Many people will have spent some time in Israel prior to their gap year. It is most likely that you have enjoyed relaxing on Tel Aviv’s beaches and exploring the history of Jerusalem. However, these are far from the only two cities in Israel, and it is definitely worth taking the time to explore more of them.
One city often overlooked by tourists is Rishon Le Zion, Israel’s fourth-largest city. The city’s name roughly translates as “First for Zion” and it was one of the first Jewish settlements prior to the founding of the modern state. Established in 1882, Rishon is just 7.4 miles outside of Tel Aviv and has many attractions of its own.

As one of the first modern Jewish settlements, the city is rich in recent history. For example, it was home to the first Hebrew school and kindergarten and it was the first city to fly the early Israeli flag. The poet Naftali Herz Imber wrote the words to Hatikva in Rishon in the late 1880s. As such, Rishon LeZion is of central importance to the modern state of Israel.

However, Rishon is not all about history. It is also home to many modern attractions that are certainly worth taking the time to visit while on your gap year.

For example, if you have had enough of Tel Aviv’s beaches, then why not visit Rishon’s? Beaches such as the 4×4 Beach offer all the amenities you could possibly need, from the ability to rent deck chairs to plenty of restaurants and bars. There are also several evening activities run on the beach, from karaoke to yoga, ensuring that there is never a dull moment.

If you are after a bit of culture, you could do far worse than visit the Yaacov Agam Museum of Art. Agam is known world over as part of the kinetic art movement. His works offer different perspectives, depending on the angle of viewing. The museum is home to six decades of his art, including sculptures, paintings, digital art, installations and more. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the museum, which allows a greater level of interaction with the works and is definitely an experience to remember.

Those looking for something a little more light-hearted could pay a visit to the Superland amusement park. Home to a number of rollercoasters, it is a great way to spend the afternoon. If you want something a little calmer, then you can visit the Hai Kef Zoo to see a number of amazing animals.

Staying with nature, the Palmachim Beach National Park is another place worth visiting. In addition to stunning views, it is home to the kurkar ridge, where rare species of plants and animals, such as sea turtles, can be found. There is also plenty of history to see, as the National Park houses the remains of the Yavne-Yum, an ancient port city dating from the Middle Bronze Age.

There is far more to discover in Rishon LeZion, such as the Rishon LeZion museum, which tells the history of the city, while sports fans can watch basketball team Maccabi Rishon LeZion at the Gan Nahum stadium. In short, be sure not to miss out on all this great city has to offer while on your gap year in Israel.