Ashdod is a city on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, halfway between Tel Aviv and Gaza. One of Israel's two industrial ports is here. It is Israel's busiest port, with 60% of all imports and exports passing through it.
Ashdod has a long history, and was inhabited in the times of the Bible by the Philistines. When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites, they brought it here before being forced to return it. However, few traces remains nowadays of the ancient city.
Modern Ashdod is known for its diverse population, with each wave of Jewish immigration represented. Jews from former Soviet Union make up roughly a third of the city's 235,000 residents. Ashdod is also home to large numbers of Moroccan, Georgian and Ethiopian Jews, along with recent arrivals from France and Argentina. It also has the third largest charedi (ultra-Orthodox) population in Israel, after Jerusalem and Bnei Brak.
Ashdod is on the meeting point of the yellow sand dunes from the south, the green lowland from the east (including the small Lachish river), and the blue Mediterranean Sea from the west. Therefore you can find a surprising diversity of natural sights in one city.
The city is a young one, re-founded 50 years ago and grown dramatically during the last two decades. It is well planned and maintained, and its beaches and south regions are very beautiful. It regularly finds itself in highest places in rankings of the most beautiful and well-designed cities in Israel.
By bus, taxi ("moneet" in Hebrew), or minibus ("moneet sherut").
Ashdod has a very developed system of bike routes and flat terrain, so renting a bike would be an ideal option for bike lovers. Keep in mind that it can be very hot in summer.
- 1 Givat Yonah (Jonah's Hill). Named after the prophet Jonah, who is believed to be buried here. It is the highest point of the city (around 150 m above sea level) with the city lighthouse on top of it.
- 2 Lachish Park. Park along the southern bank of the Lachish river, which reaches the Mediterranean Sea here. In addition to the usual park facilities, it has a small zoo, and is a popular spot for birdwatchers.
- 3 Ashdod Yam ruins. The ancient port of Ashdod was here (the ancient city was further inland). You can see a large fortress several meters from the coastline. It was built in the 7th century and used until 1260. The fortress is impressive to see, but fenced off and you cannot enter it.
- 4 Ashdod Museum of Art, 8 Derech Eretz, ☏ . Su M W Th 9AM-4PM, Tu 9AM-8PM, F 10:30AM-1:30PM. It's in the MonArt center, and has 13 exhibition halls. In an architectural echo of the Louvre, the entrance to the museum is through a glass pyramid.
- 5 Musical Fountain. Summer time: Su-Th 8:30AM, 9:30AM, 10:15AM; Sa 9AM, 10AM. Winter time: Su-Th 6:30AM, 8:30AM; Sa 8:30AM, 9:30AM. A fountain in the Ashdod Sea Park close to the beach. Inspired by the Magic Fountain in Barcelona, this fountain puts on an impressive sound and light show several times each evening (except Friday night and when there is rain).
- 6 Corinne Mamane Museum of Philistine Culture. You might think that "Philistine culture" is an oxymoron, but this museum showcases the culture of the ancient Philistine people as discovered by archaeologists. Ashdod was one of the five main Philistine cities in the Biblical period.
- 7 Ashdod Sand Dune. The only surviving sand dunes in central Israel are located in the national reserve between southeast Ashdod and Highway 4 (the road to Tel Aviv). The largest dune is about 35 meters high and 250 meters long. In the reserve there is also preserved wildlife (mostly deer, rabbits, birds and jackals). Entrance is free.
- 8 Ad Halom Memorial Park (lit. No-Further Memorial Park) (East Ashdod, near the southern entrance to the city by road 4). During the 1948 Israel Independence War, the Egyptian army invaded Israel. This park marks the northernmost point they reached before being forced to retreat by Israeli forces. There are memorials (including one to fallen Egyptian soldiers, erected after a peace treaty with Egypt was signed), the old bridge around which the battle was fought, and military relics from the battle.
- The beach. Ashdod has a long, pretty coast (8 km/6 miles) with several public beaches and a marina accessible to the public. Ashdod's beach strip is about 2/3 the length of Tel Aviv's, yet it serves only about 1/10 the population. Since it's not crowded or very touristy, it's a great place for a calm trip.
- 1 Israeli Andalusian Orchestra. This award-winning, internationally known orchestra performs music originating in Andalusia (southern Spain), a blend of Western and Arabic music.
- 2 Shayit Ashdod, Egoz 27, ☏ . Glass-bottomed boat rides. Instruction and explanation to classes, parties. Speed-boating for smaller groups, you drive the boat. Reservations required. Located in the Ashdod marina.
- 3 Buffalo Farm, Bizron (in Bizron village, about 6 km (4.5 miles) east from Ashdod).
There is horse riding, 4X4 rental, and the city marina provides yacht/cruise services.
The MonArt centre is a performing arts center which has different art schools, studios and events.
Ashdod has about five big shopping malls and two markets.
On Wednesday there is a clothes and farmers market near Lido beach, however it primarily caters toward the local population and is less suitable for tourists.
There is a large souvenir store downtown on Rogozin street. It sells local stamps and postcards, water from Jordan river, soil from Jerusalem, and various other things.
A lot of restaurants, especially along the beach. Cheap snack meal starts from about ₪15. A full meal in a mid-level restaurant will be around ₪40-100.
Although you'll find plenty places to drink, and a decent variety of pubs and clubs, Ashdod nightlife serves mostly the locals.
There are two hotels near the northern beach area. Prices around ₪250-300 per day for one person, meals not included. A big hotel was recently built near the south beach.