The 9 Best Israel Tours to Buy in 2018

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Israel is a fascinating place: It's a holy land for several of the world’s major religions, a place of social and religious diversity and home to some of the most important historical sites in the world. And this geographically fascinating area also has everything from great beaches to seemingly endless olive groves and striking, barren mountains. Because of all this, it remains a hugely popular traveler’s destination, even despite social and political tensions that are pervasive within the country and dominate conversations about it from the outside.

Whether you’re looking at an Israel visit for religious reasons, because you’re fascinated by history in general or just because you like visiting new places, a tour might be a good option for you. Visits to historical sites, in particular, are often improved by a good tour guide, who can fill in all the historical background information that you either never learned or forgot ages ago, and provide insight into art and cultural context. Tours are particularly excellent options for visiting Israel, and each offering a different experience of this intriguing place.

Want some guidance when it comes to selecting which tour(s) to go on? We can help. Take a peek below to find the best Israel tours to book today.

  • 01 of 09

    Mini-tours are great for both travelers who don’t have a long time to spend in the country as well as those who are planning on an extended trip but would like the option of combining some guided experiences with other days on their own. This two-day highlight trip departs Tel Aviv in the morning on an air-conditioned coach bus, stopping at the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem for a view of the city and then continuing on to the old city, passing the Garden of Gethsemane on the way. You’ll view the Western Wall, walk the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before taking the six-mile drive out to Bethlehem, where you’ll visit the Church of the Nativity and the Mosque of Oman, and then it’s back to your overnight accommodations (tourist grade) in Jerusalem.

    Day Two takes you out into the Judean Desert to the ancient mountaintop fortress of Masada, and then on to the Dead Sea, where you’ll have two free hours to relax on the beach or float in the salt-dense water. On the ride back to Tel Aviv, you’ll see the city of Jericho in the distance. The entire tour is guided by a local professional with deep knowledge of both history and culture. Overnight accommodation, breakfast and transportation are included.

  • 02 of 09

    If you’re fascinated by the world-altering history of Israel and want to visit the most famous sites from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures, as well as some Muslim holy sites, but aren’t looking for a specifically religious tour, this is a great choice. A non-doctrinal guide will show you through many of these famous sites, giving historical and biblical context to the areas, but also explaining the reverse: how the geography and physical reality of the locations contextualize those biblical stories. Among the stops: the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, David’s Tomb, the Chamber of the Holocaust memorial site, the city of Jericho, Elisha’s Spring, the city of Bethlehem, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes at Tabgha, the ancient synagogue of Capernaum, the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, plus Mount Tabor. Three nights’ accommodation, breakfast, entrance fees and transport by air-conditioned coach are all included. 

  • 03 of 09

    This full-day tour from Tel Aviv takes travelers out of town to visit some of ancient and modern Judaism’s most fascinating sites and offers a great deal of insight into the development of Rabbinic Judaism. The tour begins with a hotel pickup in Tel Aviv in the morning, from where you’ll head straight to the plain of Armageddon. Here, you can see the biblical Hill of Megiddo, a major historical site that has been occupied since the Bronze Age, before heading to Tiberias, at the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias is the final resting place of a number of influential historical rabbis, including Rabbi Meir Baal Haness and Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides). Enjoy lunch on your own (there are lots of options; your guide will make suggestions), and then continue on to Safed, the historical center of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). There, you’ll visit the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue and the Isaac Luria Visitor Center. Your final stop of the day will be at the top of Mount Meron, where the Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) is buried. From there, you’ll be delivered straight back to your hotel in Tel Aviv.

  • 04 of 09

    For Christians or those interested in Christian history, this tour, which includes just about everything except airfare and lunches, is a fascinating and logistics-free way to see Israel — hop in a coach, follow your guide and learn. You’ll see Christian sites like the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, Calvary, Mt. Zion, Dormition Abbey (where the Virgin Mary died), the tomb of King David, the room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the villages of Nazareth, Capernaum and Tiberias, the Crusader fortress at the ancient city of Acre. You’ll also choose between a free day to explore Tel Aviv or a trip out to the Dead Sea for a soak in its famous mineral-rich waters. It’s a dense tour, filled with a lot of motion and action, but if that’s your speed, you won’t find a better one.

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  • 05 of 09

    If your Israel trip is Jerusalem-based but you’d like to get out of town and see some of the sights of the countryside, consider this overnight trip through some of Northern Israel’s most interesting places. On the first day, you’ll travel to Golan Heights, with photo op stops at the Hill of Megiddo and Yardenit, on the banks of the Jordan. You’ll take a walking tour of the ruins of Katzrin, an ancient Jewish village which includes the remains of a 6th-century synagogue. Then you’ll head to the top of Mount Bental, from where you can see Syria. Your overnight accommodations are on a kibbutz, a comfortable and totally unique experience. Day Two takes you to Nazareth and then on to Cafa, one of the locations theorized to be the biblical Cana, where Jesus fed 5,000 at the wedding. Finally, you’ll make a stop at Yardenit, the site of Jesus’s baptism, to learn about ancient and modern baptismal rituals. From there, it’s back to your Jerusalem hotel.

  • 06 of 09

    The Judean Desert is a fascinating place — so sparse, in the modern era, and yet so packed with history. This single-day tour visits some of its most fascinating locations, and also allows for a good several hours of relaxation in or next to the legendary healing waters of the Dead Sea. The tour departs from Jerusalem in the morning and heads to Masada, passing the Inn of the Good Samaritan, the city of Jericho, the shore of the Dead Sea and the oasis of Ein Gedi. You’ll also make a stop at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Then you’ll take a cable car to the peak of Masada, the ancient mountaintop fortress, before returning back to the shores of the Dead Sea, where you’ll spend the rest of the day, before being returned back to your hotel in Jerusalem.

  • 07 of 09

    Best Jerusalem Tour: Jerusalem Three Religions Holy City Walking Tour

    Dome of the Rock

    Getty Images

    Jerusalem itself is packed with enough sightseeing to occupy many weeks, but this single-day tour, led by a deeply knowledgeable expert guide, gives you a pretty good sampling of its highlights, focusing on its holy sites. The tour begins at the walls of the ancient city and proceeds to the Haram/Temple Mount, the site of King Solomon’s first temple, and Mount Moriah, where Abraham is said to have been asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. You’ll then visit the Dome of the Rock shrine, one of the most beautiful examples of ancient Islamic architecture and one of the holiest sites in Islam, where the Prophet Muhammed is said to have ascended to heaven. Then you’ll visit Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried. On your walk, you’ll also see the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall), Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Last Supper Room and the Tomb of King David, among others. It’s a dense tour but a great one for folks who love strolling (and learning).

  • 08 of 09

    Led by an art historian, this private tour offers guests an in-depth, customized look at this culturally-rich urban area. The tour begins with a hotel pick-up, and the first site on the docket is Jaffa, a bustling ancient port that was first built around 4,000 years ago. From there, you’ll head into the much more modern city that surrounds it, Tel Aviv. Your guide will show you around the White City neighborhood, one of the world’s most extensive collections of Bauhaus buildings, and the American Colony, an oddly New England-y village within the city, first built by American Christians from Maine who settled here. You’ll also visit Sarona, a former German missionary colony that looks rather like a charming European village, and its spectacular Farmers’ Market. The tour involves both walking and driving and gives visitors a great sense of both ancient and modern Tel Aviv.

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  • 09 of 09

    It’s difficult for even the most sophisticated political and theological minds in the world to fully grasp the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this tour offers visitors a rare, purposefully-balanced look at the historical and contemporary issues facing the people who live in the area. The first half of the tour, you’ll be guided through the Israeli side of Hebron with an Israeli-Jewish guide, who will speak on the history of the conflict from his perspective, while visiting several important Jewish sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Tel Rumeida (believed to be the site of biblical Hebron).

    On the second half of the tour, you’ll travel into the H1 sector to meet with your Palestinian guide. You can choose to have lunch in a Palestinian family’s home and then tour the main part of the city, including the Ibrahimi Mosque (which lies on the Muslim side of the Tomb of the Patriarchs), all while hearing about the conflict from the Palestinian perspective. It’s unlikely that you’ll end the day with a new solution to the conflict there, but at the very least, you’ll have an informed, thoughtful, well-rounded look at the human side of things. It may not be a traditional sightseeing tour, but it’s no less interesting.