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The lively resort city of Netanya (literally, "gift of God") has a pretty seaside promenade along the cliffs, endless sandy beaches, a pleasant town square, and plenty of cafés and restaurants. Once a sleepy place surrounded by orange groves, the town—named after Jewish philanthropist Nathan Strauss—has steadily grown from a few settlers in 1929 to some 210,000 residents today. Since the 1930s,
it has been a center for the diamond-cutting industry.
Just south of the city are several nature reserves: the Iris Reserve, where purple irises flower in February and March; the Nahal Poleg Reserve, with fauna unique to the area; and the Udim Reserve, which includes a pool with turtles, fish, and birds.
Though citrus farming is still evident on Netanya's outskirts, there are few traces of small-town charm. Tracts of residential development during the past five years or so can be seen all along the southern approach to the city following the shoreline, with high-rise towers dotting the landscape, many of the apartment units bought by vacationers from abroad.
The Old City of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an enchanting mix of mosques, markets, and vaulted Crusader ruins (many of them underground...
Picturesque Benyamina, the youngest settlement in the area, was founded in 1922 and has several wineries. It was named after Baron Edmond de...