lies the most inhospitable part of the country, the austere Negev Desert. This region is popular among adventure travelers that want to explore the lunar landscape and try to live in the desert.
The Negev is also home to Israel’s Bedouin population, who still maintain their traditional lifestyle. Tourists can stay in an authentic Bedouin camp or visit the towns to see their way of life.
The Negev is crisscrossed with trails for hiking and driving off-road vehicles such as ATVs, making it a great choice for some adrenaline travel. Explore unique landscapes such as the Ramon Crater, which looks like a space lake.
This area is also packed with important historic sites — you can visit sites such as Tel Be’er Sheva, an excavation dating back to Biblical times, and the Nabatean city of Avdat.
Visiting the Negev will certainly be an experience to remember, and there are even luxury hotels for more well-heeled travelers. However, if you prefer the convenience of traveling to a city, this is not the region for you.
Things to Do
- Hike some of the desert’s spectacular trails, such as the cliffs of Ein Avdat.
- Visit some of the architectural ruins, such as the ruins of the biblical town of Be’er Sheva, home of Abraham.
- Visit a traditional Bedouin village and share in the way of life.
Where to Eat
- Taste wine from the most unlikely place at Carmey Avdat farm.
- Visit the farm and restaurant Succah in the Desert for gourmet vegetarian food.
- Try organic treats at the kibbutz-run café Pundak Neot Semadar.
Negev Desert Budget Hotels
- Selina Tzukim. Guests at this hostel can stay in shared dormitories, reserve private family rooms, or enjoy glamping in the spacious, well-appointed tents, all with great desert views.
- Khan Alsira. Enjoy traditional Bedouin hospitality at this family-run hotel, which has comfy rooms, suites, and family tents, and personable hosts that even prepare meals for guests.
Negev Desert Mid-Range Hotels
- Helios Boutique Suites by La Finca. Guests stay in comfortable, air-conditioned rooms and have free run of the garden, a perfect desert oasis.
- Old City Boutique by La Finca Hotels. Guests at this hotel stay in spacious apartments whose design blends in well with the desert, with big bathrooms and balconies.
Negev Desert Luxury Hotels
- Six Senses Shaharut. One of the most famous Negev luxury resorts for a reason, this hotel offers guests gorgeous rooms, a year-round outdoor pool, a Turkish bath, and spa among other amenities.
- Beresheet by Isrotel Exclusive. This hotel has all the amenities you would expect from a luxury resort, such as a pool and wellness center, with quirky touches such as a herd of resident ibexes.
Over to You!
|🎉 Best for Nightlife||Tel Aviv|
|⛪ Best for Religious Travelers||Jerusalem|
|⛱️ Best for Swimming||Dead Sea area|
|🏛️ Best for History||Carmel area|
|⛰️ Best for Adventure||Negev Desert|
Israel has so much to offer for such a small country, but no matter where you stay in Israel, there will be one problem — you’ll immediately want to come back. Happy travels!