Ashdod is the main cruise port serving Jerusalem and attracts a melting pot of cultural and religious entities. Filled with ancient ruins, holy sites, historic areas, museums, and more, Ashdod is a wonderful place to visit during a cruise. Whether you’re into learning about religion and culture, history, or nature, this port city is nothing short of your dream come true! Plus, there are enough parks and beaches between Ashdod and Jerusalem to provide you with the typical “vacationing experience” as you take everything in! Plus, you’ll discover a wonderful selection of cuisine that reflects Israel’s very diverse atmosphere. Salads, falafel, hummus, and shawarma are just some examples of the delicious local cuisine you can try. Since Ashdod is located about an hour away from Jerusalem, it is advisable to book excursions via your cruise line, or plan to take a taxi into the city.
Many cruise lines offer cruises that include Ashdod in their itineraries; however, Celestyal Cruises is the only cruise line that currently features cruises from Ashdod. Being an all-inclusive cruise line, Celestyal is perfect if you’re looking for a Mediterranean cruise filled with value. Their onboard atmosphere focuses heavily on Greek customs, making it a very cultural cruising experience as well! Their ocean liner Celestyal Crystal will bring you from Ashdod to the Eastern Mediterranean, calling upon ports such as Limassol, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Athens, Alexandria, and Port Said. A great time to visit Ashdod is anytime, as the weather tends to stay pleasant year-round!
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These are just a few of the more popular tourist attractions in Ashdod, along with a brief description:
♦ Jerusalem’s Old City
Religious sites are the main attraction of any stop in Jerusalem, as it is also often called “The Holy Land.” If you’re looking to experience the best religious sites, then Jerusalem’s Old Town is not one you want to miss. Since the Old Town is very large, it is generally divided into the Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Arab Quarter and Armenian Quarter. Among the many holy sites, you can experience the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock (accessible to Muslim tourists only), Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and more. The Jewish Quarter is so spectacular that it’s worth its own exploration. Throughout the Old City, you can find souvenir shops and restaurants. Guided tours are available (highly recommend) and if you choose to explore on your own, maps are available.
Ashdod is filled with many interesting museums! If you’re looking to broaden your perspective of the world before heading to Jerusalem, museums are a great place to begin. The Museum of Philistine Culture is one of Ashdod’s most popular museums, featuring interactive cultural exhibits (for example, you can try on clothes such as the ones worn by old-world Philistines, or try their local cuisine). Art lovers cannot miss the Ashdod Museum of Art, which houses 12 galleries of spectacular international works of art. If you want to stop by some museums in Jerusalem, among the best ones are The Israel Museum (containing the Dead Sea Scrolls), Yad Vashem, Bible Lands Museum, and the Museum for Islamic Art.
♦ The Dead Sea
While spending time in Jerusalem, you’ll have the opportunity to tour (and even swim in) the Dead Sea! There is a great number of guided Dead Sea tours that leave from Jerusalem every day. Some tours also combine other attractions, making for great full-day experiences. Of course, you can also visit yourself and spend time on its many public beaches. The Dead Sea is famous for its numerous healing properties and the fact that you can naturally float in the water! Plus, there are many other attractions located within close proximity, such as the ancient fortress Masada (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and Ein Gedi National Park.
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