Day 1: Monday - Arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport. Transfer to Tel Aviv, and drive through the exciting, cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv, known as The City That Never Sleeps. Check into your hotel. Then enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation at a middle-eastern restaurant in Tel Aviv's Yemenite Quarter followed by a visit to the Old City of Jaffa to stroll through the renovated artists' colony and the ancient port.
Day 2: Tuesday - Begin your trip with a special visit to Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel was signed in 1948. Drive north along the coastal highway to Caesarea, one of Israel's most important cities during the Roman Empire; visit the Herodian Theater and new excavations along the Mediterranean shore concluding with a visit to the 900-year-old crusader city built on the same site. Eat lunch on your own in Zichron Ya'acov, one of the first communities established by the early Zionist pioneers and the home of the famous Carmel Winery. Travel to a Druze village high atop the Carmel Mountains for a unique hospitality experience. Continue north to Haifa. Check into your hotel. Dinner on your own.
Day 3: Wednesday - View the golden-domed Bah'ai Shrine and the colorful Persian Gardens before departing Haifa. Visit Acre (Akko), and explore the newly renovated underground crusader city now listed on the UNESCO Heritage List and the famous British prison followed by a visit to the Ottoman fortifications around the city. Lunch on your own. Drive north to Rosh Hanikra, a rock formation at the very northern tip of Israel. Rosh Hanikra was created when the strong Mediterranean waters carved subterranean tunnels out of the soft limestone rock, creating beautiful caves and formations. Continue north to the Upper Galilee. Check into the kibbutz hotel. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 4: Thursday - Walk through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve located on the largest tributary of the Jordan River and near the Biblical settlement of Dan, or take a short hike along the Banias River at the base of the Golan Heights. Take a jeep tour climbing the Golan Heights in the footsteps of IDF soldiers and their battles in the Six Day War while enjoying the beautiful natural scenery and gaining insight into the strategic complexity of the Golan. Next, enjoy a tour of the Golan Heights. Visit Safed, a center of Jewish mysticism for hundreds of years and a contemporary artists' colony. Explore the many unique synagogues, stroll through the quaint art galleries, and shop in the artists' colony. Enjoy kayaking on the Jordan River (summer groups only). Return to the kibbutz for dinner at the hotel.
Day 5: Friday - Depart the Upper Galilee, and drive south via Tiberias, a bustling city located on the shores of the Kinneret, the sea of Galilee, and the burial site of Maimonedes. Visit the archaeological excavations at Beit Shean, one of the largest Roman-Byzantine cities uncovered in Israel (winter), or swim in the warm waters and natural springs at the Gan Hashlosha Nature Reserve (Sachne) situated at the foot of Mt. Gilboa (summer. Ascend to Jerusalem, stopping at Mount Scopus to say the traditional shehechiyanu blessing, recited upon entering Jerusalem. View Jerusalem from various vantage points around the city in order to fully appreciate its size and glory. Check into the hotel, and attend Kabbalat Shabbat services at one of the temples in the city followed by a traditional Shabbat dinner at your hotel.
Day 6: Saturday - Optional Shabbat morning services. Enjoy a guided visit to the Museum of the History of Jerusalem at David's Citadel, and walk through the history of Jerusalem from the time of Abraham (4,000 years ago) to the end of the British Mandate over Palestine. Walk along the rooftops of the Old City for a behind the scenes look at the various communities in Jerusalem and how they live together. Free evening in downtown Jerusalem with dinner on your own.
Day 7: Sunday - Guided visit through the Jewish Quarter including the Hurva Square, the Cardo, the Herodian Mansions, the Davidson Center at the Ophel Gardens, and the Kotel (Western Wall). Visit the Western Wall Tunnel, the underground continuation of the Western Wall along the Temple Mount.
Day 8: Monday - Depart for the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert. Visit Massada, Herod's mountain palace and site of the Jewish Zealots' last stand against the Roman Legionnaires. Discuss Massada's role as a symbol of Jewish defense and its current meaning and significance in modern Israel. Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony atop Massada. Experience the weightlessness of the Dead Sea as you float in its waters. Short hike to "Nahal David", the freshwater spring at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, a lush oasis in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Return to Jerusalem for celebratory Bar/Bat Mitzvah dinner at a restaurant.
Day 9: Tuesday - Take part in an active dig at the Beit Guvrin caves and prepare to get your hands dirty as you uncover pottery from the Hellenistic period, 2,300 years ago, followed by a crawl through the Maresha Cave Labyrinth. Return to Jerusalem, and tour of the Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book. Free evening.
Day 10: Wednesday - Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for departure flight.
Also see tour packages in:
Middle East Israel Local Culture Cultural Journey
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