by Joanne DiBona for USA TODAY 10Best

Marvel at the timeless beauty of Israel on this virtual tour

Israel is a a country of exceptional natural beauty combined with a history that goes back millennia. Explore it on this virtual tour.

The magnificent Mediterranean port of Haifa is a perfect starting point for a short virtual tour of the timeless beauty of Israel. Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, its history dates back more than 3,000 years.

Haifa is known for its many neighborhoods, each of which is unique and boasts its own cuisine, art and ambiance. One of the most famous is the German Colony, established in 1868 by a German Protestant sect.

Image courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Acre, just a 25-minute drive by car or train from Haifa, carries the distinction of being among the oldest continuously-inhabited settlements on earth, dating back to the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 BC).

One of Acre's most fascinating attractions is the Knights' Hall-Hospitaller Fortress, which played a major role in the defense of the city during Crusader times in the 12th century.

Image courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Acre's Muslim history is visible in the Al-Jazzar mosque and the Al-Muallaq mosque minaret, an excellent example of Ottoman architecture, built in 1781 and overlooking the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Golan Heights wine region, just a 90-minute drive from Haifa, features a mountainous terrain and foothills with micro-climates that produce a wide variety of award-winning varietals.

The ancient city of Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world, is less than a two-hour drive or train ride from Haifa. The first thing you may notice are the impressive walls that surround the city, built over the centuries since ancient times.

If you are a lover of lox, which is a fillet of cured (but not smoked) salmon, you'll be in culinary heaven during your visit. In Jerusalem, enjoy a serving of lox garnished simply with capers and onion strips, which will melt on your tongue.

Jerusalem is filled with many houses of worship, including synagogues, churches and mosques considered to be some of the holiest in the world. The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic church on the Mount of Olives.

A visit to the Old City of Jerusalem is not to be missed. For a different vantage point and great education, the Davidson Center and Jerusalem Archaeological Park enable visitors to walk through the site’s 5,000-year history.

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the ancient Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, is a revered place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. This ancient limestone wall is all that remains of the Second Jewish Temple.

Thousands of Jewish people journey to the Wailing Wall each year to visit and recite prayers. These prayers are either spoken at the wall or written on notes and placed in the wall's cracks.

The ancient city of Nazareth, located in Israel's Galilee region, is just a 45-minute commute from Haifa. Stroll through the Old City, famous for its colorful Arabic markets.

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