If you’re planning an Israel trip and clueless about where to start, search no more. Here’s a 7-day Israel itinerary that will take you to top destinations such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Holy Land, the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.
How to use this itinerary
If you’re making a short trip to Israel, pick and choose which stops to make. Or, if you have time, extend your stay. With so much to see in this fascinating historical region, your head will spin and wherever you are, you’ll wish you had more time to explore.
Getting around Israel
This trip assumes you’re renting a car. But. You can easily base yourself in some of the larger centres and do day trips and day tours from there. Getting around by public transport, especially the nationwide Egged Bus Company, is a convenient and popular way to travel. Now let’s start our Israel itinerary.
If you’re traveling to Israel you’ll likely arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. From there head to Haifa.
Israel itinerary Day 1 – Start your Israel trip in Haifa
Haifa is Israel’s third largest city and its second largest port. Scenically located on the slopes of Mount Carmel, it rises up from the Mediterranean in a series of tiers.
First, visit the Bahai Shrine and Gardens and the 400-metre long Louis Promenade for a panoramic view of the city and the bay. The Bahai Shrine and Gardens is the World Center of the Bahai Faith, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its hanging gardens are one of Haifa’s top sights. From the top of the gardens you can see golden dome of the Shrine of the Bab, a prophet and herald of the Bahá’í Faith.
If you’ve just flown in, you may want to take some time to chill out in your hotel. (That’s what I did.) We stayed at the Villa Carmel Hotel. (Tel: 04-8375777/8). Otherwise opt for a tour of the city.
The Germany Colony
Have dinner at the Douzan Restaurant at Sderot Ben Gurion 35, Haifa. The friendly and eclectic Douzan restaurant is located on the popular Germany Colony of Haifa, which sits at the bottom of the Baha’i Gardens. The German Colony was founded by German Templers (not the Crusader Templars), but a group of German Protestants who established a colony here in the late 1868.
Israel itinerary Day 2 – Explore the Holy Land and the Sea of Galilee
Drive to the Sea of Galilee region to see the Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Visit Capernaum, the “City of Jesus,” an ancient Jewish fishing town with a synagogue from the 4th-century where Jesus began his Ministry.
Spend some time at Caesarea, an ancient port built by King Herod and a Crusader fortress. Here you can check out the Caesarea Harbor Experience, a multimedia presentation of the history of Caesarea, then tour the Crusader City, the reconstructed Roman Theater and the Roman Aqueduct.
Explore Israeli Wine
If you’re driving stop at Tishbi Winery on route to Tel Aviv. Tishbi is a full gastronomic experience with a bakery, chocolate and wine tastings, an Austrian chef and a full service restaurant. Wines to check out: A 2014 Viognier and the Ruby Cabernet.
End the day in Jaffa Tel Aviv
For dinner either choose one of the seafood restaurants in Jaffa or head into Tel Aviv. One option for the evening is the regenerated Tel Aviv Port or make a reservation at the popular Kimmel restaurant, Ha-Shakhar St 6, Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Israel itinerary Day 3 – Tour Jaffa and Tel Aviv
Spend the morning touring Jaffa. You could easily spend a day in Jaffa alone touring the flea markets, port and winding Artists Quarter, but if time is tight you’ll want to spend the afternoon exploring Tel Aviv Israel’s commercial, cultural and financial centre.
In Tel Aviv don’t miss Rothschild Boulevard with its unique Bauhaus architecture and the renovated neighborhood of Neve Tzedek with its chic cafes and artisanal boutiques.
Sightseeing in Tel Aviv
Other Tel Aviv sights to explore include HaTachana, Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s renovated old train station, which has a number of restaurants and shops, and Sarona, a restored Templer settlement (again, not the Crusader Templars but the German Templers of the 19th century) where you’ll find a lively food market and high end boutiques.
For dinner try EatWith, Tel Aviv. EatWith.com will set you up for a dinner with a local host, a unique way of experiencing some regional cuisine with a local.
Israel itinerary Day 4 – Head to the Dead Sea Region
Our Israel itinerary heads north to the Dead Sea. The region is the lowest place on earth (424 meter below sea level) and fascinating for its scenery, ancient history and wellness traditions.
Stop at Massada, the ruins of King Herod’s mountaintop fortress high in the Judean Hills. The last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 73 C.E., Massada has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can ascend and descend by cable-car, or if you’re adventurous try walking up the trail.
If your time permits opt for a jeep tour in the Judean Desert or visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
Visit the Ahava Factory and Visitors’ Centre, where you can buy high end beauty and wellness products using salt and mud from the Dead Sea.
Proceed to the spa resort town of Ein Bokek, a centre of health and tourism for the Dead Sea – a fun and fascinating stop on any Israel trip. Hotel options include the Daniel Dead Sea Spa Hotel or the David Dead Sea Resort. And if you want total tranquility stay outside Ein Bokek in Neve Zohar at Herods Dead Sea Hotel and Spa.
Israel itinerary Day 5 – Relax at the Dead Sea
A lot of Israel tours arrive at the Dead Sea at the end of a long day and leave in the morning, so chances are you’ll be soaking in the Dead Sea at night. I think a better Israel itinerary is to give yourself an entire day at the Dead Sea. This gives you time for a Dead Sea mud treatment at your hotel spa, and plenty of time to lie on the beach and soak up the salt – and the beauty – of the Dead Sea.
Dinner at the Taj Mahal Restaurant in Ein Bokek.
Israel itinerary Day 6 – Visit Jerusalem
The next morning drive to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city and one of the holiest cities in the world. En route stop for a panoramic view of Jerusalem from Mount Scopus.
The Old City of Jerusalem
A highlight of any Israel trip is to walk into the Old City of Jerusalem. There is so much to see here such as the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), the Christian Quarter with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the rebuilt Jewish Quarter and the Cardo, a main street from Roman times.
And of course an unmissable attraction is the Western Wall (Kotel), Judaism’s most sacred site.
Sign up for a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels that extend along the full length of the Western Wall – the excavations took 20 years and give you a glimpse of what ancient Jerusalem was like.
For a quick lunch head to the Mahane Yehuda Market (Shuk), Jerusalem’s colorful fruit, vegetable, fish and poultry market. Then check in to the David Citadel Hotel, Jerusalem (Tel: 02-6211111) or its chic sister boutique property, the Mamilla Hotel.
If you have time, add Ein Karem to your Israel itinerary. This picturesque village is the birth place of John the Baptist and home to the Church of the Visitation.
Dinner at the Chakra Restaurant, King George St 41, Jerusalem.
Israel itinerary Day 7 – Explore Jerusalem in more depth
The next day drive by the government complex, which includes the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) and the New Supreme Court Building before visiting the Israel Museum. At the Israel Museum you can visit the Shrine of the Book where the Dead-Sea Scrolls, the earliest known biblical manuscripts, are exhibited. The museum also shows contemporary art and has a large scale model of ancient Jerusalem from the Second Temple period.
Visit the Holocaust History Museum, 4,200 square meters of exhibition space that presents the story of the holocaust via original artifacts, survivor testimonies and personal possessions.
Dinner at the Machneyuda restaurant. Beit Yaakov 10 Street, Jerusalem.
There you have it, a whirlwind week in Israel. Of course there’s so much more to see. If you have more time you might want to include Eilat, the City of the Red Sea, and the Templar stronghold of Acre in your Israel itinerary, or spend more time in Tel Aviv enjoying the beaches and soaking up the city’s hip modern vibe.