Israel in a week?
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Feb 14, 2013 12:24 AM Last Post By: catw
Feb 10, 2013 11:14 AM
Israel in a week?Hello,
I was planning to visit Israel during the Christmas holidays but that had to be postponed so now I'm going there for 8 days the last weekend of February (flying in and out of Tel Aviv). At present day I don't have a set itinerary other than I know I would like to see Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and a day or two in Jordan for Petra and perhaps a night in the desert of Wadi Rum. I'm going solo and planning to backpack and stay in hostels. I would love to hear some suggestions for places to see and hostels you recommend. I'm a hiker too so I love a little adventure in exploring.
On a side note, I spent 12 years in a Catholic school so getting in touch with places like Bethlehem and Jerusalem I think would be really spiritually rewarding and is, in part, why I'm going. Needless to say, I'm not very clued in on Israeli culture or sights historically significant to Jews and Palestinians so suggestions are certainly welcomed. Thank you for your assistance..
Feb 10, 2013 11:23 AM
1Your itinerary is the least of your problems. Israel is NOT a country to come and wing accommodations in,. You need to book where you want to stay NOW!! Hostel fill up, even in low season with school groups.
Feb 10, 2013 12:46 PM
2You haven't mentioned Galilee at all. That's a shame. Don't miss exploring Israel's lovely northern region.
With only 8 days in the region, I recommend skipping Petra and Wadi Rum entirely. You simply aren't devoting sufficient time to Israel.
Start your touring in Tel Aviv (AKA 'capital of Mediterranean cool'). Then head north into Galilee stopping at Caesarea (and maybe Akko) along the way.
Spend a coule of days in Galilee and the Golan Heights and then head down to the Judean Desert. You'll want spend one night at the much sought after Masada Guest House (hostel) if space is still available.
As a bare minimum in Jerusalem, you'll want two full days in the Old City and one full day in the New City. In Jerusalem don't even consider staying anywhere but the Abraham Hostel (if it's available).
You should not be spontaneous about accommodations in Israel. Ours is a country where you really need to advance book your hostels, otherwise you may be very disappointed. We have wonderful hostels - two of the best are Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem and Masada Guest House.
Feb 10, 2013 1:09 PM
3Your itinary is too full for 8 days, even without Galilee. To go to Petra/ Wadi Rum, you need at least 4 days - one day going from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem to Eilat (5 hours by bus), then on the next morning going to Petra (the earliest time you can be there from the border is around 10 am), then spending the day in Petra, the next moring to Wadi Rum for a day tour and a night in a camp, and the next day back to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv via Eilat. That would certainly be doable in your 8 days but then you have only time for Jerusalem and maybe one day Tel Aviv - no Dead Sea/Massada, no Betlehem, no Galilee.
There is just too much to see there - thankfully I could extend my upcoming vacation to 18 days, and even that doesn`t feel like enough!!
Feb 10, 2013 4:31 PM
Yes, on map Jordan look tantalisingly close, but in reality for an 8 day itinerary flying in and out of Tel Aviv it is unrealistic. Jordan is a great country and IMO offers more than Israel. But Israel is still a great location on this planet.
As you have an interest in your Catholic background stick to Israel. There will be so much you will want see that 8 days will not be enough.
A couple posters have stated you need to book accommodation in advance. I was in Israel in May and did not book accommodation in advance. Arrived in a city/town and booked accommodation. This may have been due to the time of year, I do not know, but I had no issues. I did not stay at Abrahams Hostel, but did visit it for a concert and a friend of mine stayed there after me. Definitely the first choice in Juresalem for a Hostel as Davetheguide said.
Feb 11, 2013 2:42 AM
5Yes, I'd also stick to Israel and leave Jordan for a future trip.
I spent 11 days in the country three years ago and that, too, felt pretty rushed even if we couldn't make it to the north (Nazareth and environs) nor to Eilat.
I'm returning this year for a brief stay since we are flying into Amman and out of Tel Aviv, but since we only have three and a half days we'll stick to Jerusalem and lazying on Tel Aviv beaches in the last day of our visit.
Feb 11, 2013 4:45 AM
6Agree with everyone above - traveling back and forth to Jordan from Israel on an 8 days itinerary means you're spending about a quarter of your allotable time in transportation...
Jerusalem and Bethlehem will keep you busy for Catholic sights for at least 3 days... and that's excluding Jewish and Muslim sites.
If you're looking to add some stuff on that isn't as far as Petra, you can visit the galilee and try and hit Nazareth, Capernaum, The Mt. of Beatitudes and Mt. Tabor, Sepphorus, etc... They aren't very well connected by the public transport network, but provided you are based in Nazareth, you can always find a organized tour that will take you to these places.
Feb 11, 2013 9:14 AM
i´m just back from Israel, where i spent 8 days. I hardly managed to visit all, i planned to see beforehand. I spent 4 full days in Jerusalem, time i definitely needed to cover my personal program. Another 2 days in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. And i spent 2 days with organized day tours, one to Jericho/Bethlehem and the other to Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum and Jordan river. Even though Israel looks small on the map, don´t underestimate the time, you´ll need to get from A to B. It´s time-consuming ! Like all the others, i also recommend to skip Petra and Wadi Rum. And: Book your accommodation well in advance !
I can recommend the Jerusalem Hostel, it is ideally located in the city centre and very friendly.
It would be a pity to rush through this wonderful country and you´d miss so many places, worth seeing. Please also consider, that Jerusalem´s old town is a labyrinth, where you sometimes have to search for the places, you want to go. With or without a map, you´ll surely get lost from time to time (which is fun, by the way !) and all that costs time.
Jordan is a beautyful country and it´s not only about Petra and Wadi Rum. It´s much better to have a whole week for the attractions of Jordan !
Feb 12, 2013 12:25 AM
8Bethlehem and East Jerusalem are in the state of Palestine. Add Israel, and this means that you'll already be visiting two countries during your trip. Adding a third one, Jordan, does not make sense when you only have eight days.
If you want to connect "spiritually" to the Christian side, I suggest you stay in Christian guesthouses in Jerusalem and/or Bethlehem. In East Jerusalem there's a small Christian guesthouse run by Catholic Charity Caritas, it's not the most comfy but it's cheap and nice, with a beautiful view on the Old City: Abraham house (http://www.secours-catholique.org/IMG/pdf/Abraham_s_house_brochure_6p_-_ENGLISH.pdf).
There are also Christian guesthouses right inside the Old City: Austrian Hospice is the best, otherwise you can try Lutherian Guesthouse, and otherwise Christ Church Guesthouse. These are more touristy, more expensive and they fill up quickly, you'll need to book well in advance.
You also have a number of Christian guesthouses in Bethlehem, including one run by Catholic sisters who are in charge of Palestine's orphanage for newborns and toddlers, the Sisters of Charity I think.
If you're into hiking, there are some amazing hikes to do both in Israel and Palestine. In Palestine I recommend the wonderful Wadi Qelt hike, which includes the St George monastery, near Jericho. There's also a beautiful hike between Beit Jala and Batir near Bethlehem, which departs from Hosh Jasmin organic restaurant. (http://www.walkingpalestine.org/pages/homepage/walk-with-a-guide.php)
In Israel I recommend Wadi David hike (Ein Bokek on the Dead Sea), Mitze Ramon hike and, if you're really fit, climbing up to Masada. There are countless other hikes you can do, I'm sure other people will have suggestions.
Feb 12, 2013 1:50 AM
Please keep your biased agenda and political opinions to yourself. The above statement contributes absolutely nothing towards answering OP's questions.
(1) There is currently de facto no 'state of Palestine'.
(2) Bethlehem is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority ("Area A").
(3) East Jerusalem is de facto part of Israel and is definitely not in the areas under Palestinian Authority control.
Feb 12, 2013 3:02 AM
10Catw and A1 desperately need each other ;-)
By the way, if I may add suggestions, I'd second the hike up to Masada. However, I did not like Ein Gedi at all, nor the whole Dead Sea region for that matter, as it is plagued with private resorts and beaches in Ein Bokek, with the public beaches leaving a lot to be desired. I regretted not having made it to Nazareth and the Galilee instead.
In my forthcoming trip to Jordan, I'm skipping the Dead Sea altogether.
This is, of course, a personal opinion. Others might adore the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi.
Feb 12, 2013 4:58 AM
11catw--posting your political opinion or the way you would like things to be adds nothing to this forum. The poster wants to learn about what to do NOW. He is not interested in your feeding what is currently inaccurate information. What the future will hold we do not know and we may disagree on where we would like it to be. But for now, lets talk about the real and accurate present--which is more like a1 wrote!
Feb 12, 2013 9:09 AM
12Thanks for your feedback. It seems Jordan is stretching it and I really only have 7 full days too. I was thinking of doing one or two days upon arrival in Tel Aviv. Then, head north to Galilea for a couple of days before concluding in Jerusalem/Bethlehem/Dead Sea area for the last 3-4days. How does that sound for the time frame I'm given?
Feb 12, 2013 10:53 AM
13Skippyjones - Your latest plan is perfect!
BTW, I strongly disagree with liilak concerning Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea.
Ein Gedi is an umbrella name for numerous places in the Judean Desert. You have Kibbutz Ein Gedi with its guesthouse and beautiful desert botanical gardens. Then there's the Ein Gedi spa and beach (which you can definitely skip in favor of "Mineral Beach" or one of the beaches at the hotels at Ein Boqeq).
But most fantastic is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve - a real biblical desert oasis! The hike through Nahal David to the David Waterfall is wonderful and most recommended.
For your Dead Sea bathing, I do recommend using "Mineral Beach" near Mitzpe Shalem. It's an experience you don't want to pass up.
Feb 12, 2013 7:24 PM
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