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Israel itinerary suggestions?

Israel itinerary suggestions?

Old Nov 12, 19, 1:48 pm
  #1  
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Israel itinerary suggestions?

I just signed up for a conference in Tel Aviv and am going to add a few days before and after. I have never been to Israel, so it will be all new to me!

I arrive Saturday, December 14 at TLV, my conference is lunch time December 17-18 with a full day Jerusalem tour on the 19th, and then I fly out at 11.55 on Sunday December 22. So I have 3 nights before the conference and 3 nights after (though not much of a night after the Jerusalem tour) where I can explore.

I am thinking of going directly to Haifa on arrival (not sure how easy it is on a Saturday), spend 3 nights with some day trips and then back to Tel Aviv for the conference, then explore Tel Aviv for a couple of days before departure. I could also switch it up and stay in Tel Aviv for the first few nights to explore, but then would have to get back to the airport early in the morning from wherever I was.

I'm totally flexible (apart from my flights and conference), so other ideas are welcome!

I don't do night life, and am happy just walking around and exploring cities and towns (and out of cities and towns) for hours. I'm really looking forward to lots of great food! I was also thinking of doing some trail-running/hiking in Mt. Carmel, but that's just the first place I found when I started looking. Maybe some sea kayaking if anyone rents them in the winter.

I'll probably stay at one of the Marriott properties in Tel Aviv (points for extra nights that work doesn't cover), but no idea anywhere else.

Pretty vague, I know, but any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,
Dr. PITUK
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Old Nov 13, 19, 8:42 am
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- Rent a car when you land (airport rentals are open on Shabbat) and head directly to the North.

- In the north, you could base yourself in Haifa, or a number of other places that may be more convenient. Once you figure out what you want to do in the North for 2-3 days, you can choose where to base yourself.

- Don't spend any extra time in TLV... or maybe take 1 day away from the North and come to TLV a day early. I'd imagine you'd have enough downtime (e.g., evenings) to get a feel for TLV while you're already there for the conference. Beaches will probably be too cold in December, and if you're not into nightlife, no point in spending a whole lot of time there. There isn't so much in TLV in the way of "sites."

- After the conference, head to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has tons of stuff to see and is fascinating, and a day trip just isn't going to even scratch the surface.

- Better yet, can you just stay in Jerusalem after the day tour, rather than going back to TLV and then back to Jerusalem?

- Consider a day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea from Jerusalem while you're there during the last 3 days.

- Ditch the car when you come back to TLV. You won't want to deal with it in TLV.
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Old Nov 13, 19, 11:43 pm
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Lot's of good recommendations from LAX_esq. I would also add that, if you really like walking and exploring cities, while you're in Haifa, I would head to Acco.

While you can rent a car 24/7 at the airport, having a car would be sort of a hassle if you're planning on staying mostly in cities. There's supposed to be a sherut from the airport to Haifa, although I've never used that option myself and cannot give any real advise on whether it's a good option for a Saturday.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 12:14 am
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Also, you don't say when on Saturday you arrive. The direct train from the airport to Haifa starts running when Shabbat is over, which probably means around 19:00. The direct train is definitely the most convenient way to get from the airport to Haifa.
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Old Nov 15, 19, 7:11 pm
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Thanks LAX_Esq and RedChili.

For various reasons I prefer not to drive, though it does sound like a good way to see more of the country - particularly outside the big cities. I will definitely look at the option of staying in Jerusalem for a couple of nights, and maybe even Acco instead of Haifa. It looks beautiful, so I'll definitely visit.

My flight arrives at 10.15am, so definitely still Shabbat. I found a 2-year old tripadvisor thread that says the Sherut runs to Haifa from Exit 2, terminal 3 for 119 NIS. Once I have chosen a hotel in Haifa/Acco, I'll check with them.

Thanks
Dr. PITUK
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Old Nov 16, 19, 7:50 pm
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If you're not going to drive, you want to base yourself somewhere in the North that's really convenient to public transportation. I'd probably just stay in Haifa if I were you. There's definitely a Sherut from TLV airport to Haifa that's 24/7. There's are inter-city sheruts that run on Shabbat, but I'm not sure if there are any from Haifa to Akko.

Akko is a really interesting place, but you could easily see everything as a day trip from Haifa. It doesn't have 2-3 days worth of things to do. I don't see the point in staying there.

There's some really nice hiking in the North, but the public transportation to the trailheads is really inconvenient.

Your conference starts on Tuesday at noon? I'd sherut to Haifa, check into the hotel, and visit Haifa Saturday afternoon (Bahai Gardens is the best thing there). On Sunday, I'd do a day trip to Akko. On Monday, I'd either leave in the morning for TLV and spend the day in TLV... OR find something else in the North that interests you and easy from Haifa with public transportation and then head from Haifa to TLV either Monday night or Tuesday morning.
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Old Nov 16, 19, 8:32 pm
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I disagree that there's little in the way of sites in Tel Aviv. Granted, it's not Jerusalem - but there's still a lot to see there. The old port of Jaffa, the Bauhaus/International Style architecture, Shuk Hacarmel, the old downtown neighborhoods... it's a great city to wander around in. And, of course, the food is amazing.

Jerusalem, TA, and Haifa will be a great first trip. You definitely should not be bored!
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Old Nov 16, 19, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
I disagree that there's little in the way of sites in Tel Aviv. Granted, it's not Jerusalem - but there's still a lot to see there. The old port of Jaffa, the Bauhaus/International Style architecture, Shuk Hacarmel, the old downtown neighborhoods... it's a great city to wander around in. And, of course, the food is amazing.
No dispute from me on this one. When I said "There isn't so much in TLV in the way of 'sites,'" my "sites" was referring to historical sites. Old Jaffa is really the only "site" in TLV. In a country filled with ancient/historical sites (all over the country, not just in Jerusalem), TLV isn't the place for the type of traveler looking for "sites." Of course, all other things you mention to do in TLV are great. Nobody should skip TLV; I think it's essential that any visitor to Israel see the most populous city in the only Jewish country in the world and get a sense of what modern life is there. But OP is already going to be in TLV and doesn't need to spend a * whole * lot of extra time there. Hopefully he can get some good meals and exploring in while he's at the conference.
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Old Nov 17, 19, 6:18 pm
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If you've never been to Israel than after or before your conference spend time based in Jerusalem. I'd skip Haifa all together and since your not driving there is really very little point to trying to explore the North and figuring out public buses, your trip is simply too short for that (again, given your not driving). From Jerusalem you can get buses to the Dead Sea/Masada and all around the area if hiking is your thing (you mention trail running). Jerusalem is just a must.
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Old Nov 17, 19, 9:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Fly_IAD View Post
If you've never been to Israel than after or before your conference spend time based in Jerusalem. I'd skip Haifa all together and since your not driving there is really very little point to trying to explore the North and figuring out public buses, your trip is simply too short for that (again, given your not driving). From Jerusalem you can get buses to the Dead Sea/Masada and all around the area if hiking is your thing (you mention trail running). Jerusalem is just a must.
I totally agree that Jerusalem is the most important.

Masada + Dead Sea by public transportation can be done if you're a savvy independent traveler, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. Buses are infrequent and you need to time it well. Plus, the buses don't stop exactly where you need them to; for example, the public bus drops you off on a random road about 10 minutes from Masada. The good thing is that Israelis love giving people directions (not necessarily correct) and will help you. I generally hate organized tours, but OP *might* want to consider an organized day trip for Masada + the Dead sea.

Without a car, OP won't have time for hiking around that area.
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Old Dec 15, 19, 1:00 pm
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I wanted to update those who answered on what I have done so far. The advice, while sometimes contradictory, was all super-helpful.

If you are only interested in ME, rather than FF, please skip to the next paragraph... FT members might understand how nice it was to get an error fare (AC agent couldn't find it, but had to honour it since it was on the website), partly paid for by a $700 credit for being bumped from the same first leg just last month! I got to fly J for the first leg and PE for the 2nd for less than Y from YYJ-TLV. The service on Rouge was outstanding and the service on AC 080 was pretty bad. I'm not Jewish, but the 2 meal options (1 left by the time they got to me) were both meat in a cream sauce. Really? On the plus side, I will get back to AC50k (*G) after a couple of years away!

I decided to stick with the 2 nights in Haifa and 6 in Tel Aviv at the Sheraton. The Bay Hotel in Haifa is great. The emails before I arrived were answered quickly and informatively - even middle of the night Haifa time. It is like a really nice English B&B. Historic building, bright light and high ceilings, everything in great condition. 'Happy hour' (except Shabbat) with wine and (OK) snacks in the breakfast room. Buffet breakfast is delicious and options for sitting outside. I'm as points/status hungry as the next FT-er, but I wish that I had booked their hotel in Tel Aviv instead of the Sheraton on the beach where I have lifetime status!

I was exhausted but wandered around Wadi Nisnas, ate awesome falafel and watched families out for Shabbat. For dinner I went to what I was told by the hotel was a vibrant bar area with great food. They did not tell me that in Haifa even families with young kids think that 7pm is early for dinner! Today I walked up many stairs to a really informative tour of the Baha'i Gardens. I would totally recommend this and would happily do it again.I spent the afternoon in Akko. I have a soft spot for walled cities! I didn't go to any of the paid museums, but walked around the city for about 3 hours, with an awesome lunch. I didn't know what a 'hummous' restaurant was. How is 'hummous' a meal? Well, 8 hours later I am still full - it was delicious, and I don't care how touristy the place was! I went to the German Colony not to eat (see lunch) and it is all set up for the Holiday of Holidays. Lots of families, young couples, old grandparents and everyone glad to be out. I did end up with some strange crepe with Labneh and Zaatar (I think - the woman didn't speak English and my Russian is not up to that level any more) which was delicious.

I really wish I had 2-3 more days here in the north. I have to get back to Tel Aviv by4-ish tomorrow, so am not sure what my plan is. I might go for a morning run up to the Stella Morris monastery and just wander local neighbourhoods after that. I really wanted to go hiking/running in Mt. Carmel park, as I did in Marin Headlands a couple of years ago. My injuries won't allow a proper 40+km hilly run, and bussing up for a hike seems complicated, since I also then have to come back, pick up luggage and get to TLV.

After the conference I am not sure what to do on Friday and Saturday. There is a run ('Run the City') on Friday which looks awesome. Easy to get to the start from the Sheraton, but apart from the very basics the website is all in Hebrew. I got past the requirement for the 9 digit Israeli ID number, but can't find out how to deal with getting 'stuff' from one end to the other. It seems like an amazing event, so advice is welcome.

Any suggestions for my Friday/Saturday in/from TLV are still welcome! Jaffa market- either as part of a walk, the race or a random run is a must, though eating awesome food is a must.

Thanks

Dr. PITUK

Last edited by painintheuk; Dec 15, 19 at 1:11 pm Reason: Extolling the virtues of the Haifa hotel
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Old Dec 15, 19, 1:23 pm
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Seems like the registration is also available in English... https://runthecity.gold-fish.co.il/g...14987?langid=0
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Old Dec 15, 19, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
Seems like the registration is also available in English... https://runthecity.gold-fish.co.il/g...14987?langid=0
Thanks Ditto.

I just can't find details about the logistics for the P2P course. In the good ole days when I was young (just 2 years ago!) I would just run to the start, run the race, enjoy, and run back to the hotel before a day of walking around town.

Unfortunately, these days I can't handle that kind of mileage. If I do the race, how do I deal with the logistics? That part all seems to be in Hebrew.

Bed time, but I'll try Google translate tomorrow.

Of course I might just go for a nice run to Jaffa along the beach on my own and save the 150 shekels for dinner! I haven't paid for a race <50km for almost 5 years, I think!

Dr. PITUK
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Old Dec 15, 19, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by painintheuk View Post
Any suggestions for my Friday/Saturday in/from TLV are still welcome! Jaffa market- either as part of a walk, the race or a random run is a must, though eating awesome food is a must.
Tel Aviv has a great restaurant scene. Last year, we had great meals at Habasta near the Carmel Market, Dalida in the Levinsky Market vicinity and Milgo Milbar on Rothschild Blvd. near the HaBima Theater.

I found Eater's The 38 Essential Tel Aviv Restaurants and The 17 Hottest New Restaurants in Tel Aviv indispensable when deciding where to eat. There were so many other places that we wanted to try.

I highly recommend taking a walking tour of The White City, a Unesco World Heritage site. There are guided tours, but I found the suggested route and descriptions for a self guided tour in this website more than adequate. The Bauhaus Center and other organizations offer guided walking tours. Make sure to also visit the Bauhaus Foundation Museum.

In addition, I suggest walking along the beachfront Promenade between Old Jaffa and the Tel Aviv Port and the Yarkon Park.

There is a great art museum, a museum of the history of the land of Israel, the Diaspora Museum and more.

Sarona, the old German Templars Colony, has been developed into an entertainment, shopping and dining area.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 2:14 pm
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In TA I second the recommendation to walk around the White City. I took a free tour in September that met at the tourist info kiosk on Rothschild by Nahalat Benyamin - it was decent, with a fair bit of Tel Aviv/Israeli history thrown in.

I would also recommend a stroll around both Nahalat Benyamin and Neve Tzedek, two old neighborhoods with some beautiful architecture and fun restaurants/shops.

Running along the beachfront is a nice option, and free. Old Jaffa is pretty and historic, and the flea market (shuk hapishpeshim) can be interesting, although tbh I haven't been to the latter in over a decade.

Bet Hatefutzot (Diaspora Museum) could be an interesting way to spend a couple of hours, if you're into museums, although it's a bit to the north.

Restaurant recommendation - if you need a bacon fix, there's a 24-hour brunch place called Benedict (Rothschild/Allenby) that I really like.
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