Although Netanya sits beside the Mediterranean Sea, it does not have the same wide sandy beaches found further north or the ideal deep diving waters south of the city. However, it does have 14 kms of beaches that still make for some tourist trade. It also boasts, at present, of having Israel’s premiere Golf Course – if not the only golf course in all of Israel. Although some die-hard golfers argue that it is the best thing to do in Netanya, there are many things to do here besides playing golf.
One can take a tour in the Beit Aharon Reservation to view burial caves from the Byzantine era, see Israel’s unique soft-shell turtles, stroll through HaSharon Park’s hiking trails, visit a reproduction of the settlements of ancient Israel, visit a family recreation park complete with trains, pool rides and amusing activities involving motorcycles and trucks or go to a water theme park south of the city. As it is anywhere in Israel, good restaurants and coffee shops abound.
Netanya, or Nathania, as it is sometimes spelled is a fast-growing city with many English-speaking immigrants arriving from the US, Canada and the UK; which explains the presence of the golf course. Due to the concentration of Western folk, the culture in this city is quite different from that of other Israeli cities, easing the sense of culture shock for many. In 2007, the small city had a population of 175,000 (which is considered big by Israeli standards) and estimates predict the figure to double by 2020.
Due to the volume of permanent residents in the area, Netanya boasts of several museums and galleries, some of which allow free admission to specific groups. One such museum that allows free admission to all soldiers and policemen is the Museum of Jewish Legions that pays tribute to the Jewish Legions of WW II. Other unique museums are the Tractor History Museum and the Han Museum Hadera. Many art galleries in the area offer exhibits on a rotating basis, depending on the visiting artists involved, so it is best to keep an eye open for such announcements.
With all the English-speaking residents here, Netanya City is a great place for a westerner to establish base camp for an extended visit of Israel. Aside from the warm weather here, the ambience and mellow pace will make many feel right at home.