Israel's second-largest (and rapidly growing) city makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of the region. From stepping into biblical history or floating in the Dead Sea to playing Indiana Jones in a different country, here are some of the best day trips from Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem — 42 miles (68 km) from Tel Aviv
Jerusalem and its Old City is home to some of the most significant religious sites in the Holy Land, including the Western Wall (Wailing Wall), Via Dolorosa and its 14 Stations of the Cross, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Mount of Olives, and the Garden of Gethsemane. Travelers with limited time can combine a visit to Jerusalem with stops at the Dead Sea and Bethlehem as well.
Bethlehem and Jericho — 48 miles (78 km) from Tel Aviv
The neighboring cities of Bethlehem and Jericho both brim with holy sites. On a day trip to the two cities, visit the Shepherd’s Field—where the Star of the Nativity was first spotted—and enter the Church of the Nativity situated atop the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. See Zacchaeus’ tree and Elijah’s Spring in the ancient city of Jericho, nicknamed the City of Palm Trees.
Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee — 65 miles (105 km) from Tel Aviv
Step back into the days of the New Testament with a visit to Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood home. Visit the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph before heading toward the Sea of Galilee to see the locations where miracles like the feeding of 5,000 of Christ’s followers were believed to have taken place. Day trips to this biblically significant area often include the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River.
Masada and the Dead Sea — 101 miles (163 km) from Tel Aviv
Perched atop a plateau surrounded by towering cliffs, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient fortress of Masada is one of the nation's most historically significant sites. Tours to Masada cut through the rugged Judean Desert and often include a visit to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and a stop at the Dead Sea for a float or mud bath at the lowest land elevation on the planet.
Petra — 298 miles (480 km) from Tel Aviv
While the significant distance makes a day tour by plane to Petra a long day indeed, it’s well worth the effort, particularly for time-pressed travelers. This magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site was carved from the rose-red sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, and it ranks among the world’s most iconic archaeological sites.