Introducing Israel & the Palestinian Territories
Travel Alert: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommends against all travel to some areas, please check with your relevant national government.
At the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa - both geographically and culturally - Israel and the Palestinian Territories have been a meeting place of cultures, empires and religions since history began. Everyone from Moses to Mark Twain has dreamed of going there. The appearance of prophets seems to be dwindling and the Crusaders have long since hung up their swords and shields, but travellers still come in droves, almost magnetically, to this land still considered holy by countless millions.
The appeal of Israel’s ancient and holy past may be obvious enough but many new arrivals are surprised to see that it’s much more than a lesson in history. While Jerusalem is a dazzling amalgam of past and present, and a contested hotbed for the world's monotheistic faiths, the whole country is a tightly packed ball of everything from Mt Masada and the Negev desert to the beaches of Eilat. On a leisurely weekend you could surf, ski, sip wine, ride horses, go clubbing in Tel-Aviv or enjoy some cutting-edge theatre – and that’s just the start. You can also work on a kibbutz, volunteer at a West Bank school, float in the Dead Sea, hike across the Israel National Trail…
Like the patchwork of new arrivals at Ben-Gurion airport, Israel is an amalgamation of peoples who arrived over centuries of time, each one staking their claim to the land. Territorial disputes led to violence, which in turn made for some epic accounts in the Bible – not terribly dissimilar to what is playing out on nightly newscasts where you are today. But contrary to popular belief, Israel is not a war zone to be avoided, and it has such rigid security that travel is surprisingly safe.
Somewhere along the line, politics and the bitter facts of life in this uncertain land will nudge their way into your trip. And while Israelis and Palestinians love nothing more than to argue, muse and prognosticate over the latest political currents, it’s best to leave your own opinions at the door. Enter the Holy Land on a clean slate and you’ll never watch the nightly news the same way again.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Israel & the Palestinian Territories Image gallery
Church, Israel & Palestinian
Israel & the Palestinian Territories Video gallery
Tony Wheeler, Tel Aviv