Ashdod is a city on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, halfway between Tel Aviv and Gaza. One of Israel's two industrial ports is located 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 makes up roughly a third of total 235,000 residents. The city is also home to large numbers of Moroccan, Georgian, Ethiopian and recently, French and Argentinian Jews. It also has the third largest charedi (ultra-Orthodox) religious 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/well designed cities in Israel.
There is train every hour from Tel Aviv, with connections to most other Israeli cities. Buses run to Ashdod from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, and other places. There're also ferries from Salerno (Italy) and Limassol (Cyprus), most of them are freighter ones but they use to offer some accommodation for tourists as well.
By bus, taxi ("moneet" in Hebrew) or minibus ("moneet sherut").
Ashdod has a very developed system of bikes 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.
Ashdod has a pretty, long coast (8 km/6 miles) with several public beaches and a marina accessible for the public. Ashdod's beach strip is about 2/3 the length of Tel Aviv's, yet it serves only about tenth population compared to the latter. Since it's not crowded or very touristic, it's a great place for a calm trip of wondering between villas or by the beach.
There is horse riding, 4X4 rental, and the city marina provides yacht/cruise services.
Ashdod is home to the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra which performs music originating in Andalusia, a blend of Western and Arabic music.
The MonArt center is a performing arts center which has different art schools, studios and events.
A large souvenir store is located downtown (actually in upper part of the city), on Rogozin street There you can buy local stamps and postcards, water from Jordan river, soil from Jerusalem, and much more.
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.
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.