Destination Spotlight: Ashdod, Israel

A bustling port city on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, Ashdod is your entry point to Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.


The captivating coastal city of Ashdod is Israel’s largest port and a remarkable destination that attracts travelers from all over the world. Boasting a fascinating past and intriguing present, Ashdod is home to great food, a welcoming atmosphere and a wonderful variety of unique experiences and cultural attractions for visitors all ages. What’s more, this tourist-friendly city is ideally located for day trips to Jaffa and Tel Aviv and it also serves as the gateway to two of the holiest cities in Christianity.


One of the city’s flagship attractions is Ashdod Yam Park, which covers an area of 200 acres and includes playgrounds, sports courts and the largest open theater in Israel. A gorgeous fountain, a skating rink and a man-made pond for boating are available in this park too. The city also boasts hundreds of statues and monuments, including the monumental Eye of the Sun sculpture that was created by the artist Motti Mizrachi. During the day its appearance is influenced by the sun, and by night the sculpture becomes an LED light show thanks to the colorful lights that illuminate the artwork. 


If you’re an art lover, you won’t want to miss the Ashdod Museum of Art and its 12 galleries that showcase Israeli and international art. From painting and sculpture to photography and video art, the many exhibitions offer fantastic displays of contemporary artists and some local and international classics. There is a pyramid area where cultural events are held and an underground vault that is used to protect important artifacts and masterpieces. Situated in the heart of the city, this unusual pyramid-shaped museum has a stunning glass roof and enables you to enjoy views of the sea and the marina. 

Ashdod is, in fact, home to many interesting museums, with the Museum of Philistine Culture being among the best of them. Not only is it one of the most famous historical attractions in the city but it’s also renowned as the world’s only museum to be dedicated solely to the culture of the Philistines. When here, you’ll get to explore temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions that showcase archaeological finds. You can also go back in time and dress like a Philistine whilst enjoying a typical Philistine meal. Opened in 1990, the Museum of Philistine Culture is split across three levels and is definitely worth a visit. 


From the Ashdod port, you can make your way to the ancient port city of Jaffa. As one of the oldest ports in the world with a fantastic blend of amazing culture, rich history and traditional experiences, Jaffa is a great place to explore. You can wander through the maze of narrow alleys and spend time in the many galleries, then grab a bite to eat at one of the eateries or gourmet food markets. You can also shop at the wonderful boutiques or the well-known Jaffa Flea Market before returning to the harbor to see colorful fishing boats and views of the sea and Tel Aviv. 


If you want to visit Jaffa and Tel Aviv, the easiest way to get to both cities is to book an excursion. Blessed with fascinating neighborhoods, beautiful beaches and a hot nightlife scene, Tel Aviv is a must-visit destination. A fabulous way to spend a morning or afternoon is to get lost in the open-air Camel Market, Tel Aviv’s largest market where hundreds of vendors sell everything from spices and fresh food to clothing and electronics. But if you would rather get to know the local neighborhoods, we recommend a trip to Neve Tzedek, a place that has attracted writers and artists for many years now. Otherwise known as the Oasis of Justice, Neve Tzedek is considered to be one of Tel Aviv’s prettiest districts and major cultural areas with its own maze of narrow winding alleys. Head down the quiet streets and you’ll discover magnificent wall art, restored houses and cute galleries, as well as lots of boutiques and craft shops. 

When visiting Ashdod, you can easily travel to the incredible cities of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem on a full-day excursion. Start the day on a journey through the Judean Hills and the Gate of the Valley before you head towards the vibrant old city of Jerusalem to walk in the footsteps of some of the most famous historical figures. There are countless fascinating sites to visit in this city, such as the Church of Gethsemane, the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was crucified, anointed and buried. Once you’ve finished soaking up Jerusalem’s unique atmosphere, you can head south to Bethlehem to visit the Church of Nativity where Jesus was born. 

If you want to visit Israel and you’re thinking of booking a cruise for your next vacation, be sure to check out our 7-Night 3 Continents Cruise that includes a stop at the port of Ashdod.