Israel in 7 days, how to do it all
So you got a week off and a flight to this camel-ridden country that you hear constantly about in the news, congratulations and welcome to my home! You should know from the get go that this is a beginning of a wonderful friendship and you, like most travelers that come to this corner of the earth, will become an addict. Let's assume that you like nature, fun, history, some archaeology and a bit of religion, ok? Sounds like you? Great, let me suggest the plans for your next week in Israel.
Check out this post to guide you from the airport and start your adventure in Jerusalem! Landing on a weekend? Read these crucial tips.
Dedicate your first morning in Jerusalem to a stroll within the 500 year old walls of the city. To make sense of this layered city I suggest joining one of the tours. It'll give you some basic knowledge which will enhance your experience. Try to visit the big three: the Temple Mount (third holiest site for Muslims. Opening hours are tricky so pay attention!), the church of Holy Sepulchre (holiest for most Christians) and the Western Wall. Lunch at a local hummus place to get in the mood. When the sun goes down and the old city falls asleep- the new city comes alive. Spend your evening at the Mahane Yehuda market. Be sure to arrive at the magical hour when the vendors close but the bars open up (around 8 on weekdays). Sit on a closed stall, sip a beer and enjoy one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in Jerusalem.
Wake up slightly hungover and head towards the Judean Desert to the fortress of Masada, the nature reserve of Ein Gedi or Einot Tzukim and the Dead Sea. You can join a guided or self-guided tour, take a public bus or hitchhike. If you rent a car visit Kedem Springs, its adjacent to the Dead Sea. For a free beach at the Dead Sea, head to the southern basin (Neve Zohar). If you don't mind paying entry for a beach with facilities (lifeguard, showers, mud) go to the northern beaches next to Kalya. With that, check out “Gallery minus 430” an abandoned village taken over by street artists that emphasize the problems the Dead Sea is facing. Dedicate 3 hours for Masada (longer if you want to hike up), 2 hours for the nature reserves and at least 2 hours to float in the dead sea. With your skin baby smooth from all that black mud, spend the evening in the city center. Check out Queen Helene st for great bars, cafes and restaurants. Fancy a cocktail? Check out “The Gatsby” for amazing cocktails that are half-price during happy hour. Looking to book hotels and tours? Contact us for personal assistance.
Rise and shine as early as possible and get yourself up to the Mountain of Olives for a beautiful lookout over the old city. With the rising sun to your back you'll get the best view. Stroll down the ancient pilgrims path visiting churches along the way that symbolize the sites that Jesus came upon during the last week of his life.
Walk through the old city to Damascus gate along the Via Dolorosa, a road that is associated with the path that Jesus walked carrying the cross. Before the turn to Damascus gate, visit the Austrian Hospice. They have a nice coffee shop and a great view point.
I hope that you packed your passport for the day because you're going to the West Bank! Take the bus from Damascus gate to Bethlehem, a short drive from Jerusalem. You'll cross a checkpoint and on the way back you may be asked to show your passport. Once you enter you'll see a giant concrete barrier. Some call it the wall of security, others call it the wall of separation, depends on which side of the wall you are. Take a stroll along the wall, visit the Walled Off Hotel by Banksy, talk to people, formulate your own opinion. If you are up for some more churches visit the Milk Grotto, the Shepherds church and the church of Nativity where, according to tradition, Jesus was born. If not, just grab a falafel and enjoy the change of scenery. Souvenirs may be cheaper here, especially if you bargain. Upon return to Jerusalem, go high class and check out Jerusalem's great wineries, Primitivo wine bar or Bar Yain on Azza street.
Have you had shakshuka yet? Did you try a real Israeli breakfast? No?! It's already day 4 what are you waiting for?!? Check out the coffee shops nearby, Nocturno, Nadi, Tmol Shilshom or Jahnun bar and enjoy a proper breakfast. Spend the morning visiting a gallery, art space or one of the museums. Then grab your bags and head over to Haifa. You can take the train or a bus (I prefer the bus). When in Haifa, spend the evening in the lower city near the port or in the Talpiot market area for great vibes, amazing food and the best people. Check out the local drink Tubi60. Visit the Bahai Gardens and if possible take a tour to understand how this place came to be so beautiful and all about the Baha'i faith. Haven't had enough of history and Archeology? On the way south to Tel Aviv stop at Atlit (a place that'll tell you the story of immigration to Palestine), Cesarea (an astonishing site that was built by a crazy genius 2000 years ago) or Apolnia. Head to Tel Aviv Jaffa and settle in for a night out, join a pub crawl and enjoy the crazy bar scene of 'the white city that doesn't sleep'.
Start the day enjoying the ancient port city of Jaffa. Join a free walking tour from the clock tower. They will show you special hidden places like the bridge that'll make your wishes come true, a rock that once was a sea monster and an orange tree that is levitating in mid air. Eat some hummus, explore the old city and check out the sweets made by the Mutran family. You'll need a rest and if the weather is great head north to the Charles clore park to nap on the grass or on the beach. Return to Jaffa to check out the flea markets' crazy random assortment of items- which is the weirdest you see? My pick will have to be a full size mannequin that looks like a grey alien wearing ultra orthodox Jewish clothes. Beat that. Check out the Malabiya, they have a middle eastern desert called Malabi (like panna cotta) and cheap Arak (anis based alcoholic drink) meaning sweat in Arabic and a favorite among sailors that came to the port.
Take a chill morning, have a nice breakfast (maybe a vegan one as you are in the vegan capital of the world) and head over to the Carmel market. Try tasty things along the way and stroll through the first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of Jaffa, Neve Tzedek. Walk through the American colony towards Florentin, the hipster area of Tel Aviv. Spend some time here and explore the amazing street art that the area has to offer. Today is the day to try out one of those electric scooters you've seen everywhere. Grab one of those and drive over to watch the sunset from one of the city rooftops. My favorite is the Gruzenberg parking, go to the 8th floor and crack open a Goldstar beer. Here take notice of how the architecture changes from south to north: Arabic classic, to eclectic, to "Bauhaus", to Skyscrapers. The “Bauhaus” international style is the reason the white city is a UNESCO world heritage site. Enjoy dinner at one of Tel Aviv's fancy restaurants (make sure to book ahead) and celebrate a week well spent!
If you fly out of Ben Gurion airport and have a couple of free hours, stroll down Rotschild blvd, the heart of the city. Visit Rabin square or check out the Tel Aviv art museum. You can take an alternative tour of the area by the old bus station which is the center for work immigrants and refugees or get lost in the Dizengoff Center mall that is just as confusing to navigate as Hogwarts. If you're flying out of Eilat Ramon airport head down to Eilat. Be sure to book your bus ticket in advance on the Egged website. Spend at least one day in Eilat to enjoy the red sea (underwater observatory or snorkeling), hike the red canyon or Timna park, and enjoy locally brewed beers.
Feels like one week Isn't enough, huh? Yeah, that's why you'll be back for a second round.
Do you have stories to tell from your time in Israel? We want to hear from you!
Read more about the idea behind the Israeli Holiday Project .
About the writer, Anna Kreynin
Anna is a licenced tour guide, an artist, a french fry eater, a dog petter and above all a storyteller. She is in love with Jerusalem and she can tell you all about it.
n love with Jerusalem and she can tell you all about @