New York – November 8, 2012: Israel is far more than the vibrant beaches, buzzing nightlife and thriving arts scene of Tel Aviv – or the historic holy sites, colorful markets and innovative museums in Jerusalem; it is a land of many exciting destinations and attractions packed into a country just the size of New Jersey. From the Golan Heights in the north to the Negev Desert in the south, Israel is brimming with secret gems, including:

Located toward the northern end of Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, Akko offers travelers a unique combination of modern and ancient, with high-end restaurants and boutique hotels just footsteps away from historic sites and bustling marketplaces. One of Israel’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Akko is an ideal destination for history-minded travelers, with Crusader-era churches, an ancient Turkish bathhouse and Ottoman-style structures located within the confines of the Old City. And after a day of reliving history in the Old City, travelers can relax in the nearby marina and visit the many world-class restaurants and hotels dotting the beachfront.

Twenty minutes south of Tel Aviv lies the seaside city of Ashdod, one of Israel’s largest ports and cruise destinations where ships often dock to allow travelers to spend the day relaxing along the unspoiled beachfront and touring the city’s ancient and modern attractions. Ashdod is home to Israel’s archeological wonders and unique museums, including: the Givat Yonah, a towering hill where the biblical site of the tomb of Jonah the prophet is located; and the Corinne Maman Museum, which focuses on the ancient history of Ashdod. And for sport enthusiasts, Ashdod is also a popular surfing destination, having recently hosted an international surfing competition.

Dubbed the capital of the Negev Desert, Beersheba is one of Israel’s most innovative cities, boasting several eco-projects, including the recently transformed Beersheba River Park, and the eco-minded Ben Gurion University, one of Israel’s top institutions for higher learning. Travelers to Beersheba often pay a visit to the nearby Tel Beersheba, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites featuring ruins from the Israelite monarchic period more than 6,000 years ago, and the Negev Museum of Art, featuring a massive scultpure park and Israeli artworks.

Beersheba is also adjacent to the breathtaking Sde Boker and Ein Avdat National Park, a massive canyon with natural springs, a waterfall and hiking trails scattered about, as well as the Sde Boker Winery, which produces several varieties of some of Israel’s finest wine blends.

Just a ten-minute drive from Tel Aviv lies the beachside city of Herzliya, one of Tel Aviv’s largest suburbs and home to one of Israel’s most popular beach spots. Herzliya is known for its summertime arts festivals and year-round galleries, as well as the Herzliya Namal, boasting a mélange of high-end restaurants and stores. Travelers looking for a serene day combining nature and history can explore Apollonia National Park and beach, where sun worshipers can swim in the Mediterranean in front of massive bluffs and ancient historical sites, including ruins and a mosque from the 7th century.

One of Israel’s most popular sports destinations is Netanya, a seaside city just 30 minutes north of Tel Aviv and home to Israel’s newest soccer stadium. Netanya is known for its unspoiled stretch of Mediterranean coastline, where locals and travelers alike enjoy windsurfing, surfing, swimming and strolling along the unspoiled shoreline. Netanya also plays host to a variety of amateur and professional sport competitions, including an international women’s tennis tournament, as well as a zumba and aerobics marathon and a citywide “sports day.” And in the summertime, the Netanya beachside promenade comes alive with free weekly movie screenings, music performances and family-friendly events.

Located in Israel’s Lower Galilee region, Tiberias, a 2,000-year-old city with modern amenities, boasts historical holy sites of importance to both the Christian and Jewish faiths, as well as high-end boutique hotels, restaurants and natural wonders. Travelers and pilgrims from around the world arrive in Tiberias every year after spending the day traversing the newly opened Gospel Trail, or simply swimming, camping or boating in the Sea of Galilee, the biblical site where Jesus walked on water. And Tiberias is also home to the Tiberias Springs Spa, known for its thermo-mineral pools, luxurious body treatments and unique health treatments surrounded by the picturesque Galilee religion.

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