I was surprised by Israel. I travelled to the country not knowing entirely what to expect, and left having discovered a new favourite place. Israel is a cultural melting pot, filled with people of different backgrounds and religions all coexisting peacefully (despite what the media may have you believe).
Whether you are religious or not, there is something for everyone in Israel, and the country is small enough that you are able to explore the very best of it in a week during your vacation time from work. Here’s a perfect one week Israel itinerary to help you cover the country’s highlights.
Jerusalem is a place of extreme importance for people from all religious backgrounds, and it’s been an insightful day wandering it’s winding streets and seeing how well they coexist. This is “dome of the rock” in the Muslim quarter, special to Muslims because it’s the place where Prophet Muhammed is believed to have risen to heaven from the rock contained within, and of significance to Jews because the original location is where Abraham is said to have offered his son as a sacrifice to God. Exploring the old city of Jerusalem with @abrahamtours and their holy city tour 🙏 #visitisrael #jerusalem #domeoftherock #travel #travelblogger #wearetravelgirls #girlswhotravel #girlslovetravel #solotravel #solofemaletraveler #sheisnotlost #abrahamtours #sponsored #travelingram #middleeasttravel #middleeast
Day 1: Tel Aviv
Since the Ben Gurion International airport is here, it makes sense to start your Israeli adventure in the trendy, vibrant city of Tel Aviv. Some may say that there isn’t a lot to do in Tel Aviv, but those individuals are clearly looking in all of the wrong places. Granted, the city doesn’t offer an awful lot by way of history, but what it lacks in archaeological sites, it more than makes up for in its quirkiness and vibrant nature.
You can easily walk or cycle between all of the main sites of interest. If street art’s your jam, head over to Florentin neighborhood and check out the impressive graffiti that spans the walls. For quirky boutique stores and artisan coffee, take a short walk to the eccentric Neve Tzedek district, pick up trinkets and souvenirs at the Carmen Market and when the sun goes down, indulge in dinner and cocktails at one of the many trendy eateries on Rothschild Boulevard.
If your schedule permits, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Tel Aviv, so that you can explore the city at a more leisurely pace, and enjoy a little R&R at one of the beaches. There are many rental points where you can pick up bikes in the city, and cycling along the seafront and down to Jaffa is a pleasant route.
Where to Stay: Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv
Day 2: Old Jaffa
Jaffa, the ancient Israeli port city is essentially an extension of Tel Aviv since you can walk between the two with ease.
Once a base for many Israeli artists, the creative presence never really left and as you explore the ancient winding alleyways and cobbled streets, you will stumble upon plenty of art galleries and exhibitions featuring the work of local artists. The Jaffa flea market is an interesting sight to behold and surely not to be missed. Be sure to sample the popular homemade Israeli mint lemonade as you explore.
If you like to put what you’re seeing in context, and hear some historical and religious tales about the places you visit, New Sandemans tours offer a free (tip based) walking tour of the old city.
Where to Stay: Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv
Day 3: Haifa and Akko
Haifa and Akko are beautiful locations and it’s easy (if a little tiring!) to visit both of them in one day. From Tel Aviv, head Northwards to Haifa. Haifa is home to the Shrine of the Bab, a Baha’i’ temple encapsulated within breathtaking gardens. The city is worth a visit, just for visiting these grounds, and strolling down the picturesque Louis Promenade alone.
After spending the morning in Haifa, continue northwards to Akko (also known as “Acre”), a medieval crusader city that is steeped in history. The citadel, the crusader tunnels and the ancient walls that still contain the city to this day are fascinating remnants of a crusader age, however so to is the entire underground city that exists beneath the surface.
Useful additional information on planning a trip to Akko here.
Day 4: Tiberius, The Sea of Galilee and Nazareth
From Akko, it’s a short drive west to Tiberius & the sea of Galilee. This place is important because it’s where several biblical miracles are said to have occurred, including Jesus’s walking on water, and the miracle “feeding of the 5000”. The sea is Israel’s only fresh water lake and is surrounded by pristine sandy beaches and natural hot springs. After spending a half day by the sea, move on to Nazareth, Jesus’ birthplace.
Where to Stay: Abraham Hostel, Nazareth
Day 5: Jerusalem
There is so much history in Jerusalem that you could easily spend a week in the city and feel as though you have barely scratched the surface. The city holds significant importance in many religions, and is believed to be the site of all creation (aka Adam and Eve). A highlight for me about Jerusalem was just how peaceful it was considering that there are so many ultra-religious people with vastly different views living at such close quarters.
The old city is divided into four sectors: The Muslim District, The Jewish Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and the Armenian quarter. While in town, you should be sure not to miss…
The Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque
The stunning gold domed Mosque that stands out in most panoramas of Jerusalem. The Mosque is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is of significant religious importance to both Muslims and Jews. The Mosque itself is not accessible to non Muslims and the grounds only open at certain points of the day (outside of prayer time) so check this in advance. Be prepared to go through airport style security before entering and you must dress conservatively, covering your arms and legs down to your wrists/ankles.
Upon exiting the area, be sure to explore the Islamic markets that run from the temple mount to Damascus Gate.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church was built over the hill where Jesus was said to have been crucified and contains two slabs – one on which his body was apparently prepared for burial, and one on which he is said to have risen from the dead. Devout Christians queue to rub their items on the slabs and to “bless” them with good luck.
The Christian and Armenian Quarters
From here you can follow the trail which Jesus walked with the cross on his way to be crucified. Numbered markers along the route correlate with relevant parts of the bible story. It’s not uncommon to see religious pilgrims carrying crosses, following in the footsteps of their saviour.
The Mahane Yehuda Market
Located outside of the old city,in the North West part of Jerusalem,Mahane Yehuda market is a foodie’s paradise and it’s nice because it has a more authentic and local feel than the markets contained within the old city which are generally selling tourist tat. Visit during the early morning or on Shabbat for the most lively scenes.
The Wailing Wall
Also known as “the Western wall”, the wailing wall is a place of prayer for Jews.
Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt nine times, and throughout all of that, the wall has remained intact. The wall is divided into a separate section for men and women. When you visit, you can write a prayer or a wish onto a piece of paper, and then slot it into the wall.
Other Activities in Jerusalem:
- King David’s tomb (pictured above)
- The Church of the Dormition – where Mary was taken by Jesus to heaven
- The room of the last supper
- East Jerusalem – home to Oscar Schindler’s grave, the Mount of Olives, and David’s city. (Be careful in this area. As a solo female, I did not feel safe. The area is filled with Palestinian neighbourhoods and tensions can be high between Arabs and Jews. Try not to walk in the valley alone and don’t be around after dark as assaults have been reported).
Where to Stay: Abraham Hostel , Jerusalem
Day 6: Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran & The Dead Sea
Perched atop a plateau within the Judaean desert, the ancient fortress of Masada was built as a defense point by King Herod and offers incredible views over the Dead Sea and the Holy Land. For the best views, arrive early in the morning to watch the sunrise from the top (it was painful waking up at 2am but wholly worth it).
From Masada, head across to Ein Gedi, a paradisaical nature reserve hosting majestic waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and fragrant botanical gardens. You can then make a short stop at Qumran, the location where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, before moving on to the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, and there really isn’t a better time to visit it than now because it is beginning to evaporate. The sea is so salty that you float (it’s like some strange voodoo!) and it is renowned across the globe for its skin rejuvenation properties. (Slap some Dead Sea mud on your face and thank me later).
There are several tour companies that offer day trips covering this itinerary like the one that I did with Abraham Tours.
Where to Stay: Abraham Hostel , Jerusalem
Day 7 – Tel Aviv & Return Home
Depending on when you are due to return home, you can spend this day relaxing at the beach or revisiting any areas of Tel Aviv that you had to rush through on your previous visit. If your schedule allows you more time, I would strongly recommend that you take a little longer to explore this beautiful country. Perhaps add an additional day to your itinerary in Akko, or another day in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, you can easily take a bus across to Palestine’s West Bank which was one of the highlights of my trip. You could also cross the border to Jordan to visit Petra.
Disclaimer: My Trip to Israel was sponsored by Abraham Tours and Abraham Hostels, one of Israel’s leading Travel Companies. I cannot recommend them enough, their hostels are centrally located and excellent, and their tours are so much fun! As always, all opinions are my own, and completely honest.
Useful Resources/Further Reading
Yes, Israel is Perfectly Safe – Click Here
The Solo Female Traveller’s Guide to Israel (Coming Soon, I Promise!)
Exploring Jerusalem (A first hand account) – Click Here
Israel’s Culture (Things to know before you go) – Click Here
Ask a Local: Best Things to Do in Palestine’s West Bank (Q&A with a Palestinian Tour Guide) – Click Here
Yes You Can (& Should) Visit Palestine – Click Here
Palestine Travel Tips – Click Here
How to Plan a Trip to Petra – Click Here
A Fabulous 10 Day Jordan Itinerary – Click Here
How to Cross the Israel-Jordan Border – Click Here
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Have any questions about traveling in Israel? Feel free to drop me a comment below!