Discover the Past, Present, and Future of the Holy Land in 11 Days

Discover the Past, Present, and Future of the Holy Land in 11 Days

Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Holy Land on an expedition. Explore the City of David and the ancient desert fortress of Masada; glide across the Sea of Galilee; and discover Jerusalem through the eyes of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Hear a broad spectrum of narratives on this program, designed in partnership with Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews.

Trip Highlights

• Meet artists and politicians, settlers and refugees, imams and rabbis.
• Explore the archaeological site of Caesarea Maritima.
• Enjoy a unique dual narrative provided by the Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders who accompany the entire expedition.
• Visit the Yad Vashem Memorial and hear from a Holocaust survivor.

11 Days in The Holy Land

Day 1 — Tel Aviv, Israel / Jerusalem

Arrive in Tel Aviv and transfer to Jerusalem. Relax at the hotel before our reception and welcome dinner tonight.

Day 2 — Jerusalem

Begin the day on the Temple Mount, capped by the shining cupola of the Dome of the Rock. Meet an imam from the Al-Aqsa Mosque who will explain the importance of this holy site to Muslims.Then visit the Western Wall, touch the ancient stones, and meet with a rabbi to learn about the significance of this sacred place. A local pastor then joins us at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, home to six Christian sects and, according to tradition, the tomb of Jesus. In the afternoon, ascend to the top of the Mount of Olives and take in a panoramic view of the domes, spires, and golden stones of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Discover the Past, Present, and Future of the Holy Land in 11 Days

Day 3 — Jerusalem

Just outside the Old City walls lies the City of David, thought to be the original capital city established by King David some 3,000 years ago. Venture into the archaeological site and meet with its Israeli administrators; later, speak with residents of the nearby Palestinian neighborhood who oppose the excavations. Get an insider’s perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an Israeli politician; then travel to Ramallah, where we are granted rare access to the offices of the Palestinian Authority to hear from a high-ranking politician.

Day 4 — Jerusalem

Today, trace the turbulent history of the birth of the state of Israel. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s moving memorial to the Holocaust, meet with a Holocaust survivor for a personal glimpse into one of history’s darkest moments. Then travel to Ein Kerem, where Christian tradition says John the Baptist was born. An Israeli and a Palestinian guide will each tell their divergent narrative of the village’s role in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Enjoy time to explore Jerusalem on your own. Tonight, gather for a discussion with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists from the Bereaved Families Forum.

Day 5 — Bethlehem and the West Bank

Travel to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to hear the viewpoints of Israeli settlers. Continue to Bethlehem and visit Manger Square; then, at the Church of the Nativity, descend into the cave revered by many as the birthplace of Jesus. Walk through a nearby Palestinian refugee camp, and learn how murals and graffiti have been used to depict the refugees’ struggles. Our final stop is Herodion, a volcano-shaped hill and fortress built by Herod the Great. Over dinner, take in a musical performance by a group of Israeli and Palestinian musicians.

Discover the Past, Present, and Future of the Holy Land in 11 Days

Day 6 — Jerusalem / Jericho / Dead Sea

This morning, meet with an environmentalist from Friends of the Earth Middle East, whose efforts to foster Arab-Jewish cooperation through environmental stewardship were featured in the special April 2010 “Water” issue of National Geographic magazine.

View the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, and then drive down through the Judean Desert to Jericho to visit the archaeological site of Tel Jericho. This afternoon, continue to our hotel, located in the Ein Gedi kibbutz on the shores of the Dead Sea. Learn about the kibbutz movement before enjoying time on your own to float in the Dead Sea, wander through the hotel’s botanical garden, or enjoy an optional spa treatment.

Day 7 — The Jordan River Valley / Tiberias

Soar up the flank of Masada in a gondola and explore King Herod’s 2,000-year-old mountaintop refuge. Then follow the Jordan Valley north to the Roman city of Bet She’an to see its remarkably preserved amphitheater, baths, and column-lined streets. Along the way, stop to dip your feet in the Jordan River, where Christian pilgrims come to be baptized.

Day 8 — Galilee

Visit Caesarea Philippi, a center of worship from the Hellenic age to the early Christian era. Explore the area as you wish this afternoon: follow a scenic trail to the Banias waterfall or enjoy a short hike through Tel Dan National Park to the ancient city of Dan. Take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias to Capernaum, where Jesus lived and preached and where many apostles, including Peter, made their home.

Day 9 — Nazareth / Jaffa / Tel Aviv

Hear the perspective of an Israeli Arab Christian on the way to Nazareth, where we visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, one of the largest churches in the Middle East. On an excursion to the mountaintop village of Beit Jann, discover the secretive traditions of the Druze people, and enjoy lunch with a Druze family in their home. Travel toward the Mediterranean coast this afternoon, and explore picturesque Jaffa, a strategic port town dating back to the Bronze Age. The bustling city of Tel Aviv is our home for tonight. Enjoy dinner here on your own.

Days 10 & 11 — Caesarea Maritima / Tel Aviv

Follow the coast north to Caesarea Maritima, Herod’s harbor city, and visit the ruins with geo-archaeologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Beverly Goodman. Then enjoy a free afternoon in Tel Aviv before gathering for a farewell reception and dinner. After breakfast the next morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Discover the best things to do in Tel Aviv, Israel

Discover the best things to do in Tel Aviv, Israel

Spend some time in ‘The Bubble’ and discover the best things to do in Tel Aviv, including restaurants, bars, hotels and attractions.

With an influx of 2.5 million international visitors every year, Tel Aviv is one of the most visited cities in the Middle East. A lively 24-hour carousel of activity, Israel’s second city – though many locals consider it the country’s first – has things to do for everyone.

With inbound Jewish influences from the East Coast of the United States to Ashkenazi Eastern Europe and the Mizrachi Yemen – and in recent decades, a large number from Russia – Tel Aviv is a cacophonous mixtape of heritage. As such it offers an exciting melting pot of cuisines, cultural traits, accents and worldviews. Palestinian and Arab influences are most evidently assimilated in what was once the sleepy port of Jaffa – the Arab town from which a Jewish suburb first relocated in 1909, before expanding into one of the most exciting metropolises on the Mediterranean.

In contrast to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is avowedly a secular city. It is known for its 24-hour nightlife and is seen as licentious by many Israelis who live outside of ‘The Bubble’, as proud hedonist Tel Avivim refer to their town.

Discover the best things to do in Tel Aviv, Israel

Perched on the Mediterranean coast, and blessed with a strip of perfect white-sand beach that runs almost the length of the city itself, there are plenty of things to do by way of wild party nights and lazy, sunny afternoons. You’ll find an array of modern restaurants, clubs, cafés and bars dominating the blocks by the beach and the centre of town.

Taxis are relatively cheap but traffic periodically chokes the city and the best way to explore is usually on foot. This will give you more opportunities to mix with the Tel Aviv locals who are arguably one of the city’s greatest selling points.

Museums and Attractions

When travelling through Israel’s cultural capital, the journey can be as invigorating as the destination. One place to make sure to explore is White City, home to 4,000 Bauhaus buildings built in the 1930s. The largest collection of such architecture in the world, the area is so unique that it has been placed under UN preservation – sign up for a guided tour from the local Bauhaus Center.

Another area to visit is the port town area of Jaffa, which is home to many Israeli artists and dozens of contemporary art galleries. Keep your eyes peeled for converted warehouses, which host performances and installations that rival any on the international stage.

It is impossible to miss the city’s abundance of incredible street art. Make sure to stroll down Allenby Street or Rothschild Boulevard to take in the stunning graffiti. For a different kind of wall art head to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art where you will be greeted by two giant Roy Lichtenstein panels in the entrance foyer. The museum’s permanent collection includes everything from Old Masters to Israeli art and ranges in specialism from architecture and sculpture to photography.

Finally, be sure to wander around the Suzanne Dellal Center, a must see for any culture junkie. The dance complex was established in 1989 and continues to be host many of Israel’s greatest social and cultural voices.

Museums and Attractions Details

Bauhaus Center 99 Dizengoff Street. +972 3 522 02 49.
Tel Aviv Musuem of Art 27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard. +972 3 607 70 20.
Suzanne Dellal Center 6 Yechieli Street. +972 3 510 56 56.