Tour type: Shoestring
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 45
Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels
Transport: A/C minibus/coach
Highlights: Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Haifa, Acre, Galilee, Tiberias, Golan Heights, Nazareth, Qumran, Masada, Megiddo, Beith Shean, Bethlehem, Dead Sea, old & new Jerusalem
On this fascinating 8-day Israel tour, you'll have the opportunity to discover sites of biblical and historical importance with a focus on Christianity.
We visit locations that played an important role in Jesus' life and Bethlehem; Tiberias and the shores of the Sea of Galilee; Nazareth and Cana, Jerusalem, including the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and so much more!
After you've arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, one of our representatives will meet you after passport control for assistance and transfer to your hotel in Tel Aviv. The rest of the day is yours either to explore or relax from your long flight.
Tel Aviv hotel
Extra day in Tel Aviv - pre-tour
Single room supplement (ISSGFI)
We officially kick off the Israel tour with a visit of the port city of Jaffa (Joppa), where we will take a short walking tour in alleys of the old, fortified town. We'll also pass by the house of Simon the Tanner and marvel at the views from the hilltop.
Next, we head north along the coastal road - Via Maris - to the archaeological ruins of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus Caesar. From here we go on to visit Megiddo where the book of Revelations mentions a great battle at the place called "Armageddon", an ancient city inhabited continuously for more than five millennia (6000-500 B.C.).
We end our day with a drive toward the Sea of Galilee, stopping at Cana to visit the Wedding Church, where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine.
Today, we visit the sites on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, the stage for many of the events in Jesus' life.
We will also take a drive along the shore of the sea to Capernaum, known as 'His Town', the centre of Jesus ministry where he spent much time healing the sick and performing miracles. Next, we visit Tabgha, the site of Christ's miracle of feeding the 5,000, visiting the Church of Multiplication, and the Church of the Primacy of St Peter.
We continue to the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the sea, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and it is believed that he picked his 12 Apostles. We then ascend to the Golan Heights to view the panoramic view of the peaks of Mt. Hermon and the rugged Golan plateau.
We also get the chance to visit Banias (Caesarea Philippi), one of the sources of the River Jordan, and drive to the southern part of the Sea of Galilee to visit the Yardenit Baptismal Site.
We set sail on a boat on the Sea of Galilee and subject to conditions and fee. We journey through the Galilee to Nazareth, where Jesus spent his childhood, and the Church of Annunciation, built on the site where archaeologists believe the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and this is where you'll see Mary's Well and Joseph's Church.
We also visit the ancient synagogue at Beit Alpha, located at the foot of the northern slopes of the Gilboa Mountains which has one of most preserved and beautiful mosaics in Israel, and we end the day with a drive through the Jordan Valley, passing by Jericho, before ascending through the Judean Mountains to Jerusalem.
We start the day bright and early with a drive towards the remarkable scenery of the Dead Sea and nearly 1,300 feet below sea level, the lowest point on the earth's surface.
We make our first stop at Masada that is situated right on an isolated cliff in the Judean Desert. This site has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
We then make our way to fortress known to be the last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots in their war against the Romans. While here, we will visit excavations, King Herod's palace, the synagogue, bathhouse, and more.
Our next stop will be at the Qumran Caves site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. A highlight of today is having the opportunity to 'float' in the Dead Sea and if the weather permits.
Start the day at the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book with the famous Dead Sea scrolls, then a visit to the beautifully renovated model of the Herodian city of Jerusalem, dating back to the time of the Second Temple.
We'll also have the opportunity to enjoy Ein Karem; a picturesque village in the south western outskirts of Jerusalem. This small village has great significance in Christian traditions, since this is where according to tradition John the Baptist was born.
We then visit Yad Vashem the official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953, located at the foot of Mt. Hertzl, and a not forgetting we visit Bethlehem today; the birthplace of Jesus at the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square.
Did you know that Jerusalem is the holy city for each of the world's three great religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Today we head to Jerusalem where our tour will begin at Mt. Scopus for a panoramic view of the city.
The next stop will be at the Mount of Olives, the site where Jesus first gave the Lord's Prayer, followed by a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus.
While in the Old City we will stop at the Western Wall, a holy place for Judaism. We will also visit the actual site of the Second Temple, the Temple Mount. We may visit other famous monuments such as Walk the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa to Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, housing both the traditional site of Crucifixion and the Tomb of the Resurrection.
We then head just outside the Old City to Mount Zion where we'll stop at the traditional tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper.
Our Israel tour has officially come to an end. Today you'l be taken back to the airport to head home. If you'd like to further your stay, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Extra day in Jerusalem - post-tour
Israel is extremely busy this year and many hotel allocations are full. Availability is on a request basis so please contact us with your preferred dates and we will check space in the standard and upgraded hotel levels for you.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often 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.
Sea Net Hotel
A good mid-range hotel in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, located just a 3 minute walk to the beach.
A good mid-range hotel in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, located just a 3 minute walk to the beach. The hotel has an on-site restaurat, bar and coffee shop.
The 70 air-conditioned rooms have mini-bar and safe and the in-room TV's have cable channels as standard. Bathrooms include a bath or shower and hair dryer and complimentary wifi is available throughout the hotel.
Prima Galil Hotel
Located in the centre of Tiberias, the Prima Hotel offers comfortable accommodation with great views over the city.
Located in the centre of Tiberias, the Prima Hotel offers comfortable accommodation with great views over Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.
Guests can enjoy clean, spacious rooms and larger family suites are also available.
The hotel is great base for exploring the city and the historial monuments around the Sea of Galilee. The hotel features an outdoor terrace, gardens, bar and restaurant. Rooms at the hotel feature free toileteries, bathrobe and en-suite facilities, flat screen TV, radio, air conditioning and mini bar.
Jerusalem Gold Hotel
The Jerusalem Gold is an elegant hotel in the heart of the new city, next to the Central Bus Station and a 20-minute walk from the historic centre.
The Jerusalem Gold is an elegant hotel in the heart of the new city, next to the Central Bus Station and a 20-minute walk from the historic centre.
Rooms at the Jerusalem Gold come with extra-long beds, Mahogany furniture, black-out curtains, and double glazed windows for extra quiet. You can choose your pillow from a menu. Modern facilities include air conditioning, fridge, video games, and a laptop-sized safe.
The hotel is a stone throw away from the Jerusalem Congress Centre, while the colourful Mahne Yehuda Market is within walking distance. The city's major attractions, such as the Biblical Zoo, Time Elevator and Science Museum, are easily accessible by public transport.
There are numerous restaurants, shops and entertainment venues within short walking distance from the Gold Hotel.
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 standard level on this tour, together with a night in a Kibbutz hotel. Options are available to upgrade the accommodation to Comfort, Superior and Deluxe levels. Prices are available on the options tab.
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. 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 small-group departures on this tour starting on Sundays throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 people. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.
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.
Biblical Israel & Country Reviews
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