Israel Nine Beaches Fly the Blue Flag – 18 Free Things to Do in Jerusalem

jerusalem-beach     Jerusalem beach in Tel Aviv is a beautiful and popular beach. Photo by Flash90.  The international symbol of the Blue Flag, earned by upholding environmental and accessibility standards, has come to Israel.


By   for Israel21c

Israel has joined an international flag program that recognizes public beaches for safety and accessibility. Tourists from abroad are already looking for the big Blue Flag when they are booking beach holidays, and now they can count on nine Israeli beaches to comply with the international standards developed by the 30-year-old Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Founded in France, FEE certifies nearly 4,000 beaches around the world as good enough to carry the prestigious Blue Flag label.

The program only started a few months ago in Israel, but stakeholders are excited about having Blue Flags at their beaches and ports, says coordinator Orly Babitsky, who works through the Israeli marine education organization EcoOcean to develop and award Blue Flags in Israel. It’s a big plug for tourism, Babitsky tells ISRAEL21c. “Internationally, we know for sure that many travel agents will go into the Blue Flag website and check [for their customers] which beaches have Blue Flags. If a tourist in Germany wants to go to the Red Sea and he sees that Aqaba in Jordan has four Blue Flags and Eilat in Israel has none, he might rather go to the beach with the Blue Flag,” she says. Annual evaluation To fly a Blue Flag, a beach must meet internationally agreed-upon standards. Some of them are environmental checks and balances to ensure the water is clean and safe. In addition, the beach must be free of charge; there must be public transportation available; it must offer accessibility for people with disabilities; and have recycling bins. Blue Flag beaches must be subject to regular meetings between at least six defined stakeholders, including environmentalists, city or town government officials and beach managers. Permission to keep flying the flag must be reviewed every year and if conditions change, certification may be dropped until the situation –– an oil spill, for instance –– is resolved. For locals, Blue Flag will definitely boost how Israelis enjoy one of the last frontiers in free family events, says Babitsky.

Fishing at the Blue Flag beach Dado in Haifa. Photo by Flash90.

Fishing at the Blue Flag beach Dado in Haifa. Photo by Flash90.

“Israel is a coastal country. More than 70 percent of the population is living next to the coast and the beach has become one of the last places that a family can go without having to pay for a family day out.” The 140 Israeli beaches are also now threatened from coastal development, like natural gas pipelines, she adds. The Blue Flag connects all these elements together to make the beach and its development a sustainable endeavor for businesses, green groups, community and government. Through EcoOcean, the Blue Flag program in Israel is also working to develop special local standards, such as limiting the number of plastic beach chairs on the beaches of Tel Aviv. But it’s baby steps for now, says Babitsky, who plans to tackle issues like this and more, season by season, as the culture of Blue Flags get better defined in Israel. Where to find Blue Flags in Israel Netanya can take pride in three beaches that won a Blue Flag: Ha’onot Beach, which can be accessed from the city’s promenade and is known for its music; Sironit Beach, which provides ample shade, wheelchair access and clearly marked restrooms, and can be reached from the one-shekel glass beach elevator; and Poleg Beach, a former sewage dump transformed to a certified clean beach where motorized sports are welcome and kite surfers gather to catch the wind and waves.

Here is the Link to the rest of the Story: Israel21c


Top 18 Things to Do for FREE in Jerusalem

Holy sites, culture, culinary creations, architecture — Jerusalem has a lot of everything for everyone.

By  for Israel21c


Take the holiest city in the world, mix in thousands of years of history, sprinkle it with fascinating architecture, add a splash of culture, stir in a dollop of culinary delights and then frost with modernity and you’ve got the secret recipe to the world’s pinnacle tourist destination. Jerusalem has a little – or, actually, a lot – of everything for everyone. The major sights are definitely a draw but a walk through a charming neighborhood or taking in magnificent views can be just as enjoyable. There are still tons of free activities to choose from. ISRAEL21c starts you off with 18 suggestions. Feel free to add your own ideas to our comments section.

1. Old City

The Jerusalem Light Festival is one of the many happenings that showcases the Old City, for free.
The Jerusalem Light Festival is one of the many happenings that showcases the Old City, for free.

You need at least one day – if not three — to visit Jerusalem’s most famous holy sites located inside the Old City walls. There’s the Western Wall, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock (Al-Aqsa Mosque), Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Hurva Synagogue and Via Dolorosa, among others.

Take your time walking from site to site by getting lost in the alleyways of the shuk, taking in all the shops selling souvenirs, pottery, olive-wood mementos, clothing and food.

Each quarter of the Old City – Armenian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim – has its own ambiance and vibe. As there’s a story behind practically every stone of the Old City, this is the place to get familiar with history, theology and archaeology.

Or take yourself off the beaten path to the Austrian Hospice and enjoy the best rooftop view in the city.

Dozens of free festivals take place around the Old City throughout the year, including the Light Festival, Knights in the Old City and Sounds of the Old City, to name just three.

2. Machane Yehuda Market

Machane Yehuda: not just fruits and veggies.
Machane Yehuda: not just fruits and veggies.

Open up your senses: it’s time to see, smell, taste, feel and experience the real Jerusalem. The Machane Yehuda Market is always an exciting place to go.

It’s much more than fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s also cheese, wine, halva, exotic spices, coffee, baked goods and ethnic dishes. In fact, the fare mirrors the city’s residents, who hail from a hodgepodge of countries.

This is the place to feel the people, food and customs of Jerusalem.

Here is the link to the rest of the Story: Israel21c


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