Israel Itinerary

Nov 14th, 2010, 10:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 55
Israel Itinerary

Just starting to plan our trip for next spring and I was wanting to run our tentative itinerary with others who are familiar with Israel.

Arrive at 3AM in the morning, Saturday March 19th - tired but happy!

Days 1-8 Explore Jerusalem. Including a day tour to Masada and the Dead Sea.
Days 9-10: Rent a car and drive north for two nights in Safed.
Days 11-12: Drive to Haifa and the north coast (visit Haifa, Caesarea, Akko, Carmel, etc). Find a centrally located place to stay for a few nights.
Days 13-15: Drive south to the Negev. Explore the Negev area for a few days.
Day 16-17: Drive to Eilat, spend night at a comfortable hotel, get up early the next morning a take a day and a half tour of Petra (including night in Petra, taking the night-time candlelight tour).
Day 18 - Return to Eilat and Tel Aviv.
Day 19: Explore Tel Aviv (museums, etc.) the day before we depart.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

danielsonkin is offline  
Nov 14th, 2010, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 429
You are planning too much time in Jerusalem and too little time in Tel-Aviv and the north.

Days 1-5: Explore Jerusalem.
Days 6-10: Caesaria, Haifa, Akko, Zefat, Upper Galilee and Golan.
Days 11-12: Bet Shean, Ein Gedi, Massada, Timna.
Days 13-15: Eilat and Petra.
Days 16-17: Mitpze Ramon, Sde Boker, Bet Guvrin, etc. Return car
Days 18-19: Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
mbgg is offline  
Nov 17th, 2010, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 270
I agree that you need to spend one or two more days in Tel Aviv and cut that time from Jerusalem. I do not know if you need to spend days 6-10 as indicated by mbgg. Also, going from Bet Shean to Masada is a long drive. You are better doing Masada from Jerusalem. --possibly before you do the Negev.

It would also be easier to help if we knew which days in your itinerary were Shabbats.
Elkaz is offline  
Nov 17th, 2010, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 43
I agree w/Elkaz about doing Masada/Dead Sea as a day trip from Jerusalem (even w/one night if you want). Driving to Eilat I would go South through Mitzpe Ramon.
I do agree w/mbgg though to add a couple extra days to the north (upper galilee, golan). In the spring it is beautiful for hiking and there are lots of cute wineries/ b&bs. Zefat is a one day walk max.
And agree w/both pp that you need another day for Tel Aviv.
daphee is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 10:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 55
Thanks for your replies everyone. Here are the actual days.

We arrive on Saturday, March 19th at 3AM (Yawn!) in the morning. We were wanting to spend at least one Shabbat in Jerusalem, which was going to be the following Friday and Saturday. But if you think that first Saturday we arrive is enough, we can leave sooner than Sunday the 27th the head north.

Maybe we should head north on Wednesday or Thursday (March 23 or 24), and do Caesaria, Haifa, Akko, Zefat, Upper Galilee and Golan areas for about four days.

Then head south for Masada/Dead Sea/Negev and Petra for another four or five days.

And then head back for Tel Aviv, with two and a half days.

Does that sound more reasonable?

Also, when he head north, does it make sense to find a central place to stay and just do day trips to various places by the shore and inland, or should we plan on staying in at least two places (eg one in Safad and maybe another by the shore)?

danielsonkin is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 10:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 43
Yes it sounds more reasonable!
IMHO Jerusalem on Saturday is boring, but I understand that for tourists there might be something special about it...everything will be closed other than non-kosher restaurants.
For the north I would stay in two places. Caesaria I would do on the way up north or down south. Also, you don't want to stay in Safed, instead find yourself a nice b&b in Rosh Pina (that's a good base for upper Galilee and Golan).
daphee is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 270
That is a much better itinerary. Not only for the order, but the fact you will not be driving your first few days--and this will give you a chance to overcome jet lag. There is more than non-Kosher restaurants open on Saturday. All museum except those in the Jewish Quarter and Yad V'shem are open, the Old City is open--Besides, walking the city, going to the Western Wall, feeling the city on the Sabbath--even if you are non-Observant or non-Jewish is something special. Sabbath is in the air.
Elkaz is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3
Just returned from Israel and can't wait to go back.Loved Jerusalem,Dead Sea and Masada.Will definately return to spend a week in Tel Aviv.I think you have a great itinerary and believe me this trip will be very special.
makwela is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Depending on what you want to see, Jerusalem can be two weeks and you won't see everything!! Outside of Tel Aviv in Holon is a wonderful museum - the museum of the Blind.
Not Jewish, but shouldn't be missed. Tel Aviv also has the diaspora museum. But, more than a day in Tel Aviv itself is a waste is you haven't been to Israel before. Jerusalem has so much history, culture and religion. There used to be a fantastic walking tour book that could be purchased at Steimatsky's book store which had about 20 walking tours in Jerusalem.
Caesaria is a whole day. Haifa- depending what you want to do can be done in a day. If you like to hike, the Golan has beautiful places. Tiberias' old city is interesting. That's a day. Tsfat is a day . The Golan/Galilee can be many days -depending on your interests. Are they the religious sites? Jewish only - or do you want to see Christian/muslim sites as well.
Whatever you do, don't short change Jerusalem. I have been to Israel 4 times and am going back in April. We are planning to spend two out of our three weeks In Jeruasalem.
What I do suggest, for the best use of your time and to get the most out of your trip if you can afford it, hire a private guide. They often have cars. They are not cheap, but they are highly trained - 2 years of intensive study. They can give you insights that books don't.
Also, they can take you often the beaten track. With one guide we toured a chocolate factory - I've never seen it in a tour book. We went to out of the way fabulous restaurants. The guides maximize your time. You do need to pay for their lodging and food. They cost $200.00 or more, depending on the guide. They work about 10-12 hours a day, depending what you negogiate. As they drive they drive you they provide history lessons and tell you what you are seeing. If you know of others who are going, you can join up with them, rent a van and share the guide cost. Once you have 3 or 4 people, depending on the guide, it is less expensive to hire a guide then to pay for tours. Without a guide you can't do justice to many of the places. If you are interested in religion, some guides will show you where things happened and quote the appropriate Bibical verses. Some bring music related to the places. My guides have always made what we see memorable. In choosing a guide, I caution you to go by personal recommendations.
Kibbutz Lavi has a great hotel and good food. Meals are included. Kibbutz Lavi is central to many of the sites. I know there is a tour guide who lives on the Kibbutz. I don't know how good he is, but using him would mean he could go home at night and you don't need to pay for his lodging.
Good luck and enjoy the trip.
Lyelyash is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Oy Vey! So much to see, so little time, but...
I agree with Lyelyash about Jerusalem. I've been to Israel 4 times, and I never get enough of Jerusalem. There's a feeling of being at the center of the world there that even an Atheist can't ignore! And there is so much to see it is unbelievable. So before you cut days from there, research places in Jerusalem that may be closed so you have enough time, and are not disappointed. Last time I went, the Israel Museum was closed for renovations, but it is a DON'T miss, and used to be open one evening during the week to avoid the crowds, if you want. Don't forget Yad Vashem. That is the biggest, most complete, and most important Holocaust Memorial and could take 1/2 day depending on how much you read, how fast you walk, etc. A museum many people do not visit is the Bible Lands Museum, which is very close to Yad Vashem: We found it very interesting because it has tons of historical information about the lands mentioned in the bible, things we never saw in other countries we visited. If you like archaeological treasures, this is a different angle. It is not about only the bible, but about history. Mahne Yehuda is another DON't miss, and Friday morning is the BEST day to visit because everyone is shopping for Shabbat. The Tower of David sound & light show is wonderful, and I highly recommend it. If you buy an entrance ticket to it, I think the tower is included but it is opened during the day. I am never happy to say goodbye to Jerusalem. I'd recommend 2 days and one night for the old city alone. Be sure to go to the Kotel Tunnels, a HUGE DON'T miss. There are free walking tours of the old city that you can take from Jaffa Gate, check the times, because these tours are great. Check out maps and driving times before you plan your trip: and

Also, a walk through Mea Shearim is fascinating, dress modestly : Ben Yehuda Street is lively at any time, but on Oneg Shabbat (otherwise known at Saturday evening) it REALLY comes alive!
There are many cafes and restaurants on the streets off Ben Yehuda towards the Old City.

Someone was talking about driving through the Negev. Very interesting, but be aware that it is one of the MOST barren and empty drives I have ever done, apart from some very empty drives through Australia. Sde Boker, where Ben Gurion lived, is on the way, and his house is open to the public IF you get there before it closes, so if you want to see that, check when it closes. Because there is not a whole lot more out there to see if you are driving through. Also, we had a terrible Khamsin (hot wind storm) during our drive and visibility was 5'.

The Golan Heights is fascinating, and you can easily drive through it, and there is an amazing Crusader castle called Nimrod Fortress, which we were too late to visit but it looked awesome!

We drove to Masada from near Meggido, which is not far from Beit Shean, which is a very big site and requires much time. In all my trips, I have never made time to see it. Yet. But I have been to Megiddo 3x, so maybe don't go by me. It was an easy and lovely drive down to Masada. And having been there on a tour from Jerusalem in 2005, and again on our own in 2009, I'd have to say a day tour is just not good enough as they rush you. We didn't get to Ein Gedi, but I was there many years ago with about 60 boy scouts, so it wasn't so hot on that day for peaceful isolation..If you decide to drive to Masada instead of driving through the Negev, you can stay at the Masada Guest House , which is right at the base of the site and new and modern and affordable. They have a dining room where you can eat cheaply. And they have a lovely swimming pool. From there it is 5 minutes up to the parking lot for Masada. If you go up early, right after bkfst, it will be cool and lovely, you can rent a audio tour which you can pace yourselves. Bring a small travel umbrella to protect you from the sun. You will thank me for this suggestion! After Masada, you can drive to the Dead Sea (15 minutes to...where the resorts and spas are) and you can buy an entry to the Dead Sea which includes a towel, a locker, a shower, etc. Then, you can drive on to Eilat. We did that and even though we stopped to visit friends for dinner, we still got to Eilat by 9:00pm. I think for your first trip, skip a few days in the Negev and use it at more interesting places...for your first trip!

I have only a small opinion on hiring a private guide and that is that you don't need one. They are expensive and you can get audio guides at all the sites. Also, the map we got from our car rental company was the best one.

We booked our tour to Petra at our hotel in Eilat. But if you have the time, in Eilat try to visit Dolphin Beach. You can swim or dive with the dolphins, and even if you don't pay to do that you can sit out on a string of rafts and watch them playing close up. They also have a relaxation pool that is the most amazing and exquisite experience on water! Do the 1 hour, or longest one, and try to do it in the evening around dusk. Magic!

Caesaria can be either a half day or whole day.
tinydancer is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 55
Thank you everyone for your terrific suggestions. Here is are current plan.

Spend the first two days in Tel Aviv (all Saturday and Sunday). We found a nice little hotel, The Dizengoff. Then we going to Jerusalem on Monday and stay there until the following Sunday. This will include a day at the Dead Sea (maybe Wednesday or Thursday).

Then we are wanting to do two days at Petra (Sunday and Monday nights). We are going to cross the Allenby Bridge and hire a private driver/guide to Petra for a day and a half. We are wanting to do the Monday night candlelight tour. Then we come back to Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon for a night (staying at the same hotel as the previous week - The Jerusalem Inn).

On Wednesday, we are going to rent a car and drive to Haifa for two or three nights to visit Haifa, Caesarea and Akka.

Then on Saturday, it's off to Safed/Rosh Pina area for three nights to explore the upper Galilee/Golan.

Then it's back on Tuesday to Tel Aviv and another day in the city on Wednesday. We leave early on Thursday morning.

We are contemplating renting a car for that last week (Haifa and Galillee/Golan. Does anyone have any general suggestions regarding driving/renting in Israel?

Thanks in advance for your help.
danielsonkin is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Yes, renting a car is fine. Budget is the cheapest, but not the fanciest. Still, their cars run and that's what counts. Not sure about driving into Safed on Shabbat. Better get that advice from someone else. Orthodox do not approve of driving on the sabbath. If you mean to drive into Rosh Pina, that's probably ok until sundown.

We stayed at the Jerusalem Inn. Great area. Probably the worst place for good service, but the employees are friendly. They were great helping us get reservation to the Western Wall Tunnels, and got me a direct phone number to call. From the hotel you can walk to at least 2 car rental places to pick it up. It's a walk up hotel, so ask for something on the lowest floor unless you don't mind going up and down 2-3 flights all the time. Great area for cafes, restaurants, shopping, and walking to the Old City is also easy.
tinydancer is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 10:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 157
You've put together a great plan and I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip.

The Jerusalem Inn is located in a central, terrific area - easy to get around to anywhere you will want in Jerusalem, close to public transportation, lots of places to eat, shop, walk and just people watch.

Definitely rent a car for your time in north, Galilee and Golan - it is the best way to get around there. Public transportation is not as convenient there and buses do not run as frequently as you would like.

Driving in Israel is fine - you will do just fine. Get a good map and relax. Road signs are all in English as well as Hebrew and Arabic, roads are good and you will appreciate the convenience of setting your own pace. Check prices and rent where you get the best deal. Budget is good, Eldan is one of the largest in Israel and often offer good deals if you reserve on-line.

I would also re-consider going to Safed on Shabbat - I would suggest leaving that for Sunday and visiting other areas up north on Shabbat.
Oreet is offline  
Dec 28th, 2010, 05:36 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4
I agree with those who recommended arriving in Safed before or after
Shabbat. Tourist sights, restaurants etc. will be closed. If you want a spiritual experience in Safed, then you will need to contact a Rabbi there ahead of time to make arrangements. One such place is the ascent institute - There are many beautiful synagogues in Safed and be sure to visit the art galleries - even if you aren't buying. It will give you a taste of the local culture.
You mentioned museums in Tel Aviv - The three I recommend are Beit Ha-Tfuzot - the Diaspora Museum, The Eretz Yisrael Museum and the Palmach museum. If you are in Tel Aviv on a Tuesday or Friday don't miss the Nahalat Benyamin Arts and crafts market.
I also highly recommend a restaurant in Jerusalem called Euculpytus. The chef is has won many awards and the meal is an education in Israel.
Look up the restaurant and you will understand what I mean.
Enjoy your trip!! It should be great!!
Lyelyash is offline  
Jan 4th, 2011, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 15

When you have a moment, could you please post your updated itinerary? I'm planning one that's very similar, and it would be really helpful as a base.

Thanks so much!!
rikki15 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2011, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 270
Just adding one small incidental. If you are going to stay at your hotel for a week, leave for two days and then return the hotel should have a luggage room where you can leave all but what you need for the few days away. You dont' need to drag everything with you.
Elkaz is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 08:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 55
So we finally got our itinerary together. Here is the final (at least for the moment):

1. Arrive in Tel Aviv, Saturday, March 19th 3AM (tired but happy). Staying at the Dizengoff Suites. Saturday and Sunday, explore Tel Aviv (Jaffa, Mt. Carmel Market, maybe a museum).
2. Monday, March 21st: Take a taxi to Jerusalem Inn. Monday through Saturday do Jerusalem, with a day (maybe Wednesday) for a trip to Ein Gedi and Masada.
3. Sunday, March 27th, take a flight down to Eilat. Stay at the Dan Panorama Hotel over night.
4. Get picked up early Monday morning for Petra (Desert Eco Tours). Spend Monday, Monday night and Tuesday morning in Petra. Doing the candlelight tour on Monday night. Staying at the Amra Palace.
5. Tuesday, March 29th, return to Eilat and take a flight back to Tel Aviv. Go back to the Jerusalem Inn for the night and get our luggage.
6. Wednesday, March 30th, pick up a rental car and drive to Ein Hod. Staying at the Arbel Guest House for three nights. Explore Caesaria, Haifa, and Akka.
7. Saturday night, April 2, arrive in Tzfat. Staying at another guest house, Rappeport House for four nights. Explore the region Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
8. Wednesday, April 6, drive back to Tel Aviv. Spend another day in the city and leave on Thursday.

Haven't firmed up our tour to Ein Gedi/Masada yet, but I think the Jerusalem hotel can help us with that as soon as we get there on Monday.

danielsonkin is offline  

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