Israel may only be a small country, but it has a remarkably diverse array of sights, both natural and handmade. While the south of the country is arid and desert-filled, and Eilat is known mainly for its diving, there are still plenty of impressive sights and activities elsewhere in Israel, from the wadis and mountains of the Negev Desert to ruins of ancient cities and palaces. Further north you can float in the Dead Sea, party in Tel Aviv and visit some of the holiest shrines in Judaism, Islam and Christianity in and around Jerusalem.
While the north of Israel is perhaps less well-known, the land here is greener, with the pleasant Sea of Galilee, Carmel Mountain National Park and the contested Golan Heights all offering fascinating excursions. The best way to take in all or part of what Israel has to offer visitors is on a guided multi-day tour. There are lots of considerations to handle when booking your own trip, including security, hotels and transportation, and a good tour can take care of these logistics so that you can spend more time experiencing Israel in relative luxury. Here are five of the best Israel tours.
From $874/ per person
If your main aim is to see the internationally-renowned religious landmarks as well as taking in some of the more off-the-beaten-path sights of Israel’s north, then this five-day tour is a great introductory option. The itinerary includes a drive through vineyards of the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee’s countryside, while also stopping by Jerusalem, both old and new, Nazareth, and the Roman ruins at Capernaum. Accommodation is in hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while transportation is either in a mini coach or coach, depending on the group size. All of this is included along with breakfast, although lunch and dinner would be additional expenses.
From $883/ per person
Being a nation whose citizens are primarily of the Jewish faith, some of the most prized and venerated monuments in all of Judaism can be found in Israel. This tour aims to visit as many of them as possible in the space of five days and four nights. Naturally the starting point is in Jerusalem, with two nights’ hotel stay included in the itinerary. Enter the Old City through Zion Gate, and visit sacred sites like the Western Wall, the underground rock-cut kingdom known as City of David, and look out over the city from Mt. Scopus. That’s just part of the lineup for day one. You’ll also stop by the Dead Sea, tour the ancient synagogues of Safed hilltop city and much more. Accommodations, transportation, your guide and breakfast are included.
FROM: $1,226/per person
If five days sounds too short an amount of time to experience Israel, that’s perhaps because it is. While many tours focus in on the main holy and ancient sites of central and northern Israel, this highlights trip of the country probes a little deeper around these areas of the country and spends more time taking them in. Spend more time in Jerusalem, as well as visiting places like the excavation site of Herod’s Palaces, the Roman ruins at Beit Shean, and take a wine tasting in Israel’s wine country. Another bonus of this tour is that you will also get to spend a few nights in a kibbutz hotel.
From $1,840/ per person
While many of the above tours involve larger groups of up to 40 people, many people prefer the relative ease of a small-group tour (average of about 10 people). And the Israel Explorer is about more than just the popular tourist spots of the country as well. On the itinerary are – among the usual highlights like Nazareth, Bethlehem, and swimming in the Dead Sea – an opportunity to visit a Druze Village, a tour of a working kibbutz, and a trip to the Duhaishe Palestinian Refugee Camp, which is more of an unofficial town now, rather than a camp. The aim in this latter trip is to understand what life is like for the people living there and to see how they have turned it into a thriving community. Accommodation is mostly in three-star hotels.
From $1,985/ per person
The final tour on our list takes a step back and, rather than trying to cram the itinerary with every sight available in Israel, attempts to dedicate more time to the main cities of the country. Focussing mainly on Jerusalem, Nazareth and Tel Aviv, the tour, which caps out at 12 people, provides an in-depth look at the neighbourhoods and religious sites in each. Your main guide and a handful of local guides run walking tours to an array of landmarks, from the UNESCO-listed Masada fortress built by King Herod, to lesser-visited areas like walking the Via Dolorosa.