If you’re after winter sun, then look no further than Israel. Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to Tel Aviv took off yesterday and we think it’s the perfect destination for a winter break.
Just a five hour flight from London Heathrow, Israel is significantly closer than other popular winter sun destinations like Florida and the Caribbean. Plus, it’s not too hot as winter temperatures hover around 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.
It’s packed with things to do
There’s plenty to do in Tel Aviv. If you head there for a long weekend, you’re not going to get bored. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is crammed with impressive pieces: expect Modiglianis, Picassos, and surrealist works from Joan Miro. It’s a beautiful, cool space, which is perfect for relaxing in and having a coffee after pounding the sun-drenched streets outside.
The Illana Goor museum is another must-see museum. It’s both an artist’s residence and a gallery situated in an old 18th century building in Jaffa overlooking the sea. It’s packed with 300 artworks collected by Goor and has works by contemporary Israeli artists and also sculptures by Giacometti and Henry Moore.
If you’d rather be outside, Tel Aviv is built for walking, scooting or biking along the seafront. The promenade runs 14 kilometres along the coastline, but there’s a handy four kilometre stretch that links up the city from modern, bustling Tel Aviv centre to old Jaffa.
Eat eat eat
Let’s face it, you’re probably here for the food as much as for the sun. Israeli food has had a resurgence in recent years, thanks to the popularity of chefs like Yotam Ottelenghi and Michael Solomonov. No matter where you go in Tel Aviv, you can be sure of having one of the best meals of your life. This is partly because fruit and vegetables are fresh and sun-ripened year-round. The other thing is Israel chefs use a lot of herbs and tahini in their cooking, which has the ability to elevate even the most mundane dish.
Head to Carmel Market which is the largest market in the city. Grab a falafel wrap or a top-quality burger, and graze the fresh fruits and nuts as you browse. Hakosem is the best place to pick up sabich – a pita bread stuffed with aubergine, tahini and falafel – in the city. Want to tap into the trend of a whole roasted cauliflower rubbed with herbs and drenched in tahini? Mizon carves up these beauties and crams them into pita, so you can carry on sightseeing with your belly full.
Tel Aviv has excellent beaches, food and museums, but there’s also great day trips to be had. Take a few days out to fly down to Eilat, one of the best diving spots on the Red Sea to cool off.
Alternatively, head to Jerusalem. If you can, take a few days to visit one of the oldest cities on earth. There’s something magical about waking up here and slipping down the warren of backstreets in the old town, the wide flagstones shining after thousands of years of use. Jerusalem’s one of those places that’s a dream to pootle around – it’s culturally unlike anywhere else on earth. The Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall, and the Mount of Olives, are all incredible places to visit, and deserve a place on your itinerary if you decide to spend some time away from Tel Aviv.
Virgin Atlantic flies to Tel Aviv daily, year-round. Book your flight on the Virgin Atlantic website now.