Planning a trip to Israel? Not sure where to start or what to do in Israel? We recently spent one week in Israel and had an amazing trip. There are so many things to see in Israel I recommend at least one week in Israel or even two weeks in Israel if you can. We wanted to experience Israel with locals who know Israel and not just see Israel, so we went on a one week Puzzle Israel tour.
Puzzle Israel is an Israeli tour company that puts together custom Israel tours for guests, but they also have several group scheduled tours for those not traveling with a large group. Our Puzzle Israel tour brought us off the beaten path in Israel, we ate amazing Israeli dishes and had experiences we could have never imagined. After our one week trip with Puzzle Israel, we based ourselves in Jerusalem at the Abraham Hostel where we jumped on a few Israel day tours.
What to do in Israel
Rappel Down Ramon Crater
Rappel down the rim of the Ramon Crater, which is over 45 feet, for sure an activity to get an adrenaline pumping! After rappelling down Ramon Crater make sure to explore Israel’s largest national park the Ramon Nature Reserve.
Explore the Golan Heights
Hop in a 4×4 Jeep and drive along the northern borders of Israel. The Golan Heights borders Lebanon, Jordan and internationally recognized as Syrian territory. Great photo opportunities of not only the scenery but abandoned buildings. We had an amazing lunch set up by Puzzle Israel Catering in an old Syrian Army Headquarters building, my favorite lunch spot on our Puzzle Israel tour. On our visit to the Golan Heights, we could actually hear gunshots/explosions over the border in Syria.
Decorate The Path to Peace Wall On The Gaza Border Wall
Meet with Tsamaret Zamir who lives in the city of Moshav Netiv HaAsarah which is located right next to the border wall that separates the Gaza Strip and Israel. It was incredible to hear her story and how life is like with the threat of daily missile attacks. Tsamaret has started the project Path to Peace (Netiv L’Shalom), in which a colorful mosaic is transforming the gray security wall into a colorful canvas. We wrote messages on the ceramic pieces before placing them on the Path to Peach wall.
Go Wine Tasting
In Israel, grapes can grow in the middle of the desert, and make some high-quality wines too. There are over 300 wineries in Israel, we visited two different wineries on our Puzzle Israel tour. My personal favorite was Assaf Winery located on 20km from Rosh Pina where we based ourselves at Shulamit Yard for two nights. I’d suggest going for their wine tasting and pick up a bottle of Pinotage, my favorite wine in the world, this is the first place I have seen it outside of South Africa.
Eating, Eating, and Eating
Bring an empty stomach and a big appetite to Israel. A big part of our Puzzle Israel tour was food. Not only did we eat a ton of Israeli dishes but we also helped prepare some too. Getting in the kitchen with the Israeli chefs and learning the all the ingredients that make up some of our favorite Israeli dishes. Hummus hummus and more hummus, but is there such a thing as too much hummus? A visit to a traditional falafel/shwarma shop is must when in Israel. These tasty sandwiches are good any time of day and great late night snack after a night of drinking.
If you have a chance to try Arabic, Bedouin, or Druze food do it. We were lucky as on our Puzzle Israel tour we had lunch with a local Muslim family in their home that prepared Arabic food for us, not only was it an amazing experience but our first taste of Arabic food. Another day our guide new a local Bedouin man who welcomed us into their home (aka tent), where he prepared for us the tastiest bread cooked underground and covered with ashes. I was a little skeptical as I watched him pull it out of the ground covered in ashes and then watch him beat all the ashes off. I was wrong, it ended up being my favorite bread in all of Israel. Finding a Druze restaurant might be a difficult task and you may have to make reservations in advance, but if can make it happen it’s a must when looking for what to do in Israel.
One of our favorite ways of exploring a city and finding out what to do in Israel is just walking and getting lost. The best way to explore the Jerusalem Old City is just wandering around. You will find little photogenic corners and unique shops that won’t be on the tourist map. For the best view of Jerusalem head to the Mt. Olive lookout, which can be accessed by public transportation, but easiest with a taxi/tour.
The perfect day in Jerusalem would be by starting the day at Mt. Olives lookout then move down to the Old City visit the Wailing wall, walk through the water tunnels, visit the city of David, and end the day on a rooftop for sunset. Mamilla Hotel has one of the best rooftops in all of Jerusalem a great spot for happy hour after a day of exploring Jerusalem.
Dead Sea Floating
Most seas you swim in but the Dead Sea with its 34.2% salinity you’ll be floating in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Israel is 10 times salty than the ocean. So why is it called the Dead Sea? It’s the lowest place on Earth, 1,407 feet below sea level to be exact and no animals can survive here. There are several beaches around the Dead Sea to spend the afternoon just chilling in the Dead Sea floating and covering yourself with dead sea mud. The minerals in the Dead Sea are believed to cure/help symptoms for skin problems like psoriasis/arthritis but also leave your skin feeling & looking amazing after a little Dead Sea mud treatment.
The Dead Sea borders both Israel and Jordan, we visited the Dead Sea Israel side on a day trip from Tel Aviv with Abraham Tours that started with sunrise at Masada, hiking around Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, and ending the day at the Dead Sea floating. I highly suggest this tour as it ties in many things to do in Israel into one day trip.
Get Lost In Tel Aviv & Old Jaffa
Tel Aviv is known as a “party capital” and “The City that Never Sleeps” due to its great nightlife scene with its beachfront parties and underground clubs. Old Jaffna on the other hand, is a place to stroll around one of the world’s oldest port and shop the local artist galleries. Stay in Jaffa for sunset and look over to modern Tel Aviv for some of the best views of the city and its beaches. Make sure to pick up a falafel to fuel the day wondering around Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Visit The West Bank
Get a taste of the West Bank and visit Bethlehem, Jericho, and Ramallah on the best of the West Bank tour with Abraham Tours. A must on all tourists list on ‘what to do in Israel’ should include a visit to the West Bank. Visit the ancient baptism site of Jesus along the banks of the Jordan River. Also take a cable car to a top of a cliff overlooking Mount Temptation which is from the biblical story where Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. No visit to the West Bank would be complete without Bethlehem, spend the afternoon in Bethlehem visit the Church of Nativity, stroll the Old City market, and walk along the separation barrier that divides the city in half.
Dig deeper into the history of the West Bank on a Hebron dual-narrative tour. On our Hebron tour, we started our journey from Jerusalem to Hebron on a bullet-proof settler bus. Hebron is one of the four holy cities in Judaism and also a sacred place in Islam. Hebron is a city divided in 2. H1 is 20% of the city and is under Israeli control and the other 80% of Hebron is H2 under Palestinian control. On our Hebron tour, we spent the morning with our Israeli guide in the Jewish ‘settlers’ part of the city and the afternoon spent in the Palestinian part of the city with a Palestinian guide. I highly recommend this tour as it gives you a chance to see life from both the Israeli’s eyes and the Palestinian’s eyes.
Watch The Sunrise At Masada
Set the alarm for 3 am and head off on a Masada sunrise tour from Tel Aviv for some of the best views of Masada. We jumped on Abraham Tours Masada Sunrise tour that included a trip to the Dead Sea. This ancient fortification high up on a rock plateau on the edge of the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Hike up to the top at 5am to catch the sunrise that is well worth the early morning wake-up call. Masada is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attraction and should be on your what to do in Israel list.
Have you been to Israel, what would you tell others as “what to do in Israel?”
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Thanks to Puzzle Israel & Abraham Hostel for inviting us to experience Israel with you. As always opinions are our own.