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Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Lincroft, New Jersey
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Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

I need help planning a 7-8 day trip for 3 adults to Israel in early September.

We are not going to do a guided tour. However we need help putting together a reasonable trip. One of us tires easily, so don’t want to squeeze too many activities in a day, but it is our first trip to Israel and there is so much to see ( sigh).

I have selected places to see that were recommended, and I am avoiding Museums and the more modern Tel Aviv as we would rather see the actual historical and natural beauty of Israel.

My questions are:

1. Where should we stay our first day/night in Israel? We will probably be very tired from the flight unless we drug ourselves to sleep en-route (LOL). We might take a flight that gets in to Tel Aviv in the morning.

2. Does it matter where we are on Shabbat so we aren't affected by closings? Do I need to plan to be in Jerusalem on a Friday and Saturday?

3. If we rent a car, should we stay on the move from area to area, staying at different hotels? We want to have some guided day trips, which would always start and stop at the same location, so how does that affect the plan? Will we need to stay at a single central location, e.g., Jerusalem, and then day-trip out and back to each area?

4. Here is the itinerary I have come up with. Please tell me if it is do-able in the time we have, and any advice about how to do day trips. I am concerned about putting too many things in each day and rushing around, but also don't want to miss the best sights.

Tentative plan

Day 1 – Arrive in Tel Aviv – where should we spend the first night?

Day 2: Caesarea, , Akka, Rosh Hanikra Grottoes and cable car

Day 3: Safed, Golan Heights Jeep tour

Dy 4-5: Jerusalem Old City, Western Wall, Tower of David Night Show,

Day 6: Ein Gedi, Masada Cable Car, Dead Sea

Day 7: Petra or Eilat? If we want to do Petra, should that be in a tour group that leaves from Israel? Where?

Day 8 – Eliat to Tel Aviv to airport and home.

Thanks,

Meryl

NYC/Israel
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1. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Welcome to the Israel forum.

The order of your itinerary looks good. The only thing I would change is I would eliminate Petra and Eilat. On a 8 day trip it is almost impossible to do. Two days to do the two of them AND be back at the airport for a trip to the US is much much to much. ( what time is your TLV flight?)

Besides, your schedule as is leaves only 1 day in Jerusalem Considering your stated aim of your trip you are missing a huge amount of historical Israel.

To answer some of your earlier questions. You need to stay in 3 places, Tel Aviv, up north and Jerusalem. Otherwise you are going to be wasting time going back and forth.

Lincroft, New Jersey
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2. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

TLV flight is midnight on the 8th day. If I have to choose, should I do Petra or Eilat?

Spokane, Washington
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3. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Others probably have a better answer but I would say Eilat but only if you fly. There really isn't time in your itinerary. I would also add more time in Jerusalem.

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

You say that one of you tires easily and that you don't want to squeeze too much in one day. Your itinerary is really busy and the idea that you would add in Petra or Eilat is going to really be challenging.

First, doing Ceasarea, Akko and Rosh Hanikra in one day is a lot. You are looking at a 9-10 hour day if this is a day tour, and a whole of driving if you plan to do this yourself. I would suggest this is too much. Ceasarea and Akko is plenty if you want to really explore these two places.

Going to Petra is a huge deal, especially if you tire easily. It is a 7-8 hour drive to Petra and a border crossing. Even if you fly, you still have at least 4 hours of driving or more on top of the flight, a border crossing and Petra is a LOT of walking . In my opinion, for a one week trip, I agree with everyone else that you allocate another day to Jerusalem. You should spend 3 days in Jerusalem just to see the main sites. In Jerusalem, there is a lot of walking, a lot to see and if you want to do it at a moderate pace, you need at least 3 days.

Don't underestimate the time and energy you need for touring Israel. It is a small country but there is just so much to see and do. If you see coastal areas, the north, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, you have already jam-packed a week. Leave out Petra and Eilat-it will be a huge rush to do this in one day.

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5. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

You have no time for Eilat. Trying to cram in another remote spot just to say you were there is a waste of time. Also it is still summer in September and with tempertures around 100 it's not easy to enjoy yourself. While a one day tour using flights to/from Eilat is feasible ut means starting your day around 4 a.m. and ending it around 11 p.m. for close ro $600 per person while sacrificing historical sites in Israel. On a 7 day trip you must add another day in Jerusalem and stay in three different locations.

Many people want to see/do it all in a short time without realizing traveling time. Come and experience without spending half your time on the road.

Regarding tours are you looking for daily group tours(all start/end in same lication) or using local guides?

Chana

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6. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Have to join in the others, with such a short time in Israel and one member of your group who tires easily I would take out Petra and Eilat - add the extra time to Jerusalem which has so much to see and do that a day is barely scratching the surface, even 3-4 days is barely a first taste.

Your first day is also extremely long and exhausting - I would skip Rosh Hanikra and keep Ceasarea and Akko and you will still have a very long day, considering that you will then have to drive to the Eastern Galilee to be ready for your next day.

Gippsland, Australia
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7. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

1. If you take a flight I that arrives in Tel Aviv in the morning just be aware that you may not be able to book into your hotel until about 2pm. If you arrive on a Saturday then a stricter kosher hotel may not book you into your room until Shabbat is over. Having said that, your hotel will almost certainly put your bags in storage for you while you go out for the day. Check the fine print for the hotel to see what applies in your case.

The hotels that are more centrally located are on or near the beach front. You haven't mentioned what your budget would be for hotels so if you do people will be able to help you better. We have stayed at the City Hotel in Mapu Street (which seems to be renamed this year to the Prima City Hotel) and enjoyed it there. It's a mid range hotel. We have also stayed at the Leonardo Basel and the Marina Hotel. They were ok but I much preferred the City Hotel. There are also two car rental places immediately around the corner from the City Hotel which is convenient.

2. It doesn't matter where you are on Shabbat but you do need to plan around things. Your hotel will be able to provide you with a meal. We found it easier have meals in the hotel (when we weren't fending for ourselves in an apartment). It gave us more time for site seeing. There are sites which remain open on Shabbat, and the Jewish Quarter pretty much shuts down in the Old City - but there is plenty to see that is open in the other Quarters.

3. Definitely rent a car and move hotels as you go from Tel Aviv to the north. If you were planning to do Day 2 on an organised Day tour they do go to all those sites but you will be rushed through and then end up back in Tel Aviv at night which gives you a long trip if you want to go to Safed in the morning,

Day 3. You seem to have a LOT of driving on this day. I highly suggest a guided tour for Safed. We would have had a lot of difficulty finding the right area to go if we hadn't had a guide. We chose Richard Woolf who lives in Rosh Pinna which is close to Safed and were very happy with him. Do not go to Safed on Shabbat - everything will be closed.

As the others have said, don't try to do Petra or Eilat. You would be better to add a day to the north and a day to Jerusalem.

You don't need a car in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem - you are better off without one in both places. Hire the car as you leave Tel Aviv to go north. After going to the Golan Heights drive straight down to the Dead Sea area and stay there one night to go to Masada etc before going to Jerusalem. Then return the car on arrival in Jerusalem. Stay there until going to the airport for your flight home. (Or drive to Jerusalem and go to the Dead Sea the first day there - but you may have difficulty finding parking in Jerusalem).

Not all the car hire forms get good reviews here. Eldan, Avis and Hertz seem to consistently get good reviews.

Edited: 08 May 2014, 07:07
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8. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

You haven't said what day of the week you plan on arriving (meaning what day of the week Day 1, Day 2, etc. are). While many places are open on Shabbat, there are things you need to be aware of regarding your planning.

Do not visit Tzfat/Safed on Shabbat, when everything will be closed.

Car rental agencies (except at the airport, where they are open 24/7), close at 1 p.m. on Fridays and reopen on Sunday mornings. The Tower of David sound-and-light show has no performance on Friday evenings.

I agree with the others that Eilat is too much, and Petra is double-plus-beyond too much.

Lincroft, New Jersey
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9. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I have eliminated Petra and Eilat, also Rosh Hanikra based on your feedbanck.

I was thinking of arriving in Tel Aviv on Tuesday Sept 2nd. I haven't yet purchased tickets, but don't want to procrastinate on this. Timing is to leave after summer crowds and be back before High Holidays.

Based on the recommendations, I have 2 possible itineraries, but don't know where to stay when I'm in areas outside of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I could really use help on this subject

Possible itinerary 1:

Tuesday 9/2 Day 1 – Arrive in Tel Aviv 7 am, drop off luggage and crash try to spend a restful day, then stay one night in Tel Aviv or should we drive north and stay in Haifa or another place?????

Wednesday 9/3 Day 2: Caesarea, Akka - where do we stay?

Thursday 9/4 Day 3: Safed, Golan Heights Jeep tour - return to Jerusalem?

Friday 9/5 Day 4 Jerusalem

Saturday 9/6 Day 5: Jerusalem

Sunday 9/7 Day 6: Jerusalem

Monday 9/8 Day 7: Ein Gedi, Masada Cable Car, Dead Sea - stay overnight?

Tuesday 9/9 Day 8 – Return to Tel Aviv for the day - flight leaves at midnight

OR

Possible itinerary 2:

Tuesday 9/2 Day 1 – Arrive in Tel Aviv 7 am, drop off luggage and crash try to spend a restful day, then stay one night in Tel Aviv or should we drive north and stay in Haifa or another place?????

Wednesday 9/3 Day 2: Caesarea, Akka - where do we stay?

Thursday 9/4 Day 3: Safed, Golan Heights Jeep tour -where do we stay?

Friday 9/5 Day 4: Ein Gedi, Masada Cable Car, Dead Sea - stay overnight?

Saturday 9/6 Day 5: Jerusalem

Sunday 9/7 Day 6: Jerusalem

Monday 9/8 Day 7: Jerusalem

Tuesday 9/9 Day 8 – Return to Tel Aviv for the day - flight leaves at midnight

I'm thinking the second itinerary has more condensed running around ( more tiring) but we can ditch the car once we get to Jerusalem.

So, which is the better itinerary, and where do we stay? Thanks for all your help. This forum is great!

Meryl

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10. Re: Need help planning 7-8 day trip to Israel

Assuming you will be arriving from the US, don't drive the moment you step off the plane (which is what you're suggesting in both your options). You will probably be jet-lagged, and driving in that state, in an unfamiliar country, means you will be a danger to yourselves and other road users.

If you want to head north on arrival, you can take a train from the airport to Haifa or Akko.