Sandwiched between Tel Aviv in the north and Ashkelon (and the Palestinian enclave of Gaza) in the south, Ashdod is Israel’s largest port as it accounts for over 60% of the country’s imports.
This coastal city in Israel’s Southern District is more than just a place to do business. It has also emerged as one of Israel’s most sought-after tourist destinations. Despite being the country’s biggest and busiest port city, you’d be surprised to find serenity in Ashdod. Most beaches and marinas here are clean, tranquil, and not so crowded. In fact, Ashdod comes across as more of a quaint and charming coastal town.
Like many urbanized areas in Israel, Ashdod has several well-maintained public parks and nature attractions. With thirteen exhibition halls, the Ashdod Museum of Art is an excellent place for art lovers visiting the city.
If you want to have at least a week’s stay in Ashdod, there are hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals available in the area – because, seriously, there’s so much to do in Israel’s sixth-largest city.
However, we could only list some recommended places and things to do in Ashdod:
Spend a day at Ashdod Yam Park
While there are countless parks in Ashdod, Ashdod Yam Park is probably the most popular. It should be one of the first places to see, especially if you’re visiting the city for the first time. This well-designed park is excellent for all ages, especially for families. It has plenty of green areas, a basketball court, a football field, biking trails, a playground, a vast skating park (for skateboarders only), and a vast artificial lake for boating. The restrooms are also clean and well-maintained.
Since Ashdod Yam Park is not too far from the Mediterranean Sea, it offers fantastic ocean views. The entrance is free, so anyone can visit it.
Visit the Eye of the Sun
If Ashdod Yam Park filled your entire day, next Ashdod will even leave you in awe with its unique public installation, the Eye of the Sun, a sculptural project by multimedia artist Motti Mizrachi. During the day, the sculpture is portrayed as the sun (or a flying saucer, depending on how you look at it). When night falls, it turns into a breathtaking spectacle with its synchronized LED lights that change colors – sometimes solid (all yellow, blue, or pink, etc.) and sometimes dual or multi-colored to make wonderful patterns. The LED lighting show offers a visual treat for the visitors. You may want to stop by and take snaps of this unique and amazing sculpture.
Enjoy, relax, and watch the sunset at Gil Beach
There are several outstanding beaches along the shore in Ashdod. Gil Beach is a beautiful beach not too far from Beer Sheva Beach. Gil Beach is designated as a “Blue Flag” beach, meaning that it meets international environmental standards for water quality, cleanliness, safety features, facilities, etc. The beach and the waters are clean and pristine. You don’t have to worry about everything – except perhaps finding more fun things to do there – because Gil Beach has lifeguards on duty, lifebuoys, and a couple of boats available.
There is also a thatched shelter, a playground, bathrooms and restrooms, outdoor showerheads for rinsing, drinking fountains, and a handicap-access path, among other amenities. Visitors are also encouraged to walk, bike, or stay by the evening to enjoy breathtaking sunset views.
In addition to Gil Beach, other fantastic beaches in Ashdod are also worth visiting, such as Metzuda Beach and Lido Beach.
Enjoy a 360-degree view of the city from the top of Givat Yonah
Givat Yonah is a hill located in the northwestern part of the city. It is also Ashdod’s highest point, making it the best spot to take in fantastic 360-degree views of the city. Standing on the top of Givat Yonah, you can see the Mediterranean Sea and the big port, the half of Ashdod, the mountains near Jerusalem, and the other half of the city. If you’re hungry, there’s a restaurant in the area (not kosher) overlooking the sea and port.
Step back in time at Ashdod Citadel
Being the cradle of humanity in the Middle East, it’s no question that Israel teems with archaeological sites. The ruins of Ashdod Citadel (Ashdod Yam) are located in the eastern part of the city, near the Arab Village. This fortress, believed to have been built during the Bronze Age, had about eight towers. The fortress was seized and destroyed by the Mamluks in the 13th century.
As it is an abandoned archaeological site, the Ashdod Citadel is the perfect place to enjoy much-needed quiet and serenity. You can stand on top of the ruins to enjoy magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea. Many people also bring their picnics there to enjoy the ocean views, sea breeze, and tranquil atmosphere.
Visit the Museum of Philistine Culture
If you’re into Israel’s ancient past, you’ve probably enjoyed learning history lessons from the visit to Ashdod Citadel. Another place to learn more about Israel’s ancient history is to visit the Museum of Philistine Culture. Opened in 1990, it showcases the culture of the Philistines who once lived in the Land of Israel. So far, it is the only museum in the country dedicated solely to the preservation of the Philistine culture.
Indulge in water sports (or just stroll) at Ashdod Marina
Also known as the Blue Marina, Ashdod Marina is a gorgeous attraction in the city. For people with adventurous spirits, Ashdod Marina offers a variety of water sports ranging from surfing to sailing. There’s also a diving school if you want to take the plunge and admire the wealth of marine life under the waters. But if you don’t feel like swimming sailing, or diving, you can just stroll along the promenade, take pictures, view the gorgeous sunset, and dine at restaurants and eateries dotting the area.
Appreciate art at the Ashdod Museum of Art
The Ashdod Museum of Art is located just near Ashdod Marina. Opened in 2003, the museum was recognized by the state only in 2009.
It showcases contemporary and modern works by Israeli and foreign artists in its 12 galleries. The cultural events are held at the pyramidal venue. One of the museum’s famous galleries – the Mishbetzet – typically hosts original works by Israeli artists to educate children. The “Green Submarine” gallery showcases works concerning the environment, often featuring recycled materials. The museum’s underground vault is used to shelter and protect the artifacts in the event of rocket attacks. In 2014, the vault was used to protect the works of artist Tsibi Geva during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.
Flex your karaoke singing prowess at Beat Ashdod
If you’re looking for something a bit different, invite your friends for a fun karaoke night out at Beat Ashdod. This popular karaoke bar has five rooms dedicated to diverse music genres including pop, rock, jazz, samba, reggae, etc. Each room is designed according to specific music genres; for example, the disco room is designed with a mirror ball, while the rock room is equipped with a drum set. Each room can accommodate six to 40 guests. At the max, four microphones are equipped for each room.