Culture & History: Off-The-Beaten-Track Israel
Explore off-the-beaten-track Israel on this eight-day trip, taking in the country's gems beyond Jerusalem and Tel Aviv such as the fortress of Masada, the Golan Heights and Acre. Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites and hike in glorious mountain or desert scenery on this trip to see secret Israel.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Explore the historic highlights of Jerusalem
- Visit UNESCO-listed Masada to learn about the Jewish and Roman struggles of the first century
- Head to an oasis in the desert for walking and swimming in the shade of palm trees
- Experience the unusual feeling of floating in the Dead Sea
- Learn about Zionism at a kibbutz and even stay in one of these unique communities
- Taste Israeli wines at a Golan Heights vineyard
- Sample the fine cuisine and artistic delights of Tel Aviv
- Delve into history and haggling in the ancient port of Jaffa
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When To Travel
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Day 1: International Flight
Your off-the-beaten-track Israel trip begins with a five-hour flight from London to Tel Aviv.
Upon arrival, you will be privately transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which takes approximately one hour. You'll have the rest of the afternoon to relax and, in all probability, take a sneak peek inside the walls of Jerusalem's fabled Old City. Tonight, our Concierge will have booked you at table at one of the city's many excellent restaurants.
Day 2: Private Tour of Jerusalem
This morning meet your private guide at your hotel for a full-day tour of Jerusalem, arguably the most fascinating city in the world, and one of particular reverence to the three main monotheistic religions.
The tour can be adapted to your specific interests, but among the highlights of any day in Jerusalem are visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall, holy sites to Christians and Jews respectively. If you wish to visit the Dome of the Rock - one of the holiest sites in Islam - we will need to pre-book tickets so let us know ahead of time.
This evening, enjoy a drink in one of the city's buzzing bars as you decompress after a day of such intense learning, before another fun supper.
Day 3: Magical Masada & the Dead Sea
This morning you will be met at your hotel by your private guide for a full-day 4x4 tour to explore Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea.
UNESCO-listed Masada, an hour-and-a-half from Jerusalem, is the dramatic hilltop fortress where the last remaining Jewish rebels held out against the Romans in 74 AD. You will learn about the epic siege that unfurled, and the rebels eventual mass suicide, a key moment in Jewish history.
Next stop is Ein Gedi, an oasis in the Judean Desert that features in the Bible as the place where David hid from King Saul. Today it's a lovely place to stretch your legs, and we recommend wandering along the Nahale Davids trail with your guide before a dip in the water, shaded by palm trees.
Then there's time for another dip (and late lunch) as you swing past the Dead Sea on your way back to Jerusalem. Floating on the surface of the water is a very strange experience, but highly recommended!
This evening you have another chance to enjoy the Jerusalem
Day 4: Beit She’an & the Sea of Galilee
Sadly it's time to leave Jerusalem behind, and this morning you will be driven to Beit She'an, one of the key Roman sites in Israel.
Your guide will show you around the well preserved Roman theatre, the baths and column-lined cardo (the north/south street in every Roman city) before you visit a local kibbutz to learn more about the socialism and Zionism at the heart of the kibbutz lifestyle.
Then it's on past the Sea of Galilee, stopping briefly to visit Capernaum and Bethsaida, supposed hometown of the four fishermen disciples of Jesus, and finally to another kibbutz where you'll stay for the night in the Golan Heights.
Day 5: Go To Golan Heights
Today is a great opportunity to experience off-the-beaten-track Israel as you explore the Golan Heights. Start with a visit to Tal Dan, once the centre of power of the biblical king Jeroboam II.
The region is also home to many of finest vineyards in Israel so your next stop will be a top wine producer for an introduction and tasting of famous vintages. Then, if any reminder was needed that this is a highly strategic and disputed region, you will visit Israeli Army bunkers on Mount Bental overlooking Syria before returning to your kibbutz hotel.
Day 6: To Tel Aviv, via Acre and Caesarea
Today you will head west towards the coast, and then south via Acre and Caesarea to your final stop: Tel Aviv. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Acre was the busiest port in the eastern Mediterranean in Crusader times, and your guide will show you around the fascinating city, with its buildings dating from Phoenician, Crusader and Ottoman times.
Pop in to visit the intriguing remains of a Roman era port,
amphitheatre and hippodrome in Caesarea, originally built by King
Herod in around 30 BC.
To round off a day of coastal exploration, you will visit Jaffa, the ancient port mentioned in the bible and now swallowed up by Tel Aviv. Learn about Jaffa's extraordinary history before enjoying a haggle in the fun flea market and arriving at your hotel in the buzzing city of Tel Aviv itself. Tonight, our Concierge can recommend and book one of the many excellent restaurants in the city.
Day 7: Artistic Tel Aviv
Today you have the chance to explore Tel Aviv at your own pace. We would highly recommend a visit to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, complete with its stellar collection of 20th century art; a wander around the low rise district of Neve Tzedek where the Jewish city blossomed outside the walls of Jaffa; and spotting as much Bauhaus architecture as you can in a city known, appropriately enough, as the 'White City'.
Tonight you can enjoy one last supper and maybe a drink in a rooftop bar to celebrate the finale of your off-the-beaten-track Israel trip.
Day 8: Goodbye Israel
This morning you will be privately transferred to the airport, and then it's a five-hour direct flight back to the UK, during which you can reminisce about some of the secret corners of this completely compelling destination that you visited.
Lucy and Matt are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.