8 of the most romantic places in Israel
This Valentine's Day, love is in the air all over this Mediterranean country.
If you're looking for an idea for an ordinary date, you've come to the wrong place. If you're looking for a latte and a little love, look elsewhere.
"It's true that going to a coffee shop can always make a great date," Israel-based matchmaker Daniella Rudoff told From The Grapevine. "Though if you really want to be impressive, then consider other dating venues as well. It could pique your date's interest and springboard some great conversations that would have never occurred at a coffee shop."
Rudoff, who is now making dating advice videos for YouTube, added that a larger-than-life date "could also create a special bond, and develop the romantic part of your relationship. In the beginning, it may also be less pressured since there are more things going on around you to talk about."
So put down those movie tickets and save the bouquet of roses for another time. Rudoff and our crack in-house team of love-ologists (is that a word?) have curated a list of some of the most romantic locales for your next trip to Israel.
Get decadent at the Galita Chocolate Farm
The Galita Chocolate Farm opened in 2007 on April Fool's Day, but this place is no joke. It offers workshops to make your own chocolate creations, a movie about the history of chocolate and a bartender that serves up chocolate-themed drinks. (For the record, we're envisioning Johnny Depp in "Chocolat" as the bartender.) Proprietor Galit Alpert, who spent years studying chocolate making in Belgium, believes her farm is the perfect place for a date. "I dreamed about a place where people could come together and celebrate the joy that chocolate brings, a place where anyone who dreams can fly away on the wings of imagination and make their sweet dreams come true," she said.
Watch the stars at the Ramon Crater
There's no place like the Ramon Crater for stargazing in Israel. (Photo: Daniel Melman / Flickr)
The Ramon Nature Reserve is Israel's largest national park. Its star attraction is the 25-mile long Ramon Crater, which attracts geology enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the world who seek an unforgettable adventure, by day or by night. Far from civilization, the Ramon Crater is virtually free from light pollution – a stargazer's dream. We'd recommend spending the night at the luxurious Beresheet Hotel, with stunning views of the crater from its lobby balcony. When you're done looking up at the sky, head over to the resort's award-winning restaurant for some of the best-tasting food you can imagine.
Pet animals at this wildlife sanctuary
Cute animals are practically guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. So have we got the perfect spot for you. Avihu Sherwood has turned his home north of Tel Aviv into the For the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. In a profile about him titled "It's Vetting Hot in Here," MSN dubbed him the "hunky animal rescuer." Due to his last name, he's been called the "Robin Hood of Israel's wildlife." Lucky for you, he opens his home to volunteers and visitors who want to come by and help tend to the animals. After all, those 400 baby chicks don't feed themselves. In case Avihu's not around, drive to the nearby Ramat Gan Animal Safari as a backup date.
Visit this little-known town
Zichron Yaakov in northern Israel doesn't often get the hype of big cities like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Located just south of Haifa, the small town of 23,000 hosts some great romantic excursions. Start your day with a peaceful walk through the Horshan Mountain Reserve, then head on over to one of the many art galleries and cafes that line the town's streets. Take a tour of the Tishbi Winery, a family-owned vineyard that produces more than a million bottles a year. Our food correspondent took a recent trip there and said to make sure you visit the chocolate and wine-tasting room at the end. "It's a cool, cavernous room surrounded by thousands of bottles of wine on a second level balcony, massive red brandy distilling machines, cubbies artfully displaying the Tishbi line of gourmet foods, and a huge array of glass jars full of Valrhona chocolates which the staff pairs with specific wines based on flavor profiles," she wrote.
Take a spa day
There's nothing wrong with the tried-and-true trip to the spa for the perfect romantic date. Just make it a spa above the rest. Like at the Ritz Carlton Spa in Herzliya, where the Mediterranean Sea and its surroundings blend magnificently into a state of total serenity. Ask for their "Love Package," which includes a 90-minute massage for two, a private room with a jacuzzi and lunch at their on-site restaurant. We'd also recommend checking out the spa at the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. Looking for a more down-to-earth spa experience? Located at the lowest elevation on the planet, the curative properties of the minerals in the Dead Sea make for a one-of-a-kind mud bath.
Walk the cobblestone streets of a romantic old city
Fortunately for you, Israel is home to a host of such old-world romantic spots. We'd recommend heading over to Jaffa, a beachside town that has been called "Miami on the Mediterranean." Named by CNN as one of 19 cities to visit in 2019, the seaside getaway is home to a vibrant nightlife. And it's (literally) in Vogue. The fashion magazine recently wrote of the city: "A stroll through Jaffa is a journey that takes you through arched alleys that start and stop suddenly, past golden stone buildings bathed in sun and hidden in shadow, through streets with signs marked with zodiac symbols. It’s a mix of weirdness and intrigue that’s befitting of a 4,000-plus-year-old port city that’s starting to really register on must-travel lists."
Go horseback riding on the beach
If you're planning on proposing this Valentine's Day, have we got an idea for you. How about horseback riding on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea at sunset? You're welcome. There are several tour companies that offer these services. Our friends at The Dor Ranch will set you up on a romantic horse ride on Caramel Beach near the ancient city of Caesarea. Just tell them From The Grapevine sent you. And if your girlfriend says "Yes!" upon seeing you on bended knee, please let us know in the comments section below. And send us a wedding invitation.
Lace up for a walk in nature
There's no shortage of beautiful and romantic spots to walk through while in Israel. The Bahai Gardens in Haifa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on many people's bucket lists, while the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens offers stunning flora from around the world at any time of the year. Looking for something a little more strenuous? Check out our roundup of the best day hikes in Israel including on the Israel National Trail. Not to be missed is the Naftali Forest, which overlooks the epic bird migration of the Hula Valley. "Some great ideas could be as simple as bringing a picnic or snacks to the park," adds Rudoff, the matchmaker. "And, remember, always bring water!"
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