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A trip to Israel offers visitors a unique blend of religious sites, ancient heritage and cosmopolitan cities. From the iconic Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich waters and Masada’s cliff-top fortress, there are many places to visit in Israel. Vibrant Tel Aviv adds another layer to this adventure, mixing sparkling beaches, world-class museums and enticing cuisine. Whether you are a history buff, a beach lover, or a foodie, a trip to Israel promises an extraordinary adventure.

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1. Jerusalem

Jerusalem at the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock at dusk in the old city.
The ancient city of Jerusalem comes to life at dusk as the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock shine under the setting sun.

A visit to Israel would be incomplete without exploring Jerusalem, the historical capital revered as a holy site by three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Whether you want to touch the enormous stone blocks of the Western Wall or walk where Jesus carried the cross along the Via Dolorosa, there is much to discover in this holy city. With some of history's most sacred sites around every corner, Jerusalem is one of the top places to visit in Israel.

Quick tip: Dress modestly when visiting religious sites like the Western Wall or churches in Jerusalem.

Highlights:

  • Experience the profound spirituality at the Western Wall, a sacred site for Jewish prayers and a symbol of resilience.
  • Admire the stunning Islamic architecture of the Dome of the Rock, situated on the Temple Mount, and explore the significance of this holy site.
  • Take in the panoramic views of the city from the Mount of Olives and explore the sites such as the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations.
  • Explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be the site of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

2. Tel Aviv

Views of waterfront and beaches of Tel Aviv during summer afternoon.
Experience the vibrant energy of Tel Aviv in the summertime, with endless sunshine, sandy beaches, delicious cuisine and lively nightlife.

Tel Aviv lures visitors with its modern energy and Mediterranean charm. Renowned for its stunning beaches, dynamic nightlife and innovative culinary scene, the city stands in contrast to the ancient charm of Jerusalem. The city’s Bauhaus architecture, concentrated in the White City, adds an artistic touch to the urban landscape. From the bustling Carmel Market to the relaxing Hilton Beach, there is something for everyone making this place one of the best places to visit in Israel.

Distance from Jerusalem: Approximately 70 kilometers

Quick tip: Pack a reusable water bottle and sunscreen if you are planning a beach visit in Tel Aviv.

Highlights:

  • Explore Jaffa Old City and wander through the ancient port, narrow alleyways and art galleries.
  • Relax on the pristine sandy shores of Gordon Beach or Frishman Beach, enjoying the sun-drenched atmosphere and lively beach culture.
  • Take a leisurely walk through the UNESCO-listed White City, marveling at the unique Bauhaus architecture that defines Tel Aviv’s urban landscape.
  • Dive into Tel Aviv’s buzzing nightlife, exploring numerous bars, clubs and restaurants that come alive after dark.

3. Bethlehem

Saint Hieronymous statue at the Church of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Immerse yourself in history as you visit the Church of the Nativity, which is considered the birthplace of Jesus Christ and features historic architecture and religious significance.

Nestled in the West Bank, this ancient city is celebrated as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The star attraction is the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the foremost religious places to visit in Israel. Beyond religious landmarks, a trip to Bethlehem also offers a glimpse into Palestinian culture and hospitality. Wander through Manger Square, where the Christmas spirit is perennial, and explore the bustling markets. With its sacred sites and cultural depth, Bethlehem stands as a compelling destination for those seeking profound religious experiences in the heart of the Holy Land.

Distance from Jerusalem: 9.5 kilometers

Quick tip: Opt for budget-friendly buses or shared taxis from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Immerse yourself in an authentic local experience by interacting with residents.

Highlights:

  • Immerse yourself in history as you explore the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, featuring ancient architecture and religious significance.
  • Wander through Manger Square, surrounded by iconic landmarks like the Church of Nativity, and the Mosque of Omar.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along Bethlehem Star Street, a historic and charming route adorned with traditional architecture, shops and cafes.

4. Dead Sea Region

A man smiling while floating in the Dead Sea in Israel.
Dive into the extraordinary experience of floating effortlessly in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea during your magical journey through Israel.

The Dead Sea is a mesmerizing saltwater lake that allows visitors to effortlessly float on its buoyant waters attributed to its high salinity. Renowned for its mineral-rich mud, the region offers rejuvenating spa experiences and a chance to indulge in the extraordinary sensation of weightlessness. The striking landscapes surrounding the sea, with jagged mountains and barren shores, create a surreal backdrop. This destination stands out not only for its natural beauty.

Distance from Jerusalem: Approximately 40 kilometers

Quick tip: The high salt concentration can dehydrate, so pre-hydrating is crucial. Avoid submerging your face in the water to prevent discomfort, and use the freshwater showers provided after your float.

Highlights:

  • Experience the surreal sensation of effortlessly floating on the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, a must-do activity for visitors.
  • Embark on a journey to Masada National Park, exploring the ancient fortress perched on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. The site offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into the region's rich historical past.
  • Rejuvenate your skin by indulging in a therapeutic mud bath along the shores of the Dead Sea.

5. Nazareth

Basilica of the annunciation in Nazareth during cloudy day in Israel.
Experience the magic at Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation, a spiritual trip you'll never forget.

The cradle of Christianity, Nazareth beckons visitors with its sacred allure and historical significance. Believed to be the hometown of Jesus, this city is steeped in religious history, making it one of the holy places in Israel. Explore key biblical sites, such as the Church of St. Joseph and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Nazareth invites pilgrims and travelers to explore the roots of Christianity.

Distance from Jerusalem: 130 kilometers

Quick tip: When traveling to Nazareth, explore the local markets for authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. Visit the bustling Nazareth Souk for a taste of traditional dishes and unique spices. 

Highlights:

  • Explore the Basilica of the Annunciation, one of the most important Christian sites, believed to be the site where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive Jesus. The basilica is known for its impressive architecture and religious artworks.
  • Wander through the bustling Old City Market (Suq), where narrow alleys are lined with shops selling spices, handicrafts and traditional goods.
  • Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from the Mount of Precipice, a vantage point offering a scenic backdrop of Nazareth and the surrounding countryside.

6. Haifa

Shrine of the Bab and lower terraces at the Bahai World Center in Haifa.

Experience the magic of the Bahai Garden in winter, when calm and natural beauty combine in perfect harmony.

Haifa, a coastal gem of Israel, enchants visitors with its picturesque landscapes and cultural flair. Dominated by the immaculate Baha’i Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site, a trip to Haifa offers breathtaking views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The city's diverse religious sites, including the Stella Maris Monastery and the Cave of Elijah, add a spiritual dimension to its allure. Haifa's modernity is evident in the iconic Bahá'í Temple and the high-tech industry hub. From the vibrant street life to the tranquil beauty of the gardens, Haifa stands out as a captivating destination that seamlessly blends natural splendor with cultural richness along the shores of the Mediterranean.

Distance from Jerusalem: Approximately 80 kilometers

Quick tip: Hop on the "Carmelit" subway for quick, scenic journeys through the city's hills from downtown to Carmel Center.

Highlights:

  • Immerse yourself in the meticulously landscaped Bahá'í Gardens on Mount Carmel. Discover the spiritual significance of the site while enjoying panoramic views of Haifa.
  • Stroll through the charming German Colony, marveling at well-preserved German Templar architecture. Explore vibrant streets, boutique shops and delightful cafes.
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Haifa Port and Promenade, taking in picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea. Relax in the maritime atmosphere, lined with cafes and shops, offering a perfect blend of relaxation and scenery.

7. Acre

View of the fortress walls and St. John's church in the old city of Acre.
Discover the historical significance of the Acre Citadel as you visit its majestic stronghold, which provides panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

Situated along Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, Acre possesses rich history and cultural diversity. Within the UNESCO-listed Old City, ancient walls and alleys narrate the city’s varied influences, blending Crusader, Ottoman and Arab legacies. With its diverse cultural array and architectural wonders, Acre stands as a must-visit destination in Israel, inviting travelers to step back in time and explore the layers of its storied past.

Distance from Jerusalem: Approximately 160 kilometers

Quick tip: Savor the local flavors in Acre's Old City by trying traditional Akkawi cheese and knafeh. Head to the bustling market to indulge in these regional delights, providing a delicious insight into Acre's culinary heritage.

Highlights:

  • Wander through the UNESCO-listed Old City, immersing yourself in its narrow alleys, vibrant markets, and well-preserved medieval architecture that reflects centuries of history.
  • Discover the historical significance of the Acre Citadel as you explore its impressive fortress, offering panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Experience the subterranean world of Acre by descending into the Templars’ Tunnel, an underground passageway that unveils the maritime history of the city during the Crusader period.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Acre by stepping into the Al-Jazzar Mosque, admiring its distinctive green dome and Ottoman-era architecture.

8. Jaffa

View of the Old Jaffa town at twilight from the seaside.
Explore the picturesque Jaffa Old City, exploring its small, winding lanes to discover historic landmarks and a thriving art scene.

Jaffa, an ancient gem on the Mediterranean coast, offers a captivating blend of history and modern allure, making it one of the unique places to visit in Israel. With attractions ranging from the iconic Jaffa Clock Tower to the historic Jaffa Port, Jaffa is a compelling destination for history and culture enthusiasts. The city invites visitors to relish its storied past and unwind in a relaxed atmosphere by the azure Mediterranean waters.

Distance from Jerusalem: Approximately 70 kilometers

Quick tip: Explore the hidden gems of Jaffa's Flea Market early in the morning for a quiet atmosphere.

Highlights:

  • Wander through the enchanting Jaffa Old City, navigating its narrow winding streets to discover historic landmarks and a vibrant art scene.
  • Explore the bustling Jaffa Flea Market, where you can wander among stalls filled with antiques, vintage treasures, handmade crafts and unique souvenirs.
  • Step into the historical St. Peter’s Church, exploring its sacred interiors and contemplating the significance of a site where, according to tradition, the Apostle Peter had a divine vision.

9. Sea of Galilee

Sunset view from Mount Arbel in Sea of Galilee.
Take in the breathtaking views of the Sea of Galilee as the sun sets below the horizon from summit of Mount Arbel.

Surrounded by lush landscapes, the Sea of Galilee is a focal point for biblical events in northern Israel. Sail the calm waters or relax on its pebbled beaches for peaceful retreat. Capernaum, the ancient fishing village, reveals archaeological wonders, including the Synagogue of Capernaum and St. Peter’s House. With its natural beauty and religious sites, the Sea of Galilee stands as a serene and culturally rich destination for exploring Israel’s biblical history.

Distance from Jerusalem: 160 kilometers

Quick tip: Take a boat ride during the early morning or late afternoon to witness the breathtaking sunrise or sunset views over the tranquil waters.

Highlights:

  • Experience the tranquility of the Sea of Galilee by embarking on a boat ride, immersing yourself in the serene beauty of the lake while gaining a unique perspective of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Discover the historical significance of Capernaum by exploring its ancient ruins, including the synagogue and St. Peter’s House, offering deep insights into the biblical significance associated with this ancient fishing village.
  • Ascent the mount of Beatitudes, believed to be the site where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Contemplate the spiritual teachings associated with the site while enjoying the peaceful surroundings and panoramic views of the Sea of Galilee.

10. Eilat

Eilat beach during a fine afternoon in Israel.
Soak up in the sun and make a splash at the beautiful beaches of Eilat in summer.

Renowned for its vibrant coral reefs, Eilat offers a haven for snorkelers and divers, with attractions like the Underwater Observatory Marine. The city’s lively promenade features shops, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Explore the stunning desert landscapes at the Red Canyon and Timna Park or hike in the Eilat Mountains for panoramic views. With its year-round sunshine and diverse attractions, a trip to Eilat captures the essence of the best Israel offers with a mix of relaxation, water activities, and desert exploration.

Distance from Jerusalem:  Approximately 300 kilometers

Quick tip: Wear water shoes when visiting the city’s beaches to navigate the rocky patches without hurting your foot.

Highlights:

  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world by snorkeling in the Coral Beach Nature Reserve, where colorful coral reefs and diverse marine life create an unforgettable aquatic experience.
  • Engage with dolphins in their natural habitat at Dolphin Reef, enjoying guided swims and encounters with these intelligent marine mammals.
  • Explore the breathtaking geological formations of the Red Canyon by hiking through narrow passages and marveling at the colorful sandstone walls.
  • Descend into the depths of the Red Sea at the Underwater Observatory Marine Park, where large windows and tunnels provide an intimate view of the diverse marine life thriving the Red Sea.

Israel offers both pilgrimage and holiday tours with its plethora of holy sites, beaches and vibrant cities. From the sacred monuments of Jerusalem to the tranquil shores of the Sea of Galilee and the vibrant city life of Tel Aviv, places to visit in Israel are unique and diverse. History enthusiasts, beach frolickers and modern luxury vacationers can all enjoy a perfect holiday in Israel.

If you are planning a trip to Israel, check out our guides on how many days to spend in Israel and the best time to visit Israel that will come in handy. Contact our local travel expert for a customized trip to Israel for a personalized travel experience.

Published by Astha Joshi, updated on January 29, 2024
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