Like pretty much every other millennial I know, my travel bucket list has been 10 feet long since before I started college. I've had the amazing opportunity to visit a ton of my dream destinations in the past few years — including India, Puerto Rico, and Australia — but of course, there are additional places I need to experience ASAP. (Greece and Japan, I'm coming for you next.) One place I always wanted to see was Israel. Last week, that dream came true, and now I know why every millennial needs to visit Israel.
Of course, I knew a bit about the history of the country before traveling there. I also heard from friends who had been that it is an incredibly beautiful place with so much to offer in terms of natural beauty and rich culture. But I really wasn't fully prepared for what the country greeted me with.
Israel is full of incredible people, food, and history. There is no shortage of picturesque spots for the 'Gram, and I left the country feeling more connected to my faith than I thought would be possible. Your wanderlust-filled soul may have different reasons for adding this destination to your bucket list, but I'm here to share my personal experience, what I did while I was there, and why this trip meant so much to me.
If you're trying to capture amazing content for your Instagram feed, you can't go wrong with a trip to Israel. I have no shame admitting that one of the best parts of traveling for me is that I'm able to take a ton of surreal pictures in incredibly beautiful places.
Let me tell you, I left my Israel trip with a full camera roll. From the architecture to the food, so much about the country is picturesque and Instagrammable. I loved that I was able to walk through the cities and take pictures of things both new and old, and it seemed like there was no end to the interesting things around me.
In cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I saw a ton of street art (including some at the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem). The country also has beautiful foliage because of its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, and the architecture made me swoon.
I also loved taking pictures of the food. Israelis cook with so many different colors — especially the spices — which makes for an Instagram foodie's heaven. The country has no shortage of delicious fresh fruit, and there was a juice stand at least every two blocks. I don't entirely identify as a foodie myself, but all of the colorful food around me definitely made my mouth water.
The rich religious history in the country — especially in Jerusalem — had more of an impact on me than I thought it ever would. I grew up going to church, and always knew of the cultural significance of Israel in my religion. Although I still believe in God and identify as a Christian, I've often found myself questioning my faith as an adult.
I visited Israel during the holy season of Lent, and was even around for Palm Sunday weekend. Visiting the sacred places that I had only read about in Sunday school had an immense and unexpected impact on me. I was able to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and walked through the ancient olive groves in The Garden of Gethsemane.
I was almost moved to tears when I was able to take a second to kneel and pray at the site of Jesus' crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was so incredible experiencing the magnitude of that place with people from around the world. The line to get into that area was massive, but people were willing to wait as long as it took so that they could pay their respects and show their faith.
I was taken aback by the beauty of being surrounded by so many people coming together to honor something so sacred in their lives. It didn't matter that right outside was a bustling market with huge tour groups and student groups making their ways through the monument; everyone was there for a purpose, and it filled my heart with so much joy.
I truly cannot wait for my next trip back. Although I was able to visit a number of cities in just a week — including Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Akko (Acre), Haifa, and Jerusalem — I know that the country has so much more to offer. (I didn't even get to see the desert or the Dead Sea on this trip, so I know that I absolutely need to go back for those, at the very least.) I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to explore a place that was so beautiful and brimming with rich cultural experiences. Although I'm not sure when exactly I'll be back, all I know is that I definitely will be.