- 5-day tour of Israel from Tel Aviv, led by an expert local guide
- Enjoy two tours of Jerusalem, visiting the Old City as well as the City of David
- Ride to the top of the ancient cliff-top fortress of Masada by cable car
- Float in the mineral- and salt-rich waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth
- Tour the holy city of Nazareth plus the ancient fishing village of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee
- Visit Roman ruins at Caesarea, the UNESCO-listed Baha’i Gardens at Haifa and the underground grottos of Rosh Hanikra
- Spend three nights in a 3-star Jerusalem hotel and one night in a traditional kibbutz
What You Can Expect
Three-star hotel accommodation is included in Jerusalem for the first three nights of your tour, and then your final night is spent near the Sea of Galilee at an Israeli kibbutz, for a taste of traditional Israeli culture.
Leave your Tel Aviv hotel and travel southeast to Jerusalem by air-conditioned coach, roughly an hour away. As you enter the city, stop to admire the views from the Mount of Olives, gazing out at the Dome of the Rock at Temple Mount Esplanade. Travel through Kidron Valley, past the monumental burial tombs at the Garden of Gethsemane – where Jesus was said to have prayed before his crucifixion – to the walls of the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Stretch your legs on a walk, ambling along the old Byzantine main road, and stop to admire the Western Wall, nicknamed the ‘wailing wall’ after the vast crowds of worshipers who use it as an open-air synagogue. Soak up the atmosphere and continue through the Jewish quarter to the Christian quarter for a walk along the Via Dolorosa. The road was once an important pilgrimage route for Christian visitors, believed to mark the way to the site of Jesus’ crucifixion at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Wander away from the Christian quarter to check out the Muslim bazaar, a bustling place where Hebron glass and Armenian pottery knickknacks are sold alongside spices and coffee. Browse the stalls with your guide and then venture into the newer part of the city for a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum – a poignant Holocaust memorial and exhibition center. After exploring at leisure, meet your guide and check in to your Jerusalem hotel.
Overnight: 3-star hotel in Jerusalem
Day 2: Jerusalem – City of David – Jerusalem (B)
Enjoy breakfast and then head out for your second tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, enjoying in-depth commentary about each of the sights. Visit the Mount of Olives, and then stop to see an ancient cemetery in Kidron Valley, visiting the tombs of Absalom – King David’s son – as well as Zechariah, a revered temple priest. Continue past the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, and stop at Mount Zion to pay your respects at the Tomb of King David.
Head into the heart of the Old City through Zion Gate and walk around the four Sephardic synagogues in the Jewish quarter that each date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Stroll along the Byzantine main street, and pass the excavations of an ancient wall that stood some 2, 700 years ago during the reign of King Hezekiah. The area is home to some incredible 2,000-year-old Herodian mansions, complete with their original mosaics. Wander around with your guide and hear insights into the people’s lifestyle at the time.
Stop to place a prayer note in the cracks of the Western Wall, and then leave the Old City through Dung Gate. After a break for lunch (own expense), set off on foot to explore the walled City of David, one of Jerusalem’s ancient neighborhoods. Spend time here at your leisure or enjoy a guided tour (excluded). Steeped in religious history, the City of David is often cited as the birthplace of Jerusalem for it was here that Kind David founded his kingdom, and some of the most famous biblical stories are believed to have taken place. Today, the neighborhood is an extensive archeological park, home to an array of temples, ruins and relics. As you amble around, your guide will point out highlights such as Gihon Spring – an ancient water source – and the tunnels that were built by the Canaanites to channel water around the City of David.
Your full-day tour finishes with a hotel drop-off, and the rest of the evening is then yours to spend at leisure.
Overnight: 3-star hotel in Jerusalem Old City
Day 3: Jerusalem – Masada – Dead Sea – Jerusalem (B)
After breakfast, travel through the barren Judean Desert that stretches around the city. Pass the Inn of the Good Samaritan – the setting of one of the New Testament’s most famous parables – and watch the sultry barren hills of the desert give way to the stone towers of Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities.
Continue alongside the shores of the Dead Sea, admiring its serene blue water juxtaposed against the sun-baked desert canyons, and then stop at the cable car station that leads to Masada. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the ruins of King Herod’s ancient fortress, a palace complex that later became a besieged Jewish stronghold against a bloody Roman invasion.
Hop inside the cable car and ride to the mountain’s flat-topped summit while gazing down over Snake, a winding walkway that leads to the top. Explore Masada’s excavations with your guide, discovering ruined stone houses, bathhouses and a 1st-century synagogue and more. After learning about the site during the days of King Herod and during the Roman attack of 73 AD, return down the mountain by cable car.
Enjoy a quick break for lunch (own expense), and then travel to a resort on the Dead Sea, stopping at the northern coast to swim and float in the mineral-rich waters at leisure. Marking the lowest point on the face of the Earth, the impressive stretch of water is fed by a collection of incoming rivers that gush in to its land-locked shores. As the waters have nowhere to flow on to, they evaporate and leave behind a rich concentration of natural salt that attributes to the Dead Sea’s famous buoyancy.
After floating on the water and enjoying the therapeutic mud, meet back up with your guide and return to your Jerusalem hotel.
Overnight: 3-star hotel in Jerusalem Old City
Day 4: Jerusalem – Nazareth – Sea of Galilee – Jerusalem (B)
Leave Jerusalem after breakfast, and then travel north to Nazareth. Nestled into the Galilean Hills, the city is home to a revered Christian shrine – the Church of the Annunciation – where the Angel Gabriel is said to have appeared to the Virgin Mary.
Head inside the basilica, and learn of its significance as a Christian pilgrimage site while admiring the architecture. Another sacred site – St Joseph’s Church – is nearby, so stroll over to it next with your guide. Built on the spot where Joseph of Nazareth’s carpentry workshop is said to have stood, the church is fascinating to explore with a network of crypts beneath its main hall.
After walking around the church with your guide, leave Nazareth and continue through the village of Cafa for a photo stop at the Church of the Multiplication on the Sea of Galilee. It was here that one of the New Testament’s parables – the feeding of the 5,000 – took place.
Continue around the foot of Mount Beatitudes to the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, and see the ruins of Jesus’ much-celebrated synagogue on a walk with your guide. Stop for lunch (own expense) and then travel toward the Jordan River.
Stop at Yarendit to walk along its sacred river banks and learn about the baptismal rituals that take place at the water’s edge. If you would like to get baptized, speak to your guide to see if it can be arranged. Soak up the tranquil ambiance, and then check in to your kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee for your overnight stay.
Overnight: Nof Tavor hotel in kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee
Day 5: Sea of Galilee – Caesarea – Haifa – Rosh Hanikra – Acre – Tel Aviv (B)
Leave your kibbutz after breakfast, and then travel north along the coast to your first destination of the day: Caesarea. The town is lavished with architectural remains from the Crusader period when Emperor Caesar gave the town to King Herod as a gift. Learn about the town under his rule on a walking tour and stop for photos in front of Caesarea’s old Roman theater; it’s said to be one of the largest amphitheaters to be built during the Roman era.
After a break for lunch (own expense), continue to Haifa for a walk around Baha’i Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stacked into the hillside of Mount Carmel, the terraced gardens were built around the Shrine of the Báb – a lavish domed building where the founder of the Bábism faith is buried.
Continue by coach to Rosh Hanikra, a geological formation of spectacular limestone grottos that zigzag along the coast. Stretch your legs on an underground stroll through the maze of caves with your guide, and pose for photos by the vibrant blue pools of water that appear around every turn.
Your final stop of the day is in Acre, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town with impressive city walls. Look around on a walking tour, and then travel back to central Tel Aviv where your 5-day tour finishes.