We are heading to Israel in a few weeks, and have been a bit paralyzed in itinerary planning in that we are so spoiled for choice in things to see. We've finally finalized a rough outline, though, and I'm hoping for some input as to what others think of this. Just as some background, this is our first time there (obviously from the above), and we are traveling as a family of 4, with children ages 5 and 8. (The children have been forced into museums/churches/mosques/ruins all of their lives, though, so they have a fair tolerance for that sort of thing.) We hope to go back someday, but don't know how soon that will be.
Wed: Arrive 3:20 am (ugh), taxi to Jerusalem, check into our guesthouse (already cleared with them), sightsee once we take a few hours nap
Sat: Day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea
Sun: Morning in Jerusalem, intercity bus, afternoon and evening in Tel Aviv
Mon: Day trip to Nazareth and the Galilee
Tue: Morning in Tel Aviv, 15:30 flight out
In Jerusalem, we'll be walking about the Old City, seeing the major sites, popping into the New City to stroll about Ben Yehuda (etc.) - this still needs to be fleshed out, but I feel I have a bit more of a handle on this.
For the day trips, we are considering Egged's tours. Not very adventurous, I know, but we don't want to rent a car, and with the children we are willing to trade a bit of price for convenience. We've looked into a private tour guide, but I've gotten quotes of US$500/day, which is too steep for us.
If anyone has any thoughts on any of this, I would really appreciate it.
Oct 25, 11, 9:59 am
How are you planning on getting to Masada/Dead Sea on Saturday? Remember that in Israel, at least most of Israel, there's no public transportation from late Friday afternoon until Saturday evening.
Are you staying in the Old City? If so, I'd recommend using the day you come in to see it, this way you don't have to move around a lot that day.
In Jerusalem, are you looking for suggestions of what to see?
Oct 26, 11, 7:21 am
Thanks for the response! On Saturday, we are taking a package tour down to Masada and the Dead Sea - it seemed like the best option, since so much of everything is shut down that day. In Jerusalem, we're staying in the Old City until Friday, and then moving to a hotel near Ben Yehuda st for Fri and Sat night. It's kind of a pain, but we really wanted the hotel we have for the first couple nights, and it's only available for part of the time.
I think that we're set in Jerusalem, but if there is anything off of the beaten track that's recommended, that would be great. Thanks again!
Oct 26, 11, 8:20 am
Make sure to get to the Mahane Yehuda marketplace on Friday afternoon before the Sabbath starts. That's an experience!
Ben Yehuda will be really popping Thursday night and Saturday night with lots of people, especially by the bars; and Friday afternoon, but much sober (in terms of alcohol, not spirit!). There should be great street vendors, live music...
I personally love the Begin Museum which is right by the Old City, and it's a fascinating insight into both his life, and the history of Israel and it's government. (Menachem Begin was the first PM elected from the Right, as opposed to the Mapai party, and it's successor, the Labor party. He brought a major change in government and social change. He's also the one who signed the peace treaty with Egypt, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country.) Not trying to debate him as a PM - just pointing out that he's interesting and the museum is close by and interesting
If the history/archaeology interests you, the Old City has it all. Try getting to the Wohl Archaeological Museum - fascinating stuff! You might need a tour for that, so I can PM you the number of someone who's great. He can give you an all-encompassing tour of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City (might also include City of David) on Friday, and not too long (2 hours or so)
Another thing of interest, that I personally haven't done (yet) is take the 99 (http://www.egged.co.il/eng/main.asp?lngCategoryID=2773). Egged has the 99 bus which is a double decker bus, and it tours around the city with commentary. It hits up all the major areas.
Jerusalem also has really fun ATV riding if that interests you. On a safer note, there's the Jerusalem Segway tours (http://www.segwayz.co.il/home/doc.aspx?mCatID=68310) which are a lot of fun.
The Biblical Zoo is great if your kids like zoos.
And finally, if you/SO are into the bar scene at all (after hours w/o kids of course!) then Jerusalem has a few solid bars.
Oct 27, 11, 6:08 am
Wow - thank you for all of the helpful suggestions! The Mahane Yehuda marketplace sounds great, and it definitely isn't something I had come across in the guidebooks. We're also thinking of doing the 99 bus, but I have very mixed feelings about it. Maybe we'll see how tired the kids' legs get before we make that call!
Oct 31, 11, 9:34 am
A good starting point in the old city is the Tower of David Museum, which is a great introduction to the history of the city. You'll want to of course visit the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sephulcre, and the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques. Take time to walk through the old city market. The main area, starting the near the Jaffa Gate, is quite touristy, but closer to the Damascus Gate is more local. It also used to be possible to walk along the walls, though I don't know if that's still open.
In the new city, you can go to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and time permitting, the Israel Museum, though I'd put that further down on the list. Also, go to the Tayelet (promenade) in Talpiot which gives you a great view of the city.
In the Dead Sea area, try to get to Ein Gedi, which is the best part of that area. The weather should be more comfortable by this time of year.
Tel Aviv is shorter on sites, but great for walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. You can walk through the Carmel Market, the Yemenite Quarter and Sheinkin St, all pretty close to each other. And enjoy some time on the beach. There is also old Jaffa.