South (Darom) of Tel Aviv
By: Roye Salomon
Beit Guvrin caves are about 45+ min from Tel Aviv. The bell shaped caves served as quarries that supplied building materials to the cities of the coastal plain and Beit Guvrin during the seventh-tenth centuries CE. At the peak of the cave there is a hole through which quarry was removed and which lights the cave.
The town of Beit Guvrin was built on the biblical city of Maresha. During the Roman and Byzantine eras there lived a large Jewish population here and the city was given the status of “city of freeman” and named Eleutheroolis. Beit Guvrin was the most important city in the area and thrived until the Bar Kochva revolt (132-135 CE). According to the historic scribe Josephus Flavius Beit Guvrin was conquered by the Roman general Vespasian. A Roman-Byzantine amphitheater was found as well as public baths, some mosaics and burial tombs. Beit Guvrin National Park is a great place to explore, with many caves and historical sites begging to be discovered. The Beit Guvrin National Park is located off Route 35 across from the Kibbutz Beit Guvrin. Beit Guvrin is 56 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
This beach just 25 minutes from Tel Aviv (NIT) is one of the country’s finest. Wide golden sand, far from the pull of the city this is the perfect beach outing for the whole family. The beach boarders a small dune area with several species of birds and animals. At the south end of the beach there is a sunken ship which is now used as a diving board for the brave.
West (Maarav) of Tel Aviv
West of Tel Aviv the Mediterranean Sea offers a great escape. The nearest landfall is the island of Cyprus. I have never chartered a boat or sail craft, but it always looks tempting to do so. Your can try here www.relax-sea.co.il or have a talk with the folk at the Jaffa port.
Escaping the city by bike
The best and almost only way to leave Tel Aviv by bike (not using major roads) is through the Yarkon Park. From Tel Aviv’s old port head out eastward along the Yarkon River (do not be tempted to swim or drink the water!!). This will take you though the Yarkon park and under the Ayalon freeway. Keep pedaling using the river as a reference. You will cross through Ramat Gan and further out towards Petach Tiqvah area. For those who are experienced cross country bikers a 30 km trip will take you out to Tel-Afek where the ruins of the old roman city of Antipatris can be found. Today, this is known as Tel-Aphek. The remnants of the impressive Ottoman fortress, Binar Bashi built in 1571 can clearly be seen. The ancient Cardo (main street), of the Roman city of Antipatris built by Herod to honor his father, Antipater can also be seen. The city was destRoyed in the earthquake of 363.
<--- Outside Tel Aviv