Discover Israel & the Palestinian Territories
Undertake your own pilgrimage to one of the world’s great holy lands on this short but sweet uncovering of Israel & Palestine's highlights. Entrenched in the ancient but emphatically modern in outlook, nominally Jewish but with oodles of Muslim and Christian influence, this is one intriguing place to get your head around. Stroll the Old City’s age-old ramparts in Jerusalem, visit Jesus' birthplace in Bethlehem and see where some pretty steadfast Jews held out on Massada’s rugged outcrop. Break bread with Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City, walk Bethlehem's graffiti walls, go for a swim with a difference in the Dead Sea and get among the everyday hype of Tel Aviv. Young or old, fun-minded or enthralled by history, Israel has more than a little bit of something for everyone.
Travel Dates: From 25/05/2019 to 02/01/2021
Duration: 8 days
- Discover the famed religious towns of Jericho, Bethlehem and Nazareth, then find out about daily life in the legendary city of Jerusalem as you chat with locals in the Old City on the way to the Western Wall
Take a stroll through West Jerusalem and get another perspective of modern life from a local Israeli guide, finishing at the lively Machane Yehuda Market
Look down on one of the world’s most amazing city skyline with views across Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
Experience the contrasts between the nightlife of modern, cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv, and the reverential atmosphere of Jerusalem
View the spectacular Rosh Hanikra caves located at the most northerly point on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline
Sleep in a beautiful and peaceful convent established by French nuns in the 19th century
Breakfasts Included: 7
Hotel (7 nights)
Age: min 15
Group Size: 1 - 12
Jerusalem - Guided tour of Old City
West Jerusalem Walking Tour with Israeli guide
Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field
Bethlehem - Grafitti Walking Tour
Jewish Holocaust Memorial and Israeli Museum
Jerusalem - Mount of Olives
Dead Sea - Dead Sea visit
Masada - Masada visit
Tiberias - Sea of Galilee visit
Jericho - Hisham's Palace
Akko - Templar's Tunnel visit
Rosh Hanikra - Cable Car & Grottoes
Nazareth - Church of Annuniciation - Mary's Well
Caesarea - Roman Amphitheatre & Aqueduct
Haifa - Baha'i Gardens
Day 1: Jerusalem
Welcome to Israel and Jerusalem, a city steeped in spirituality and legend; a rich tapestry of the many cultures, religions and nationalities that call it home, be they Palestinian Muslims & Christians, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenian Christians, Ethiopian Copts or Greek Orthodox monks. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it’ll take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. In you arrive with some free time, perhaps drop by the Israel Museum and browse its superb collection of art and history. Get a feel for Israel’s hub of holiness this evening while exploring the Old City, taking in the one of the great urban skylines – the serried buildings and ancient ramparts of the Old City, the churches adorning the Mount of Olives and the iconic gold of the Dome of the Rock. Perhaps head up the walled ramparts for impressive panoramas over the surrounding area.
Day 2: Jerusalem
We will explore the Old City this morning on foot. We will start with the Courtyard of the Dome and the Wailing Wall – the remains of the Temple Mount, which acts as an outdoor synagogue, where written prayers are slid into the cracks between stones. Then continue along the Via Dolorosa starting at St. Stephen’s Gate, passing the crusader church of St. Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Now located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, this pool was mentioned in the Gospel of John and associated with healing. Continue along the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) – the “way of sorrows” which follows Jesus’ path to crucifixion – and stop by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, died, buried, and rose again. Sip tea, sample fresh local bread and then walk through the Christian Quarter up to Jaffa Gate for a lunch break. That afternoon, get another perspective on modern day life in Jerusalem with a local Israeli guide. Your walking tour of West Jerusalem will see you stroll through Yemin Moshe; a historic neighborhood of old stone buildings built in response to overcrowding within the Old City. Check out the colourful, artistic hub of ‘Hamiffal’ (The Factory ). This abandoned old building was turned into a public art space by a local artists co-operative. While here you'll learn about the artists in residence program. Move on to the Muslim Graveyard, Mamilla Pool, The Burial Caves of Independence Park, and then a quick brief on the city center. The tour will finish up at Agripas Street, at the entrance of the Machane Yehuda Market. We recommend grabbing a beer in one of the many laneway bars to watch the market come to life in the evening, or go for a wander to check out the amazing graffiti popping up on shop shutters.
Day 3: Jerusalem
Start the day off with a panoramic view of the city. Drive out to the Mount of Olives that looks over Jerusalem’s Old City and visit the Garden of Gethsemane, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion. See the Church of All Nations (also known as the Basilica of the Agony), which holds inside a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Drive the short distance out to Bethlehem and take a Graffiti walking tour along the wall. Graffiti has filled the walls in Bethlehem by many artists over the years, including British Artist; Banksy. Hear the personal stories behind some of the more prominent pieces. The tour takes you past one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank and previous conflict hot spots. Continue on to Manger square to sample Bethlehem's famous Falafel. Then visit the Church of the Nativity, marking the spot of the stable where Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus. Head back to Jerusalem and visit Yad Vashem for a sobering and moving visit to Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The facility includes a research facility, art gallery, education department, archive, and numerous moving memorials. After a fascinating day, retire to your Jerusalem hotel.
Day 4: Jerusalem
This morning drive out to the spectacular cliff-top fortress of Masada. On the way we stop at the 6th century cliff-side Monastery of St. George of Koziba in the desert (Deir El Qelt) and see the massive church built into the mountains. In Masada you will take a cable car to the fortress built by King Herod around 35BC. This UNESCO site is very important to the Jewish people, a symbol of their exile from the Holy Land and of bravery and self-sacrifice. The story goes that here a Jewish sect called the Zealots held out against the Roman army in AD66. Rather than surrender, they either fought to the death or committed suicide, every last man, woman and child. Then, you’d better have brought your swim gear as you can wash of the dust from exploring with a dip like no other. Drive around 30 minutes to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level). This isn’t actually a sea but a super-salty lake (dead because of the lack of life in it) where the density of the water means you’ll go for a float, not a swim. Spend some time relaxing here and get some classic floating pictures. The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and so why not cover yourself from head to toe for a nutrient-rich natural mineral mud bath. Return to Jerusalem for the evening.
Day 5: Nazareth
Travel to the western shores of the Sea of Galilee today and Tiberias – established all the way back in AD20. Swing by Hisham’s Palace in Jericho on the way. The old hunting lodge has one of the most beautiful and elaborately decorated mosaic floors in the world. Continue on via the Jordan Valley and visit the ancient fishing village of Capernaum – see the ruins of this old town, the site of two ancient synagogues and a church said to have been the home of Saint Peter. You’ll pass by Tabgha – this is where the Bible says Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, one of the only miracles that’s in all the gospels. Then head up to Safad (Tsfat), one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities. The city, at over 900 metres above sea level, is Israel’s highest city and is known as the centre of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. It’s a beautiful setting, surrounded by pine forest, and has become a haven for both artists and those seeking spiritual enlightenment. You’ll continue on to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, for the evening. Here we have the unique opportunity stay in a simple but beautiful convent established by nuns who arrived from France in the mid 19th century.
Day 6: Nazareth
Leave early this morning and drive to the ancient crusader port of Acre (Akko in Hebrew) approximately 45 minutes. Here you’ll visit the vast complex of buildings occupied by the Knights of St John (Knights Hospitaller), excavated to uncover rooms including a large hall, a dungeon, a dining room and the crypt of an ancient Gothic church. You will also see the secret tunnel of their rivals, the Knights Templar – an underground passage between their fortresses. Continue on to Rosh Hanikra where we take a cable car up the cliff face to view the spectacular grottoes. These incredible caves are located at the farthest point north on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, on the border of Lebanon where the sea meets the cliffs. On the way back to Nazareth make a stop at the Church of the Annunciation. This is the site of where Mary received the news of the Immaculate Conception, along with the well where she drew water every day. You will overnight in Nazareth.
Day 7: Tel Aviv
After breakfast, journey to Tel Aviv via the coast and Caesarea (approximately 1 hour), which served as the capital of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine eras. This was once a great port town built by King Herod around 25BC, complete with a theatre, amphitheatre, hippodrome, palace, Roman temple and an extensive network of aqueducts, along with an artificial harbour. The city was eventually abandoned and lost under the desert sands, but thanks to archaeological excavations since the 1950s, its splendour is on show once again. Continue through Haifa (approximately 20 minutes) where you’ll see the lush and immaculate Bahaii Gardens on Mount Carmel Mountains (a memorial and shrine to the Bahai faith) and look out across the Mediterranean Sea. Drop by the ancient port city of Jaffa (approximately 1 hour) before arriving in Tel Aviv. Enjoy a final night in this modern cosmopolitan city, a true 'city that doesn’t stop'. With its lively cafe culture, relaxed Mediterranean beach scene, and renowned nightlife, Tel Aviv is a great place to spend your last trip night. Perhaps gather together you fellow travellers and take advantage of the excellent food and nightlife with a final celebratory dinner or drink as this Israel and Palestine adventure comes to an end.
Day 8: Tel Aviv
This trip comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time after check-out.
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