Ashkelon: A great escape

From history to sun and sand, escape rooms and beyond, Ashkelon has it all.

Players locked in escape rooms solve puzzles in a fixed time limit to complete a mission and escape (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Players locked in escape rooms solve puzzles in a fixed time limit to complete a mission and escape
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Our planet might be small, but it is full of pleasant surprises, such as Israel’s beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. Israel has beautiful port cities, such as Haifa, Jaffa and Ashkelon, each of which has very nice beaches that are often overlooked.
Ashkelon, the southernmost of these, is a natural gem offering many attractions that Israelis tend to pass right by without a second glance.
One of the city’s most charming attractions is the sea promenade. There are a number of paths from which you can see the sea and the marina and along which you can stop and look at ancient structures, such as the home of Sheikh Awad, a Mameluke burial site.
There are a number of cafés you can sit and relax in. If you like sailing, I recommend going to the marina that was built in 1995 and taking a boat tour.
If you have the time, I recommend staying in Ashkelon overnight so that you can really have time to relax, enjoy the scenery and get to know the city.
When you’re ready to go exploring, the first thing I suggest is to take a nice long walk along the promenade. Next, visit the Ashkelon National Park.
Ashkelon boasts an incredibly rich past; it was an important center for the Canaanites, Romans and Crusaders. At the park, you will learn about the history of the region, see archeological artifacts and view the incredible excavations of an ancient Canaanite city. There are remains of a Byzantine church, a Roman basilica and dozens of wells that testify to the bustling activity that took place there in ancient times. While you’re walking through the park, you might be lucky enough to see animals and birds that are native to the region. You might even forget for a while that you’re just a short drive from the city.
Escape Zone
A fun attraction that is becoming increasingly popular is the local escape rooms. My favorite is Escape Zone, located in the center of the city. In this exciting hour-long experience, you will try to rescue a professor of Chemistry who has been kidnapped because he developed a prototype for chemical warfare.
The room is considered to be of medium difficulty and can hold up to six participants.
Price: NIS 180 to NIS 480, depending on number of participants.
Location: 29 Tzahal Street, Ashkelon.
Café Anona
When you get hungry, I recommend going to eat at a restaurant called Café Anona, situated on a narrow side street.
Anona is a kosher bistro that offers dairy and vegetarian cuisine (there are a few vegan dishes on the menu, too), that specializes in pastries and homemade jams and spreads. Founded in 2003, Café Anona is one of the most veteran food establishments in the city. There are currently two branches in operation.
Location: 17 Yiftah Hagiladi, Ashkelon.
If you have a taste for something a little more upscale, you might prefer Bucatini, a new kosher Italian restaurant. Resembling a wedding hall, the restaurant is located in a 700-year-old stone building that used to be a mosque. At Bucatini, you’ll find a plethora of modern Italian dishes; everyone in the family will be able to find something on the menu they like.
Location: 53 Eli Cohen Street, Ashkelon.
Kochav Archers
If you’re looking for activities outside the city – with or without children – I recommend going to Moshav Kochav Michael, where you’ll find Kochav Archers.
Visitors over eight years old can learn how to hone their shooting skills with a bow and arrow. Kochav Archers was founded by veteran archer Shimon Yogev near his home on the moshav when he got tired of traveling all over the country to teach archery.
Upon arrival, visitors receive a short explanation about how to use a bow and arrow, are given safety guidelines, and can practice their footing and aiming. Afterwards, visitors get to engage in target practice with a variety of bows tailored to each person’s age, height and experience.
Archery requires accuracy and thought, and as a result everyone – even the most hyperactive child – will eventually slow down, concentrate, and get into a meditative state that will help them shoot more accurately. By the end of the workshop you will find that everyone was able to connect with their emotions in their own way. There are one-hour and two-hour workshops to choose from.
Price: NIS 300 for five people in one-hour workshop. NIS 600 for five people in two-hour workshop. Appropriate for age eight and up.
Location: Plot number 83, Moshav Kochav Michael.
Details: 054-795-5560.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.