Enjoy the wonders of Israel through its unique culture and rich history. Experience the breathtaking desert in the South and the lush flora in the North, visit all the historically significant places and enrich yourself and your loved ones with thousands of years of history.
Start with Tel Aviv-Jaffa:
Wander through the lanes of ancient Jaffa and enjoy the galleries, the underground archaeological display and the picturesque fishing port.
Proceed to Neve Tsedek, the first Jewish neighborhood outside ancient Jaffa. Neve Tsedek is the home of the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, the world-famous Bat Sheva Dance Company and a number of restored homes and shops with interesting architecture. Among these is the museum dedicated to the works of the early Tel Aviv artist who captured its spirit in the early days, Nahum Gutman.
Speaking of architecture, in July 2003, UNESCO proclaimed the cluster of homes and public buildings of Tel Aviv’s founding days as a World Heritage Site. A stroll through the main area of these monuments, known as the “White City,” along Rothschild Blvd. and its side streets is a wonderful opportunity to savor life in the first Hebrew city, past and present.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, see the Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall come alive with stalls selling handicrafts of every type. Proceed to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and visit the Israeli Art section for a taste of Israel’s finest art from the past 100 years.
Enjoy the nightlife of a city that never sleeps.
Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Drive south to Tel Be’er Sheva, another of the many UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on this itinerary. This ancient town, overlooking the modern capital of the Negev that has retained the ancient name, functioned as the administrative center for the Judean monarchy during the Iron Age, beginning some 2,800 years ago. Among the most impressive finds here are the corner stones of an altar and a large-scale water project that served the city during both war and peace.
Continue south to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the central Negev and the home of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Visit Ben-Gurion’s modest home and the nearby exhibition portraying his life and his vision for this region, and stop at his tomb, overlooking the magnificent Tsin Valley.
Proceed to Avdat, once a central city on the Nabatean trade route (known as the Incense Route) connecting Petra and the port of Gaza.
Further south, at Mitspe Ramon, you’ll find a small desert town built on the edge of a fascinating geological formation known as a makhtesh, or crater. Stop at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center to understand how this unique water-erosion formation, found only in Israel, came into being, and learn more about the region’s nature and wildlife, as well as the peoples who called it home in centuries past.
Overnight: Mitspe Ramon or environs.
Get an early morning start with a hike in the Ramon Crater or a pre-arranged jeep tour, which you can book through the Visitors Center or area hotels. Stop at the Saharonim Fort, once a caravan on the Incense Route.
Drive northeast to the Dead Sea, to explore Massada, scene of epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the great revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the visitors' center reveals the secrets of the daily lives of the rebels, tells the story of the excavations, and shows why the site became one of Israel’s most important symbols.
Finish the day with a dip in the saltiest, lowest body of water in the world, enjoy a health treatment and spend the night at one of the fine hotels along the shores of the Dead Sea.
Overnight: Dead Sea area.
Travel to the Old City of Jerusalem:
Start out with an overview, literal and figurative, of the Holy City, Israel’s capital, as you explore the Tower of David Museum, showcasing the history of Jerusalem from its beginning to modern times.
Continue to the Jewish Quarter which was home to European and Sephardic Jews during the centuries under Ottoman rule, and visit the 2,700-year-old Broad Wall, the Herodian Mansions and the Cardo.
Finish the day at the City of David, including Warren’s Shaft, the new Visitors Center and Hezekiah’s Tunnel, through which water has flowed since the days of King Hezekiah some 2,700 years ago.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Start out with a visit to the Temple Mount, site of the sacrifice of Isaac, the Jerusalem Temples, and the ninth-century Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. See the Western Wall, sacred to the Jewish people as the last remnant of the Second Temple. Visit the Southern Wall Excavations, walking on the original two thousand-year old street and climbing the ancient steps. At the Davidson Center, in the basement of an eighth-century CE palace, make arrangements to see the virtual-reconstruction, high-definition interactive model.
Next, explore the venerable Church of the Holy Sepulchre, site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus according to Christian tradition. You will notice the many Christian denominations represented in the church, distinguished by their dress and liturgy – Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox , each in their own corner of the ancient complex. Explore some of the other interesting churches in the Old City, including the Russian Orthodox Church with its basement ruins, and the tranquil Ethiopian courtyard and humble chapel.
Wander through the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
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, 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 Second Temple Model of Jerusalem.
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.
Leaving Jerusalem, drive along the coast and cut through the historic Iron Valley to Tel Megiddo. Home to a palace and walls of Solomon, a complex water system built by King Ahab, scene of Armageddon and believed to be the backdrop for James A. Michener’s novel “The Source,” Megiddo is one of Israel’s most important and impressive archaeological sites, also a World Heritage Site.
Continue to the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee and visit the Galilee’s cradle of Christianity - Capernaum, Simon Peter’s home town, Tabha, commemorating the miracle of the Fishes and Loaves, and the Mount of the Beatitudes, the scene of the Sermon on the Mount.
Consider the option of a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee this evening.
Overnight: in the Sea of Galilee area.
Ascend the Golan Heights and stop for an overview of Gamla, a Jewish stronghold nearly 2,000 years ago, and also a bird sanctuary where Griffon’s vultures soar overhead.
Proceed to Katsrin, the central town of the Golan, and visit its Talmudic Village, featuring a restored home and synagogue. Then meet the locals over a falafel or pizza at the commercial center at Katsrin, where you can also visit the Golan Antiquities Museum, displaying the impressive archaeological finds discovered through the region.
Drive to the northern Golan through the Druze villages of Buq’ata and Mas’ade, stop at the lovely pool of Birket Ram and visit the fascinating Druze shrine of Nebi Yafouri, nestled among apple orchards.
Descend from the Golan along the tributaries of the Jordan River and settle down for the night in one of Israel’s most beautiful regions - the Hula Valley.
Overnight: Hula Valley.
Start the day with a visit to the Hula Valley Nature Reserve. The reserve has lovely walking trails, including a "floating bridge" over the wetland, and special lookout points where visitors can observe the avian wildlife.
In the spring of 1994 another stage in the campaign to restore natural balance in the Hula Valley was completed: the re-flooding of 250 acres now known as Lake Agmon, 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 fun multimedia display that tells the story of the migratory route across the region and the millions of birds that use it.
Continue to Tel Hazor. One of the principal cities on the Fertile Crescent, Hazor engaged in trade with cities in Babylon and Syria. The Bible refers to Hazor as "the head of all those kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10). As you explore the ruins, including the beautifully restored palace, the water system and other gems, you’ll understand why Tel Hazor, too, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Proceed to Safed, one of the four holy cities in Israel and the home of Lurian mysticism, a branch of Jewish mysticism conceived by the 16th -century Rabbi Isaac Luria, the traditional author of the seminal mystic work, the Zohar. Stroll along the lanes of the Old City and see its many synagogues, as well as its unique artist’s colony.
Overnight: Upper Galilee.
Start the day by driving along Israel’s northern road all the way to Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean. Here the rocky cliffs descend steeply into the sea, allowing the waves to carve grottos of a thousand shapes. Take the cable car down to the grottos for a short stroll through the rocky passageways.
Drive south to Acre, a historic walled port-city with continuous settlement beginning in the Phoenician period. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact both above and below today's street level. The remains provide an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom, along with touches of the Ottoman period during the 18th and 19th centuries, when Acre was a fortified market town.
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.
Continue to the modern port city of Haifa; visit the picturesque restored Templer Colony and the gorgeous terraced Bahai Gardens, and enjoy the view from the top of Mount Carmel.