Israel 10 day itinerary
Replies: 25 - Last Post: Apr 16, 2012 10:24 PM Last Post By: sandyfoot
Apr 14, 2012 5:24 PM
Israel 10 day itineraryThis seems like a great forum, so hoping I can get some advice.
I have 10 days in Israel in mid-June, and am a young, solo, fairly experienced traveller. I'd like to see as much as possible and travel around the country rather than be based in one place.
Flying in and out of Tel Aviv, so I will stay there the night I arrive, and the night before I leave.
That leaves me with 8 nights. I think I want to spend at least 3 full days in Jerusalem, and I also definitely want to get as far south as Masada, if not all the way to Eilat. I'd also like to spend some time in the Golan Heights and the Galilee. What's the best way to organize all this..? Should I go North first, and then South, or the opposite, or it wouldn't make any difference? Do I need to book Hostels in advance for travel in June, or will I just miss the summer tourist madness? I hear a lot about Egged buses, but are trains worth looking into too?
Thanks for your help!
Apr 14, 2012 7:37 PM
1Welcome, Just FYI - The airport is not actually in Tel Aviv. It's between TA and Jerusalem so it makes no difference which city you stay in your first and last nights.
Someone else may have a different opinion, but I don't think it makes any difference which direction you head when. If relying on public transportation make sure you understand how the schedule changes on Fridays and Saturdays. Whether train or bus depends in part on where you're heading. For instance, there is no train between Jerusalem and Eilat.
Yes, you will want to book in advance.
Apr 14, 2012 9:46 PM
2I'm heading over to Israel in May and June as well and I looked for a few hostels and maybe it was just the hi-hostel website or my macbook but NONE have any available beds... I haven't looked at any other hostels though so maybe you'll have better luck or better dates than I did.
Apr 14, 2012 11:10 PM
3For all your public transport questions, see here. This "umbrella" site covers all the bus companies as well as the trains. The train ride to Jerusalem is very scenic, but it's extremely slow and the Jerusalem station is in the back of beyond. Take the bus, which goes every 15-20 minutes.
Where to go when depends to some extent on the day(s) of the week. There is no public transport on Shabbat - the Sabbath - between sunset on Friday and after dark on Saturday, so unless you rent a car or bicycle you won't be able to travel around on those days. One exception is the sherut (shared taxi) between Tel Aviv (the city, not the airport) and Jerusalem, which runs 24/7.
Everything in east (Arab) Jerusalem functions normally on Shabbat, and if you're interested in going to Bethlehem or Ramallah Saturday is a very good day to go. Buses to Palestinian cities leave from outside the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.
It's actually easier to get to Jerusalem than to to Tel Aviv from the airport. The Nesher shuttle will take you from the airport to any address in Jerusalem for about NIS 60, and it goes 24/7. It's a 10-seater minibus and goes when it's full, and it fills up quickly. There is nothing similar to Tel Aviv. There are trains from the airport to Tel Aviv (except on Shabbat), but the chances of any of the railway stations in Tel Aviv being near your accommodation are remote. For returning to the airport from Jerusalem, you need to call Nesher the day before. The telephone number is (02)6257227, and it will pick you up anywhere in Jerusalem.
Skip Eilat on such a short visit. It's a long way to go - five hours in each direction - for a beach resort. Tel Aviv beach is much nearer. Public transport in the Golan and Galilee is sparse, and geared to residents rather than tourists, meaning that buses leave the villages in the morning and return from the big town in the late afternoon/early evening. Not a lot of help to you. Consider an organised tour for that part of your trip, or rent a car.
Apr 14, 2012 11:11 PM
4To repeat what #1 said, the airport is located between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv so you can just as easily go to either city when you arrive or leave from either city when you depart.
The trains are very efficient, but only serve the area along the coast. Use them if you are travelling on the Nahariya-Akko-Haifa-TelAviv-Ashdod-Ashkelon line. The train is also the cheapest way to go from the airport to Tel-Aviv. The train to Jerusalem is scenic but VERY slow and the Jerusalem station is far from everything. Take the bus.
Go to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem. There are several buses every day (look at the Egged website). But it is difficult to see both Massada and the Ein Eedi Nature Reserve in one day, so you should book one night at either the Massada Youth Hostel or the Ein Gedi Hostel ( www.iyha.org.il ).
The Galilee and the Golan is difficult to visit by public transport except for the main cities - Akko, Zefat, Tiberius, Nazareth, etc. But if you want to visit all of the National Parks, etc the only efficient way is to rent a car. You should seriously considering renting for three days - you will see three times as much.
Look at the National Parks web site for ideas:
Note that Egged is the largest bus company in Israel but not the only one. This website gives the schedules for all companies:
Apr 15, 2012 3:18 AM
5Think more or less of a clockwise direction for your visit.
From the airport:
- train to Tel Aviv, spend time there (city, beach, etc)
- train north along the coast to Acco and Haifa
- rent a car (or not, depending on your budget) and see the Galilee
- head east to the Golan
- head south along the Jordan River
- visit the Dead Sea, Masada, Ein Gedi
- 45 minute ride to the airport
You can reverse the order and go counter clockwise.
As mentioned, public transport is very convenient except in the Galilee and the Golan where it will really limit you.
Sleeping in the north (not all places can be reached by public transport): if you like old cities, try Zefat, if you like small villages then try a kibbutz or a home-stay in a Druze village, if you like places closer to nature try these: http://teva.org.il/english/fieldschools
Eilat- June is summer so you can enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv and you'll see desert landscape along the Dead Sea, so I'd go to Eilat only if I were interested in snorkeling/diving. Most of the hotels/nightlife there cater to families, groups of friends or couples rather than a sole backpacker.
Apr 15, 2012 8:49 AM
6The trains are rather unefficient, I'd avoid them entirely and use the Egged buses or the shertuts (mini buses). They are very efficient between the main cities but not very practical when you want to visit smaller areas - renting a car is best if you can afford to.
Eilat has zero interest and is extremely ugly, I'd spend more time in Tel Aviv / Jaffa. I'd also spend time in the magnificent crusader city of Akko / Acre.
On week-ends there is very little public transportation in Israel because of shabbat. It's a good idea to spend that time either in Tel Aviv / Jaffa which remains alive, or in the Palestinian territory (East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethleem and Hebron are the most interesting locations).
Do book your accomodation in advance.
Apr 15, 2012 9:13 AM
Apr 15, 2012 2:45 PM
Apr 15, 2012 3:36 PM
9OK: how does this look? Feasible in terms of transport (using only public transport) and getting enough time to at least see something of each place.. I would love to see more of the Golan Heights, but I don't want to drive, and it seems like the public transport is tricky up there.
7 June - arrive, Tel Aviv
8 June - to Safed
9 June - in Safed
10 June - leave Safed, stay in Akko
11 June - leave Akko, stay in Haifa
12 June - go to Ein Gedi
13 June - Ein Gedi/Masada
14 June - to Jerusalem
15 June in Jerusalem
16 June - Jerusalem
17 June - back to Tel Aviv, and then airport.
Will the trip from Haifa to Ein Gedi be doable? Take train to Tel Aviv and then bus? Or two buses?
Apr 15, 2012 4:19 PM
10I'll let others more knowledgeable than I comment on your general itinerary; I'll just ask you to go back and reference my post #1 regarding the airport.
If you're going back to TA on the 17th to see more of the city then no problem, but since the airport isn't actually in TA you could head there just as easily from Jerusalem as TA.
Apr 15, 2012 4:55 PM
11Thanks, I did see that, but it seemed like the best way to get two half days in Tel Aviv, which is all I think I really need this trip.
Apr 15, 2012 5:28 PM
Apr 15, 2012 10:11 PM
13The best way to go to Ein Gedi from Haifa is to take the #940 direct bus from Haifa - Hof Hacarmel station to Jerusalem (2 hrs) and then the bus to Ein Gedi (1 hr). Check the schedules on the Egged web site. If you leave early enough you should have enough time to hike at Ein Gedi in the afternoon (look at the National Parks website for the closing hours). Then check theschedules for Ein Gedi to Massada to see if there is a bus at that hour. If yes, stay overnight at the Massada Hostel and get an early start climbing Massada. You have to book the Massada Hostel well in advance.
Apr 15, 2012 11:25 PM
14Note that June 9 is a Saturday. Do you want to spend the day in Safed ?? The city is pretty much closed down on Shabbat. Why not spend Friday morning in Tel-Aviv (a good day for going around the markets), then take the last train to Akko (at about 14:30). Spend Saturday in Akko and go to Safed on Sunday. Alternatively, spend Friday & Saturday in Tel-Aviv (a good idea) and leave for Safed on Sunday.
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