In the Israel trip planner post, I will put myself in the shoes of a potential tourist and plan a trip to Israel. We will answer questions like where to go if you have only several days? And what to visit if you have two weeks? Let’s begin!
Most Popular Israeli Attractions
Before planning the trip, we need to find out what are the most popular Israeli attractions. I went over several websites and created a combined ordered list. Mostly it is based on TripAdvisor, and enriched by several other sites. So these are the most popular attractions according to tourists.
At this stage, I will only present the list (with relevant links so that you could dive further if you want). The goal is to get familiar with the names. And in the next paragraphs, I will suggest how to combine these attractions into a trip.
- Old City of Jerusalem
- Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
- Ramon Crater
- Bet She’an National Park
- Masada National Park
- Israel Museum
- Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park
- The Caesarea Ralli Museum
- Mahane Yehuda Market
Here are several other places that did not make into the top ten list:
- Red Canyon
- Nabatean Avdat Acropolis
- City of David
- The Dead Sea
- Rosh Hanikra Grottoes
- Tel Megiddo
When To Visit
Overall the weather in Israel is pleasant. The winters are not too cold, and though summers tend to be hot you can survive if you plan correctly. Nonetheless, in my opinion, early Spring is the best time to visit Israel. In Events And Festivals By Season post you can find additional weather data including average temperatures and amount of rain in different regions across Israel.
Events And Festivals
There are many different events. I would suggest checking out Events And Festivals By Season post and planning accordingly.
Here is an Israeli map marked with places from all posts. When you click on an attraction, you will see the name and the link to the relevant post for additional info.
Since people have different interests and preferences, I will suggest different planning blocks, and then you can create a trip by combining several of those blocks. And later in this post, I will also give several opinions using the same blocks.
Each block contains several attractions from a specific geographical area and the amount of time you dedicate to each block varies depending on the actual places that you decide to visit.
Jerusalem And Dead Sea
In this block, I include all the attractions in Jerusalem. Like (first place in the top 10) the Old City of Jerusalem, (#3) Yad Vashem, (#7) Israel Museum, (#10) Mahane Yehuda Market, and City of David. But there are many more places in Israeli’s capital that you can visit. Maybe you will be traveling to Jerusalem With Kids or searching for something else. In either case, I would suggest checking out the Jerusalem page.
Moreover, you can travel around Jerusalem. The most famous one day get away from Jerusalem includes a visit to (#6) Masada National Park and the Dead Sea. Besides floating in the Dead Sea, you can also visit the nearby Ein Gedi and Qumran Caves National Parks. You can make those trips by yourself or join a tour.
Another one-day tour option includes visiting several cities in West Bank, like Nablus. It has become more popular in recent years, but I would not advise you to do it yourself. If you are interested, look for a tour.
This block would be my top priority, and you can spend 1 – 7 days there. The typical visit would be around 3-4 days.
Tel Aviv – Yafo
Many people visit Tel Aviv just for the sea and the beaches. But there many more attractions (though none of them made the top 10). On Attractions In Tel Aviv – Yafo page you can find a variety of attractions and suggestions. But in general, I will say that Tel Aviv has a unique vibe, and best suited for hanging out and urban explorations. If you like ancient port cities, then I would recommend visiting Jaffa.
While you can visit Tel Aviv for a day or two, some people stay there for months. But I guess a typical visit would be from a couple of days to a week.
Haifa district includes not only Haifa but the surrounding area as well. And though Caesarea National Park And Ralli Museum (#9) is an approximately half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa, they belong to this district. Caesarea can be an excellent stop on the way (especially if you are driving). Typically people spend from a couple of hours to a full day in Caesarea National Park And Ralli Museum.
Akko is located close to Haifa, but it belongs to the Northern district. So, we will cover it next.
Acre And Surroundings
Acre is an ancient port city with a lot of history. Most people spend from several hours to a full day in Acre. And A Day In Old Acre post will provide further information.
Since Acre is located close to Haifa, you can make one of them your base, and visit the other.
A regular visit will consist of one day per Haifa, another one for Acre, and several more depending on whether you will visit nearby sites, like Caesarea, Rosh Hanikra and others. So I would say 2 – 5 days for Haifa and Acre areas.
In Lower Galilee, you can find many National Parks. Here are several examples: Beit Shean National Park (#5), Megiddo National Park, Beit She’arim National Park, and Tzipori National Park. Moreover, there are many historical sites near the Sea of Galilee. In the Tourist Attractions In The Kinneret Area post I show some of them. But there is also Magdala and Arbel Nature Reserve And National Park. And of course, there is the capital of the Northern District, Nazareth.
Depending on your preferences, you can spend anywhere from half day (one site) to five days in the Lower Galilee.
Upper Galilee And Golan Heights
Upper Galilee And Golan Heights are the northern parts of the Northern district. Hence it is cooler there, and during summer many Israeli go to these areas for a vacation.
Fewer people are living there, and most attractions are either nature related or national parks. The only touristic city in this area is Safed (and do not try to visit it on Saturday). But when it comes to national parks and nature reserves, there are plenty to choose from. The most popular are: Gamla Nature Reserve, Banias Nature Reserve, Nimrod Fortress National Park, Tel Dan Nature Reserve, and Tel Hazor National Park. Plus, depending on the season of your visit, you can join Cherry Picking or Agamon ha Hula Sunrise Tour.
A regular visit to Upper Galilee And Golan Heights will include several of the mentioned attractions and will take several days.
The southern district is the biggest one in Israel. And though significant parts of it are covered by sand, there are plenty of things to see and do. So we will start from the North and go towards the southern Israeli city, Eilat.
Bet Shemesh Area
Bet Shemesh is located approximately in the middle of the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And the following two attractions, which are found not far from Bet Shemesh, could be visited on the either on the way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv (or vice versa) or on the way from the Center to the South (or vice versa). Furthermore, you can tour them as a getaway from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
From Dimona To Ramon Crater
Further to the South, you can hit Ein Avdat And Avdat National Parks. And another half hour drive to the South will bring you to Mitzpe Ramon. Makhtesh Ramon Visitors Center offers both stunning views as well as explanations about Ramon Crater (#4). Then you can go inside the crater and visit HaMinsara, Ammonite Wall or take one of the hiking trails.
Unless you are doing long hikes across the Ramon crater, two days should be enough for this area.
Eilat And Surroundings
Eilat is a resort town on the Red Sea. Many people are visiting it just for the sea. But there are plenty of attractions inside Eilat and around it. The most popular are Red Canyon, Coral World Underwater Observatory, and Timna Park. For additional info check out Visiting Eilat During The Winter post.
Usually, there are two types of people that visit Eilat. Some only come there for the water. The go either to the sea or a hotel’s pool and spend their days there. In that case, you can easily stay as long as you want. Others are there for attractions or a mix of sea and attractions. In the latter case, the standard visit duration will be 3 – 5 days.
So far we covered the main attractions in all Israeli areas. However, there is one nearby attraction that many people incorporate to their Israel trip. Of course, I am referring to Petra. Petra is located in Jordan, and you can cross the border either near Eilat or Beit Shean. I will not go into details here since the majority of people do not visit Jordan by themselves, but as a part of a tour. You can find many different tours from Israeli to Jordan, and they usually range from one to four days tours.
National Parks And Nature Reserves
While covering various planning blocks, we mentioned many National Parks And Nature Reserves. If you are interested in further information, check out National Parks And Nature Reserves in Israel, where I cover all of them, tell about my favorites, and describe different ticket options.
How Many Days Should I Visit Israel For?
At the end of each planning block (above), I mentioned the typical visit duration. As you can see, you can select just one block and spend there several days or visit the whole country and stay for a month or even more. I would suggest 3 – 4 days as the minimum and one or two weeks for a more thorough adventure. Furthermore, I have seen one-week routes that cover the whole country. That is, of course, a personal preference, but I prefer not to rush through attractions and see them at a slower pace. Partially it is because of the kids, but it is also because I do not enjoy half day drives. In recent travels, I am trying to limit the driving duration to three hours a day max. So you can cover the whole Israeli in 10 days. But I would not recommend it.
Plan Your Trip To Israel
Planning A Family Trip To Israel
Israel is a very child-friendly country. And you can take them anywhere. My personal experience shows that National Parks or dedicated children activities are preferred over urban exploration, but that may be a personal preference.
When I am planning a family trip, it usually involves three adjustments. First of all, museums. A full day in art, history or any other museum can be hard on kids. Thus, we go over only the highlights and spend several hours in the museum. Alternatively, you can look for children activities in museums (and there are plenty of those in science museums). Secondly, the trip is made at a slower pace. We do not try to visit as many attraction as possible. And thirdly, we add a place that kids love too. For example, visiting a zoo can be an excellent option. When planning a family trip to Israel, I would stick to the same principles.
If you are traveling with babies or toddlers, then you will most likely bring a stroller. I would suggest bringing a baby carrier or a baby sling as well. Even if you are visiting only the big cities, many of them have old parts. And I made the mistake of bringing a stroller to the Old City of Jerusalem. The result was carrying both the baby and the stroller in our hands. Thus my recommendation would be not to take strollers into the old cities. At least not in Jerusalem (in Jaffo and Acre it is easier to get around with a stroller).
Weekend In Israel
If you are spending only several days in Israel, then I suggest choosing one of the planning blocks. If this is your first time, then I would recommend focusing on Jerusalem And Dead Sea block. You can also check Tel Aviv – Yafo or Haifa District.
If you are planning a trip to Jerusalem, then I got you covered. I answered this question at the Jerusalem page.
Five Days To A Week in Israel
That is around the time it takes to cover one planning block. Therefore, I would advise either covering one block or combining two nearby blocks. Here are several examples: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh Area, Northern district, or Southern district.
Two Weeks in Israel
In two weeks you can go through the whole country. But I am not a fan of rushing and prefer returning to a country in the future. Therefore, I would advise selecting several nearby planning blocks. For example, you can start from Jerusalem and then go to Tel Aviv. At the end of Tel Aviv rent a car and visit the Southern district till you reach Eilat. Another option would be starting at Tel Aviv. Then visit Haifa, Acre, Nazareth, and in Tiberias rent a car. Then drive through Galilee and Golan Heights.
As you can see, my strategy is simple. I combine several nearby planning blocks and usually start from the big cities. That allows using public transport in the towns (having a car in a big city is inconvenient). And before hitting nature, I usually rent a car (check the best deals at rentalcars.com).
- On Saturdays, many places are closed (stores, supermarkets, and museums) and there is no public transport. Keep in mind that Saturday starts on Friday afternoon and ends on Saturday’s evening. Thus, recheck your plans for Saturdays and adjust accordingly.
- Prices – Israel is not cheap. If we are comparing to average Europe prices, then you will find that hotels are more expensive. Food in grocery stores and restaurants is a little more expensive. And the attractions are not cheap. So here are several tips to make it easier on your budget.
- Hotels are one of the largest expenses. From my experience traveling in Israel, I found out that sometimes apartments are cheaper. In our last Eilat trip, we rented a 90 square meters flat, and it was twice less expensive than 30 square meters hotel room. The only downside is the lack of a meal plan. But, even if you add breakfasts in a restaurant, it will still be cheaper. In most of my reservations, I am using Booking.com. They show both hotels and properties. Airbnb is also popular in Israel.
- In Israel, as in other countries, there are two types of supermarkets. Small ones in the center of the big cities, and big ones on the peripherals. The small ones are usually expensive and offer little variety. Thus, if you have the option, visit the bigger ones. When it comes to eating outside, you can consider street food instead of a restaurant. Israel offers a variety of street food, including Hummus, Falafel, Shawarma, Schnitzel, Khachapuri, Shakshuka, Bourekas, and other pastries. And I did not even mention the standard options like Pizza, Pasta, Salads, and sandwiches.
- Pricing of many attractions is quite steep. Thus, you can always look for discounts and coupons online. Another popular promotion is 1+1, so you can search for the name of the attraction and 1+1. I will save you some time and say that some places never offer discounts (at least I never saw them). I never saw discounts to national parks and nature reserves.
If you got any questions, then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel page. You can find answers to most basic questions including transportation, electricity, passports, tipping, useful apps, common scams and tour guides.
Have a great vacation!