Israel’s unmatched history, archaeological treasures and cultural attractions make it an essential destination for religious pilgrims and secular travelers alike. Explore Jerusalem, a walled hilltop city with a fabled 5,000-year past, sacred to more than a third of the world’s population. In Bethlehem, Galilee and across the countryside, retrace Biblical events and learn about ancient civilizations and unique modern communities. Israel is as beautiful as it is fascinating and you will be struck by the majestic deserts, rolling hills and picturesque coastlines. And, to enrich your journey, we’ve arranged exclusive lectures with journalists, writers and experts on hot historical and current topics.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
It can be quite hot in Israel during the summer months – June through August and cool in the winter (January/February.) Generally, best time to visit is March through May and October/November. However, one needs to take into consideration the Jewish and Christian holidays when it is too crowded and very expensive in Israel. The birding migration takes place usually March-May, returning October-November.
Fly overnight to Tel Aviv, Israel’s first “modern “city founded in 1909, and enjoy a welcome dinner. Next day, start at Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest cities, with a harbor that has been in use since the Bronze Age. Continue to the recently renovated old Othman train station and stroll through Neve Zedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Enjoy lunch at the Port of Tel Aviv before your drive through the White City of Tel Aviv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ISROTEL ROYAL BEACH TEL AVIV. (Meals Aloft, D; B,D)
Learn about the challenges of sustaining two divergent cultures on one land this morning. Head to Givat Haviva, a cultural center seeking to foster a shared society. Then, drive to the ancient city of Caesarea to see ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader eras. Visit the Carmel Winery for lunch and wine tasting and see the Gan HaDiv Garden teeming with lovely lawns, bushes and trees. Arrive Haifa, Israel’s most ethnically diverse city, and dine with members of Haifa’s many communities at Victor Hadayag’s. THE BAY CLUB HAIFA. (B,L,D)
Begin your day at the Technion, the Institute of Technology that has been the heart of the Israel’s technology miracle and learn about some of the discoveries for which Israelis won Nobel prizes. Ascend Mt. Carmel for a panoramic view of Haifa Bay and visit the perfectly manicured Bahai Gardens, an aesthetic memorial to the founders of the Baha’i Faith, where you enjoy a lecture by a member of the faith. Visit a Carmelite Church; Wadi Nisnas, where Jews and Arabs live in harmony; the ancient crusader port city of Acco; and the Rosh Hanikra grottoes, a cluster of caves that fall off into the ocean. THE BAY CLUB HAIFA. (B,L)
Start at Tizzpori to see the mosaic of the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.” Trace important New Testament events in Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus and visit the Church of the Annunciation. Explore Safed, the highest city in Israel and one of the four holy cities, the center of Kabbalah in the 1600s. Next day, discover at Tel Dan Nature Reserve rare archeological findings of city life dating back to the Neolithic or Stone Age and lush river greenery along the river. Then head to Caesarea Phillipi for a nature hike to one of Israel’s most beautiful waterfalls. Visit the new and old city of Katzrin where they produce and bottle four different liquids: water, beer, wine and olive oil; lunch will be at the Olive Oil factory. End the day on the top of Har Ben Tal for an overview of the border with Syria. KIBBUTZ HAGOSHRIM. (B,L,D)
Begin at Capernaum where Jesus served as a rabbi. Continue to Tabgha, known for the “miracle of the loaves and fishes,” and the Mount of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Take a boat ride on the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy a St. Peter’s fish lunch. Continue south to the ancient remains of Beit Shean to tour one of the biggest excavated sites in Israel. Head to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth; find some time to apply mud and float in the buoyant waters. ISROTEL DEAD SEA. (B,D)
Enjoy the therapeutic mud of the Dead Sea before ascending by cable car to Masada, a World Heritage Site where the Zealots’ last stand against Roman rule ended in mass suicide. Continue to the Essene ruins of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. End your day in Jerusalem, and this evening, meet with Palestinian journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, duties permitting. AMERICAN COLONY HOTEL. (B,L)
Delve into the history of this sacred city with a lecture on “Jerusalem, the Holy City.” Then, visit the areas sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians at the Temple Mount, site of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. In the Old City, explore new excavations in the City of David; a virtual reconstruction of the Herodian Temple Mount; and the Western Wall. In the Jewish Quarter, see resplendent ruins and Byzantine vestiges like Nea Church and Cardo Maximus. Next day, ascend the Mount of Olives, stopping at the tranquil Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. Retrace the footsteps of Jesus along the Via Dolorosa, the route between his condemnation and crucifixion. In Bethlehem, visit the Church of Nativity, Shepherd’s Field and a Byzantine farm site. Tonight, enjoy a sound and light show at the Tower of David. AMERICAN COLONY HOTEL. (B,L; B,D)
Visit Mount Herzl, Israel’s National Cemetery inside of which Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial is located. View the Hall of Remembrance, Children’s Memorial, and the path of trees creating the “avenue of the righteous among nations” honoring those who risked their lives to save Jews. Celebrate Israel’s founding at the Supreme Court building and see the vibrancy of Machane Yehuda, an outdoor souk. View the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and the scale model of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple. Enjoy a farewell dinner before transferring to the airport. (B,D; Meals Aloft)
Cross the Allenby Bridge to Jordan and drive to the ancient metropolis of Petra, cut into the desert’s red sandstone cliffs. Discover soaring temples, elaborate royal tombs, a Roman theater and one of the most elegant remains of antiquity, the Al Khazneh. Visit the Crusader Castle of Kerak, Mr. Nebo, and Madaba en route to the historic Dead Sea and spend two nights at a luxurious resort. Explore Jerash, renowned as the ‘Pompeii of the East’ for its remarkably preserved architectural wonders. Float on the Dead Sea’s healing waters, indulge in spa treatments or take a trip to Lot’s Cave.
Sign up today for exciting news, upcoming promotions and interesting stories in the world of conservation, nature and travel. For every person that signs up, Classic Escapes will donate $1 to our featured conservation.