Athletes and amateur sport fans already know that Israel is a perfect place to stretch your muscles and have fun while doing it. With great weather all year and fantastic scenery throughout the country, participants from all sporting disciplines will find the perfect location to hone their skills. Here are our top 10 athletic activities to do in Israel that are 100% FREE!
Lace-up and hit the trails! Israel’s topography offers fantastic hiking opportunities for every level of fitness. If you are a serious trekker, try the Israel Trail or seek out one of the country’s shorter trails through nature reserves, in the desert canyons, or up the mountains. Israel’s hiking trails are well marked, but always check a map and tell someone where you are headed, just in case!
One of the fastest-growing sports in Israel, running has literally “taken off.” Races, marathons, and triathlons take place throughout the year all around the country. But you do not need to pay to run if you do not want to. Whether you are a fan of city paths or wooded areas, Israel has the terrain for any type of run.
In 2010, the government approved a five-year, multi-million dollar plan to promote the country’s flourishing cycling industry. Biking trails through forests and desert areas, as well as paved city bike lanes, are very commonly used. Tel Aviv now boasts around 70 kilometers of marked bike lanes. There are roughly 33 unique trails that often cross natural beauty with historical sites throughout the Holy Land.
Many of the same hiking, biking, and running paths are equally welcoming to those who prefer to walk and take in the scenery around them. There is no shortage of places to take a stroll, whether it is along the beach, in the park, or through cities. Many municipalities offer free walking tours so that you can combine physical activities with sightseeing. The walking group, Tiyulim VeAgodot, runs free weekly meet-ups in Ramat Gan, Modi’in, Hod Hasharon, Ramat Hasharon, and Netanya.
Grab your goggles and bathing suit, open swimming season is year-round in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and Sea of Galilee. Open-sea swimming in Israel is also a relatively warm, wave-free activity.
Modern Israeli dance may have won acclaim across the world, but that does not mean the traditional folk dancing popularized by the early pioneers has been swept under the rug. The Israeli Folk Dancers Association hosts dozens of free dance sessions from Eilat to Kiryat Shmona for anyone willing to come out. The folk-dancing meets attract people from every walk of life. Many of the venues also host parent-child dancing lessons. If you prefer a different style, free outdoor dance parties often take place in summer, around Independence Day and at city-sponsored events.
The numerous bike paths and beach promenades across the country are all welcoming to rollerbladers. However, there is no matching the Tel Aviv Rollers for a skate around the city. The loosely confederated group of about 150 rollerblading and rollerskating enthusiasts takes to city streets every Tuesday evening. Just show up!
It is hard to find an Israeli city without a skate park. Most of the outdoor ramps, rails, and half-pipes are open to the public, free of charge, year-round, although a few parks do charge admission. Longboarders can roll beyond the trick equipment past many of Israel’s sites. Watch the documentary OPEN, filmed here in 2013, to see the 14 members of the international Longboard Girls Crew (LGC) gliding around Israel.
Feeling the need for a good stretch and some meditation time? Israel has yoga centers all over, including parks, the beach and gyms. Some practitioners believe opening up this calming practice to all will benefit society, like the Prana Yoga College in Tel Aviv, which offers daily classes for all levels of practice. The Laughter Yoga group , with branches around Israel, offers some drop-in classes for free.
10. Pickup Soccer, Basketball, and Beach Volleyball
Leave your shyness at home and head to any of the bigger public parks or beaches for great pickup games. In the courts of Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, Netanya’s Sportec, or Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park , you will always find on-the-fly games to join in on. For a fun, sandy game of beach volleyball or beach soccer on any-given Saturday, try Bograshov Beach in Tel Aviv.
Originally posted at Israel21c.