Israel is a small country but it is packed with rich cultural and historical sites. Renowned for its biblical history its modern side should not be ignored. Tel Aviv with its lively port Jaffa, trail-blazing Israeli food scene and buzzing nightlife is becoming a great long weekend destination. In stark contrast, whatever your beliefs, it’s hard not to be moved by some of the holiest places in Christianity and Judaism. Highlights of Israel include:
- The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world.
- Manger Square and the Shepherds’ Field just outside Bethlehem.
- Tel Aviv – cosmopolitan city with its ancient port Jaffa.
- Floating in the health giving waters of the Dead Sea.
- The desert fortress of Masada.
- Beaches and snorkelling in Eilat.
- Baha’i terraced gardens of Haifa.
- Western Wall, Tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem.
Just one hour’s drive from Jerusalem you will find the lovely En Gedi Nature Reserve. It is home to the largest herd of ibex in Israel and a number of birds of prey. There are marked trails to waterfalls, springs and streams. And for experienced walkers it is possible to make the steep ascent to the plateau of the Judaen desert. No guide is needed to walk in this park and a brochure with detailed walking trails is provided at the entrance. Perhaps the best walking in Israel however, is in the middle of the Negev Desert in the Mitzpe Ramon nature reserve. The scenery is spectacular and there are endless hiking opportunities varying from half day and full day hikes to multi-day trips. Maps are available at the visitors’ centre and there is a website detailing all the different trails. There are some gorgeous stylish boutique hotels close by of varying price levels.
Private Tour of Jerusalem & the Holy Land
from £3645 per person
Jordan & Jerusalem 11-day private tour
from £3495 per person
Long weekend in Tel Aviv & Jerusalem
from £1250 per person
You don’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist. On entry, visitors are granted leave to enter for a period of up to three months.
Visitors entering via Ben Gurion airport are given an entry card instead of an entry stamp in their passport. While this practice is in place at other ports of entry, there have been instances where passports have been stamped for entry purposes. You should keep your entry card with your passport until you leave. This is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be required, particularly at any crossing points into the Occupied Palestinian Territories. If you’re refused entry into Israel, your passport may be stamped with an entry stamp and two red lines drawn across it to indicate the refusal.
It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel, if you have any particular concerns about visas or entry into Israel, you should contact the Israeli Embassy in London.
You will need to ensure your usual vaccinations are up to date. You might also wish to consider Hep A, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Rabies. Read more not he NHS Fit for Travel website.
You should dress modestly in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Local residents in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods can react strongly to anyone (particularly women) dressed inappropriately. Women should not wear trousers.