Last Updated on
Reading Time: 20 minutes
One Week in Israel – A Detailed Itinerary
When you look at the map of the world, and stare into the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, in the area where three continents- Asia, Europe and Africa meet together, you can see a tiny country, a strip of land on the sea coast. This is Israel- a small, but exclusively special and a unique country. No wonder that this land is called The Holy Land, a land, chosen by God, who gave it to a man, called Abraham- the most righteous person in the world in his era, some 4000 years ago. Now his descendants live there.
For the last 4000 years the land of Israel has seen a lot of wars and peace, a lot of destruction and rebuilding. Many kingdoms and empires have left their traces here. Thus, it has one of the oldest and richest history in the world.
Yes, this land has alluring and fascinating natural wonders- excellent beaches, unique nature phenomenon’s like the lowest spot on the Earth, wilderness, waterfalls, lakes.
- One Week in Israel – A Detailed Itinerary
- How to Explore Israel?
- The Destinations and The Route
- The Transport
- The 7 days Israel Itinerary
- Day 1: Tel Aviv – Caesaria – Haifa
- Day 2: Haifa – Mount Carmel – Megiddo – Nazareth – Tiberias
- Day 3: Tiberias – Sea of Galilee round trip – Tiberias
- Day 4: Tiberias – Beth Shean – Jordan River – Dead Sea (Ein Bokek)
- Day 5: Dead Sea (Ein Bokek) – Massada – Ein Gedi – Qumran – Jerusalem
- Day 6: Jerusalem: Old City and Mount of Olives
- Day 7: Jerusalem: Israel Museum and Yad Vashem
- The 7 Day Israel Itinerary – A Summary
How to Explore Israel?
This 7 day Israel Itinerary guide is for those who are going to explore Israel, experiencing the essence of this country, then digging deeper into its secrets. So, keeping in mind all of the above, obviously you will first need to become more familiar with Israel’s history. Otherwise, you would walk on the various historic sites without an idea, of what actually you are visiting.
Secondly, you’d better become more familiar with the Bible too. When you are in Israel and dive deeper into its secrets, you will discover that in this country the Bible simply stops being “a religious book”. Instead, it turns into an important travel guide. In fact, the most important historical events of Israel are written in the Bible, and explained there in details. Even the events that happen after the Bible had been written, including the events of the modern days; are also in the Bible as prophecies.
Third- look at the map of Israel. The country is very small. If there were no destinations to explore, you could make a circle trip around the whole country by car within one single day. But since this piece of land is so richly filled with interesting places to visit, that if you have to explore all of them deeply in details, maybe even two months would be not enough!
So, let’s suppose that you have only 7 days to visit Israel. Obviously, you would have time only for the more important and essential destinations. Let’s identify these destinations, draw a route to connect them, and determine the best way of transportation for your Epic One Week Trip to Israel.
The Destinations and The Route
The most important place in Israel is its capital- Jerusalem. This is a unique city, known as the holiest place on the Earth, where God had His dwelling among the humans. And there is really a lot to see in this city, plan at least 2 days spending there.
Another important place is Tel Aviv– its beaches, its modern life and its ancient town Jaffa (Yafo). Also include the northern part of Israel- Haifa and Mount Carmel, and the Sea of Galilee.
On the south, the most unique place is Dead Sea and the mysterious sites on its west coast. The Israel’s southernmost point is Eilat , on the Red Sea, which is really beautiful, but there would be no time, for it to be included in this 7 days Israel Itinerary.
After determining this, we can draw the route. It should start from the main entry-exit spot in Israel, the Ben Gurion International Airport, and it should end there. So, the whole route should be a clockwise circle– starting from Tel Aviv, heading north along the Mediterranean coast, exploring the northern part of the country, then heading south along Jordan River to the Dead Sea, and finally reaching Jerusalem, before ending the trip at the airport.
The best mode of transportation is having a rental car. Basically, Israel is a very expensive country, but compared with its standard, rental car prices are relatively cheap. There are many good rent-a-car companies, such as Hertz, Avis, Cal Auto, etc. I personally used cars from Cal Auto. Their service is good and if you have some problems or needs, they are ready to help you.
So, you can rent your car, which is going to be your loyal companion during this Epic One Week Road Trip across Israel; from one of these rental companies. Most of them have offices at Ben Gurion International Airport. You have to present your documents, your driving license and your own credit card for deposit (or the credit card of a member who will travel with you, although not the driver himself).
The 7 days Israel Itinerary
Day 1: Tel Aviv – Caesaria – Haifa
Tel Aviv is a modern city, located at the Mediterranean Sea coast. It was built a little more than a century ago, and now is known as one of the safest and most liberal cities in the world.
If you’ve more than 7 days indoor hand, then you can spend some time in Tel Aviv as well, before starting the below mentioned 7 Day Israel Itinerary. This 48 Hour Tel Aviv Itinerary will definitely help you out in this case.
But it doesn’t mean that you can’t find ancient history here. There is a hill in the southern part of Tel Aviv, with a city, built more than 3000 years ago. It is called Yafo (Jaffa), and has now been “swallowed” by the modern developing Tel Aviv.
Jaffa is known mainly for two notable Biblical events. The first one is dated around 850 BC. God gave Prophet Jonah a mission to go to Nineveh and preach to the locals to repent from their sins. But Jonah refused to go. Instead, he went to Jaffa and from here he found a ship to escape from his mission. Later he was swallowed by a whale and returned again on the way to Nineveh. This event has been memorized by a whale statue at the southern parking lot of Jaffa.
The second event is dated around 40 AD. Apostle Peter lived in the House of Simon the Tanner, which is in Jaffa (and it still stays there). Here he saw a vision from God to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
So, Jaffa can be your first destination in this 7 Day Israel Itinerary. Park the car in its parking lot with the whale statue. Walk around its narrow streets, descend to the seacoast. Then back to the top of the hill and enjoy a stunning view to Tel Aviv and its beaches.
Then you can proceed towards the North. Drive on Rotschild Street, which is the main attractive street in Tel Aviv. Then go out of the city, on the highway to Haifa. After a little more than an hour you will reach your next destination- Caesarea.
Caesarea is a famous Roman city, built on the Mediterranean coast. It has been an important trade port within the Roman Empire. Now its ruins include many ancient buildings, city walls and an Amphitheater.
There are many Biblical events, that happened here, between 28 and 65 AD. Here, at the beach, Jesus asked His Disciples ‘Who is He’, and Peter confesses that ‘He is the Messiah’. It was the city of Cornelius, the Roman centurion who became a Christian. The apostles Peter and Paul spent a few years here, as Paul was imprisoned and protected by the Roman governors Felix and Festus.
You would need at least an hour and a half to explore Caesarea, before proceeding for another hour to Haifa – the third largest city in Israel.
So, you have your afternoon exploration of Haifa. The city is beautifully built between the Mediterranean coast and the northwestern end of Mount Carmel. The main attraction in Haifa, is the Bahaii Garden– a magnificent garden with fountains and a few shrines, established on the northern slope of the mountain.
But there is an ancient history on Mount Carmel. So, before entering the city, you would see a sign, pointing to the Cave of Elijah. It is a small cavern, where Prophet Elijah spent some time, hiding from King Ahab. Now it has been turned into a Jewish prayer’s site.
Then you can go to the centre of Haifa, explore the Bahaii Gardens and finally have dinner in one of the restaurants, located on the boulevard under the gardens, enjoying the night view to this site, marking the end of your first day in the epic 7 Day Israel Itinerary.
Day 2: Haifa – Mount Carmel – Megiddo – Nazareth – Tiberias
The main area of exploring for Day 2 is Mount Carmel and the northern part of Israel, on a section of the route, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Sea of Galilee.
Mount Carmel has a long ancient history. The main historical events are again written in the Bible, as well as some more recent events in time. This is the place of the most active ministry of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who lived here in the middle of 9thcentury BC. So, there are a few points of interest, related with them, of which you will visit the most important- Mukhraqa Monastery.
But first, take the main road, following the summit of Mount Carmel. The first stop on it is Maris Stella Chapel, a remain from the time of the Crusades. The second stop on the way is the University of Haifa, and especially its Museum, where you can see a lot of ancient artifacts, telling stories from thousands of years ago. And you have to be prepared for a longer stop (remember, the museums are some of the most time-consuming destinations to visit).
Then take a stop at the Mukhraqa Monastery (it is on a detour, a few km on a left side road). Now there is a Catholic church there, but the significance of this place, is that this is the scene where Phopher Elijah killed 450 false prophets of Baal around 870 BC.
And along all these stops, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views to the whole northern part of Israel, from the summit of Mount Carmel.
As you descend from the mountain, to its southeast side, you reach a very emblematic place- the ruins of an ancient city – Tel Megiddo. This is the well-known Armageddon, a place of ancient battles, where two kings of Israel have been killed and where we expect the final battle, marking the end of this age.
After Tel Megiddo, cross the plain of Armageddon and make your way to the hills on the other side. There lies Nazareth, known as the hometown of Jesus. Now it is a predominantly Arab Christian city, full of churches, marking various spots considered as the “address where Jesus lived” by various Christian denominations. The most notable of them is the Basilica of Annunciation.
But what is more interesting there, is actually the spots presenting the real life as it has been 2000 years ago. You can see it in “Nazareth Village” and Museum of Ancient Nazareth, to get some idea about the environment where Jesus grew.
And finally, after Nazareth, head out to the west coast of the Sea of Galilee. End the 2nd day of the Epic Israel Road Trip by reaching Tiberias, the base city for the next two days.
Day 3: Tiberias – Sea of Galilee round trip – Tiberias
This day is dedicated to exploring the Sea of Galilee. This lake is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, with altitude between 208 and 215 m below the sea level (depending on the season and other factors). And it is well known for the ministry of Jesus and His disciples between 27 and 30 AD.
There are many historical spots around the lake, where numerous events recorded in the New Testament of the Bible have happened. You literally can read the Gospels of the Bible there and see with your own eyes the scenes of these events.
There is a good road, circumnavigating around the Sea of Galilee, with length around 68 km. But since there are a lot of destinations along this road, you needs one full day to explore it.
Tiberias is your starting point for this round trip. It is the largest city of the lake, predominantly Jewish. It has some ancient wall remains near the centre. But the more interesting places are outside the city.
So, you start driving along the road in clockwise direction. Magdala is the first stop on the route, located on the foot of Mt Arbel. It is a small ancient town, known as the birthplace of Maria Magdalene. You can enter inside, see its ruins, and the stories of Maria as well, exhibited on the main road.
It is your next stop. Ginosar is a small town, mainly known for the Yigal Allon Centre with its museum, where you can see a real, original boat, used in the Sea of Galilee 2000 years ago. It is quite possible that the exhibited boat could be the boat of Jesus and His disciples.
From there you can also take a short cruise on the lake, since there is a wharf behind the museum which is also the main starting point of Sea of Galilee cruises.
Chorazin (Korazim) and the Mount of Beatitudes
“A city set of a mountain can’t be hidden” (Mat 5:14). Jesus says these words on a slope terrace-like plain, now called “Mount of Beatitudes”, pointing to a city, built on the heights above it. This city is Chorazin (Korazim), one of the three cities, condemned by Jesus for their disbelief.
To reach Chorazin, you have to reach the junction after Ginosar and turn on the left road. This road ascends to the heights and Chorazin. Now it is a silent place with the ruins of the ancient city, with great panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee.
Then you turn back and take the left road back to the junction. There is the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus spoke His famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7 chapter). There is also a monastery, built on this place.
Proceed on the right road, following the lake coast. Immediately after the junction you will reach Tabgha. It is another place, with many Bibilical events taking place, such as Jesus feeding the crowds with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, Jesus walks on the water and a few more. There is also an Orthodox church built here, and there is a small waterfall behind it.
Proceed further and you will reach the most important city of the lake- Capernaum. This is actually the main place, where Jesus had spent most of His time at the Sea of Galilee, together with His disciples. You can see the ruins of the Synagogue of Capernaum, where Jesus had spoken His sermons between its pillars.
As you proceed along the road, you will arrive to the northernmost point of the Sea of Galilee. This is where the Jordan River flows into the lake. There is a park, called Jordan River Park, as well as a few small natural reserves. Then there are also the silent ruins of another ancient city- Bethsaida also known as the birthplace of the apostles Peter and Andrew.
Then you turn on the eastern coast of the lake, under the Golan Heights. There is a place in the middle of the eastern coast, now called Kursi. It is the scene of the Biblical story in which Jesus arrive in the local cemetery, meets an obsessed by demon’s man, casts out these demons and sends them into a herd of pigs.
There is no cemetery now there, but there is a camping site, where many locals enjoy their holidays, playing on the stony beach, or doing activities like picnic, kite surfing or wind surfing.
Finally, you reach the southern end of the lake, where Jordan River outflows to the south. Then you head back to Tiberias and spend your second night there, before heading on to the south.
Day 4: Tiberias – Beth Shean – Jordan River – Dead Sea (Ein Bokek)
It’s time to go to the south of Israel. You leave Tiberias and are back along the road beside the Sea of Galilee’s coast until its southern point at Jordan River outflow spot. From there you head on to the road towards Jerusalem. This road follows Jordan river, gradually descending lower than the Sea of Galilee and finally reaching Dead Sea, the lowest point on the dry surface of the Earth.
The road enters the West Bank (Palestinian Autonomy). But before that, you should stop in Beth Shean– a large ancient city, reaching its bloom during the time of the Kings Saul, David and Solomon, and then during the Roman era. Here the Philistines defeated the army of Israel. King Saul was killed and his body was hung on Beth Shean’s city walls.
Jordan River Baptism Site
After Beth Shean, you enter the Palestinian territories. Since you most probably would drive a car with Israeli number, don’t turn away of the road. As we all know, there is a tension between the Palestinians and Jews in Israel, and there are some cases where the Palestinians throw stones on Israeli cars. In fact, there are signs, marking the areas restricted for Jews.
The border between Israel and Jordan runs along the Jordan River. It is the lowest flowing river on the Earth. Its slow current gradually descends to 430 m altitude below the sea level, where it flows into the Dead Sea.
Proceeding southward, finally you will reach the Jordan River Baptism Site. 2000 years ago, here John the Baptist made his baptism of the Jews, preparing them to meet their Messiah. The is actually arranged on both sides of the river, in two neighboring countries. From the Israeli side, you can see the tourists in the Jordanian side, only a few meters in front of you. Some visitors “try” baptism as a “tourist attraction”, but others perform a real baptism, following their faith. Don’t try to cross the river- it may be tempting but it is crossing a border, and the guards from both sides will stop you.
Dead Sea and Ein Bokek
There on you make your way to lowest point of your trip- the coast of the Dead Sea. It is not only the lowest lake on the Earth, but also one of the saltiest. There is no life in the sea (with exception of some bacteria).
The water is pure and transparent, but when you walk in it, you can feel it thicker than the normal water- a little like walking in oil. You can lie on the water, reading a newspaper (a favorite pose of the visitors of the Dead Sea). Actually, you can’t play too long there- the sensitive parts of your skin (lips, genitals, wounds) would soon start stinging due to the salinity.
Always protect your eyes! If a drop of Dead Sea water enters your eyes, the pain is horrible and can lasts for hours!
The best place to enjoy Dead Sea is Ein Bokek, a nice resort at one of Dead Sea beaches. There you can spend your afternoon, relaxing and enjoying the lowest place on the Earth. Then you can spend the night in any of the nearby hotels.
Day 5: Dead Sea (Ein Bokek) – Massada – Ein Gedi – Qumran – Jerusalem
This day you will reach Jerusalem- the most important destination of your trip. But before that visit the three main sites along the Dead Sea coast: Masada, Ein Gedi and Qumran.
It is an ancient fortress, built by Herod the Great for one of his palaces. Later, during the Roman conquest after the First Jewish War with the Romans, its 960 defenders commit suicide. Located on a high rocky plateau over the Dead Sea, reaching it is challenging, but totally worth it. You can reach Masada, by driving through the town of Arad all the way to the western side of fortress, and then a short walk 15-20 mins. Or you can use the cable car, which is more expensive, but also exciting.
The next stop on your way to Jerusalem is the Ein Gedi Natural Reserve. It is a small mountain gorge, known for its waterfalls, which are really a pleasure if you are there in the hot summer days. This place is known as a scenery of the story from the Bible, in which King Soul persecuted the young King David. Saul hides in one of Ein Gedi’s coves and David silently approached him, cut a part of his mantle, then declares in front of him that he could kill him, but instead he showed mercy.
This is the last site along the Dead Sea coast in your 7 Day Israel Itinerary. The place is known as an ancient village of a secret community, called Essenes, to which probably John the Baptist belonged. And the most important facts of it, is the discovery of many original manuscripts of the Old Testament, hidden there in secret for 20 centuries. Now these manuscripts are exposed and under protection in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
After Qumran, you turn left on the highway towards Jerusalem. It gradually ascends to more than 600 m above the sea level and reaches the Holy City of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem – The Holy City will be your base for the next two days of your Epic One Week Trip To Israel, and if you are wondering where to stay, then this exhaustive list featuring the Best Jerusalem Hotels and Apartments is your best resource.
Day 6: Jerusalem: Old City and Mount of Olives
Jerusalem is one of the most ancient cities on the planet. It is a special place, chosen by God to dwell among His people on the Earth. It has been a capital of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Then it was claimed by many nations, who have brought culture traces, and a lot of blooming and destruction. And this proceeds until now. The facts and the history behind it need a whole thick encyclopedia to be explained, but still the best way to experience all that Jerusalem is, is to visit it by yourself and explore its secrets.
The main place of Jerusalem, which maybe the most important spot on the Earth, is its Old City. It is a good idea to spend one full day there, including the neighbouring Mount of Olives.
The Old City of Jerusalem is walled by a fortress wall, built 4 centuries ago by the Ottoman Turks. There are a lot of old houses and other buildings inside, shared in the four quarters- Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian. And then, there is another walled fortress inside, rectangle shaped. This is the Temple Mount, which is the core, the heart of Jerusalem- the place of the House of God.
The best way to start this exciting part of your Epic One Week Trip to Israel, is to start from the southern Dung Gate. One of the first things that you will see there, on your right side, is the Western (Wailing) Wall, of the Temple Mount. The wall has three levels of stones. The upper layer stones are smallest and newest, built by the Ottomans. The middle layer stones are mid-sized, built by the Arabs. And the lowest layer stones are largest, built in the Roman times, during the Second Temple era.
Now the Western Wall is the closest spot to the place where the House of God existed, and the closest place where the Jews are allowed to worship God and pray. The square in front of the Wall is separated into male and female area.
And there is also an important place of interest at the southern side of Temple Mount. It is the Davidson Center archaeological site, where you can literally travel in time through many ages, seeing ruins from different points on the Jerusalem timeline. And all this with a magnificent view to the Mount of Olives.
The Temple Mount, of course, is a must see. This is the place of the First Temple (built by King Solomon around 990 BC, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC) and the Second Temple (built by Zerubabel in 516 BC and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD). Now as we know it is occupied by the Islam, and on the place of the House of God are built two Islamic buildings- the Dome of Rock (which now has become one of the landmarks of Jerusalem, with its golden dome) and Al Aqsa mosque. The Muslims are allowed to go there free, everywhere, at any time. But the non-Muslim visitors, especially Jews, can only go to the square around the two buildings, and only in certain hours in the morning and afternoon.
In addition, you can also book a tour for the Tunnels of the Western Wall– an amazing underground experience, leading you through various layers of time and history.
Then you can make your way out of the Old City through the Lion Gate on the eastern side of the city wall and walk to the Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives. This is the place where Jesus was caught and brought to His crucifixion. This is the place where He ascended to the Heaven. And this is the place where His second return in the future, is expected .
Then head back to the Old City and take a walk on the street, signed as “Via Dolorosa”. Traditionally, it is considered that this is the road that Jesus walked to Golgotha. And “Via Dolorosa” guides you to the traditional place of Golgotha and His tomb, where now is the Church of Holy Sepulcre.
However, it is not corresponding with the Biblical explanation of this events, since it is written that both Golgotha and the Tomb of Jesus are outside of the city. And indeed, if you go to the north, and go out through Damascus Gate, you will reach a small garden, called Garden Tomb. There is an empty tomb, exactly matching the Biblical explanation.
Another place worth visiting in the Old City is the Tower of David. It is a fortress with a tower, built by the Ottoman Turks on the place where, King David’s palace had been built, in Mount Zion (Mount Zion is related to the Kingdom of Israel, and Mount Moriah is the Temple Mount, however, don’t imagine “mountains”, but just a slightly high places). Now there is a museum, presenting the history of Jerusalem.
Day 7: Jerusalem: Israel Museum and Yad Vashem
The best thing to do during your last day of your Epic 7 Day Trip To Israel, is to explore the western part of Jerusalem. The center is nice, lively, a mix of modern and old buildings. There are a lot of malls, restaurants, cafes and shops.
But the best thing to do, is to visit the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem. Israel Museum is a very important place, where you can explore the history of Israel deeply in details, making an important conclusion of what you have seen in the previous days. There you can also see the Shrine of the Book, and the model of the ancient Jerusalem from the time of King Herod. Keep at least 4-5 hours to explore this museum, as there are so many things to see inside!
And finally- Yad Vashem. Maybe this is not the best place to visit as your last destination, but is really a must. The most important part of Yad Vashem complex is the Holocaust Museum, where you can see everything in details of what happened from 1933 to 1945, and what caused it. Be prepared- the walk through this museum is like a walk through a nightmare! You will see so much pain and suffering, and it is not just a “horror story”, it happened in reality!
And this marks the end of your 7 Day Israel Itinerary. Make your way back to the Ben Gurion International Airport, which is not far from Jerusalem, and drop your rental car. And if you really follow the whole route of this itinerary, diving into the details of everything, this trip will give you an unforgettable experience. And surely, this Epic One Week Trip to Israel and the memorable experiences can really change your life.
If you enjoyed reading this, then you might also find this 24 Hour Layover Guide In Istanbul, extremely helpful.
The 7 Day Israel Itinerary – A Summary
Day 1 – Tel Aviv – Caesaria – Haifa
Day 2 – Haifa – Mount Carmel – Megiddo – Nazareth – Tiberias
Day 3 – Tiberias – Sea of Galilee Round trip
Day 4 – Tiberias – Beth Shean – Jordan River – Dead Sea (Ein Bokek)
Day 5 – Dead Sea (Ein Bokek) – Massada – Ein Gedi – Qumran – Jerusalem
Day 6 – Jerusalem: Old City and Mount of Olives
Day 7 – Jerusalem: Israel Museum and Yad Vashem
The Epic One Week Trip To Israel ends with loads of memories. For an even more exhaustive guide on Israel, check this out.
No matter what the destination is, a trip seems rather incomplete without getting a souvenir back home! If you can relate to this then this detailed guide about 15 unique Souvenirs to buy from Israel, has got everything you might need.
Also, if you’ve got time in your hand, and want to explore another nearby nation, such as Egypt, then head over to this Perfect DIY Egypt Itinerary.
Already been to Israel? – We can’t wait to hear your stories and feedback in the comments.
KRASEN JELYAZKOV is a traveler from Bulgaria. He has visited countries in the Balkans, Middle East, Middle Asia, East and Southeast Asia. Currently he is living in China with his wife and travel mate Ying Ying and his children, and currently working as an English teacher. This year they started a new travel blog, called Journey beyond the Horizon. The main idea of the blog is to share and give valuable information about the geographical and historical side of destinations, lands, and also to provide travel tips, related with exploratory type of travel.