Jordan’s next-door neighbour Israel is without doubt one of the most historically and spiritually rich countries in the world. This ancient crossroads makes for a fascinating destination for any curious traveller, and we at Holiday Architects can provide standalone Israel itineraries or it’s possible to pair some time in Israel with Jordan.
An Israel itinerary focuses mainly on a combination of the following three destinations:
Jerusalem today is a patchwork city made up of the rise and fall of many rulers and civilisations. It is steeped in conflict, a battleground that is still tumultuous and controversial to this day. As a visitor, it is a real privilege to be able to see so many remnants of the millions who have inhabited Jerusalem, and despite these tensions, on an everyday visit – one you may experience as a Holiday Architects client – the different ways of life that inhabit the Holy City brush shoulders in peace.
One of the great joys of Jerusalem is that, despite the unfathomable number of layers here, it is easily explored on foot. We suggest at least two days in Jerusalem spent learning about the complex and much-revered history – the Old Town (an area less than one kilometre squared in size) contains the bulk of this background. Split into four quarters – Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim – you can be strolling past the shimmering, golden Dome of the Rock one minute, pass by the Western Wall the next, then find yourself at the door to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This extraordinary proximity makes days spent in Jerusalem nothing short of a whistle-stop tour through the ages, and to even be able to begin to comprehend the significance of the city you will of course need a guide – something we absolutely recommend for every client.
Perched on the western shore of Israel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, in some parts of Tel Aviv you’d be forgiven for thinking you were sunning yourself in Europe rather than standing on the brink of the Middle East. This city today is known for being glamourous, fashionable, a capital of cool and one of the world’s most celebrated destinations for LGBT+ travellers. However, it’s not all high-rises and hedonism – while Tel Aviv doesn’t have the many layers of history of Jerusalem, there are historical parts of this seaside jewel that Israel can boast about, most notably Jaffa (also known as Yafo), one of the oldest ports on the planet.
Due to a lot of immigration from Europe at the start of the 20th century, Tel Aviv was considered cosmopolitan from the outset and a huge collection of Bauhaus architecture sprung up in the 1940s to give Tel Aviv a unique look (and gaining it UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2004). This development has meant that once-neighbours Tel Aviv and Jaffa are now merged into one, the greater Tel Aviv area, offering visitors a distinctive and unrivalled old-meets-new atmosphere. If the glitzy side doesn’t appeal, we would recommend choosing one of the many great hotel options within Jaffa itself – that way you’re steps from the charming cobbled lanes of the oldest part of Tel Aviv but a half-hour walk or quick taxi ride from the Bauhaus beauties of the so-called White City.
Galilee in northern Israel is home to some of the country’s holiest sites – from Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, to the ruins at Beit Sh’ean and Capernaum, Magdala (birthplace of Mary Magdalene) and Safed, one of Judaism’s Holy Cities. Many days spent touring here include hopping between these intriguing highlights, but for something different we also recommend making time to sample from the many wineries in the region, or enjoying some outdoor adventure in Golan Heights.
We recommend one or two nights in Galilee, but it’s also possible to do some days trips to the region from Tel Aviv if you don’t feel the need to overnight here.