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  • Talma Gotteiner

Herzliya - If Herzl had met Santa…

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Hi there!

I came to my odd title because these two figures actually play a part in this week’s trip. I had wanted to plan a trip with reference to Christmas and had read that in Arena Mall in Herzliya there was a special Christmas market so I planned a trip revolving around that and ended up learning a few more facts about Herzl.

Trip Itinerary Options:

  • Apollonia National Park

  • Beit Rishonim (Founders’ House), Herzliya Museum

  • Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Arena Mall

  • Herzliya Marina

  • Arsuf Open Green Gallery

  • Mini Golf Herzliya

Trip Anchors:

Apollonia, named after the Greek God ‘Apollo’, is an ancient settlement on the northern border of Herzliya. It was actually founded before the hellenistic period, in the 6th century B.C. by the Phoenician’s who used the natural bay for their ships and manufactured their purple dyes there. However, the remains that you see during the tour are from the Crusaders. King Baldwin the 1st conquered the city in 1101 AD, which became a ‘Lordship of Arsuf’ in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1241 AD a fortress was built by Lord John of Arsuf. The fortress and city were reinforced by his son Lord Balian of Arsuf, but both fell to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1265 who destroyed the city completely.

During the tour you can see the remains of the fortress and moat and there is a nice exhibit of medieval weapons: a catapult, ballistae, trebuchet and battering ram. The walk to the fortress is paved and suitable for carriages and there are benches along the way.

Appolonia National Park

Additional Options

'Beit Rishonim’, Founders’ House, Herzliya Museum

In one word, the place is quaint. I would have considered this to be a trip anchor if the films were available also in English, but only the plaques are bilingual so although I enjoyed it tremendously, you may miss out a bit. In general, the tour is self-guided, but for English speakers if you reserve in advance, you can ensure that someone is there to assist you and the team is very friendly.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the entrance to this museum is free. I also got lucky because there weren’t any school groups, which I understood was normally the case. You start by entering a wooden hut decorated with appliances used when Herzliya was founded in 1924. You move on to see a sample room showing Herzliya in later years. There is a short film summarizing the development of the city.

Beit Rishonim Herzliya

Then there is a display about the relationship between Herzliya and Herzl. As you can deduce from the name, the city was named after him because it was founded 20 years after he passed away and the city emblem has 7 stars based on Herzl’s sketch of a flag. Each star represents a work-hour. Herzl thought that in an enlightened country, people would be working 7 hours a day. Interesting thought!

Beit Rishonim Herzliya

There are some educational activities that they do with children related to Herzl and when you go upstairs you have another film and display about the activities of the ‘Haganah’, the pre-IDF civilian defense force. In addition, the Herzliya historical archives are located there so if you’re interested in some family ancestral heritage investigation, that is the place to go to find documentation. Finally, there is an agricultural display in the garden. It sounds like a lot, but you can cover it in 1-1.5 hrs.

Beit Rishonim Herzliya

This museum is minutes away from Beit Rishonim and since rain is coming upon us, I thought I’d check it out on your behalf. Unfortunately, I found out that it is also aimed at Hebrew speakers. Although the plaques are bilingual, the self-guided audio device, available at an additional fee, is in Hebrew alone. The bonus is that on Saturdays at 12:00, there are tour guides included with the entrance fee so you may both land on a guide who can answer questions in English and save the audio guide fee. There is a nice big lawn with statues outside which is pleasant, but all in all, I wouldn’t recommend this location for children.

Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art

Just a bit north of Herzliya, there is an open gallery of huge statues that you can see from the highway. I went there after reading that it was open 24/7, but when I came to visit saw the sign that you’re not allowed to touch them, let alone climb on them or photograph them without permission. The statues belong to a private gallery that does tours so if you’re interested, you can contact them at the above link. I received permission to post my photos. I didn’t take the tour.

Arsuf Open Green Gallery

In the past, I’ve come to Herzliya especially for the mini-golf without the rest. I’m mentioning it especially because it there aren’t that many mini-golf courses in Israel, which is a pity because it is an activity suitable for the full range of family ages. The mini-golf place easily fills up half a day. Aside from the mini-golf, they have trampolines and sell basic refreshments such as pizza, snacks, ice cream bars and soda so if you have younger children, it would be a nice place after Beit Rishonim.

I came to this mall because of the Christmas market publication that turned out to be pretty minimal, but I got a nice Merry Christmas photo out of it. The mall itself is nice. Upstairs there is a gymboree for small children and they have a nice store with Galabeyas (long dress tunics) that I noticed, which is not commonly seen in most malls. It’s a nice indoor shopping place with plenty of restaurants by the Marina so it’s the ultimate place for whenever you want to have a sit-down meal.

Arena Mall, Herzliya

I’m linking here all the surfing activities and boat tours that you can take from the Marina. The Marina itself can hold up to 680 yachts and just walking around and viewing them is both fun and gorgeous. You have: ‘Reef Israel Diving & Surfing Club’, ‘Yacht Sam’, ‘Lee Yam’, ‘Ahamit BaYam’, ‘Sea-Gal Yacht Club’, ‘Galeynaama Yachts Charter’, ‘Pro Surf’ and ‘Sea View Israel Yachts Charter’.

Herzliya Marina


There are a few cafés near Beit Rishonim where you can have your ‘elevenses’ as Paddington would say: ‘Café Toscana' and ‘Lehem Erez’ or for kids you can try ‘Pizza Celeste’ or ‘Hummus Herzliya’.

Restaurants near the museum of contemporary art include: ‘Benedict Restaurant’, ‘Landwer Café’, ‘Bistro 111’, ‘Burger Saloon’, ‘Sushi Bar Bazel’, ‘On Line Café’, ‘Siciliana’ and ‘Avazi’.

Restaurants near Herzliya Marina and Arena Mall include: ‘Café Greg’, ‘Kakao’, ‘Derbi Bar’, ‘Papagaio’, ‘Herbert Samuel Herzliya’, ‘Bistro 56’, ‘Lucca’ and ’Fresh Kitchen Marina’.


My timeline

I was very inefficient this time because of other commitments that cut my visits short, but the options can be squeezed into two days.

This is what it looks like on the map:
Herzliya Christmas 2017 Trip Map

By the way, if you wish to see additional trip ideas for Christmas, you should read my previous post, which was entitled "A Glee Style Hanukkah-Christmas Mashup".

So, “If Herzl had met Santa…”, what do you think he would have asked for?

I would love if you would comment with creative responses. Let's have some fun!

Merry Christmas!


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