Visiting the Holy Land? Don't miss all the hotspots with our suggested itinerary: visit Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa and the room of the Last Supper, check out the Sea of Galilee and all the famous sites of the New Testament, and explore ancient cultures in various archaeological sites.
Begin in Jerusalem with the inspiring panoramic view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives. From here it is a short walk to Dominus Flevit and then a walk (or drive) to the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane.
Continue to the Temple Mount, scene of Abraham’s offering of Isaac today marked by the Dome of the Rock.
Then, it’s on to the Western Wall, revered as Judaism most sacred site as the last remnant of the Second Temple. On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays you can see Bar Mitzva ceremonies at the Western Wall, the joyful occasion when a Jewish boy of 13 reads from the Torah in public for the first time.
While at the Western Wall, arrange your schedule to join a public tour of the Western Wall Tunnels by enquiring at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
At the Southern Wall Excavations, you can walk on the original two thousand-year old street and climbing the ancient steps that Jesus and the disciples probably also climbed. At the Davidson Center, in the basement of an eighth-century-CE palace, look into the possibility of seeing its virtual-reconstruction, high-definition interactive model, and enjoy the high-definition film open to all visitors that depicts ancient pilgrimage to the Temple in a unique way.
Next, visit the City of David, where Jerusalem became David’s capital some 3,000 years ago. See the Visitors Center, with its excavations of the First Temple Period, Warren's Shaft and the ancient water system built by King Hezekiah to protect the city’s water supply from the Assyrians.
Continue to Mount Zion, to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, where Peter denied Jesus, King David’s Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper and the Church of the Dormition - where by Catholic tradition Mary fell in to eternal sleep.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
It’s time to get to know Jerusalem close-up today. Begin at St. Stephen’s Gate, also known as Lion’s Gate, and visit the Pool of Bethesda - site of the miraculous healing of a paralyzed man by Jesus, and the Church of St. Anne, where Christian groups love to sing hymns as they visit.
Take the Via Dolorosa passing the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the ancient site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.
Wander the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
Next visit the rebuilt Jewish Quarter with its old Sephardic synagogues. Byzantine-era Cardo, Second-Temple-era Herodian Mansions and the Burnt House, and First-Temple-era Broad Wall, as well as fun people-watching, galleries and restaurants.
End your day at the Garden Tomb – a rock hewn tomb believed by Protestant denominations to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
The New City is on today’s agenda. You can begin at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, with its astounding new historical museum, Hall of Remembrance, Children's’ Memorial and other moving sites.
Drive by the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament – open for tours on Sundays and Thursdays) and the New Supreme Court Building.
Nearby is the Israel Museum where among many other treasures you can delve into the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Shrine of the Book and see the Model of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple.
Continue to Ein Karem picturesque village, birth place of John the Baptist, with the Church of John the Baptist, the Church of the Visitation and the Russian Orthodox Church.
End your day in downtown Jerusalem, walking the pedestrian malls of Ben Yehuda Street and Nahalat Shiva, enjoying this restored quarter of shops, cafes and restaurants that are favorites with Jerusalemites.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
Head to Tel Aviv-Yafo today. On the way, stop at the tranquil Latrun Monastery, overlooking the Valley of Ayalon, where Joshua made the sun stand still. The monastery was founded in 1890 by French Trappist monks, and the monks, who maintain a vow of silence, produce wine from their own vineyards.
Then, it’s on to Jaffa the ancient seaport mentioned in the biblical narrative of Jonah and the whale, and in the story of Solomon’s import of the cedars of Lebanon. Jaffa’s fishing port, St. Peter’s Church, artists quarter, Visitor Center and panoramic view of Tel Aviv are all highlights.
Walk through the area known as the White City to see the preservation of buildings of Bauhaus architecture of the 1920s and 1930s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stop at Independence Hall, where Ben-Gurion declared independence in 1948.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, enjoy the crafts market on Nahalat Binyamin Street. The nearby open-air Carmel fruit and vegetable market is open daily, and is a colorful opportunity to mingle with the locals.
Enjoy a fish dinner or a snack at the Tel Aviv Port and an evening walk through Yarkon Park where you’ll find the locals enjoying cycling, jogging and enjoying family time on the lawns.
Overnight: in Tel Aviv.
Caesarea National Park on the Mediterranean is your first stop today, where you’ll find the remains of former Roman capital home of Philip the Evangelist, and where Paul was imprisoned and appeared before Festus, Felix and King Agrippa.
Tour the Roman theater, the hippodrome and promenade to the renovated Crusader city. Don’t miss the "Caesarea Experience" a fascinating computerized presentation about the city's history.
Then, it’s on to Muhraka, the traditional site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Ba’al, with the Carmelite Monastery of St. Elijah.
Continue to Acre, the ancient Phoenician and Crusader seaport (designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site) for a tour of the Knights Halls, the Al-Jazzar Mosque, the bathhouse with its multi-media display and the new ethnic museum, built right into the rooms of the old wall, and the covered markets.
Cross the beautiful Galilee Mountains, stopping at Arbel National Park for an overview of the Sea of Galilee in the late afternoon.
Overnight: in the Sea of Galilee region.
Start the day with a visit to the Christian holy sites around the Sea of Galilee, including:
The Mount of Beatitudes: The traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with its beautiful view of the lake and its sacred sites.
Capernaum: Known as "Jesus' Town" in the New Testament, Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee is home to one of the earliest churches in the world as well as a monumental ancient synagogue. This was also Peter's home town where Jesus performed many miracles.
Tabha: Jesus' miracle of the Multiplication of the Fish and Loaves is illustrated beautifully in an ancient mosaic of the Byzantine church that stood here. Visit the renovated Benedictine church, built in the same style and along the same lines as the original one.
Bethsaida: Home of Peter, Andrew and Philip and scene of Jesus’ healing of a blind man.
The Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar: A magnificent display of the wooden Galilee Boat, dating from the time of Jesus, discovered mired in the mud on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
In the afternoon, drive to scenic Mount Tabor, scene of Deborah and Barak’s battle against Sisera, and of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Consider an evening boat-ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Overnight in the Sea of Galilee area.
Drive to Cana - the village where Jesus performed the first miracle, turning water into wine, with the Wedding Church and the Church of Nathanael.
Continue to Nazareth - childhood town of Jesus, with the Basilica of the Annunciation; the Church of St. Joseph; Mary’s Well; the Church of St. Gabriel; and the reconstructed Nazareth Village, where you can learn about daily life in the days of Jesus.
Then, it’s on to Megiddo, the site of biblical Armageddon, to see the excavations of the ancient fortified city that was one of Solomon’s most important centers, overlooking the Jezreel Valley and the ancient Via Maris.
In the afternoon, visit the charming church at Nain, where Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead.
Overnight in the Sea of Galilee area.
Before saying farewell to the Sea of Galilee area, visit Yardenit – the baptismal site for pilgrims on the Jordan River south of Tiberias.
Then it’s on down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea and Qumran - ruins of the ancient Essene settlement in whose nearby caves the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
Enjoy a walk through the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, a biblical oasis with a spring and waterfalls, where David hid from Saul.
In the afternoon, take the cable-car to the top of Massada scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the Great Revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the visitor’s center reveals the secrets of the daily life of the rebels, the story of the excavations, and how the site became one of Israel’s most important symbols.
Check into your Dead Sea hotel and enjoy a relaxing float in the healthful waters of the lowest, saltiest body of water on earth.
Overnight: in the Dead Sea.
Drive on down to Eilat today, stopping at the Hai Bar Reserve for a safari-like drive through the park where biblical animals are being fostered. Further south, visit Timna Park, geological wonders including Solomon’s Pillars, a full-scale replica of the biblical Tabernacle and ancient copper mines whose story is showcased at the park’s exciting multimedia presentation “Mines of Time.”
Settle into your bed and breakfast in the Eilat area or hotel right in the Red Sea resort town itself.
Visit the wonderful Underwater Observatory Marine Park, or choose from a variety of other activities, such as swimming with the dolphins or bird-watching.
Overnight: in Eilat.
Head north today via the central Negev and the Ramon Crater, stopping at the Visitor Center in Mitspe Ramon that tells the story of this amazing natural wonder.
Continue to Avdat, once a central city on the Nabatean trade route (known as the Incense Route), which became a Christian city of pilgrimage.
Then, it’s on to biblical Be'er Sheba and northward.