Tour Israel: 5 travel gems in Ashdod for your next visit

The city is rebranding itself as an exciting seaside attraction that is very close to the center of the country, with quality restaurants, bars, shopping malls and tourist sites.

 Ashdod Art Museum (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Ashdod Art Museum
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

When most people think of Ashdod, they picture the city’s expansive commercial seaport. In recent years, however, Ashdod has altered its image as its tourism sector develops. The city is rebranding itself as an exciting seaside attraction that is very close to the center of the country, with quality restaurants, bars, shopping malls and tourist sites. Here are some great options for your next visit.

1. Ashdod Art Museum

One of the city’s most noteworthy institutions is the Ashdod Art Museum, home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. The three-story museum, established 20 years ago, hosts three rotating exhibitions each year, with a focus on Mediterranean culture and its multifaceted identity. 

The museum is currently showing a retrospective exhibition by artist and photographer Gerard Allon. On display until the end of May, it includes photographs by Allon from the late 1960s to 2022.

Allon was born in Casablanca in 1949 and immigrated to Israel right after the Yom Kippur War. He spent his first years in Israel trying to capture the Israeli people as they attempted to recover from the war. In later years, Allon began capturing the world of fashion, theater and music with his camera lens. He has photographed many Israeli celebrities, such as Shlomo Artzi, Meir Ariel, Ofra Haza and Matti Caspi. 

Location: 8 Derech EretzTime: Open all weekDetails: (08) 854-5180

 Visitor's Center in Ashdod (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) Visitor's Center in Ashdod (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

2. Visitor’s Center 

People often travel around the country without taking note of the significant events that took place in a given location. The Ashdod Municipality decided to engage visitors and help them uncover the city’s history by opening an interactive Visitor’s Center that tells the story of the city. 

The construction of Ashdod began in 1956; until that time, the area was mostly sand dunes. It was a relatively new city compared with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with its streets planned out before the city was built. 

At the Visitor’s Center, which stands just meters from the sea, guests can watch a short film about Ashdod’s history, then enter the center’s main hall, where they can experience a virtual journey through the city. While donning virtual reality glasses, visitors can ride a bicycle, take a selfie while on a surfboard, or even put themselves in the shoes of the mayor and be responsible for making important decisions. There’s also a corner to relax and gaze out at the sea. 

Groups can enjoy guided tours, if booked in advance. Individuals and families can join tours on Mondays at 11 a.m., Wednesdays at 5 p.m. or every other Friday at 11 a.m. 

Location: Beit Aryeh King, 2 Yair St.Price: NIS 20 – NIS 25Details: (08) 854-5210;

3. Alma 

Ashdod has become one of the newest foodie destinations, with new eateries popping up all over the city. One interesting restaurant, which has been in operation for six years, is Alma. 

Located right on the beach, Alma has a menu that is a dream for vegetarians, as it includes many vegetable dishes, such as roasted leek with Bulgarian cheese, green tomatoes, and roasted eggplant with roasted tomatoes. Alma is also famous for its oven-roasted fish and potatoes, served with sour cream and za’atar. 

Location: 2 Yona Hanavi St.Details: 053-963-3885

4. Nirvana Japanese Spa

In contrast to other large Israeli cities, Ashdod does not have a plethora of hotels along its coastline, and as a result, there is a sparsity of spas. The Nirvana Japanese Spa, one of the few in the city, is really special. It is located in a building that looks plain on the outside, but once you enter, you will realize how unique it actually is. 

The spa was founded in 2015 by Gindai, a chiropractor and medical massage practitioner; and Tatiana, a cosmetician. Here you will find a hammam (Turkish-style bath) with massage beds, as well as wooden-barrel saunas. As you sit inside these saunas, you can enjoy the heat and steam without experiencing breathing difficulties. One of Niravana’s special treatments is a rice peeling. 

Location: 43 Rogazin St. Price: From NIS 560 per couple Details: (08) 659-5666

5. Café DogA

Not far from the Nirvana Spa is the popular DogA hipster café, nestled in a quiet, pastoral passageway. The gourmet restaurant Balzac was previously situated there. This dairy restaurant offers a full breakfast menu, sandwiches, small Italian-style rolls, salads and fish dishes. They make a heavenly brioche, as well as delicious pasta dishes.

Location: 11 Ha’eshel St. Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details: 054-645-6333

Translated by Hannah Hochner.