Israel has so many beautiful cities on the Mediterranean coast that you may wish to visit all of them. One of them Ashkelon. This coastal city in Israel’s Southern District lies 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Tel Aviv and 13 kilometers (8 miles) north of the border with the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.
Those visiting Ashkelon will be able to enjoy its natural coastal splendor by swimming, sunbathing, playing water sports, sitting and enjoying the sunset views, or having a great dinner at one of the marina’s several seaside restaurants.
Ashkelon was an ancient seaport that has been ruled by several civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians, and the Romans. Their legacies are found in several existing ruins ranging from the Canaanite settlements to those left behind by the Philistines and Romans. If you feel like Indiana Jones, Ashkelon offers several ancient sites for you to explore!
Visitors looking for modern recreational experiences can visit malls (such as the Marina Mall) for shopping, dining, and catching a movie, or the Escape Zone for its exciting escape room challenge. If you’re for nature-tripping, visit the Nitsanim Nature Dunes Nature Reserve. People with adventurous spirits can experience an exhilarating ride in an off-road vehicle over the sand dunes. Check them out and more things to do in Ashkelon.
Visit the Ashkelon National Park for the ancient ruins, nature trip, and the bathing beach
The Ashkelon National Park, located on the city’s southern coast, will surely be among the first in your Ashkelon itinerary. One day might not be enough to explore the entirety of this gem, as it combines a fascinating antiquities site, a park in which to spend some quiet time in the heart of nature, and a fantastic bathing beach. You can even find an ancient dog cemetery there (the Canaan dog has similar characteristics to the dogs buried there).
One of the highlights of this park is the ruins of Ashkelon, surrounded by an enormous earthen rampart that marked the borders of the Canaanite settlement. It is in the form of a semi-circle measuring around 2,200 meters (7,217 feet) in length. This colossal wall rises 15 meters (almost 50 feet) high and 30 meters (98 feet) wide at the base. The wall’s purpose was the basis for a system of fortifications and a glacis (an artificial slope descending from the fort that exposes enemies to the defenders’ weapons). The rampart was built between 2,000 to 1,550 C.E. and was by Ashkelon residents for over 500 years.
The park also serves as a nature reserve consisting of sand dunes and unique desert vegetation (such as white broom, sea cudweed, and sea daffodil). There’s also an amphitheater that seats around 10,000 spectators and is currently used for cultural shows.
Within the park’s premises, there’s also a bathing beach that’s open during the bathing season (April to October). It has showers, toilets, and lifeguard services.
Start a hiking adventure along the Ashkelon Promenade
Ashkelon Promenade is a beautiful promenade lined with trees and manicured rolling lawns. Start by strolling along the boardwalk to catch the refreshing sea breeze as you hike up the beach towards the cliffs that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the sea and the city’s edge. You can do the usual beach activities at the promenade, such as swimming, sunbathing, picnics, and sunset views. The area is also accessible to several accommodations.
Explore Ashkelon Marina
Opened in 1995, the Ashkelon Marina is one of Israel’s most beautiful and contemporary marinas and its southern gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset view while dining seaside at one of the marina’s restaurants. The Marina Mall, a two-story, 5,000-square-meter mall on the waterfront, is an excellent place to hang out and cool one’s heels, with a good selection of stores, a cinema, kosher and non-kosher restaurants, and of course, amazing views of the marina.
Hoof it at Nitzanim Dunes Nature Reserve
The Nitzanim Dunes Nature Reserve is a 21,600-dunam area that’s one of the most popular tourist sites in southern Israel. It combines the best of a nature reserve and a beach resort that offers fascinating vegetation typical of both Mediterranean and Africa, hiking trails, and heritage sites. Spot a deer or wild rodent, go bird-watching or see the turtles swimming from the sea onto the sandy shore. Hop in an off-road terrain vehicle for the sand dune adventure or just enjoy strolling along the virtually untouched coastline.
Take the challenge at Escape Zone
If you want to escape reality for a while, Escape Zone is a great place where you and your friends take the challenge to escape a locked room full of clues within a limited time. Take your group of up to six players and try to figure out how to escape a locked room within 60 minutes by finding clues and solving puzzles. Trying to get out of a knotty situation in a limited time is enough to set the pulses racing! But at the same time, it encourages you to think out of the box, learn teamwork, and of course, have fun along the way – and maybe even you will escape!
This gaming haven consists of two escape rooms – and don’t worry, these rooms are universal, so there’s no need to learn the local language before your visit.
Learn from the past at the From Holocaust to Revival (Yad Mordechai)
This museum, located in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, documents the sequence of events in the modern history of the Jewish people, from the beginning of the 20th century up to the establishment of the State of Israel.
This three-story museum highlights the Jewish uprising in Warsaw against the Nazis during World War II; and Mordechai Anielewicz, who led the uprising. It also presents the history of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, the settlement in the Negev, and Israel’s battles in 1948. The museum is located right next to the cemetery where the fallen soldiers of the 1948 war are buried.
Have a fun-filled day at the Ashkelon Sea Park
Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, or as a family, the Ashkelon Sea Park offers everyone a complete recreational and entertainment experience. Get on the fun and action with activities such as climbing walls, spiral zip lines, cycling trails, as well as a cycling area for the kids.
But if you’re not up to some adventure, enjoy a day of relaxation instead, soaking up the sun at the beach and dining at one of the many restaurants dotting the area. Admire the stunning views of the coastline from the observation point or enjoy a seaside picnic.