Tourist’s guide to Ashkelon – the oldest city in Israel

Ashkelon (Israel) is one of the oldest cities on the planet, because it is already more than 5,000 years old. A long time ago, Ramses II and Alexander of Macedon walked this land, King Herod was born, and the brave Samson fell in love with the Philistine Delilah and was betrayed by her.

Ashkelon, Israel

Modern Ashkelon has been in existence since 1951. The city is located in the southwestern part of Israel, it is 56 km from Tel Aviv, and 70 km from Jerusalem. Ashkelon’s area is 48 km ², it includes several independent regions, and the tourist zone stretches 12 km along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Ashkelon is inhabited by almost 138,000 people, the third part are immigrants of the Soviet Union.

It is interesting! Of all the works of Harry Harrison, the shortest story was released in a short story entitled “On the Streets of Ashkelon.”

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Attractions Waiting for Tourists in Ashkelon

The lands of the city of Ashkelon in Israel are literally saturated with ancient history, it is full of attractions of a very different nature.

Interesting! Near Ashkelon, the largest dog cemetery that existed in the ancient world has been preserved.

City harbor

Ashkhelon Yacht Harbor was opened in 1995. One of the largest and most beautiful in Israel, it has the status of an international tourist port. The harbor has 600 parking spaces for marine vessels of various sizes, and a children’s sailing school operates. Every year, international yacht regattas are held here with the participation of representatives from 46 countries.

City harbor

The harbor is one of Ashkelon’s main attractions, around which tourist life is seething. A beautiful promenade is equipped on the embankment, there are good playgrounds, and numerous restaurants are located near the water. Concerts, exhibitions and other recreational activities are regularly held here.

Ashkelon National Park

There are a lot of green spaces in the city, but the main attraction of this kind is the National Park on the Mediterranean Sea. It serves as an excellent recreation area for residents and guests of Ashkelon, as well as the natural and historical reserve of Israel.

Ashkelon National Park

The national park is located at the place where once was an ancient city. In the 12th century, it was surrounded by a wall in the form of a semicircle of impressive size: 2,200 m in length, 40 m in width at the base and 15 m in height. Only some fragments, which are located in the eastern and southern parts of the park, have been preserved from the former magnificent structure. Now the southeastern part of the wall is used as an amphitheater for various cultural events (capacity of 10,000 people).

City ruins

There are other interesting archaeological finds in the park (by the way, they can often be seen on advertising photos of the city of Ashkelon in Israel):

  • City gate built in 1850 BC from clay brick and local sandstone (kurkar). The gates look like a huge corridor: length 15 m, height 4 m and width more than 2 m.
  • The ruins of the basilica with marble columns and floor, as well as statues of the II-III centuries A.D. This basilica was the center of public life of the ancient city.
  • Wells – there are a total of 67 of them, and 5 of them are colonies with antilines associated with Jerusalem sources. In Israel, a legend is told: during ablution, the priest in the temple of Jerusalem dropped the cup, and after a while the waters brought it through underground caves to one of the local wells.
City gate

Interesting fact! Scientists are conducting an interesting experiment on the territory of the National Park. In specially designated areas, they sow shallot seeds, then new seeds are collected from ripened plants and sown again – this should last 10 years. Nobody cares for onion planting, only the strongest plants survive, adapted to the conditions of the area. Scientists believe that it will be possible to restore the famous variety of Ashkelon onions, which the Romans used to grow here.

A lot of visitors come to the National Park; city dwellers like to celebrate different holidays here. There are very comfortable, specially equipped areas for recreation and picnics. There is a lot of greenery on the territory, the air is filled with wonderful aromas of flowering plants, and sand dunes stretch from the south side. All the beauty of this place is clearly visible in the photos of Ashkelon posted on the site.

In the park, on a cliff with a beautiful view of the sea, there is a campsite – you can put your tents there. It offers toilets and showers, tables, campfire and barbecue, basic lighting. At night, from 22:00 to 08:00, the camping is guarded. The camp operates from April to September on weekends and holidays in Israel.

Sea view

Entrance to the territory of the National Park is paid: about 7 € for adults, 6 € for students and 4 € for children. But this is if you enter through the central gate, and from the opposite side of the park you can go on foot for free.

Ashkelon Park is open for visits in the summer from 08:00 to 20:00, in winter – from 08:00 to 16:00. On Saturdays, like everything in Israel, the park closes much earlier.

City beaches

Ashkelon’s coastline is 12 km long. The entire territory is occupied by well-maintained beaches, on which there is everything necessary for a pleasant pastime: sunbeds, umbrellas, toilets and changing rooms, playgrounds for children, cafes and bars, booths with lifeguards.

Ashkelon coastline
Central Beach – Delilah

It occupies a vast territory – almost the entire central coast of Ashkelon – and is adjacent to the National Park. This beach is very popular among vacationers and it is always recommended for visiting by many tour operators in Israel.

Central Beach - Delilah

The main coating is pure sand, but the water has large stones, which are also very comfortable to sunbathe. Entry into the water is smooth.

An additional bonus is its own free parking.

In walking distance there is a water park with two pools, water slides and other attractions for children and adults.

Barnea

On the north side of the central beach is Barnea, which is especially loved by urban residents. There are very rarely noisy companies here – almost always quiet and calm, which attracts fans of sea fishing.

Bar Kochba

South of the central beach is Bar Kokhba. He is considered one of the best in Israel and has even been awarded the Blue Flag.

Along the beach area there is a beautiful promenade. If you want to get beautiful photos on the background of Ashkelon in Israel, then you can not find a better landscape than the golden sands here, swift breakwaters and picturesque lagoons.

Bar Kochba Beach

There are especially many playgrounds in this area, therefore couples usually have no problems with entertaining children. At the very end of the beach, on its south side, a yacht club settled down, many cafes and bars.

Waves are rare in this part of the sea, and this is another reason why families with children choose this beach for relaxation.

Ample parking is located near the entrance.

Samson

This beach is located further south. There are no breakwaters, and waves are a frequent occurrence, so surf lovers usually choose the beach for relaxation.

How much does a vacation in Ashkelon cost?

Knowing where the city of Ashkelon is located, one cannot count on the fact that the rest will turn out to be very cheap, because Israel is an expensive country. However, prices at this resort are lower than at most Israeli resorts.

Housing prices

Ashkelon has a fairly large number of hotels, holiday homes and apartments.

Some examples of 3 * hotels with prices for double rooms in high season:

Room at Harlington Hotel
Harlington
  • Harlington – Located on the seafront, there is a wellness center with a hot tub, sauna and gym. Standard room per night will cost from 189 €, improved – from 209 €.
  • Sea4U Resort – a complex of apartments with a shared outdoor pool, each room has a kitchenette. Room rates from 111 €.
  • Pninat Hayam – All rooms have a fully equipped kitchen. Price – 122 €.

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Food prices
Budget food

In the tourist area of ​​Ashkelon there are many cafes and restaurants with reasonable prices, where you can eat well. If we talk about budget food, then there are a lot of fast food stalls on the streets, where visitors are offered delicious falafels and shawarma.

Approximate prices in euros:

  • food in an inexpensive restaurant – 13;
  • 3-course lunch for 2 people in a mid-range restaurant – 49;
  • McMeal at McDonalds or equivalent fast food – 11;
  • espresso coffee – 2.1;
  • cappuccino – 2.9.

Ashkelon weather conditions: when is it best to come on vacation

Ashkelon air temperature

Ashkelon is located in an area dominated by a comfortable Mediterranean climate.

Between May and October, the air temperature rises to + 25 … + 30 ° C, and the water in the sea warms up to +28 ° C. Summer heat here is not felt much and is easily tolerated, without much discomfort. This can be explained both by refreshing breezes coming from the side of the closely located sea, and by winds lowering the humidity blowing from the desert (stone plateau) of the Negev.

Ashkelon sea water temperature

In winter, the air temperature drops to +18 ° C. It rarely rains here, mainly from November to March (about 420 mm of rainfall per year).

Given the weather conditions described, we can conclude: the period from May to October is the ideal time to relax on the sea beaches, and a pleasant winter cool is more suitable for exploring the city and its attractions.

Good to know! Ashkelon is located on a sandy plateau at an altitude of 30 m. There is a large amount of groundwater, which in the middle of the 20th century was at a depth of 5 m – this made it possible to grow gardens and not to water them. Due to too active use of water, the level has dropped significantly, but the city remains one of the most landscaped in Israel.

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How to get to Ashkelon

Bus number 485

Ashkelon is 65 km from Ben Gurion International Airport. The cheapest option to get to the resort from the airport is by train. But the bus option is also worth considering, since buses go to the very center of Ashkelon, and the railway station is located on its outskirts (by the way, bus number 18 runs from the railway station to hotels in the harbor).

From the Airport / Termin 1 stop, located near the airport, bus number 485 runs – it takes 30 minutes and 1-2 € to get to the Hemed Interchange stop. At the same stop you need to transfer to bus number 437 – in just an hour, he arrives at Ashkelon Central Bus Station. Ticket price is 9 €.

Railway station at Ben Gurion Airport

The railway station at Ben Gurion Airport is located on the lower floor (S) of Terminal 3. You need to take train number 50 and get to Tel Aviv Haganah station (the first in Tel Aviv). On time, the trip takes 12 minutes, the fare 2-4 €. At the same station, you need to transfer to train number 41 and go already to Ashkeron. The journey lasts 52 minutes, the ticket costs 5-7 €.

If traveling from Tel Aviv, you first need to get to the Haganah railway station – from there is train number 41, the features of the trip on which are described above. Not far from the Haganah railway station is the central bus station of Tel Aviv, from where there are direct flights to Ashkelon (Israel).



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Ashkelon