Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel Port Guide
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 the Dave Koz 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.
Port Facilities & Location
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.
Top Things To Do In Jerusalem (Ashdod)
Bethlehem is located about an hour from Ashdod and some 6 miles south of the Old City of Jerusalem within the West Bank. The “little town” of Bethlehem, mentioned in any number of Christmas carols, attracts pilgrims worldwide on account of its description in the New Testament (and particularly the Gospels) as the birthplace of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be Messiah and Son of God. The Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world, is the focus of Christian veneration within the city.
Chances are that you’ll spend much of your time here. The Old City is home to many of Jerusalem’s most sought-after attractions, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Temple Mount. Originally built by King David in 1004 B.C., the walled Old City comprises four distinct areas: the Jewish Quarter (or the Cardo), the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Each quarter exudes its own unique atmosphere, with religious sites, shops, and food offerings reflecting its respective heritage. Yet the Old City’s winding alleyways and ancient stone plazas allow mixing and mingling among these cultures, making a very eclectic environment.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall or the Kotel, is the most significant historic site for the Jewish faith. This wall, located in the heart of the Old City, is a remnant of King Herod’s renovation of the Second Temple and dates back to the first century B.C. Millions of pilgrims (Jewish and non-Jewish) make their way to the Western Wall each year to pray, writing their wishes on small pieces of paper before placing them between the cracks in the stone for God to answer.
Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum is the country’s largest cultural institution and one of the world’s leading art and archeology museums. Sprawling across 20 acres, the Israel Museum houses roughly 500,000 artifacts, from contemporary sculpture to ancient artifacts. Most visitors come for the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of 972 texts, which are believed to have been written between 150 and 70 B.C. The scrolls are displayed—along with other historic texts—in the Shrine of the Book, which sits underground and is covered by a white, domelike structure.
Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock
Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem for both Jews and Muslims. Historians have associated it with Mount Moriah (where the binding of Isaac took place) and Mount Zion (where the original Jebusite fortress once stood); however, neither theory has been proven. Jews believe that this section of the Old City is the resting place of the Divine Presence on earth and the source of the dust that God used to create Adam. Meanwhile, Muslims believe that Muhammad’s ascent to heaven took place at Temple Mount. Even if you’re not a believer, travelers say that Temple Mount is worth visiting for its resounding historical
Mount of Olives
Named after the olive groves that once covered its slopes, this 2,900-foot mountain stands opposite the Old City across the Kidron Valley. For more than 3,000 years, the Mount of Olives has served as Jerusalem’s primary burial ground and the final resting place of notable biblical figures, such as Zechariah and Absalom.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Picture yourself standing on the nineteenth terrace which is the very top of this breath taking monument where you can see the rolling hills of the Galilee, the city of Haifa, Akko and the Mediterranean Sea. Beauty, grandeur, and inspired design combined with the meticulous gardening by generations of dedicated gardeners and a variety of cultures create the unique atmosphere of the Baha’i shrine and gardens in Haifa. While each garden offers a different experience they all share the same theme of gravelling paths, unique hedges and flourishing flower beds. A picture so perfect you must see it with your own eyes to believe the precision and symmetry.
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 and catch a sunset. The fountain in Ashdod-Yam Park lights up at night, and head from there to one of the nearby restaurants or cafes.
More Information About Ashdod
Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Port
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.
Culture & History
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.
Shopping Near the Port
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.
Local Currency & Tipping Customs
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.