Welcome to Israel! Arrive Ben Gurion Airport; please exit the aircraft and continue to Passport Control. Just before entering Passport Control, you will be met by our representative ("SMILE" Service). You will then be assisted through all the required formalities including luggage claim; then you will be accompanied to the awaiting vehicle for transfer to your hotel on the Mediterranean shore in vibrant Tel Aviv. (Kindly note, there is also a SMILE counter in the Baggage Claim area in the unlikely event that you did not locate our representative at the designated meeting point). Balance of the day and evening at leisure in the “city that never sleeps”.
Kindly Note: Upon entering Israel, please be sure to retain the stamped separate slip that is issued at Israeli Passport Control. This form indicates whether you are Israeli or a foreigner according to your passport (Israeli passport hotels, even with dual citizenships are required to pay 17% Vat for hotels, car rentals and other services). As a foreigner, the slip allows for your exemption from this VAT payment as long as it is presented as required.
Today, a great adventure! You will be picked up from your hotel at 8:30 A.M. Spend the morning digging and excavating at the Tel Maresha Dig at Beit Guvrin National Park (weather permitting). Continue to the 4,000-year-old port city of Jaffa. Explore the magnificently reconstructed Artists’ Quarter with its unique art galleries. Afterwards, on to Tel Aviv’s bustling Carmel Market and lively Nachlat Benjamin Street with its delightful craft stalls. Adjacent is Sheinkin Street one of the most popular streets in Tel Aviv, for the trendiest boutiques or just some coffee and people watching—definitely the place to be on Friday afternoon! Tonight, Get Together Dinner.
Morning walking tour through the city’s well-known streets including Dizengoff Square ending at Ben Gurion House, former residence of the First Prime Minister.
Early afternoon Optional visit to Machon Ayalon, the fascinating underground Ammunitions Factory (highly recommended and must be pre-booked; $120 per person including roundtrip transfers, minimum 2 persons required). Remainder of the day at leisure to enjoy all of the delights of this Mediterranean paradise. Tel Aviv’s museums and restaurants are world-class. Don’t miss Tel Aviv’s hip port neighborhood, with its yachts, eateries and café-filled boardwalk.
Depart Tel Aviv. Drive to the extraordinary Israeli Museum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center chronicling the life of the late Prime Minister and the development of the State of Israel. Continue to ancient Caesarea; explore the Roman and Crusader ruins including the impressive 2,000-year-old theater (still in use!) and aqueduct. Arrive in Nazareth, the sacred town where Jesus spent part of his youth; visit the Church and view Mary’s Well. On to the sparkling port city of Haifa; check into your hotel atop Mt. Carmel. Evening: Enjoy Dinner and a special cultural presentation (subject to min. 10 participants).
NOTE: Visit to Nazareth requires modest dress. Shorts must be knee length and not shorter (for men and women); no sleeveless shirts or blouses.
View the golden-domed Baha’i Shrine and visit the breathtaking “hanging gardens,” – a UNESCO World Heritage site. Drive along the coast to Rosh Hanikra; descend by cable car to see the magnificent underwater grottoes. Continue through the picturesque seaside town of Nahariya to the timeless Crusader city of Acre; walk through the subterranean city and bazaars that recall the colorful Middle Ages. Then, to Safed, one of Judaism’s holiest cities, where the Kabbalah was developed in the 16th-century; visit the ancient synagogues and the charming Artists’ Quarter. Return to your hotel. The balance of the evening is free at leisure to enjoy a stroll under the Carmel skies and the glow of this beautiful port city.
NOTE: Visit to Safed requires modest dress. Shorts must be knee length and not shorter (for men and women); no sleeveless shirts or blouses.
We’ll depart Haifa driving first to Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, to see the fantastic ruins of the ancient synagogue dating back to the 5th-century. Ascend the strategic Golan Heights and learn about the 20th century battles that protected Israel’s future. On to Katzrin, capital of the Golan and to the Monument of the 7th Brigade. It is here, in the magnificent strip of the Golan that has become known for producing the finest wines in the world, that we will enjoy a tour of the wine making process as well as sample some of the Golan’s tastiest wines. Continue for a visit to a former Syrian army bunker at Kibbutz Kfar Charuv, settled by Americans and Israelis together; view of the fertile valleys below as you tour the kibbutz and enjoy a late lunch in the communal dining room. Then drive south and rise through the mountains to “golden” Jerusalem, stopping first for a blessing and a toast to our arrival in the eternal city. Overnight in Israel’s capital.
NOTE: Visit to Capernaum requires modest dress. Shorts must be knee length and not shorter (for men and women); no sleeveless shirts or blouses.
Drive to Hadassah Medical Center to see the sublime Chagall Windows. On to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust, with its Children’s Pavilion and Avenue of the Righteous. Then, to Mount Herzl to pay respects to Israel’s founders and heroes. Pass the post-modern Supreme Court and the Knesset (Parliament) en route to the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Time to walk through the Israel Museum and the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden; see the Scale Model of ancient Jerusalem. Evening: Night Tour of illuminated Jerusalem followed by a Restaurant Dinner and the “Night Spectacular” Sound & Light Show at the Citadel Museum (schedule permitting) accompanied by the Isram Israel Tour Manager. The walls of the Citadel serve as a stage for a nighttime show which is a celebration of sight and sound. Amidst the archaeological remains in the Citadel's courtyard and to the sound of original music, the story of Jerusalem unfolds through giant, breathtaking, virtual reality images using spectacular laser technology. (Show runtime: 45 minutes.)
Please note: This evening’s events may be rescheduled for Thursday night due to the Sound & Light Show altering their schedule.
Drive to Mt. Zion to visit the traditional Tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper. Enter the Old City to the restored Jewish Quarter; walk along the Cardo, the colonnaded main street of Byzantine Jerusalem. Walk to the Western Wall, last remnant of the Second Temple. View the Dome of the Rock. Proceed through the extraordinary Hasmonean Tunnel (tunnel schedule permitting) or tour the Herodian Mansions, a completely excavated residential quarter from 2000 years ago. Follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; stroll through the exotic bazaars with their wondrous aromas. End today with a visit to the fabulous Friends of Zion Heritage Center celebrating the Christian heroes who have contributed to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The cutting-edge technology is amazing. Or, an optional visit to Bethlehem may be arranged. A free night tonight. The shops are open late as it’s the start of the Israeli weekend. Enjoy the many eateries along the outdoor Mamilla Mall, Ben Yehuda Street, or the “Tachana”.
NOTE: Visit to the Old City and Bethlehem requires modest dress. Shorts must be knee length and not shorter (for men and women); no sleeveless shirts or blouses.
Descend through the Judean desert to the Dead Sea, lowest point on Planet Earth. Ascend Masada by cable car and see this last stronghold of the Zealots in their struggle against the Romans. Visit the excavations, Herod the Great’s palace, synagogue and bathhouse. Then, opportunity to enjoy an “unsinkable” swim in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea. Drive via the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, on your return to Jerusalem. We’ll stop at the Western Wall, beautifully illuminated on this Sabbath eve before arriving to the hotel (time permitting). Tonight, enjoy the traditional Friday dinner together.
Enjoy a full day at leisure for relaxation and on your own exploration. For those still craving to see and do as much as possible, your tour manager will provide tickets to the Museum of the History of Jerusalem in the Old City - definitely worth a visit. Overnight in Jerusalem.
Transfer to the Airport for your international departure flight; special assistance is provided for check-in service.