During your gap year in Israel, you will soon discover that it can be quite an expensive country. However, even if you are on a shoestring budget, you will quickly discover that there is plenty you can do for free. Whether you are in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa or anywhere else, there are many attractions that won’t cost you a penny.
Jerusalem is full of famous sites that are free of charge. For instance, you can go on free guided tours of the Knesset and Supreme Court. It is also possible to explore the Old City and all of its famous sites without being charged a penny. There is plenty to see and you are bound to discover something new with every visit.
Less famous perhaps is the Wohl Rose Garden, located opposite the Knesset. The garden has been open since 1981 and it is home to 15,000 rose bushes covering more than 450 varieties. Together with the roses, you can also enjoy hills, quarries, fishponds, waterfalls, sculptures, and even a sixth-century mosaic. Nearby is the Jerusalem Bird Observatory and every day between March and May you can watch the bird ringing sessions and visit the visitor centre where you will find guided walks, lectures, workshops and more. Alternatively, you could visit the Gazelle Valley; a nature reserve with more than 500 species of plants, a herd of endangered mountain gazelles, and some stunning scenery.
Those based in Tel Aviv will also find plenty to do. You are likely to visit many of the city’s famous landmarks as part of your gap year programme. However, you may want to revisit some of them, and there is a good chance that they are free. For instance, you could go on the Independence Trail, a walking tour that takes in 10 landmarks linked to Israel’s independence. The trail starts on the corner of Herzl Street and Rothschild Boulevard and you can follow a brass strip embedded in the ground from there. You will come across various informative signs that will tell you about the sites you are passing. You can also download a free mobile app that delivers celebrity narration. The stops include Independence Hall, the Haganah Museum, Bank of Israel, Shalom Mayer Tower, the Great Synagogue, the city’s first kiosk, the mosaic of Jaffa’s history created by Nahum Gutman, the home of Tel Aviv founder Akiva Arieh Weiss, the Founders Monument, and the statue of Mayor Meir Dizengoff.
You can also visit the Ben-Gurion House museum for free where you can explore his library, bedroom, study, and more. There are free guided tours and it provides a fascinating insight into the man and his beliefs.
There are plenty more free activities to discover beyond Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For example, the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum in Haifa is packed full of archaeological wonders, such as the hull of a 2,400 year old ship, as well as paintings by artists such as Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Van Gogh, Modigliani and Chaim Soutine. Alternatively you could visit Elijah’s Cave or the Ursula Malbin Sculpture Garden.
In other words, don’t worry if you don’t have vast amounts of money to spare, there is more than enough available to keep you busy for days on end.