Tour type: Shoestring
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 45
Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels
Transport: A/C car/minibus/coach
Highlights: Tel Aviv, Roman ruins at Caesarea, Druze villages, Golan Heights wine tasting, Haifa, Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Nazareth, Masada fortress by cable car, Bethlehem, Dead Sea swim, old & new Jerusalem
This Classical Israel tour is a journey for all faiths. On this tour, you'll get to experience the country's rich history - past and present, as well as its people and diverse cultures.
Explore some most iconic sites of Jerusalem's Old City, Nazareth and Bethlehem and ride the cable car to the fortress of Masada and float at the lowest place on earth and the Dead Sea.
In the north of Israel, we'll visit the serene Galilee and the Golan Heights. Other key sites visited on this tour include Haifa, Caesarea, the crusader fortress of Acre, Tel Aviv and the ancient port of Jaffa.
Once you've arrived at the airport, one of our representatives will welcome you and transport you to your hotel. The day is yours free to either relax or explore the city on your own.
Tel Aviv hotel
Extra night in Tel Aviv - pre-tour
Single room supplement (ISSGCI)
We officially start the Israel tour today and set off from Tel Aviv, driving south, passing by the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba, the capital of the Negev Desert.
We continue via Arad to Masada, Israel's foremost archaeological park and ascend via cable-car for a thorough visit that gives insight to the rituals, politics and culture of the people who inhabited this desert fortress.
We visit the excavations, Herod's palaces, the synagogue, bathhouse and cisterns, and enjoy the incredible views of the Roman camps and the Dead Sea.
We later descend to the lowest place on earth and the Dead Sea, to experience the mineral-rich black mud and to float in its salty waters.
We end the day by passing by the oasis of Ein Gedi and proceeding through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem.
Today, we drive to Mount Scopus, passing the WWI British cemetery, Hadassah Hospital, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a panoramic view of the Old City.
We continue the tour to the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book after which we'll visit the large scale renovated model of the Herodian city of Jerusalem.
We also visit Yad Vashem and the world Holocaust remembrance centre and followed by an afternoon drive to the picturesque village of Ein Karem.
In downtown Jerusalem, we visit Mahane Yehuda to experience the flavours, aromas, colours and the traders' interaction with the crowds and the largest open market in Israel.
We go back into time and visit the Old City of Jerusalem and we start the tour by entering through one of the gates to the walled Old City to visit the renewed Jewish Quarter and the colourful Souk.
We also walk along the Via Dolorosa, stopping at the Stations of the Cross, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We also make a visit to Mt. Zion and the tomb of King David, the Room of the Last Supper and Dormition Abbey.
Later the afternoon, we continue to Bethlehem to visit the traditional birthplace of Jesus at the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square.
We leave Jerusalem today and drive north passing by Jericho and the oldest city in the world. We'll travel through the Jordan Valley and the new settlements to Beit Shean and visit the excavations of well-preserved Roman City.
Later, we head to Nazareth to visit the Church of the Annunciation and Christian holy sites, and a visit to Safed and the city of the Kabbalah and centre of Jewish mysticism, to visit a synagogue and the beautiful streets of the artists and colony.
Today we drive up to the Golan Heights and visit the former Syrian fortifications and the Druze villages, passing by Banias, source of the Jordan River.
We get to experience an Israeli wine country experience and vineyards surrounded by endless views. While here, we become acquainted with the collection of fine and rare wines all while enjoying a tour, wine tasting and understanding of the wine production process.
Later, we descend to the shore of the Sea of Galilee and proceed to Capernaum, to visit the ruins of the ancient synagogue, the Mount of Beatitudes, traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount and Tabgha. We then head onwards to Tiberias, the old center of Jewish learning.
Today, you'll have the option to go sailing on a boat across the Sea of Galilee to experience the scenery little changed during the past 2000 years.
After breakfast, we start the last day of our tour with a drive through the hills of the Galilee, westwards to Acre (Akko) for a visit of the old, famous Crusader stronghold and medieval fortifications.
We then continue to Haifa, for a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city, including the Baha'i Shrine, Persian Garden, Mount Carmel and Haifa bay. We then head along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea to visit the Roman Theater and the Crusader fortress at what is known as the 'masterpiece of Herod the Great'
We end the day with a short city tour of Tel Aviv and the ancient port of Jaffa.
Tel Aviv hotel
Today, the tour officially comes to an end and you’ll be transferred to the airport for your departure back home. Don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like to extend your tour.
Extra night in Tel Aviv - post-tour
Note: From March 2024 onwards please note that the itinerary will include the following changes:
Departure dates and prices are given below. Please wait to receive your booking confirmation from us before finalising any international flights. Private tours are also available on other dates for a small supplement - please contact us for details.&am
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often use on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use good quality hotels rated at the Israeli 3-star level on this tour, Options are available to upgrade the accommodation if you would like a higher level of hotel. Please contact us for prices to match your dates. The normal hotels we use for these upgrades are shown below, though these may changes to alternate hotels of a similar standard on some dates:
Comfort (4-star): Tel Aviv - Metropolitan / Grand Beach | Jerusalem - Grand Court / Ramada | Tiberias* - Lake House / Royal Plaza
Superior (4/5-star) : Tel Aviv - Dan Panorama / Crowne Plaza Beach | Jerusalem - Dan Panorama / King Solomon | Tiberias* - Caesar / Gai Beach
Deluxe (5-star): Tel Aviv - Carlton | Jerusalem - David Citadel / Mamilla | Tiberias* - U-Boutique / Magdala
* On some dates the tour may stay in Nazareth or Haifa instead of Tiberias
As different hotel levels are available, this does mean that if some people take up the upgrades there will be more than one hotel pick-up and drop-off each day, though we do aim to plan these to minimise any extra travelling time.
Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. All couples will be given a private double room.
Please check the Single Room Supplement option for details on room sharing options and charges for solo travellers on this tour.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you’re really experiencing the country you’re travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Our routes in Israel and the small distances involved mean that we use private vehicles throughout this tour.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour. All our group tours in Israel start and finish at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (TLV). Private and tailor-made tours may arrive into Tel Aviv or Eilat.
We do also sometimes advertise flight inclusive packages from selected airports. Where these are shown on our website, prices are correct at the time of quoting, but are subject to continued availability of the fare used. Prices will be reconfirmed at the time of booking, and we will also provide the flight times and airline details before tickets are issued.
Flight inclusive prices are based on the cheapest Economy ticket class available which is generally non-refundable and non-changeable unless the flight is cancelled for reasons such as Covid-19, in which case the airlines are more flexible. More flexible ticket options, as well as Premium Economy and Business Class tickets are available on request for an additional supplement. Any changes made to flight inclusive bookings will be subject to the airline rules on your ticket.
On average the group departures on this tour tend to have a minimum of around 10 passengers and an average of 14-18, though we only need 2 passengers to book for a departure to be guaranteed. The maximum capacity of this tour is 45 which is why we class it as a Shoestring level tour, despite the 3 to 4-star level of the hotels. To ensure affordability in what is a very expensive country to arrange tours like this, we share this tour with a small number of other operators so you may join with travellers booking with different companies.
At Encounters Travel we aim to only ever use local Israeli guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing. A different guide may be used for the Occupied Palestinian Territory sites to the rest of the tour
The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Many nationalities (including UK, European, USA, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African) do not need to obtain a visa to enter Israel as a period as long as your stay is for less than 3 months. Other nationalities should check with their local consulate.
Most of our tours visiting Israel also enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). No special visas are required but check points and border posts are operated by the Israeli authorities and access is sometimes limited or restricted.
The local currency in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the Israeli Shekel (ILS). You do not need to arrange to bring any Shekels with you as exchange facilities are available in the international airports and in most hotels, banks and bureau de changes in major towns. You should try to obtain and keep hold of small denomination notes or coins on you during the tour as these are useful for toilets, tips and small purchases. ATMs are readily available in major towns and many local shops will accept VISA/Mastercard or Amex, but may charge fees of up to 10% - check before you pay. Travellers cheques are not recommended as they can not be changed in many places now, and can incur high fees.
While in Israel and the OPT you will need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs and personal expenses such as laundry. These should generally all be paid for in local currency, though tips for guides and drivers may be paid in hard currency (GBP, USD, EUR).
It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, we would suggest allowing USD 25-35 per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Israel. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips – you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.
Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.
Clothing: The climate in Israel varies widely from hot days in the summer to cool and sometimes wet days in the winter months. At night, especially in the deserts, the temperatures can drop quite dramatically. So you must pack for cool conditions. Formal dress (eg. suits & ties) is not required. When visiting any mosques, legs and arms should be covered.
Other items: We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
We run regular departures on this tour starting on Sundays throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 people. We can also run this tour privately starting on any other dates. Please contact us for details and prices based on the number of people in your party and your preferred dates.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If your tour includes car hire, ior if you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
Before purchasing any travel insurance, please check the coverage provided for situations related to Covid-19, and for the rules about government travel advice. Your normal policy may not be suitable. Details about our own policies cover levels are given on our website.
We are a UK registered company and are committed to providing our customers with financial protection to provide peace of mind and to allow you to book with confidence.
We have therefore partnered with Trust My Travel Ltd., which provides financial protection services to over 2000 partners around the world. Funds paid to us by our customers are protected via an Insurance policy held by Trust My Travel. Each traveller and the description of services sold is declared against Trust My Travel’s insurance policy directly against our financial failure. In the event of our insolvency, you will be refunded for any unfulfilled products and/or repatriation to the UK (where applicable). Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Egypt: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Jordan: Tetanus, Hepatitis A
Israel: Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis
Lebanon: Dipheria, Hepatitis A
Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics.
Note: We are aware of some places in Egypt using 'black henna' instead of pure brown henna. Black henna contains a chemical dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which can result in severe allergic reactions and resultant scarring. To be safe we recommend avoiding any henna tattoos while in Egypt unless you are certain they are using pure brown henna.
The time in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon is GMT plus 2 hours and in UAE GMT plus 3 hours. Daylight saving adjustments have historically been applied in some years but not others. At present it appears that there will be no daylight saving changes in Egypt 2016 and beyond, though this may change at short notice (with a resulting impact on flight times and schedules). In Jordan and Israel, daylight saving of one hour is generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making it GMT plus 3 hours. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.