Israel is a country where empires and religions have clashed for millennia. Strolling through Jerusalem on this 7 day Israel itinerary you’ll discover city walls, ancient tombs, defensive castles and religious shrines that bear the scars of these clashes. They are the physical hallmarks of the kings, prophets and high priests, whose legacy continues to shape our lives to this day.

Travelling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv will unravel a fascinating travel experience. While one is a rich historical tapestry, the other is a modern Mediterranean city with trendy cafes and an alluring beach vibe. Tel Aviv is hipster-powered dining, the poster boy of vegan eating; Jerusalem is where gun carrying army teens co-exist with cool urbanites.

Of all the places we have visited, Israel left its mark as the one destination offering the most to learn about the past and the present. The ancient empire builders who used Jerusalem as their playground left behind a massive collection of historically mesmerising sites. From the ancient walls of the City of David to the quirky churches of the West Bank, this 7 day Israel itinerary is an excursion to distant places, all too familiar thanks to those primary school Bible classes.

Trip Overview

3 Days
1 Day
2 Days
Politics, power and religion in historic Jerusalem
West Bank and Bethlehem
Relaxing on the beaches and cafés of Tel Aviv

Walking in the footsteps of the most influential people in history
Learning about the origins and politics of the world’s great religions
Exploring the clash of empires through a single city
Understanding contemporary Israel and Palestine
The relaxing Mediterranean vibe of Tel Aviv

Why we loved Israel

Trip Overview

3 Days
1 Day
2 Days
Politics, power and religion in historic Jerusalem
West Bank and Bethlehem
Relaxing on the beaches and cafés of Tel Aviv

Why we loved Israel

Walking in the footsteps of the most influential people in history
Learning about the origins and politics of the world’s great religions
Exploring the clash of empires through a single city
Understanding contemporary Israel and Palestine
The relaxing Mediterranean vibe of T

Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Mixing ancient cultures with artesian cocktails.

Day 1 | Discovering Jewish History in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a living breathing museum of Jewish history and nothing beats exploring these amazing sites on foot. Keep in mind, some of the sites have unusual opening hours, so this need to be factored in. We have included rough times where necessary to help you plan. For some history to accompany these amazing sites, see our Jewish history article.

08:00 /Start at Mount Zion and head to the Tomb of David. While there is uncertainty as to whether this is the correct resting place of David, it’s one of the most revered Jewish holy places in the country. After witnessing the energetic sex-segmented praying, head to Cenacle – the room of the Last Supper – which can be reached from the courtyard just outside the Tomb of David. 09:15 /Head east to collect the City of David and stop off at the Tunnel of Hezekiah. 10:45 /After exploring this ancient feat of engineering, go north to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park where you can learn the fascinating history of Herod’s expansion of the Temple Mount and its incorporation into the city.

12:00 /Next, soak up the fascinating atmosphere at the Western Wall, watching the observant pray along the 2nd most holy site in Jerusalem for people of Jewish faith.  12:45 /Stop for lunch at Between the Arches to enjoy some well-constructed Israeli food. 13:30 /After lunch, head into the Temple Mount to see the spectacular Dome of the Rock. Muslims can gain access from any of the entrances, but non-Muslims must go through the entrance by the Western Wall. 

14:30 /After exploring the Temple Mount head up to the Citadel: Tower of David. This citadel was originally built by Herod and now contains a museum. This museum takes you through the history of Jerusalem and hopefully helps to pull together many of the sights you have seen so far today. 16:00 /Exit through the Jaffa Gate, and head south to explore more of the ancient city walls before re-entering through the Zion Gate and wandering through the Jewish Quarter. Locate ‘Broad Wall’ a remnant of the city walls built around 700 BCE.

19:00 /Have dinner at Chakra, for some simple but excellent Israeli cooking to end the first day of your 7 Day Israel Itinerary.

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HIGHLIGHT
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem
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Seeing the Dome of the Rock up close

Day 2 | Scattering of Christian Sites in Jerusalem

After yesterday’s Jewish exploration, today discover some of the Christian New Testament locations, etched into your mind from those years of compulsory religious education. Read about our experience exploring these amazing places.

09:00 /Take a taxi to Mount of Olives and go to the Chapel of the Ascension, the spot where the faithful believe Jesus ascended into heaven. Take note of the footprint in the stone slab in the chapel, supposedly the footstep of Christ.

Start walking down from the Mount of Olives collecting the small church where Jesus first taught the Lord’s Prayer, and the tombs of the prophets Haggai, Malachi and Zachariah. 11:00 /Near the bottom of the hill, stop in at the Garden of Gethsemane, then at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary: a telling insight into hallmarks of different Christian Sects.

12:00 /Next, head to the Golden Gate, sealed by Muslims to stop the upcoming Messiah from gaining access to the Temple, and enter the old city through Lion’s Gate.  12:30 /Once inside the old city, head to the Church of St. Anne, the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. It’s the home of the Virgin Mary’s parents, her birthplace, and the starting point for the Stations of the Cross.

There are 14 stations in total, the first 9 around the Via Dolorosa and the final 5 in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There are little signs for each station around the Via Dolorosa area, but you’ll need a map and very keen eyes; they’re very difficult to locate. 13:30 /After about the third station grab some lunch at Abu Shukri before including a small detour to the Church of St.Alexander Nevsky.

15:00 /The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the sight of Calvary or Golgotha and contains the final 5 stations of the cross. It is the highlight of any 7 Day Israel Itinerary and is jointly owned by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic denominations. Their lack of agreement about all things relating to the church is obvious in their interior decorating style.

19:00 /Have dinner at Nafoura 100m inside Jaffa Gate, it’s a fantastic restaurant but the old town is a bit deserted and awkward at night. If you’re travelling solo, pick somewhere on the outskirts of the old town near your hotel instead.

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HIGHLIGHT
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre
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Day 3 | Muslim Quarter & Fascinating Israel Museum

09:00 /Start today’s activities by entering the old city from the Jaffa gate. Locate the tombs of the two Mamluk architects that were beheaded by Sultan Suleiman for failing to include the old City of David within the rebuilt city walls. Then walk along the ramparts of the city walls, gaining access by the Jaffa Gate, for an overview of Jerusalem. The walk heads along the Northern Wall, where you can peer into the Christian and Muslim quarters.

10:30 /Climb down from the wall at the Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter and potter around exploring this very atmospheric area. Make sure you visit Souq Al Qattanin and keep your eyes peeled for Mamluk architecture along Baba al Sisia street.

Grab a tea at Café Rimon Himo about 100m inside the Damascus Gate before exiting the city. 11:30/Outside the Damascus Gate and in East Jerusalem, stop by Zedekiah’s cave. Zedekiah was King of Judaea and it is rumoured he hid here from the Babylonians as they lay siege to the city. Next head to the Garden Tomb, a tranquil but unassuming spot with an alternate claim as the location of Calvary.

12:30 /Next take a cab or train to Mahane Yehuda Market for good coffee and a great tasty lunch. It’s a very atmospheric spot to do some people watching.

14:15 /Take a taxi to Israel Museum, which is a vital stop on your 7 Day Israel Itinerary as it gives a fascinating insight into Israel’s ancient past. Join the English speaking tour at 3 pm that covers the Shrine of the Book and the model of the Second Temple. The Shrine of the Book holds the very carefully preserved Isaiah Scroll, which is the most intact section of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The impressive model of the Second Temple affords you a bird’s eye view of what Jerusalem looked like two millennia ago.

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HIGHLIGHT
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem
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Israel Museum Tour

Day 4 | West Bank and Bethlehem

Spend the fourth day of your 7 Day Israel Itinerary on an organized tour to Bethlehem. Although you can access the West Bank on your own, given the complicated logistics of crossing the border, it’s easier to do it on an organised tour. There are a number of operators by the Jaffa gate where you can negotiate for a price.

The first stop on most tours is the Shepherd’s Field church. This marks the spot where “shepherds kept watch over their flocks” and where angels were believed to have announced Christ’s birth. The interesting thing about this location is seeing the wall dividing the West Bank and the rest of Israel rolling off into the distance.

In Bethlehem, visit the Milk Grotto Chapel, the location where Mary and Joseph stopped on their way to Egypt and a drop of Mary’s milk turned the church white.  Despite some of the dubious claims of the church, it’s a beautiful spot to visit.

The highlight of your trip to Bethlehem and its main drawcard is the Church of the Nativity. It’s the longest-running church in the world, built in 326 BCE shortly after Constantine converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. A 14-point star proudly marks the spot of Jesus’ birth. The church is administered jointly by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic and Syriac Orthodox Church authorities with the Palestinian police often called in to settle brawls.

If you need a further reminder that you’re not in Rome, head next door to St. Catherine’s Church. This new and polished Roman church is a far cry from the poorer – but far more atmospheric – Church of the Nativity.

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HIGHLIGHT
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem
1 hour each way to Bethlehem
Division of Christian Sects in the Church of the Nativity
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Day 5 | Change of pace in Tel Aviv

This morning, tick off any things you may have missed in Jerusalem, or go back to some of the sights early in the morning for good photo opportunities. The walk along the wall and some rooftops are great places to catch Jerusalem’s interesting skyline showing off in the morning light.

For the second leg of your 7 Day Israel Itinerary organise a taxi or bus to Tel Aviv and spend what’s left of the afternoon exploring the Yemenite quarter and around the triangle of Sheinken street / King George Street / Allenby Street. It’s an excellent introduction to the neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv. The charming but run-down streets of the Yemenite quarter showcase the relaxed vibe of the city. Spend some time strolling around, locating some delicious Yemenite pastries.

Head to the vibrant Carmel Market. It’s open every day of the week, except Shabbat (Saturday), and sells mostly food. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the market hosts several independent vendors who off-load unique crafts, art and jewellery to locals and travellers alike. Grab a beer at a stall and watch the world go by.

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HIGHLIGHT
Mendeli Street Hotel, Tel Aviv
1 hour, 20-minute drive to Tel Aviv
Discovering a modern side to Israel

Day 6 | Beach front walk to Jaffa Port

Jaffa Port has been in use for over for over 7,000 years, predating Muslims, Christians and Jews. It’s a great part of Tel Aviv to explore and, if the weather’s good, a walk along the beach from Tel Aviv to Jaffa is an ideal way to get there. Setting an easy pace, the walk takes about 1 hour.

Jaffa has a weekend neighbourhood feel, no matter what day it is. There is a flea market packed with various quirky stalls selling books, vinyl, antiques, delicious pastries and contemporary art. Try a juice from a local vendor and pick the most interesting looking spot for lunch. After lunch and a stroll around, collect the Jaffa Theatre in your itinerary. Here, Jewish and Arab artists work on combined or independent productions.

Back in Tel Aviv, spend the afternoon on the beach then head to Neve Tzedek for the evening.  Neve Tzedek was the first Jewish neighbourhood outside of the old port city of Jaffa. It’s oriental architectural style, narrow streets and boutiques make it a great destination for an evening out. Try Dallal on Shabazi Street for dinner They have an innovative menu that’s ideal for sharing, set in a beautiful designer space.

There are a number of bars in the area to tempt you with a nightcap after dinner.

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Mendeli Street Hotel, Tel Aviv
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Flea markets at Jaffa

Day 7 | Modern Art and beach in Tel Aviv

If you’re staying at the Mendeli Street Hotel, have breakfast at their fantastic restaurant, Mashya. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, we highly recommend heading over there for breakfast. It can get busy and you may need to wait, but the massive selection of delicious breakfast salads makes it all worthwhile.

After breakfast, have a stroll around the Tel Aviv Marina then make your way to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. It has a very interesting collection with two huge murals created especially for the museum by Lichtenstein. There are several masters plus a small collection donated by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Spend the afternoon on the beach before finding your favourite restaurant on the front for a relaxing dinner as the sun sets over the Mediterranean and a relaxing end to your 7 Day Israel Itinerary

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HIGHLIGHT
Mendeli Street Hotel, Tel Aviv
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Tel Aviv Museum of Art
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7 Day Israel Itinerary Amendments

  • If you have an extra couple of days to spare, head to the Dead Sea. We had visited from the Jordan side on a previous trip, so it wasn’t included in this itinerary. But, if you have the time it’s a fantastic thing to do.
  • While Tel Aviv has nice beaches and a relaxed vibe, if you’re anything like us, the history of Jerusalem has more appeal. But, if you’re looking for somewhere to unwind with fairly predictable weather, an extra couple of days lazing on the beach in Tel Aviv could be a good option.
Guide Books & Reading

We used the Lonely Planet Israel & the Palestinian Territories to help plan this itinerary, which was very helpful for the slightly erratic opening times in Jerusalem.

For a fascinating read about the history of Jerusalem, it’s hard to go past Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s an epic retelling of the story through the lives of the cities inhabitants, covering the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

   

Booking Tips & Checklist


  • The old town in Jerusalem is a ghost town at night. Don’t stay in the centre but just outside it, so it’s an easy stroll in each day.
  • Try to stay in Jerusalem on weekdays as a number of sites shut early on Friday and often don’t open at all on Saturday..
  • You can make your own way to Bethlehem, but we took a tour to make the slightly complicated border crossing a bit easier. Book your tour from just inside Jaffa gate after visiting the Citadel on your first day or as you start the Ramparts Walk.

7 day Israel Itinerary Hotels


When we booked the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem for this trip it had only recently opened so they were offering a very discounted rate. While we got a bit of a bargain it was a very nice hotel with a great view of the old city. The Mendeli Street Hotel in Tel Aviv was very affordable and in a great location.

4 nights Jerusalem | Mamilla Hotel
3 night Tel Aviv | Mendelli Street Hotel

7 Day Israel Itinerary Opening Times


Israel Museum | Sat, Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu: 10:00 – 17:00 / Tue: 16:00 – 21:00 / Fri: 10:00 – 14:00.
Tomb of David | Sun – Thu: 8:00 – 21:00 / Fri: 9:00 – 20:00.
City of David | Sun – Thu: 8:00 – 17:00 (winter) 8:00 – 19:00 (summer) / Fri: 8:00 – 14:00.
Jerusalem Archaeological Park | Sun – Thu: 8:00 – 17:00 / Fri: 8:00 – 14:00.
Temple Mount | Mon – Thu: 7:30 – 10:30 and 12:30 – 13:30 (winter) / Mon – Thu: 8:30 – 11:30 and 13:30 – 14:30 (summer).
Citadel: Tower of David | Sat – Thu: 9:00 – 16:00 / Fri: 9:00 – 14:00