With so many things to do and places to see in Israel narrowing the list down can be a real challenge. Balancing your time between the religious sites, natural wonders and historic destinations and the temptations of beach life, nightlife and shopping means a carefully-designed itinerary, even taking into account Israel’s small size. If you’re traveling by public transport rather than on a tour or with a rental car, precious leisure hours can be lost just getting from point A to B.
There’s more to do in Israel in regards outdoor pursuits than many visitors would expect, from helping out at an archeological dig for the day through wild and wonderful hiking trails, diving, snorkeling and water sports, skiing in winter, camel rides, horse riding, swimming with the dolphins, cycling, jeep tours, kayaking, paragliding and rafting which means you could be here a month and not get to do it all. For quieter pursuits, exploring Israel’s large number of museums provides insight into the country’s amazing history.
The best way to get a fast overview of the major Jerusalem sights is by a private guided tour. Most cover the Old City with its 16th century walls and historic gates and include the Western Wall and its underground tunnels, the Dome of the Rock, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the sub-surface Herodias Mansions, King David’s Tomb and the room legendarily believed to be the place of the Last Supper. Guided Tours Israel can take you to all of these, as well as the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For relaxing, hedonistic delights, a few days in the Red Sea beach resort of Eilat won’t disappoint. The dive sites are famous, and visitors can take glass bottom boat trips to view the reefs and their watery residents or enjoy a yacht cruise. Eilat’s ecological Dolphin Reef gives visitors a chance to swim with these friendly mammals or watch them from floating piers. Tour Planner Israel offers a choice of watery adventures in the resort.
The Dead Sea is known for its rejuvenating, therapeutic mud treatments, and a day at one of Jerusalem’s luxurious spas lets you float in the saline waters at the earth’s lowest point, while enjoying wellness treatments and mud baths. Viator offers a full-day trip, with the added bonus of vistas over the barren Judean Desert and a visit to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
For the ultimate desert experience, camel treks are available in the Negev from Camel Land, a company with their very own breeding farm. From one- or two-hour rides along the ancient spice route to four-hour treks in Nabatean Manshit and other desert wadis, riding one of these impressive creatures makes for an unforgettable photograph and memory. If you’re up to it, a two-day trek takes in all the amazing sights of the desert and you’ll sleep outside under the glitter of millions of stars.
Another magical way to explore Israel’s iconic natural beauty is on horseback. Sirin Riders offers mounts trained in Western-style horseback riding tailor-made for all levels from novice to advanced. The company offers several multi-day options taking in the Galilee, the Carmel and the Negev Desert. For a less challenging equestrian expeditions, Vered Hagalil Ranch offers rides in the Galilee from half an hour to a full day.
Rafting and kayaking on the River Jordan and the River Hazbani offers an adrenaline rush second to none, set in the rich green surroundings of the Sea of Galilee. From family-friendly to adventure rafting, Kfar Blum Kayaks offers a great experience at all levels of expertise, taking between one and two and a half hours. For the truly daring, the same company also offers zip-lining into the river and a 40 ft climbing wall.
Paragliding along the soaring Mediterranean cliffs near Netanya buoyed up by the sea air currents is yet another unforgettable experience through Sharaf Paragliding. No prior experience is necessary as you’re with an instructor throughout the entire 20 minute glide. The view from 450 feet in the air is stunning, and the trips can be taken from mid-afternoon to 6:00 p.m., by which time the Israeli sunset seen from the air is spectacular.