Jerusalem remains one of the most influential cities in the world, playing a significant role in three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. As a stop on a Mediterranean cruise, the underrated Ashdod hasn’t yet captured the hearts of tourists, but it’s only a matter of time, as many pass through Ashdod on a cruise to Jerusalem. In fact, Ashdod has grown in size and appeal; it’s now home to museums like the world’s only Museum of Philistine Culture as well as the Ashdod Museum of Art.
Take a day trip or excursion on your cruise to Jerusalem, where you’ll likely see all the classic religious sites like the Garden of Gethsemane, the sacred worship site of the Western Wall, and more. After walking in these sacred places, leave the Old City behind and re-enter the modern side of Jerusalem to find artisans selling their crafts, eat delicious Israeli food, and more.
On your cruise to Jerusalem, take a walk to the top of Givat Yonah for 360-degree views of Ashdod. This is one of the best views you’ll get of the city in the distance. Pack a picnic and relax here during your time in Ashdod.
Bring the whole family to Ashdod-Yam Park, which is a fifteen minute drive from the Ashdod cruise port and located on the shoreline of the Mediterranean. You can kayak in a man-made lake, catch a sunset, and kids can play on the park’s playground. The fountain in Ashdod-Yam Park lights up at night, and head from there to one of the nearby restaurants or cafes.
This interactive museum provides an insightful and still fun exploration of the Philistines and their role in the history of Ashdod and Israel as a whole. In fact, it’s the only museum in the world dedicated to the Philistines, and since 1990, the museum has displayed significant artifacts and archaeological finds from this community, from pots and pans to pottery. Try the interactive exhibits, including where you can dress like a Philistine and learn about their typical meal.
Head to this quiet, secluded beach to relax while on your Jerusalem cruise. Metzuda is original because there is a preserved, historic citadel along the beach. Explore the ruins of the citadel, which was built as early as 630 AD.
This museum is close to the Ashdod marina, not far from the cruise port. The museum focuses on contemporary art with a special emphasis on photography. Admission is 80 shekels, and it provides a nice break from the heat and the outdoor historic sites for a taste of modern Israeli art.
In the Old City of Jerusalem you’ll find the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, which is the holiest place in Jerusalem. It’s a staple of excursions and tours of the area. The Western Wall is a sacred site of Jewish pilgrimage, and a place of prayer. It will take about an hour to journey from the center of Ashdod to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. You’ll find evidence of thousands of years of history in one sacred place. The Western Wall if open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Those of Christian faith are familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ went to pray and contemplate prior to his crucifixion. The garden is tranquil, and you’ll be surrounded by olive trees as you walk among lush vegetation. You can also see the Grotto of Gethsemane, where the disciples of Jesus slept and rested as Christ made his prayers.
Kids will love climbing up the sandy landscape to the top of the dunes located close to the Ashdod train station. Be sure to bring extra water, as the area isn’t shaded and the activity climbing the dunes can be tiring. These dunes are protected and provide a glimpse into the special landscape of the area.
Come here for kosher eats in a relaxed, casual setting in Katzrin. They provide classics like salmon and tuna sandwiches, beet ravioli, and other simple Italian-inspired dishes. They also serve simple breakfasts like bagels and eggs.
For a more upscale dining experience, don’t miss Pescado while you’re in Ashdod. They specialize in fish dishes of all types, from sashimi to ceviche, tuna carpaccio to stone-baked bass. Every dish will include Israeli and Mediterranean touches.
This simple European pub is one of the top-rated in the area, focusing on huge entrees like streak, ribs, whole fish dishes, grilled shrimp, and plenty of fresh seafood at a moderate price. They also have a wide selection of beer and cocktails. Note that Gambrinus isn’t kosher.
Israel’s history is a huge part of the reason why people visit, particularly its role in several of the world’s major religions. The Philistines conquered the area in the 12th century BC. Little evidence of Philistine occupation of the area remains, as the city has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, and whatever does remain is carefully catalogued at the Museum of Philistine Culture in Ashdod. The city changed hands multiple times throughout ancient history through the Hellenistic period and beyond.
Ashdod plays a major role in Israel’s imports and trade economy, and over 60% of the country’s imports pass through the Port of Ashdod. The city is primarily industrial to suit that purpose, but Ashdod has the benefit of slow, intentional growth. It’s just beginning as a major player on the world’s stage. Now, cruise traffic brings new people to the city each year.
The port of Ashdod is one of the largest in Israel, and many of the countries imported goods pass through this port. Geographically, Jerusalem is east of the port of Ashdod, and Tel Aviv is further north by about a half hour drive. To leave the port, you will likely have to pass through immigration, as the port primarily services cargo and imports, their process is more stringent than other ports in Israel. From there, you will leave the terminal by bus or taxi to get to the city center or another destination.
When you leave the cruise port, there should be a shuttle bus as well as cars and taxis to take you into the city center. A shuttle bus should be offered by Celebrity, so be sure to ask while you’re on the cruise ship. The shuttle bus will likely drop you off at the Sea Mall, if you’re interested in getting some shopping done. Trains run from the station in Ashdod to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem each hour, making it easy to hop on a train after arriving in Ashdod for your Jerusalem cruise. Taxis are fairly easy to hail on your cruise to Jerusalem, too.
The largest mall in the Ashdod area is Big Fashion Ashdod has hundreds of shops in both an indoor and outdoor setting. It’s only open from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm on Fridays, so make note that the later hours from Saturday to Thursday might be better if you get a late start in the day. You’ll find shops for jewelry, clothing, handbags, leather goods, and much more at this sophisticated open mall.
The official currency of Israel is the shekel (ILS). Like in other parts of Israel, it’s wise to carry a little cash to be able to pay a taxi driver or leave a tip for a waiter. Don’t forget to tip your tour guide as well. At restaurants, cafes, and bars, 10-12% is an acceptable tip for service workers. Tipping taxi drivers isn’t common in Ashdod, but it’s polite if the driver is acting as your tour guide or if you’ve arranged to have them drop you at multiple destinations.