Israel Explorations - Sample Itinerary

Day 1 - Departure

Depart from the US

Day 2 - Jerusalem

Start your tour of the Old City on the Mount of Olives, with its classic view of the city and the Temple mount. Here you can literally see the various periods of Jerusalem’s history. Dominus Flevit (“the Lord wept”) is a beautiful chapel on the Palm Sunday pathway that marks where Jesus wept over the city. At Gethsemane visit the Church of All Nations and the site where, according to tradition, Jesus prayed.

Entering the Old City through the Lions Gate, you will first see the Pool of Bethesda, the site of the healing in John 5, and St. Anne’s Church, the site of Mary’s home. From there, you can walk the Via Dolorosa passing the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which has marked the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus since the fourth century. From the Church of the Holy Sepulcher it is not far, through the bazaars and markets, to the Western Wall of the Temple - "the Wailing Wall."

Day 3 - Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Morning starts at the Garden Tomb.  Then the rest of the morning spend at the Israel Museum to tour the Antiquities gallery, the model city, and the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

After lunch travel on to Bethlehem to see Manger Square and the historic Church of the Nativity.

Day 4 - Galilee

Drive through Galilee to Zipori (Sepphoris) and Nazareth to see the Basilica of the Annunciation.  Return by a different route that offers a better view of Mount Tabor (traditional Mount of Transfiguration).

Day 5 - Megiddo

Megiddo (the 'Armageddon' of Christian tradition) is one of the most spectacular (and most disputed) archaeological sites in Israel. You will see the famous gates constructed under King Solomon, for example. Or have they been misdated as leading archaeologists contend? Caesarea Maritima (to distinguish it from Caesarea Phillipi) was built by Herod the Great and became the leading city of Palestine during the next six centuries. The Apostle Paul was tried there before being sent as a prisoner to Rome. Origin was martyred there, and Crusader walls, built centuries later, still stand. Drive to Mt. Tabor on return trip.

Day 6 - The Dead Sea, Qumran, and Masada

Venture out to the Dead Sea—the lowest place on the face of the earth. The remains and caves at Qumran are the site of one of the most important archaeological finds in history –the Dead Sea Scrolls and the most ancient manuscripts of the Bible. Learn about the fascinating history of the people who spent their lives copying and studying these scrolls. Enjoy a relaxing float in the healthful waters of the lowest, saltiest body of water on earth.

Travel further south to Masada—the last holdout of the rebels after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70—rises before us. Riding the cable car to the top offers spectacular vistas of the whole area before we see the remains of Herod’s palace, the ancient synagogue, and the Roman ramp, and hear the dramatic story of the end of the siege.

Day 7 - Tiberius

Capernaum preserves an ancient synagogue and the site of the Apostle Peter’s house. On the Mount of Beatitudes, we will read and reflect on the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. At the Primacy of Peter, the traditional site of the commissioning of St. Peter and the feeding of the 5,000, we will see the ancient mosaic of the fish and the loaves, and dip our feet into the Sea of Galilee. On a kibbutz nearby, a museum preserves a first-century fishing boat dramatically excavated from the lake. A short boat ride on the Sea of Galilee lets us re-live Jesus’ sea crossings and walking on the water.

Day 8 - Masada

Take the cable-car to the top of Massada, scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the Great Revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The museum at the visitor’s center reveals the secrets of the daily life of the rebels and the story of the excavations.