This is how we do…Israel in 7 days & 2 ways

Uncategorized
Israel, Tel Aviv, beachfront, hotels, dusk - Walter Bibikow/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Seven days in Israel — is it enough? The short answer is yes. While years might not be enough to take in all of Israel’s historical, cultural and gustatory pleasures (and we’ll get to a suggested two-week tour before long) you can take in the highlights and more in just a week.

In this twin set of seven-day scenarios, you’ll give yourself an urban base to explore in-depth and from which to branch out into the regions.

If you’re enticed by the beach and nightlife of Tel Aviv, Israel’s Mediterranean metropolis, start there. If you are more motivated by historical or religious interest, make Jerusalem your starting point. Either way, if you’re flying from the U.S., your trip will begin and end in Tel Aviv, so let’s start there.

First Stop: Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is an anomaly as far as Middle Eastern cities go. Why? Because though Israel is considered the Holy Land, with a human history that predates Jesus Christ by almost too many centuries to count, Tel Aviv is a new city, founded only in 1909. Like New York City, it would be tough to call it beautiful, but like the Big Apple it has a vitality and earthy charm that makes it a natural holiday spot.

After the long flight from the United States, overnight in Tel Aviv and spend your entire first day doing absolutely nothing. OK, not exactly nada, but my advice is to peer into the city’s soul by going to the beach. Walk along the Tayelet, or seaside promenade and you’ll see a cross-section of Tel Aviv society with the dazzling blue Mediterranean right in front of you.

Without having to cross a single street, you can explore ancient Jaffa at the southern end of the promenade, linger in any number of beach grills and bars as you walk north, and even go as far as Namal, the Tel Aviv Port, a fantastic outdoor shopping center with sculptured wooden decks that meet the water’s edge.

It’s popular with families and boasts the city’s best fish restaurants. If you go on a Wednesday night, a DJ keeps the beat up al fresco.

Day 2: Tel Aviv

Use your second day in Tel Aviv to discover the city’s unique urban character away from the beach. Haggle for watermelons in the Carmel Market. Go shopping at the HaTachana, a former railway station. Soak up the city’s phenomenal Bauhaus architecture. The best tour is also free: just stroll the length of Rothschild Boulevard and Bialik Street and you’ll see why UNESCO designated Tel Aviv “The White City.”

Day 3: Jerusalem

On day three of your seven-day sojourn, head for the hills: the Judean Hills, that is, which surround the Holy City of Jerusalem. Now, Jerusalem is also Israel’s official capital city, although not everybody agrees with that. Fortunately, the only labyrinth you’ll have to untangle is that of the Old City, where the most holy sites, including the Western Wall, are located. The atmosphere of Jerusalem is completely different from Tel Aviv. It’s the starting point for many faiths and there’s truly nothing else like it on earth. But there’s more.

Day 4: Jerusalem

Use your fourth day to explore more of Jerusalem. Visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s exhaustive, emotional national Holocaust memorial. Then ogle at the archaeological wonders contained in the spectacularly renovated Israel Museum. By this point in your journey, you’re going to have lots to think about.

Day 5: The Dead Sea and Masada

But this is your vacation, so you don’t want to think too hard. Which is why the next stop on your itinerary should be the Dead Sea. It’s close to Jerusalem but a million miles away. Here, at the lowest point on earth, you will literally float on water, and experience that puts the “a” in amazing. Of course, this being Israel, you can (and should) also make time for a visit to the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada. Take the cable car up for spectacular views of the desert and the Dead Sea.

Day 6: Sea of Galilee and Tiberias

On your sixth day, you’re still in discovery mode and that means head north to the Sea of Galilee. Actually a large freshwater lake the Israelis call the Kinneret, this region is one of beautiful scenery and rich in biblical associations. Suggested overnight in the lakeside resort town of Tiberias.

Day 7: Caesarea

On the morning of your last full day in Israel, visit the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea. By mid-afternoon you’ll be back in Tel Aviv with enough time for shopping, a museum visit and time to rest before enjoying some New Israeli cuisine at any number of trendy restaurants.

***Here’s the second way to plan your seven-day stay in Israel: with your first stop in Jerusalem.***

First Stop: Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a small city that also happens to be extraordinary. Within its ancient walled city are sites sacred to three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The atmosphere within those stone walls is both serene and electric, and something that simply must be experienced.

Outside the Ottoman-era ramparts, there’s a bustling newer city with fabulous museums, fantastic restaurants and other attractions.

Use your first full day to explore some key Jerusalem attractions. Visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial. Then ogle at the archaeological wonders contained in the spectacularly renovated Israel Museum.

Day 2: Jerusalem

Visit the Old City, where the most holy sites, including the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, are located. It’s the starting point for many faiths and there’s truly nothing else like it on earth. Explore the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian quarters on foot.

Day 3: The Dead Sea and Masada

Ever floated on water? If not, Day 3 is your chance, with a visit to the Dead Sea. It’s close to Jerusalem but a million miles away. Here, at the lowest point on earth, you will literally float on water, and experience that puts the “a” in amazing. Of course, this being Israel, you can (and should) also make time for a visit to the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada. Take the cable car up for spectacular views of the desert and the Dead Sea.

For your overnight, shun the generic hotels of Ein Bokek and go for the great, value-priced kibbutz at Ein Gedi.

Day 4: Sea of Galilee

On your fourth day, head north to the Sea of Galilee. Actually a large freshwater lake the Israelis call the Kinneret, this region is one of beautiful scenery and rich in biblical associations.

Suggested overnight in the lakeside resort town of Tiberias, a bustling place with an ancient Roman past.

Day 5: Haifa/Caesarea

The ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea, directly on the Mediterranean coast about halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, are well worth a visit. You could precede that excursion with a visit to Haifa’s Baha’i Shrine and Gardens. Either way, by mid-afternoon you’ll be back in Tel Aviv with enough time for some shopping or a beach break before enjoying some New Israeli cuisine at any number of trendy restaurants.

Day 6: Tel Aviv

Use your first full day in Tel Aviv to discover the city’s unique urban character away from the beach. Haggle for watermelons in the Carmel Market. Go shopping at theHaTachana, a former railway station. Soak up the city’s phenomenal Bauhaus architecture. The best tour is also free: just stroll the length of Rothschild Boulevard and Bialik Street and you’ll see why UNESCO designated Tel Aviv “The White City.”

Day 7: Tel Aviv

Stroll the Tayelet, or seaside promenade and you’ll see a cross-section of Tel Aviv society with the dazzling blue Mediterranean right in front of you.

Without having to cross a single street, you can explore ancient Jaffa at the southern end of the promenade, linger in any number of beach grills and bars as you walk north, and even go as far as Namal, the Tel Aviv Port, a fantastic outdoor shopping center with sculptured wooden decks that meet the water’s edge.

The Port is popular with families and also boasts the city’s best fish restaurants. If you go on a Wednesday night, a DJ keeps the acoustic sizzle going late…a great way to end your trip on an upbeat note.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s