Experience Israel through the tastes and the smells: a gastronomic adventure to discover Israel's multicultural population and unique culture while indulging yourself in a wide palate of flavors.
Begin your gastronomic adventure in Israel in the Golan Heights, which few people know has become a magnet for wine, food and olive-oil connoisseurs. Wine, oil and livestock have been the traditional produce of the Golan for centuries. One of the finest illustrations of this fact is the Talmudic village of Katsrin, where wine- and oil-presses have been discovered, and an oil press is on display and even used.
After a short tour of the ancient village, you can proceed to the nearby industrial zone to visit the Eden Water Mineral Water Plant (04-696-1050; 04-696-28245, ext. 236) and Katsrin’s winery, one of many in the Golan Heights.
Drive north through the Druze villages of Buk’ata and Mas’ade, stopping for the special Druze pita bread, cheese and za’atar (The biblical hyssop).
Descend from the Golan to the Hula Valley via the headwaters of the Jordan. Due to the abundance of water, the area is dotted with fish ponds. Dinner at a fish restaurant is a great choice in this region, with trout one of the specialties.
You can also head down to the Sea of Galilee to enjoy a fish dinner along the lakefront, the local favorite being St. Peter’s (tilapia).
Overnight at the Hula Valley or the Tiberias area.
Start the day at the Hula Nature Reserve. The reserve has lovely walking trails, including a "floating bridge" over the wetland, and special lookout points where visitors can observe the wild birds. In the spring of 1994, another stage in the campaign to restore the Hula Valley was completed: the flooding of 250 acres of uncultivated land, located approximately two kilometers north of the Hula Nature Reserve. Visitors can visit the re-flooded area to appreciate nature’s powers.
While at the Hula valley Nature reserve don’t forget to stop at “Oforia,” a spectacular multimedia display that tells the story of the migratory route that crosses the region and the millions of birds that use it.
Continue to Rosh Pina, one of the first communities established by the early Zionists settlers, for a taste of rural life in the Galilee. Enjoy a meal at in one of the many fine country-style eateries that dot this picturesque community.
A special treat is the chocolate factory in the restored part of Rosh Pina, located in the 19th-century one-room school house.
Proceed to Safed (Tzefat), one of the four holy cities in Israel and the home of Lurianic Kabalah (a branch of Jewish mysticism conceived by the 16-century Rabbi Isaac Luria).Stroll along the lanes of Safed’s old city, visiting its many synagogues and its unique artist’s colony.
Visit Hameiri Dairy - The first dairy in the country (Phone: +972-4-6921431, hwww.hameiri-cheese.co.il).
Overnight in the Hula Valley or Tiberias area.
Visit Tsipori National Park (Zippori), with its ruins of a Second-Temple era Jewish city, where Judah Hanasi redacted the Mishnah some 1800 years ago.
The beautiful villa, the triclinium dining room and the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” mosaic floor with its banqueting motifs, suggest that food and wine were important then as now.
Stop at Moshav Tsipori for a taste of their honey and organic olive oil.
Proceed to Acre. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact both above and below today's street level, providing an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom, along with touches of the Ottoman fortified market town Acre was during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Explore the Knights Halls, the Al-Jazaar Mosque, the bathhouse with its multi-media display, and the new ethnic museum, built right into the rooms of the old wall.
Stroll through the alleys of the Old City, stop in at its spice shops, and taste the local humus and other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean delicacies.
Continue to the Port city of Haifa; visit its picturesque German Templer Colony, the Baha’i Gardens and the Carmel National Park on the outskirts of the city.
Overnight in the Haifa area.
Start the day with a visit to the pioneering town of Zikhron Ya'akov – an area abundant in vineyards and wine and visit a local winery.
Continue to Caesarea, Herod’s magnificent port city. Visit the theater, newly excavated hippodrome, palace, bathhouse and the port area showing the influence of the Crusader conquest in the 11th century CE.
Continue to Tel Aviv. In the heart of the city, you’ll enjoy the colors and aromas of the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv’s open air fresh produce market.
In July, 2003, UNESCO Organization proclaimed the unique urban and historical fabric of early Tel Aviv, known as the White City, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the midst of the White City is Rothschild Boulevard, with many interesting architectural monuments, as well as a selection of the city’s good restaurants.
Tel Aviv boasts restaurants for every palate, preference and pocket. Ask your concierge for the best recommendations. Some of the best fish restaurants in the city are located in the Tel Aviv Port, along with ice cream bars and cafes.
Head for Jaffa, where you can buy the freshest bread for miles around at the bakery on Jaffa’s main drag, Yefet Street, a favorite with locals that does its best business on Saturday nights. Stroll the alleyways of old Jaffa and enjoy the artists’ colony, the picturesque fishermen’s port, the archaeological remains and restaurants.
Neve Tsedek, the first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of old Jaffa, is now a gentrified part of town that is one of the city’s cultural hubs as well.
Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Take highway 1 to Jerusalem via the Judean Mountains.
Start your visit in Israel’s capital at the Tower of David Museum dedicated to the history of Jerusalem from the founding of the city to modern times, in its unique location in the old Turkish citadel near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate.
Continue to the Jewish Quarter, which was home to European and Sephardic Jews who prayed and studied during the centuries under Ottoman rule, to visit the Broad Wall, a 2,700 year old defensive fortification; the Ariel - First Temple period museum; and Herodian Mansions.
Descend from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Herodian Temple Mount. Visit the Southern Wall Excavations. Walk on the original street from two thousand years ago, climb the ancient steps, and visit the Multimedia Davidson Center, in the basement of an eighth-century CE building.
Wander the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
Dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in Jerusalem.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Start the day with a Visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Walk through the astounding new Museum with its new and moving focus on the individual in the Holocaust, the Children’s Memorial and Hall of Remembrance.
Drive through the New City viewing old and new neighborhoods and the Knesset(The Israeli Parliament) (open for visits on Sundays and Thursdays) and the beautifully designed Supreme Court building.
At the nearby Israel Museum, among many other fascinating exhibits discover the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Shrine of the Book and see the Model of ancient Jerusalem.
For a change of pace visit Mahane Yehuda, the produce market of the capital, where a number of good restaurants have opened there lately, in the old stone buildings.
Finish the day with optional evening tours that explore the development of Jerusalem from the 19th century on. (Must be pre-arranged, can be booked through the concierge at your hotel).
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Start the day with a scenic drive to the Eshtaol Forest, located about 30 minutes west of Jerusalem. This area is famous as the scene of Samson’s exploits, and includes Tel Zor’a, where Samson’s traditional tomb is located. As a Nazirite, this biblical strongman wasn’t allowed to drink wine.
Drive to the Elah Valley famous for the biblical story of David’s battle with Goliath, where wine and table grapes are being grown as they were in Bible times.
Continue to Tel Maresha located in Beit Govrin National Park. The area is known for its manmade caves dating back to the Hellenistic period. These subterranean complexes served as the industrial zone of the city producing oil that was mostly exported to Egypt, and you can see a restored olive press in one of them.
Drive through the desert town of Arad to enjoy Bedouin hospitality in the Nokdim Farm (please book in advance: 08-9950097) or in the picturesque village of Drejat (+972-54-7969576).
Overnight in the Arad area.
Option 1: Wake up before dawn and drive 20 minutes to the western slopes of Massada. Ascend by foot as the sun rises to enjoy its full glory from the top of the Mountain.
Tour the fortress, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was a fabulous palace of Herod the Great, and became world-famous as the last Jewish stronghold during the great Jewish Revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago.
Option 2: Drive from the Arad area to the eastern side of Massada (about one hour) and ascend the mountain via the Snake Path or the cable-car.
After touring Massada, drive north to Ein Gedi National Park for a hike through its lush oasis to a beautiful waterfall.
Spend the rest of the day at leisure at one of the spa hotels or country-style accommodations in the Dead Sea area.
Overnight in the Dead Sea area.
Today it’s time to head to Israel’s Red-Sea Riviera of Eilat via the Negev Wine Route.
Don’t miss a visit to the Nabatean city of Avdat, a central city on the ancient Incense Route connecting Petra and the port city of Gaza. Avdat is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of the innovations of the ancient inhabitants: the farmers, who utilized every drop of water to make the desert bloom, and the caravans who carried not only goods but ideas and cultures across thousands of miles.
Drive south through Mitspe Ramon and the geological wonderland of the Ramon Crater, enjoying the Visitors' Center and a walk along the edge of the crater or on one of the hiking routes.
Overnight in the Eilat area.
You can start your day with a hike in one of the trails around the city (the Netafim Canyon and spring, the Red Canyon or Mount Tsefahot).
Spend the rest of the day at the Coral Beach Nature Reserve, visit the underwater observatory, swimming with the dolphins, bird-watching, camel-riding and hiking, a host of other fun activities, or just veg out on the beach. And of course enjoy the large selection of great restaurants the city has to offer.
Overnight in the Eilat area.