Arguably the most fun and liveliest city in Israel, you could easily spend your entire trip to the country in Tel Aviv. This would be a mistake, however, as despite its size, Israel has an incredible amount of fascinating sites and amazing landscapes to discover. Use Tel Aviv as your launchpad for these amazing day trips.
Simply hop on the 405 or 480 bus from Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov station and in less an hour, you can be in Israel’s capital and one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Feel yourself transported to a different time as you walk through the ancient, cobbled streets of the Old City, marvel at the intensity and intrigue of the holy sites, and wander through the Machane Yehuda market, picking up samples of sweet halva along the way and experiencing a sensory overload from the delicious scents and vibrant colours. Make sure you stop off at Jachnun Bar inside the market and try their malawach.
The train from Tel Aviv to Akko is just 1 hour 45 minutes and takes a scenic route along the Mediterranean coastline. Located in the north of Israel, the Old City of Akko (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is intriguing and beautiful in equal measure. Here you can explore the remains of Crusader, Muslim and Ottoman conquerors, get lost in the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, wander through the colourful Arab shuks full of freshly caught fish and men smoking shisha, and, of course, eat at the famous Humus Said.
Taking around 90 minutes by car, this is a really easy journey to Israel’s third largest city, dubbed the capital of the north. A beacon of coexistence and diversity, Haifa has a lively nightlife, stunning beaches, and must-see attractions such as the Bahá’í Gardens – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Haifa is also a great base for exploring Israel’s northern regions.
A small, tranquil town characterized by its charming cafes and boutique artistic stores, Zichron Ya’akov sits just before Haifa in Israel’s north, around one hour from Tel Aviv by train or car. Founded by 100 Romanian Jewish pioneers in 1882, in what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine, it is one of the first ‘modern’ settlements in Israel. For history buffs, check out the First Aliyah Museum, where you’ll learn about the fascinating story of the town’s founders. Also known for its wine – it is home to the Carmel Winery, one of the most famous in Israel – Zichron Ya’akov is easy to fall in love with and makes for a great day trip from Tel Aviv.
A scenic journey north along the Mediterranean coast, Caesarea is a must-visit due to its national park where you’ll find the remains of an ancient Roman harbour. Caesarea was one of the most significant Roman cities outside of Rome during the time of Herod, and the ruins include a Hippodrome, aquaduct, houses, and palaces. Pack your swimsuit, too, and head to the Aqueduct Beach – where else would you get to chill out on a beach with white sand surrounded by ancient ruins?
In one day, you can visit all three of these unforgettable sites. The best way to do this is by starting early – very early – in order to climb the Masada for sunrise. This is arguably the most breathtaking view in Israel and is well worth the early start and somewhat arduous climb (it takes around 45 minutes). At the summit, you can explore the fascinating remnants of the castle built by King Herod in the year 30 BCE, which holds a dramatic and tragic place in Jewish history.
From there, a short drive away is the Ein Gedi, a beautiful desert oasis with natural springs, waterfalls, botanical gardens and roaming animals. The last stop of this day trip is the Dead Sea, where you can float in the salty water, lather yourself in the natural supply of mud, and feel revitalized by the water’s concoction of healing minerals. Highly recommended for this three-part day trip is Abraham Tours.