The Best Ways to Kick off a Trip to Israel
You’ve made a long list of sites and attractions to hit up during your trip to Israel, and now you are finally in the process of organizing it into a workable itinerary. Here's something to consider. Once you have landed and settled in at your accommodations, the ideal would be to start your sightseeing with a destination that serves as a great introduction to the country – something especially beautiful, meaningful or emblematic of the journey that's finally underway. Read on for four of our top suggestions.
- The Western Wall and Jerusalem's Old City
If you’re staying in Jerusalem, a visit to the Western Wall and the rest of the Old City is an excellent way to begin a tour of Israel. Constructed during the reign of Herod some 2000 years ago, the Western Wall is the holiest place for Jewish prayer, and you can place a traditional request note into the crevices between the walls, grab a prayer book and join the constant stream of praying people. Or simply watch the colorful crowds coming and going.
In the Old City, you’ll get a taste of the ancient connection between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. Tour the Hurva Synagogue, walk through the Cardo – the city’s ancient shopping center – and take in the narrow alleyways and cobblestoned streets. Christians will enjoy a walk along the Via Dolorosa, down to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
- The Southern Promenade's Lookout Points
The Haas Promenade in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot makes a perfect introduction to ancient history and contemporary Israel. The promenade was built on the spot where, according to legend, God first promised Abraham that his descendants would flourish.
The amazing panoramic view from the promenade includes Mt. Olives, Mt. Scopus, Mt. Zion, the Old City, the Dome of the Rock, recently built Jewish and Arab neighborhoods and even the hills of Judea. Segway tours along the promenade are a popular activity.
Colors of the Capital's Bazaar and Center
To get a feel for the buzzing brew that is Israeli urban culture (and possibly pick up some souvenirs already on your first day), visit the Mahane Yehuda market and Ben Yehuda Street. The market is set up like a typical Middle Eastern shuk, and the hustle and bustle will make you feel like you have gone back in time 100 years. But the wares here are hardly antique, ranging from produce, wines, breads, street foods and cheeses to boutique clothing designs, framed photography and hand-knit kippot. Don’t miss the restaurants, which may not look like much from the outside but serve fresh, homemade dishes.
Ben Yehuda Street is a pedestrian mall in the heart of Jerusalem's downtown district, featuring every type of shop imaginable. Grab an ice cream or a falafel, and watch Israelis young and old doing errands, conducting business or just hanging out with friends.
Emblem of Ingathering
Spending your first days in Tel Aviv? Start your trip to Israel with a tour of the Museum of the Jewish People. Formerly called the Diaspora Museum, this is the place to go to learn about the winding road of Jewish history, from the Bible and the destruction of the Holy Temples to modern times and the ingathering of the exiles.
Focusing on community, Zionism, anti-Semitism and culture, the exhibits paint a picture of the Jewish contributions to the world and the amazing story of a nation’s exile and return – a fitting theme to kick off your experience in the thriving, contemporary homeland.
Hit the Ground Running
This is just the beginning. From here, you can branch out and enjoy any number of compelling, life-changing destinations. If you'd like more help from one of our tour consultants, experts in the art of building custom itineraries that match the needs of your group, don't hesitate to get in touch!