Encounter a land of extraordinary beauty and belief on this exceptional 12-day small group journey. Explore vibrant Tel Aviv, ancient Jaffa, and the Ein Hod artists’ village. Overnight on a kibbutz’s grounds; visit a winery. See storied sites: the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Nazareth. With five nights at the legendary King David Jerusalem Hotel, tour Jerusalem extensively. Enjoy an ethnic cooking class. On a Dead Sea excursion, explore the Qumran Caves and Masada’s ruins. Discover stunning Petra and Amman with an optional 5-day/4-night post-tour extension.
Day 1: Depart U.S. for Tel Aviv, Israel
Day 2: Arrive Tel Aviv We arrive today and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned and are at leisure to explore or relax as we wish.
Day 3: Tel Aviv Today we encounter the vibrant modern city of Tel Aviv, Israel’s arts and culture capital. Our tour features independence Hall, where the state of Israel was declared in 1948; the “White City” district of distinctive Bauhaus architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and the recently renovated neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. We end the day visiting the nearby ancient port of Jaffa. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel. B,L,D
Day 4: Tel Aviv/Upper Galilee We travel north along the coast today to Caesarea to see the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater and harbor. We continue on to the artists’ village of Ein Hod, set amidst olive groves at the foot of Mt. Carmel overlooking the sea. Here we have the opportunity to visit the homes of some local artists and tour their workshops. Then we travel through the hills of Galilee to our hotel on the grounds of a kibbutz adjacent to a national park. Later we visit a working farm. B,D
Day 5: Mount Bental/Tiberias Today begins with a special tour of the kibbutz, followed by a visit to Mount Bental in the Golan Heights for a panoramic view of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. After lunch together, we enjoy a tour and tasting at a local winery. Next: the ruins of Capernaum, where Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath; Tabgha, site of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes; and Kibbutz Ginosar, where we see the “Jesus Boat” carbon dated to 100 BCE. We travel on to Tiberias and our historic hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Important in both Judaism and Christianity, this ancient city has attracted visitors, settlers, and invaders for more than two millennia. B,L,D
Day 6: Tiberias/Nazareth This morning we visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Then the New Testament comes to life as we travel to Jesus’ boyhood home of Nazareth, now a center of Christian pilgrimage. Here we visit the Church of the Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East and where the archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. We enjoy lunch at a family-run dairy farm then continue to Safed, center of Jewish mysticism, home to many artists, and where we stroll the medieval streets. We visit some of the galleries here before returning to our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,L,D
Day 7: Tiberias/Jerusalem En route to Jerusalem today, we stop to tour the archaeological site of Beit Shean, where ongoing excavations have revealed the ruins of numerous cities dating as far back as the 4th century BCE. Then we travel on to Jerusalem, the 3,000-year-old “City of Gold,” sacred to the world’s three major monotheist religions. We get our first look of this holiest of places from a panoramic lookout on Mt. Scopus. After lunch at a local restaurant, we check into our hotel and have the rest of the afternoon at leisure. We dine tonight at our hotel. B,L,D
Day 8: Jerusalem/Masada/Dead Sea Today we travel to the shores of the Dead Sea to explore the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956. We continue on to the ruins at Masada, the celebrated mountain stronghold (and UNESCO site) where outnumbered Jews held out against a three-year Roman siege in the first century CE then committed suicide rather than surrender. We ascend the mountain fortress by cable car to tour the ruins, which overlook the desert and the Dead Sea. Then we have the opportunity to swim in the Dead Sea at a hotel beach with indoor and outdoor pools before lunch together at the hotel. We return to Jerusalem this afternoon. B,L
Day 9: Jerusalem We start today’s touring with a visit to the Haas Promenade overlooking Jerusalem for panoramic views of the city before we continue to Jerusalem’s Old City for a tour of the excavated tunnels beneath the Western Wall. Then we visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditional site of Golgotha where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried. This afternoon, we get acquainted with the New City, dating from the late 19th century. We absorb some of the flavor of this multicultural enclave at the bustling outdoor market of Machane Yehuda (“Shuk”), encountering local residents as they shop for fruit, vegetables, meat, and more. The remainder of the day is then free to explore Jerusalem independently. B
Day 10: Jerusalem Our day begins with a tour of haunting Yad Vashem, Israel’s living memorial to the Holocaust set on a 45-acre site on the Mount of Remembrance. Through exhibits featuring artifacts, photos, videos, documents, and more, the museum traces the history and chronology of the Holocaust. Then we travel to the Judean Hills to the picturesque village of Ein Karem, where we enjoy an ethnic cooking class followed by lunch served with local Israeli wines. We return to Jerusalem where the remainder of the afternoon is free to explore as we wish – or we may choose to join in a complimentary optional excursion to Bethlehem. B,L
Day 11: Jerusalem/Old City We return to the Old City today, starting at the original settlement of the City of David, dating to at least the Middle Bronze Age of 1800 to 1550 BCE. Our guide gives us an in-depth account of Jerusalem’s role throughout history before we embark on a walking tour through the Old City: the Jewish Quarter; the ancient Cardo marketplace still in use today; and the Western Wall, sacred to Jews as the last remaining trace of the wall that enclosed and supported the Second Temple on the Temple Mount. We spend the afternoon at the Israel Museum, the nation’s leading cultural institution, whose treasures include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Shrine of the Book, a unique sculpture garden, and a scale model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple era. Tonight, we celebrate our Israel adventure over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Day 12: Depart Tel Aviv for U.S. Very early this morning we transfer by motorcoach to Tel Aviv for our connecting flights to the United States. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven or cobblestone streets and at sites of ancient ruins. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included