First Time to Israel: A Sample Itinerary

Marie-Eve Vallieres By Marie-Eve Vallieres / 17 June 2017

First Time to Israel: A Sample Itinerary

Marie-Eve Vallieres By Marie-Eve Vallieres

Israel leaves no one indifferent. One of the most historically meaningful and sacred places in the world, the small country welcomes every year millions of pilgrims and visitors alike each attracted by the fascinating heritage, be it religious, culinary, geographic or even oenological.

From dynamic Tel Aviv to controversial Jerusalem, zooming through bucolic Galilee and floating in the remarkable Dead Sea, here are a few of the simply-can’t-miss things to do in Israel and the holy land, whatever the purpose of your trip.

It should be noted, at this point, that Transat does offer multi-city group tours and packages.

The Most Iconic Things To Do In Israel

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Jerusalem

Very few places on this planet can claim to be this masterful at combining history and modernity. A thrice saint city, Jerusalem is rich in contrasts and nuances; it ought to be discovered at a leisurely pace in order to take it all in, through the succession of mazes and the overload of information. As the holy land of three major monotheistic religions, did you know, for instance, that a Muslim family holds the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most sacred landmarks in Christianity, Jerusalem holds an invaluable ensemble of relics and experiences, both sensorial and spiritual.

A few mandatory stops: the Western Wall, a guided visit of Mahane Yehuda Market with Dado, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Mount of Olives, Mount Sion, the light and sound show over at Tower of David, walking through the souks, Dome of the Rock, and of course, a traditional Israeli lunch while taking in the view of Jerusalem from Panoramic Golden City‘s rooftop terrace.

Fortress of Masada, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Masada

Located atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert, Masada is a gigantic fortress dating back to the 1st century AD. A veritable feat of engineering and architecture, the complex still holds, to this day, the remains of a Roman camp that once stood there as well as a legendary synagogue.

Avid hikers will undoubtedly opt for the Snake Trail at sunrise while leisurely travellers will prefer a smooth ride in the cable car, which grants jaw-dropping views of the whole region.

 

The Dead Sea, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Dead Sea

It would be unthinkable to make it all the way to Israel and skip a floating dip in the Dead Sea! Located a whopping 429 metres below sea level, this salted lake (not technically a sea) is, in fact, the lowest place on the planet. High concentration of salts and minerals make the Dead Sea’s water highly medicinal, with proven properties for the nervous and glandular systems.

Travel tip: purchase sturdy water shoes or sandals before your trip as the seabed is made of massive and potentially lacerating salt blocks, making it difficult to move around barefoot.

Rosh HaNikra, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Rosh HaNikra

At the northern tiptop of Israel, literally on the Lebanese border, is a wildly fascinating geologic formation created by the relentless waves of the Mediterranean Sea against the soft white chalk cliffs. Rosh HaNikra welcomes visitors in its network of naturally-made passageways and grottoes for a visit rhythmed by the sound of the sea’s wrath.

 

The fortified city of Acre in Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Acre

The historic fortified city, part of the UNESCO World Heritage, profits from the mindboggling heritage left by the multiple civilisations that succeeded one another over the course of two millennia, ever since Antiquity. Acre, as we see it today, dates from the Ottoman era with towering mosques and military citadel; but the veritable crown jewel of the old city is actually a colossal 900 years old back when the crusades made Acre a crucial administrative centre due to its strategic location. The monastic military order of the Knights Templars had massive structures erected all over town including a puzzling, 350-metres long tunnel connecting the citadel to the port.

Amphorae Wines, Western Galilee, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Western Galilee

The Western Galilee area of Israel is famous for its idyllic seaside villages but also for its splendid and surprising wines. The fertile, mountainous region in northwestern Israel are home to almost Tuscanesque-looking wineries where wine is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. Amphorae Winery’s blanc de blanc is absolutely worth the detour, however long.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Photo credit: Marie-Eve Vallières

Tel Aviv

The perfect place to get acquainted with Israel! With its Barcelona-esque festive atmosphere and its unmistakably Mediterranean feel, Tel Aviv is an enigmatic city with a multitude of layers which, by sheer definition, will appeal to every kind of traveller. Fundamentally epicurean, the metropolis lives a hundred miles an hour and is breathes creativity, be it for web-based start-ups to concept boutiques. The energy, here, is vivifying. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see Telavivians sipping coffee on a leafy terrasse at 2 in the afternoon or suit-clad businessmen on a bar crawl on a Tuesday evening; that’s just the Tel Aviv way.

The history of old town Jaffa, one of the most ancient ports of the eastern Mediterranean coast, is absolutely fascinating and perfectly embodies the mix of cultures Israel is so notorious for. Occidental and Oriental cultures have been gathering and interacting with each other for over three millennia around these parts. Other things that shouldn’t be missed: Sarona market and the Bauhaus architectural ensemble, one of Tel Aviv’s artistic claims to fame. The former manufactures along the seaboard turned into hip boutique hotels and trendy restaurants, including chic rooftop drinks at the legendary Carlton Hotel. A nightlife-themed guided tour of Tel Aviv with stops at the Sputnik Bar or the surprising Allenby night market.

Fly to Israel on the wings of Transat between June and October!

All photo credits: Marie-Eve Vallières

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

You might also like

Discoveries

12 Most Beautiful UNESCO Sites in Europe

By Marie-Eve Vallieres

As the birthplace of many great civilisations and as the continent that colonised the New World and beyond, it goes without saying that Europe is...

#Belgium, #Croatia, #CzechRepublic, #Discoveries, #England, #Europe, #France, #Greece, #Hungary, #Ireland, #Italy, #Netherlands, #Spain

Arts and culture Discoveries

7 Things You May Not Know About the Pyramids of the World

By Marie-Julie Gagnon

It's not only in Egypt that pyramids spark curiosity. In Latin America, these mysterious constructions attract travellers from around the world. Here are some...

#Artsandculture, #Artsetculture, #Discoveries, #Mexico, #South

Activities Tips and tricks

Picture This: Tips on Snapping Amazing Vacation Photos

Our photographer reveals tips on snapping amazing vacation photos. Find the light The best times to catch good light is just after sunrise and before...

#Atmosphere, #TipsandTricks

Trending

Quiz: What Type of Traveller Are You?

Canadians listen to them every morning on the hit radio show The Roz & Mocha Show. But you know what they say: you don’t...

#Atmosphere, #Trending

Activities Arts and culture Discoveries

10 Reasons Why Travelling Makes Us Happy

By Marie-Julie Gagnon

There’s no doubt in our minds that travelling is good for our morale. Going on vacation keeps a smile on our face, before, during...

#Activities, #Artsandculture, #Discoveries

Travel Might Be on Pause, but Dreams Are Not

We know that it’s difficult to plan a trip at this time, not knowing how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve. However, nothing can...