Israel has everything: historical depth, cultural diversity, political complexity, sanctity, beauty, comfort, and contemporaneity. The history of Israel is itself worth the price of the trip; the mix of peoples and cultures offers another vital appeal; the opportunity that travelers have to engage in a first-hand encounter with the political complexity of the nation is not only valuable but vital to any real understanding of the issues beyond newspaper headlines; the religious heritage of the region is profoundly moving for anyone to whom religious faith is an important dimension of personal life; the diverse beauty of Israel’s natural environment is also surprising for such a small nation; the comfort of the hotel properties is a welcome relief to inevitably busy days; and the extraordinary economic vitality of Israel is perhaps the most eloquent testimony of the nation’s strength and promise.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
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, and visit a unique museum and art gallery located in the private home of acclaimed artist Ilana Goor. Continue to the recently renovated old Othman train station and stroll through Neve Zedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Enjoy lunch on your own at the Port of Tel Aviv before your drive through the White City of Tel Aviv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. METROPOLITAN HOTEL. (Meals Aloft, D; B,D)
Leave Tel Aviv behind and drive to the ancient city of Caesarea to see ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader eras. Constructed by Herod the Great between 22 and 10 BC and named for Caesar Augustus, Caesarea was one of the most splendid cities in Palestine and the capital of the province for almost 600 years. Then drive to Zichron Yaakov, one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the country, before heading to the Tishby Winery for wine tastings and lunch. Continue to Sepphoris and feel like you stepped back in time, to the Talmudic Period. The remains that are found here are dated back from the second century BCE through the Roman and Byzantine eras. Stroll through the ancient paths where the mosaics of Israel dot the floors. End at your Kibbutz with beautiful green landscapes offering an intense backdrop to the nearby seashore and private beach. KIBBUTZ NOF GINOSAR. (B,L,D)
Visit Capernaum, once a fishing village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. View one of the oldest synagogues in the world as well as the church ruins that were built above St. Peter’s house. Visit the new and old city of Katzrin where they produce and bottle four different liquids: water, beer, wine and olive oil. Then enjoy lunch at the olive oil factory and watch the manufacturing process of local olives. Explore Safed, the highest city in Israel and one of the four holy cities, the center of Kabbalah in the 1600s. Wander through the alleyways past charming stone houses with their artists’ studios and workshops and synagogues, some active for over 500 years. KIBBUTZ NOF GINOSAR. (B,L,D)
Head to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, and visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, a modern Catholic Church built over the remains of Byzantine and Crusader churches. It incorporates the cave in which the Virgin Mary received the news from Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus. Next stop is Beit She’an, home to some of Israel’s most spectacular archaeological finds. Then visit Beit Alfa to view an audio/visual presentation that explains the process of making mosaic floors of a sixth century synagogue. Continue to Jerusalem and your charming hotel. OLIVE TREE HOTEL. (B,D)
Ascend the Mount of Olives, stopping at the tranquil Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. Tour the City of David, beginning with an observation position overlooking Biblical Jerusalem that will send you 3,800 years back in time to the days of Abraham, when the first foundations of the city were laid. View the Western Wall, the only remaining part of the holy temple and the holiest of Jewish sites. Step into the Jewish Quarter and discover tangible remains of the time of the Second Temple. Walk the Via Dolorosa, the route that Jesus took between his condemnation by Pilate and his crucifixion and burial, beginning near the Lions’ Gate in the Muslim Quarter and ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter, home to the holiest site in all of Christendom – the tomb where Christ was buried and resurrected. OLIVE TREE HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Leave Jerusalem for Masada, near the Dead Sea. You can climb up the ancient serpent path, or take a cable car to the hill top ruins of Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by King Herod, the site would later be the scene of the Zealots last stand against the Roman Legion. Continue along the Dead Sea for lunch at a nearby hotel and a “swim” in the Dead Sea. The last stop of the day is at Qumran, the site of an Essene settlement and the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. OLIVE TREE HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Begin the day at Mount Herzl, Israel’s National Cemetery named for Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Within the cemetery is Yad Vashem Museum, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Continue to the Israeli Supreme Court for a tour of the striking compound. Its architects leaned heavily on the Bible and the precepts of Jewish thought in their design. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight. OLIVE TREE HOTEL. (B,D)
Your day is at leisure to explore Jerusalem on your own. You may want to see the vibrancy of Machane Yehuda, an outdoor souk to get a taste of the variety of people, produce and goods that are part of Israel today; or view the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and the scale model of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple. (B; 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, Mt. 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.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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