Welcome, friend.

When you travel there, do this.

Israel is a small-yet-packed country. There is a lot to do. The hard part is deciding what you want to do and then doing it.

First, figure out your priorities. Are you going to Israel to see the history and learn about what the land used to be like? Are you going to immerse yourself in a foreign culture? Are you going because you are religious and Israel has ancient holy sites from Christianity, Islam and Judaism? Are you irreligious and just want to party without hearing about any gods that may or may not be residing in the hotel next door? Whatever your reason, Israel has something to offer.

I'm going to recommend certain cities or sites to visit. They are each unique, and because Israel is so small, you can visit them all in a short amount of time.

Jerusalem - This city is host to thousands-year-old religious sites and thousands upon thousands of people who live like those sites are up and running. There's the holiest single place for Jews: the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall or "HaKotel," the Wall, in Hebrew). This strip Jerusalem stone is the only remaining piece of the Jewish people's holy temple, which was destroyed about 2,000 years ago. The Muslims' Dome of the Rock, where it is said Muhammad ascended to Heaven, is located just behind the Western Wall on the Temple Mount, where the Jews' temple used to stand. Hot spot, indeed. There are shuls (synagogues) on half of every street corner in Jerusalem. Revolutionary Jewish learning and righteous prayer sessions happen all over town every day but especially on Friday night. There are falafel stands on every other corner. Falafel is cheap, so try as many of the stands as you can to find your favorite. Though, if you visit Ben Yehuda Street, they've got a dozen delicious options to choose from.

Tel Aviv - If Jerusalem is too God-heavy for you, hit up Tel Aviv. It's a mix of New York City and any of a number of hip European centers of culture. There are clubs and bars and more clubs. Coffee. Jazz. Beautiful beaches. Hookah. Madness. Debauchery. The city never quite goes to sleep. And, despite the whole Jewish-state thing, mention of God or the Sabbath or anything else Jew-ish is generally brushed off with a laugh here.

Tzfat (Safed) - This tiny town in the north of Israel is the birthplace and current breeding ground for the best in Jewish mysticism. The Jewish mystical tradition, Kabbalah, was virtually formed here and the city, which is painted in blue and is composed of narrow, winding stairwells and paths, is filled with people young and old studying the other-worldly works. The people here are trippers, to be sure. But their drug is Kabbalah and they're high on God. All I can say is that Tzfat just has a unique feel to it. It's the highest of the high and the deepest of the deep. It's indescribable but it's real. The food and the people are light. Divine light. You probably don't know what I'm talking about. That's fine. Go there, and you'll see, maybe.

Ein Gedi - Not quite a city, Ein Gedi is really an oasis. Located smack in the middle of the Negev (Israel's southern desert region), Ein Gedi is a site to be seen. Lush greenery, glistening waterfalls, great hiking and heavenly heat. And surrounding it, hot hot heat and miles and miles of sand. Beautiful, if you ask me.