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Traveling to Israel for the first and need help with our itinerary

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Jun 7th, 2012, 07:20 AM
  #1
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Traveling to Israel for the first and need help with our itinerary

My husband and I (in our 50's) plan on going to Isreal for our first time in early September for 12 days. We like to sightsee, go to nice restaurants and stay in upper end hotels. I know at some point we want to relax in a beach area. Not sure of the sequence of how we should structure the trip. We also want a great tour guide. Any recommendations or help in planning this would be greatly appreciated.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Hi, rjbriskin . The weather in Israel in September is pretty good, though still a little hot for some people. Are you going before, during, or after the major holidays that fall in September? It's important to know because it will affect prices and availability of hotels, crowds in certain areas, and some days when almost sverything is closed

If you're looking for a tour guide suggestion (I haven't used one) you'll get some good ideas from previous posts here and I'm sure some of the other Fodors posters will chime in soon. A good tour guide will come up with a suggested plan based on what you want to see and even surprise you with visits to places you didn't know you wanted to see but will love. Do you want the guide for the whole time, or just some days and areas? Drive yourself some days?

How you plan your visit will depend on the dates you're traveling, your priorities (religious sites? which religions?) etc. Most people with 12 days would allow at least 4 days in the north, 4 days in Jerusalem, the other 4 days some combination of Tel Aviv and surrounding areas. You could see most of what you might want easily from those 3 bases. Eilat in the far south is the one location that is harder to reach than others but I don't think most visitors to Israel feel that they miss something by not going there when there are so many more one of a kind sites to see.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 12:11 PM
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We drove to Eilat and stayed there during Yom Kippor. Many Israelis were there for the High Holidays. The hotel accomodated everyones needs. The beach was beautiful and the area has attractions. I believe Eilat is a great area to visit.

Twelve days is just barely enough time to scratch the surface of Israel, but it is a great start. Enjoy your visit.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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HI! It would really be best if you could be out of the country BEFORE the start of the holidays. Rosh Hashanah, the first holiday in the sequence starts at sundown on the 16th. That gives you the whole first 1/2 of the month to fit in your 12 days.

Alex asks good questions. I would NOT go to Eilat in early Sept. as it will be very hot. You can relax on a beach in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Herziliyah or Netanya.

Do you want a guide for the whole time (not necessary) or just part of the time. A guide will cost about $350 a day and a guide who drives can run $700 a day. Once the guide is away from his/her home turf you pay for all meals and accommodations.

I would suggest 3 days in Tel Aviv followed by 3 days up North followed by 4 days in Jerusalem. That leaves 2 days to lay on a beach someplace. From Jerusalem you take trips to Masada and Bethlehem ( if that is your religious inclination) A driving guide or a rental car is essential for up North. For Tel Aviv and Jerusalem you can use a combination of private guide, audio tour and guides offered by the individual site.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Thanks you all for your responses. Because of the Jewish holidays we were planning on leaving Labor Day weekend so that we would be home by the time the Jewish holidays started. I figured we would lose a lot of days because sites would be closed over the holidays. I still don't know how we should handle the guides. Is it necessary to have them every day?? I was recommended we should.

Does anyone have hotel recommendations? Restaurant recommendations?

We like to shop too especially for local art. Any recommendations?
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Jun 8th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Plenty of people travel Israel independenly so don't feel like you must have a guide the whole trip. Israelis mostly speak good English and official signage is in English so that shouldn't be a worry. I know that when going from one historic site to another it can all blur so having a guide take you from place to place and make the connections to specific events and people can be really nice, I think especially in the north. I agree with Elkaz that in the cities there are other options that might work even better.

Don't worry about restaurants yet. There are lots of options to explore once you have a better idea of where you'll be. Though there are lots of foodies in Israel and some great meals to be had, most people don't travel around Israel based on Gayot/Michelin/other star rating systems.

I buy lots of small handicraft items in Israel, pottery, jewelry, woodwork, but not much fine art so I don't have specific recommendations if you're looking for paintings and sculptures
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Jun 12th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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Hi
In Tel Aviv we prefer a small hotel called the Melody. It is part of the Atlas chain. It's close to the beach and the old port area where there are many restaurants. we've been there three times. They a a decent bkfst and a happy hour around 4pm with wine and snacks. In Jerusalem we stayed at the Dan hotel. It was around the corner from the King davis and within walking distance to the Old City... We are in our 60's so we look for hotels that are convenient. We also stayed at the Dan in Eilat. I don't know what other areas you plan to visit, but enjoy your trip.
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Jun 14th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Do your 12 days include flights? (In which case, it would really only be 10 days to see the country...)

Elkaz' timeline looks good to me. 3 days in Tel Aviv, 3 days up North,2 days by the beach, 4 days in Jerusalem.

If your time up North allows for a visit to Tzfat, I think you would really enjoy a (half?)day strolling there. There's plenty of art to be found on nearly every corner....

As for having a guide daily or not-- that depends on you. You know yourself best. Nearly every sign you'll want to read will have an English translation, and most people speak pretty good English. You can definitely experience Israel without a guide, but having someone there who can connect all the dots for you might enhance the experience for you.

For example, I wouldn't think you would need a guide for Tel Aviv, but it might be neat to hear the history in Jerusalem from someone who's studied it....
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Jun 14th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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Hannah_reads_for_fun- The 12 days does not include flights. So there are truly 12 days to spend in Israel. I am beginning to think that we don't need a guide in Tel Aviv but plan on using a guide for the remainder of the trip. I also just posted another post with regard to tour guides and hotels if you have any input on that I would greatly appreciate it.
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