How to Plan a First Trip to Israel for 2023/2024

How to Plan a First Trip to Israel for 2023/2024

By Vicky Leng | Updated Sep. 28, 2023

Israel, holy land of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, is rich in culture and history, and has an abundance of religious temples, historical sites, and museums. Additionally, Israel boasts a wide variety of natural scenery such as sandy beaches, green forests, spectacular canyons, deserts, and the incredible Dead Sea depression, lowest place on Earth.

No matter whether you're religious, a nature lover, or a foodie, Israel offers special experiences for you all to enjoy. An attractive trip can be planned, whether you are travelling with your kids or husband/wife.

In this article, we'll give you the necessary information to help you plan your perfect trip to Israel, including budgeting guidance for your trip, when you should visit, top places to go, how long should you stay where, and more.

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Do I Need a Visa to Visit Israel?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter Israel, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers can stay in Israel without a visa for 90 days.

How Much Does a Trip to Israel Cost?

Carmel Market in Tel AvivCarmel Market in Tel Aviv

As a developed country, Israel has prices that are similar or even higher than Europe's, which means that daily travel costs in Israel for private touring are much higher than in neighboring Egypt (US$200–300 p/p) and Jordan (US$400–600 p/p). A private tour in Israel costs around US$500–700 per person per day, which typically includes 4-star hotels, a full-day itinerary, private guide, and private car.

The biggest expenses of your trip would be international flights and hotels. Airfares can vary significantly for different routes, so it is important to make comparisons before booking. For example, a round trip direct flight from New York to Tel Aviv in Israel costs about $1,200–1,800. Local 4-star hotels cost around $250–300 per night. If you're celebrating Christmas and New Year in Israel, consider departing before December 20th for more affordable international flight tickets.

As for food, inexpensive restaurants cost around $10–15 per person, a meal at a mid-range restaurant averages around $25–45, while luxury restaurants cost $90 and above.

Check out more price details about the cost of a trip to Israel>>>

The Top 5 Places to Visit in Israel

With so many wonderful places to visit in Israel, we understand that it can be difficult to choose where to go. Below we suggest the top five areas to visit in Israel according to our knowledge and experience.

1) Jerusalem: Holy Land of Israel

Western Wall in JerusalemWestern Wall in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the largest city in Israel, is considered by many to be the holiest city in the world — for Judaism, for Christianity, and in Islam's top three, without a doubt. It's the must-visit city when planning an Israel trip.

Whether you are religious or not, Jerusalem is a great place to experience the culture and history in Israel. Don't miss the Western Wall ("Wailing Wall"), Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and Temple Mount.

To get a deeper experience of local life in Jerusalem, you can sample delicious cuisine and immerse yourself in the local culture in the lively Mahane Yehuda Market. Additionally, Jerusalem has a variety of museums, each offering a unique opportunity to explore and enrich your understanding of the city.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a 2-Week Egypt, Jordan, and Israel Trip>>>

2) Tel Aviv-Yafo: Modern Seaside City with a Heritage History

Tel AvivTel Aviv

As Israel's largest seaside city, Tel Aviv-Yafo, is prosperous and modern, but with historied areas. Not only can you appreciate the UNESCO heritage buildings, but also you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of its beaches.

Jaffa (Yafo), one of the oldest cities in Israel, later merged with Tel Aviv to form a single city. Immerse yourself in the charming old town of Jaffa, which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. There, you can wander through narrow alleys, admire stunning buildings, and explore fascinating galleries and museums.

Tel Aviv is a vibrant and modern city known for its colorful nightlife. You can enjoy the sunshine on its sandy beaches, bike along the seaside walk, stroll through the White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its distinctive architecture, or unwind in a bar to feel the energy of the city in the evenings.

Suggested reading: 7 Days in Israel>>>

Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day. Over 50% of our clients complete their bookings within 10 days of submitting their inquiry.

3) The Dead Sea: Earth's Saltiest Lake Where People Float Easily

floating on the Dead SeaFloating on the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of the most famous attractions in the world. It's both the lowest and saltiest lake in the world. However, what continues to draw visitors from around the world is the unique experience of effortlessly floating on the water's surface. To capture this unforgettable experience, be sure to get a classic floating Dead Sea photo with a newspaper.

Contact us for more suggestions based on your interests.

4) Haifa: Scenic Port City

Hanging Gardens of HaifaHanging Gardens of Haifa

Located on the Mediterranean coast, Haifa is the third largest city in Israel, famous for its port, beaches, and cultural attractions.

The Baha'i Terraces (Hanging Gardens of Haifa) is one of the most important attractions in Haifa. This UNESCO World Heritage site features magnificent gardens where visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscaping, as well as take in stunning sea views, as it overlooks the Mediterranean.

Just 40 minutes' driving from Haifa, you could take a day trip to Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up and traced part of his Earthly lineage. Also, you could explore the natural beauty of the adjacent Sea of Galilee.

Suggested reading: 10-Day Israel Itineraries>>>

5) Eilat: Resort City on the Red Sea

diving with dolphin in EilatDiving with dolphin in Eilat

Eilat is Israel's single city on the Red Sea and its southernmost city. This picturesque place is known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, making it an ideal destination for activities such as diving and snorkeling.

You could experience a close encounter with adorable dolphins at Dolphin Reef, usually popular with both adults and kids. Nature lovers, dive to see unparalleled coral or hike in the Red Canyon to appreciate its shapely layered walls. Laying back on the beach and enjoying some family/couple is a more relaxing way to make a truly memorable trip.

Just let us know your interests and requirements, and we can help make it happen.

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Best Times to Visit Israel

beach in Tel AvivBeach in Tel Aviv

Israel can be visited throughout the year, and each season offers different benefits.

In general, the best times to visit Israel are during spring (April to May) and fall (September to October), which bookend Israel's summer dry season and offer dry days and pleasant temperatures. As a bonus, these seasons offer the opportunity to experience important Israeli festivals such as Passover in March/April or Rosh Hashanah in September/October.

Although June to August is the hottest time, with average high temperatures ranging from 84°F (29°C) in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to 102°F (39°C) at the Dead Sea. It's the busiest time to visit Israel once the summer vacation begins. Hotels and flights are easily fully booked and prices tend to be higher, so we suggest you make reservations at least 6 months in advance.

November to March is the rainy and cooler "winter" season, when temperatures average around 52–66°F (11–19°C), though around 9°F (5°C) cooler in mountainous Jerusalem. During this time, you could enjoy an absence of crowds and lower prices. The rainfall doesn't get very heavy, so it won't affect your journey. Israel is a great place to celebrate Christmas or New Year with your family!

Suggested reading: Best and Worst Times to Visit Israel>>>

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How Many Days to Spend in Israel

Church of the Holy Sepulcher in JerusalemChurch of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem

We suggest that you take at least a week for your first Israel trip to see a spectrum of the highlights in the top two cities:

  • 4 days in Jerusalem
  • 3 days in Tel Aviv

If you want to explore more of Israel's popular destinations, or if you plan to visit nearby Egypt and/or Jordan too, it is recommended to allocate two to three weeks for your trip.

Here are three well-organized itineraries for holidays of three popular lengths (8, 12, and 14 days), each offering memorable experiences for you. We would customize your itinerary based on your requests, and we could also design in some free days for you to rest and relax or do some exploring on your own.

1) 8-Day Classic Israel Itinerary: Major Highlights of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Jaffa old townJaffa old town
  • Jerusalem – Tel Aviv

Here is a hand-picked itinerary of classic attractions for you to consider:

  • Days 1–4: Jerusalem (Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Mahane Yehuda Market, and Israel Museum)
  • Days 5–8: Tel Aviv (Jaffa old town, Carmel Market, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art)
map of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

This itinerary focuses on the two main cities of Israel. In Jerusalem you can experience the solemn atmosphere of the Western Wall, visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection are depicted, and enjoy a full-city view from the Mount of Olives. In Tel Aviv you can immerse yourself in the historical old town of Jaffa, bike along the seaside promenade, and relax on the sandy beaches.

Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day. Over 50% of our clients complete their bookings within 10 days of submitting their inquiry.

2) 12-Day Adventurous Israel Itinerary: Explore Major Cities and Natural Scenery

Masada National ParkMasada National Park
  • Jerusalem – Dead Sea – Tiberias – Haifa – Tel Aviv

Here is the itinerary summarized for your inspiration:

  • Days 1–3: Jerusalem (Western Wall, Mount of Olives, Temple Mount, Church of the Holy Sepulcher)
  • Days 4–5: Dead Sea (float on the Dead Sea, Masada National Park)
  • Days 6–7: Tiberias (Sea of Galilee, Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth)
  • Days 8–9: Haifa (the Baha'i Hanging Gardens, the German Colony)
  • Days 10–12: Tel Aviv (old town of Jaffa, bike along the seaside walk, stroll through Nevzedek)
map of Israel

With this itinerary, you could visit the major attractions of Israel's main cities and popular areas. Feel the strong religious atmosphere in holy Jerusalem, experience the unique sensation of floating on the Dead Sea, explore the incredible Masada National Park, take in the charming scenery of the Sea of Galilee, take a day trip to Nazareth to see the hometown of Jesus, and enjoy yourself on the attractive beaches of Tel Aviv to finish your trip.

3) 14-Day Israel and Jordan Route

Petra in JordanPetra in Jordan
  • Jerusalem – Amman – Petra – Wadi Rum – Tel Aviv

Here is a sample itinerary for your inspiration:

  • Days 1–4: Jerusalem (Western Wall, Mahane Yehuda Market, Church of the Holy Sepulcher)
  • Days 5–6: Amman (the Citadel and Roman Theater)
  • Days 7–8: Petra (the Treasury and AI-Siq)
  • Days 9–10: Wadi Rum (desert activities)
  • Days 11–14: Tel Aviv (old town of Jaffa, a variety of museums, sandy beaches)
map of Israel and Jordan

As neighboring countries, cross-border tours of Israel and Jordan are popular among travelers. To have a wonderful trip with your family/partner, don't miss the following experiences: immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of the Western Wall of Jerusalem, visit the ancient Citadel and Roman Theater in Amman in Jordan, head to Petra to see the unbelievable sandstone city, ride a camel in the majestic desert of Wadi Rum, and end your trip perfectly by relaxing on the beaches of Tel Aviv.

For more detail on itineraries similar to the above, see our Middle East tours. You could also find more ideas about how long to spend in Israel and handpicked itinerary options>>>

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Is It Safe to Travel to Israel?

Overall, Israel is a relatively safe country to travel. The main tourist areas like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Eilat, and the Dead Sea are reliably safe. Israel is a country that takes tourism very seriously and invests a lot of money to ensure the safety of travelers. We suggest that you check your country's travel advisories before your trip though.

To avoid unpredictable attacks, travelers are advised not to go to Israel's dangerous areas like the West Bank, Gaza, and the area around the Gaza Strip.

Why Travel with Global Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)

  • Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
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  • Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
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