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Discover Israel

Tel Aviv and the ancient Jaffa seaport, Galilee, the Golan Heights, Masada, ancient and modern Jerusalem, opportunity to visit Bethlehem; Optional extension: Eilat & Petra

Overview

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Style Value VacationTravel in larger groups than our Small Group tours, but at fantastic value prices. These group tour packages are operated by our carefully selected partners and may be shared with other English speaking passengers ensuring guaranteed departures. More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Group Size 25 travelers max
Themes History & CultureBucket List
Activity Level Moderate
What to Expect This fast-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.
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Shalom, and welcome to Israel, a country that deeply draws the inquisitive traveler like few other destinations on earth. From the soft chanting of Hebrew prayers at the Western Wall, the Muslim call to prayer and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, to the boyhood village of Jesus in Nazareth, the ancient olive groves of Galilee and the stunning gardens of the Baha'i in Haifa, it’s impossible to miss the presence of religion in this holiest of lands. But as you’ll discover, a visit to Israel takes you well beyond faith, creed and politics.

Israel is both the setting of ancient history and modern future. The tech start-up culture in Tel Aviv echoes millennium-old Roman innovation evident in the ruins of Caesarea. Posh wine tasting or the country’s dynamic food scene (including unparalleled vegan options) trace their roots to the foods of the Jewish Sabbath and holiday festivals, copious and spicy Arab meze, pita and lamb kebabs and even Kibbutz dining hall concoctions from the early days of rationed food in the young Jewish state. The Dead Sea scrolls and Akko’s Arab bazaar coexist alongside more recent history, like the world’s preeminent Holocaust museum and Tel Aviv’s collection of international and Bauhaus architecture. Even the geographic locations which hold religious significance are stunning natural sites in their own right: consider the Dead Sea, the Judean Desert, the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights to name just a few.

And of course, you’ll experience all of this and more in true Friendly Planet Travel style:  high-quality and centrally located hotels throughout your trip; licensed, local, English-speaking guides who will share a wealth of knowledge, and comfortable and convenient coaches to whisk you away to your next destination! Our Discover Israel small group tour will challenge and intrigue you with an up-close-and-personal look at this surprising country and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Package includes

  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Round-trip airfare from JFK or Newark (EWR) to Tel Aviv, including fuel surcharges, taxes and fees
  • All ground transportation and transfers
  • 8 nights’ accommodations in superior class hotels
  • 15 Meals: 8 breakfasts plus 2 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Comprehensive touring program including entrance fees
  • Professional English-speaking guide on all tours

Optional add-ons

  • Optional Eilat & Petra extension
  • Included flights may have a connection in IST, ZRH, or similar. Non-stop flights may be available for an additional cost.

Why you'll love it

  • Learn about cutting-edge Israeli start-ups at the “State of Mind” Innovation Center in Tel Aviv.
  • Taste the eclectic flavors of Israeli cuisine during a Carmel Market tasting tour or Vegan culinary tour.
  • Enjoy a meal with kibbutz members after visiting the Netafim Greenhouse Innovation Center at Kibbutz Magal.
  • Experience a traditional Shabbat dinner with an Israeli family.
  • Ride a cable car to the desert fortress of Masada, the last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots in their struggle against the Romans in 73 CE.
  • Float in the extraordinarily buoyant waters of the Dead Sea, Earth's lowest elevation on land at 1,388 feet below sea level.
  • Explore ancient and modern Jerusalem, including the City of David, the Western Wall, the Muslim Quarter, and the Church of Holy Sepulchre.
  • Gain a true understanding of the Holocaust's impact at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Depart USA/Overnight flight

  • Depart the USA on your overnight flight to Tel Aviv

Day 2 Arrive Tel Aviv

  • Arrive in Tel Aviv, following customs and immigration formalities, meet our representative and transfer to your hotel

Tal by the Beach or similar Dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Aerial view of Tel Aviv

Shalom and welcome to Israel. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, the bustling “White City”, you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. Meet your fellow travelers tonight over dinner at your hotel.

Day 3 Tel Aviv

  • Learn about Israeli start-ups in science and technology at the “State of Mind” Innovation Center
  • Walk in Jaffa, the world’s oldest seaport
  • Enjoy a culinary tasting tour
  • Admire the Bauhaus architecture on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard

Tal by the Beach or similar Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary
Jaffa

After breakfast, meet your guide and set off to discover Tel Aviv. Visit the “State of Mind” Innovation Center at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to learn about Israeli start-ups in cutting-edge fields such as science, medicine, security, space and more.  Continue to Jaffa for a short walk in the Old Port, the oldest seaport in the world, and home to a vibrant multiethnic community of Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Then, take part in a culinary tasting tour of your choice:

Carmel Market tasting tour: Enjoy a fascinating variety of culinary riches, where colorful spices, flavors and scents of the market combine with the bustling atmosphere of the city’s central market and exciting new restaurants and food counters run by chefs reinventing Israeli cuisine.

Vegan culinary tour: Discover why Tel Aviv is the #1 vegan destination in the world, and a place where traditional vegan and vegetarian cuisine combine with innovative young chefs to create a one-of-a-kind savory adventure.

Later, stroll along Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv. Here you will see some of Tel Aviv’s most prominent collection of Bauhaus (International Style) buildings, built during the 1930s and 1940s. The distinctive and functional architecture has created an unparalleled urban landscape. Enjoy an evening at leisure in Tel Aviv.

Day 4 Mediterranean Coast & Western Galilee

  • Explore the ancient city of Caesarea, capital of the Roman province of Judea
  • Learn about the kibbutz way of life
  • See where drip irrigation was pioneered
  • Discover the Crusader port of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage site

NEA Resort & People or similar Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Akko panorama

Leave Tel Aviv as you head north along the Mediterranean Coast. Visit the ancient city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great. The city became the administrative center of the Roman Empire for the Province of Judea, and later was an important Crusader stronghold. See the ancient port, the Roman hippodrome and amphitheater, which is still a concert venue today.

Continue to Ein Shemer kibbutz museum, and learn about this unique way of life in the past and present, followed by a stop at Kibbutz Magal to visit the Netafim greenhouse innovation center, where the field of drip irrigation technology was pioneered. Enjoy lunch in the kibbutz dining hall with its members.

Drive further north to the Crusader port city of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its new excavations revealing what life was like 1000 years ago. Visit the Crusader Halls and follow the underground tunnels, see the port and fortifications that helped the inhabitants resist the invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte, and spend some time walking through the active Arab Bazaar.

End the day at your hotel in the resort town of Shavei Zion, overlooking the Mediterranean. Dinner tonight at your hotel.

Day 5 Galilee and Golan Heights

  • Visit Safed, the city where Kabbalah flourished
  • Enjoy a wine tasting in the Golan Heights
  • Take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

NEA Resort & People or similar Breakfast & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee photo by Jayme del Rosario

This morning, head to the mystical city of Safed, the center of the Jewish mystical Kabbalah school of thought. As you stroll through the narrow, winding alleys, take the opportunity to peek inside of some the beautiful synagogues, as well as workshops and galleries in the flourishing artists’ quarter.

Then drive up to the Golan Heights for a tour and wine tasting at a family-owned boutique winery. Continue to Katzrin, the “capital of the Golan Heights”. Walk through a reconstructed Talmudic Village and get a sense of life in ancient times.

End the day at the Sea of Galilee with a boat ride on the calm waters. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 6 Western Galilee and Jerusalem

  • Admire the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa
  • Explore the Druze village of Isfiya on Mount Carmel
  • Visit Nazareth and the Church of the Annunciation
  • Join an Israeli family for a traditional Shabbat dinner

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem or similar Breakfast & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Church of the Annunciation & Nazareth

Today, visit the amazing Baha'i Gardens in Haifa, the most holy place in the Baha'i faith, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then continue to the Druze village of Isfiya on Mount Carmel. The Druze are Arabic speaking citizens of Israel and are renowned for their hospitality. Enjoy a guided tour of the alleys and quarters of the village.

Next, visit Nazareth, Jesus’s hometown, and tour the Church of the Annunciation.  Leave Galilee behind as you drive to Jerusalem, stopping at Mt. Scopus for a first impressive panoramic view of the city. Continue to your hotel in the heart of the city for check-in.

Tonight, experience a special “Shabbat of a Lifetime” with a traditional dinner at the home of a local Israeli Jewish family, as you learn and observe the customs of the Jewish Sabbath.

Day 7 Masada and the Dead Sea

  • Tour the stronghold of Masada built by Herod
  • Float on the Dead Sea
  • Enjoy the Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David, Jerusalem

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Cable car, Masada

This morning, setting off east from Jerusalem, descend through the Judean Desert towards the Dead Sea. En route, stop at a lookout point for a view of Wadi Qelt and the cliff-hanging Monastery of St. George, which was founded in the 5th century and is still active and inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks.

Continue to the legendary mountaintop plateau of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea, the last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots in their struggle against the Romans in 73 CE. Ascending via cable car, explore the site, with its synagogue, bathhouse and winter-palace built by Herod the Great.

Then enjoy lunch and a leisurely afternoon at the Dead Sea, the lowest point at 1,388 feet below sea level. Cover yourself in mineral-rich mud and float in the buoyant water. Return to Jerusalem.

In the evening, attend the Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David, a creative depiction of the history of the city of Jerusalem projected onto the ancient stones. 

Day 8 Jerusalem's Old City

  • Discover the various quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem
  • Explore the tunnels and excavations that reveal the ancient city
  • See the Western Wall
  • Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem or similar Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary
Western Wall, Jerusalem

Start your exploration of the Old City of Jerusalem at the City of David. See the exciting tunnels and excavations revealing Jerusalem during the First Temple Period. Then walk through the Old City beginning with the Western Wall (also known as the Kotel and the Wailing Wall), and the Cardo which was a commercial street during Roman times and where you can still shop today.

Next, a rooftop tour of the Old City neighborhoods, for a behind-the-scenes look at the various communities living side-by-side in the walled city. Stroll through the bazaars of the Moslem Quarter, and then walk along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where according to 4th century traditions, the two holiest sites in Christianity are located: the site of the Crucifixion of Jesus known as Calvary or Golgotha; and Jesus’s empty tomb where he was buried and resurrected.  Enjoy the evening at leisure.

Day 9 Jerusalem New City

  • Visit Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
  • See the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum
  • Discover the creativity and social impact of the Yvel Design Center and the Megemeria School
  • Opportunity to visit Bethlehem
  • Farewell dinner

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem or similar Breakfast & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

This morning, visit Yad Vashem, the world’s primary Holocaust memorial and museum. Tour the new Holocaust History Museum, which occupies over 4,200 square meters, much of it underground. Visit the moving exhibit at the Children’s Pavilion, commemorating the death of over 1.5 million Jewish children in the Holocaust. From here, a short drive brings you to the Israel Museum where you will see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition and the Model of Jerusalem depicting the city as it was during the Second Temple Period.

Next, visit the Yvel Design Center, a unique combination of original Israeli creativity and the social impact of philanthropic investment, established in 2010 by founders Isaac and Orna Levy. Tour the Megemeria School of Jewelry & Art, which offers Ethiopian immigrants professional training, support and assistance in finding employment in the arts industries.

Later, join an excursion to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, or be dropped off at a convenient location in the center of Jerusalem for free time and make your way independently to the hotel.

Tonight, there will be a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 10 Jerusalem and Tel Aviv/USA

  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA
  • Some flights are overnight and arrive in the USA the following day (Day 11)

Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary

Bid farewell and Le’hitra’ot to Israel, as you transfer to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv for your return journey to the USA, arriving later today. (Note that some flights depart at midnight and arrive in the USA the following morning).

Or, take advantage of your already included international airfare, and extend your journey to Eilat and Petra, Jordan.

Eilat & Petra Post-Tour Optional Extension

Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to visit Eilat and the lost city of Petra, Jordan. You'll return to the U.S. 3 days after the return dates listed.

Day 10 Jerusalem/Eilat

  • Flight to Eilat in the south of Israel
  • Enjoy your beach-side hotel on the Red Sea

Herods Palace or similar Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary
Coral reef, Red Sea

This morning, transfer to the airport for your short flight to the resort town of Eilat, situated on the southern tip of Israel on the Red Sea. Upon arrival, meet our representative and transfer to your beachside hotel for check-in. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 11 Eilat & Petra, Jordan

  • Explore the incredible ancient city of Petra, carved out of the rose-colored rock

Herods Palace or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Petra Treasury

This morning, transfer to the Arava border crossing to Jordan. After exit formalities, walk the short distance to the Jordanian entry terminal for entry formalities and meet your guide. Drive to Petra, the lost “Rose City” of the ancient Nabateans. After a short ride on horseback, followed by a walk through the Siq, a narrow gorge flanked by cliffs, the breathtaking Treasury with its elaborate carved façade comes into view. Explore the various tombs and structures at the site. After lunch in Wadi Mousa, the village next to Petra, return to the border crossings and transfer to your hotel in Eilat.

Day 12 Eilat/USA

  • Transfer to the airport for your flight to Tel Aviv and overnight flight back to the USA

Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary

After enjoying time at leisure, transfer to the Eilat airport for your return flight to Tel Aviv and overnight flight around midnight back to the USA. Your adventure comes to an end as you arrive in the USA the next morning.

Hotels

Tal by the Beach
Tal by the Beach
First Class

Just a minute's walk from Tel Aviv's Metzizim Beach, the exquisitely renovated Tal by the Beach is the ultimate location for those seeking the most fun from this beautiful city. The hotel resides at the epicenter of all things Tel Aviv, including trendy restaurants, bars, nightclubs, the port, the designer boutiques of Dizengoff Street and the sprawling beaches.

More information

NEA Resort & People
NEA Resort & People
First Class

NEA Resort & People is located on the Mediterranean coast of Galilee in northern Israel. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, and only a short walk from the beach, this hotel invites you to enjoy the peace of nature.

More information

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem
Leonardo Boutique Hotel Jerusalem
First Class

Located in the heart of Jerusalem, Leonardo Boutique Hotel is within walking distance from many of the attractions including the Old City. Like Jerusalem, this hotel’s interior design combines the old and the new, with modern and colorful furniture as well as Oriental ornaments.

More information

Herods Palace
Herods Palace
Deluxe

Ideally located near the beach on the Northern Shore’s Promenade, the Herods Palace Eilat invites you to relax and enjoy this resort on the Red Sea.

More information

In the unlikely event that a particular hotel is not available, a similar or better hotel may be substituted.

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