ISRAEL’S HIDDEN GEMS
14 NIGHTS – 15 DAYS ITINERARY**
The suggested itinerary below is designed for the individual traveller with a guide/driver in a private car – it was the winning entry of a competition organised by the Israel Government Tourist Office.
Day 1: UK – Israel – Jerusalem
Depart the UK for Ben Gurion Airport. After a four and half hour flight, you arrive at Israel’s spacious and brand new Ben Gurion Airport. The VIP greeting service – aptly named Shalom Service, will welcome you. This service ensures that you are fast tracked through all the formalities. At the arrival hall you will be introduced to your personal guide who will be your chauffeur throughout the Land of Israel and show you the Hidden Gems. You will be transferred the relatively short distance to Jerusalem and to the Mamilla Hotel*, where you will spend the night.
Day 2: Jerusalem – The Golden City
Israel is famous for its variety of cuisine, which will be show cased at breakfast, when you enjoy a scrumptious full Israeli (Sabra) breakfast. You start the day by enjoying the panoramic view of Jerusalem’s skyline from the Mt of Olives. Then walk down the Palm Sunday route passing the churches of Dominus Flevit, Mary Magdelen Russian Orthodox (where the late mother of our Prince Philip was laid to rest) and the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane. Onwards to St Stephen’s Gate and enter the Old City of Jerusalem. Visit the Pool of Bethesda (where Jesus healed the blind man), Ecco Homo – where you can see the pavement at the time of Jesus and where the Roman solders played the Kings Game. Onwards to walk the Via Dolorosa – Stations of the Cross. Finish up at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not forgetting to visit the Ethiopians on the roof. Enjoy lunch at Papa Andreas roof top restaurant overlooking the Old City. Walk back to the Jaffa Gate, through the old shuk (Arab market) David Street, – seeing all the gift/souvenir shops as you climb up this narrow and very atmospheric route. Onwards to David’s Citadel and the Tower of David Museum. Before dinner – visit the Time Elevator an audio- visual simulator presentation narrated by Haim Topol, which will explain to you with great visual effects, in a short time the 3,000 years of Jerusalem’s history. Dinner is at one of Jerusalem’s top restaurants – Arcadia. Your overnight accommodation will be at the Mamilla Hotel.
Day 3: Jerusalem The New City
After breakfast, you start the day at the Israel Museum – Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed and also visit the scale model of the Old City at the time of the 2nd Temple. Onwards to the Rose Garden and see some of the most fantastic sculptures – created by world famous artists. Then to Yad Veshem the Museum of the Holocaust. (Lunch at the cafeteria) Visit Mt Herzel – the final resting place of many of Israel’s leaders and then visit Herzel Museum, onwards to Hadassah Hospital to see the synagogue there and the world famous Marc Chagall windows and to finish the day at Ein Kerem, a sleepy village today which was the birth- place of John the Baptist and now is fast becoming a popular artist’s colony. Your overnight accommodation and dinner will be at the Mamilla Hote.
Day 4: Jerusalem – Do It Yourself
After breakfast, you will have a day of leisure to relax or to take a stroll down Jaffa Street to the fantastic Machne Yehuda Market. Onwards to Ben Yehuda Street – a pedestrianised street full of an array of shops and eateries. Try the schwarma (roasted succulent meat on a large rotating skewer) stall for lunch and then walk through to the Mea Sharim quarter to see how the very orthodox Jews live. Dinner at the Cavalier Restaurant. Your overnight accommodation will be at the Mamilla Hotel
Day 5: Dead Sea – Masada – Qumran
After breakfast descend below sea level to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth. Climb the fortress of Masada. Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the first Jewish-Roman war a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels, who preferred death to surrender. Visit the oasis of Ein Gedi, where you can enjoy a short walk to see the wonder of the beautiful waterfall. Travel onwards to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a cave in 1947. Hopefully there will be time to swim (float!) on the Dead Sea. Your overnight accommodation will be at the Mamilla Hotel.
Day 6: Dead Sea – Sea of Galilee
After breakfast, you will travel from one sea to another – both inland – today we make our way up the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee and the town of Tiberias. Relax at Gan Hasholosha also known as Sachne, is a lush, green pearl unexpectedly situated in the Jordan Valley. The traveller in the area will find its waters and exceptionally beautiful surroundings a refreshing experience any time of year, and the connotation of “a spring in the desert” as the Bible mentions will receive new meaning. Here at the foot of Mount Gilboa you will find water slides, natural pools, an operating flour mill, an amphitheatre and a museum, in addition to an exact replicate of the original Tel Amal settlement which became the Nir David kibbutz of which Sachne now is a part. – Enjoy lunch and a swim in the hot springs before checking into the Scott’s Hotel. * Dinner at Decks – a unique waterside restaurant just across the road on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
After breakfast, you can enjoy a white water rafting experience down the Jordan River and in the afternoon the excitement of a jeep safari in the Galilean Hills await you. Afterwards you will be taken to your hotel in the mountains –Mitzpe Hayamin Hotel & Spa* for dinner and overnight accommodation.
Day 9: Upper Galilee – Haifa
After breakfast begin a full day touring the Upper Galilee – visiting the Cabbalistic town of Safed, which is the centre of Jewish mysticism. Here you will see the ancient synagogues and the artist’s colony. Afterwards you will travel to the crusader fortress of Monfort; which is a ruined crusader fortress in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel, about 22 miles (35 km) northeast of the city of Haifa and 10 miles (16 km) south of the border with Lebanon. The site is now a national park inside the nature reserve of Nahal Keziv. Enjoy a falafel lunch en route. Visit the limestone grottos at Rosh Hanikra, taking the cable car and onwards to the port city of Haifa – overnight on Mt Carmel – overlooking the bay of Haifa. Dinner and overnight accommodation at the Holiday Inn Bay View Hotel*
Day 10: Haifa
After breakfast, you will visit one of the wonders of the world – the exotic Persian Gardens and B’hai Temple, onwards to Tel Aviv via the artist’s colony of Ein Hod. In the afternoon visit the winery and enjoy a light lunch there at Zichron Ya’acov. See the quaint town that was originally founded by Baron Rothschild and a new visitor centre, with an exhibition, an auditorium showing a short film about the site. Outside the memorial park there is a nature park and finally visits the huge archaeological site of Caesarea Martima and the interactive presentation. Dinner and overnight at the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel* overlooking the Mediterranean.
Day 11: Tel Aviv – Jaffa
After breakfast, you will walk in a city that never sleeps…Tel Aviv. this is a city where you shop till you drop. Visit the arts and craft fair at Nachlat Benyamin (Tuesdays & Fridays only) – walk to Dizengoff Street and sit out on a pavement café and watch the world go by. In the evening visit Jaffa – the port city with its quaint shops and artists galleries. Enjoy a dinning experience at one of the top restaurants there. Dinner and overnight accommodation at the Tel Aviv Hilton.
Day 12: The Desert
After breakfast, you will leave Tel Aviv for Mitzpe Ramon in the centre of the Negev Desert – on the edge of the Great Crater – a natural rock formation that has similarities to the Grand Canyon in the USA. Drive through the biblical town of Beersheba. Visit Mamshit, for a camel riding experience and an authentic Bedouin tent. Learn about the Bedouin hospitality and enjoy a light lunch – onwards to Kibbutz Sde Boker – the final resting place of Israel first Prime Minister – David Ben Gurion, overlooking the magnificent Zin Valley. Visit the remains of the Nabatean city of Avdat – Dinner and overnight at Isrotels’ Ramon Inn*
Day 13: Eilat
After breakfast, travel south to Eilat, Israel’s most popular holiday resort, passing en route Hai Bar – where wild life from the time of the bible is protected. Onwards to Timna – King Solomon’s Pillars and the old copper mines. Marvel at the huge multi-coloured rock formations. At the park, which is only 20 miles north of Eilat in the Arava Desert is the Tabernacle in the Desert, a life-size replica of the biblical tabernacle. While no original materials (e.g., gold, silver, bronze) have been used, the model is accurate in every other way based upon the biblical description. In the afternoon swim with the Dolphins at Dolphin Reef. Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel in Eilat*.
Day 14: Eilat Relax!
After breakfast, you will have an opportunity to enjoy this fantastic resort – located at the far southern tip of Israel. A year round holiday destination, where the sun shines over 300 days of the year. Today is a day to relax and enjoy the sun or to shop at the tourist centre and maybe buy a piece of jewellery containing the unique Eilat gemstone. You will enjoy dinner with a difference (!) at an underwater restaurant. Your overnight accommodation will be at the Dan Eilat hotel.
Day 15: Eilat – UK
After breakfast, take an early morning flight from Eilat Central airport to Ben Gurion airport to connect with your London bound flight home. Come back again – because we have only scratched the surface of Israel’s Hidden Gems.
*Your Hotels: –
The Mamilla Jerusalem
Located in the heart of the City, with magnificent views of the Old City walls, the Tower of David, Jaffa Gate, and alongside Jerusalem’s new shopping and entertainment experience, the Alrov Mamilla Avenue. Mamilla Hotel, the newest of luxury hotels in Jerusalem, brings world-class superior design and lifestyle hospitality to Jerusalem and Israel. Guests and visitors will enjoy exceptional accommodation together with exclusive restaurant and bar venues, a holistic well-being retreat, as well as events and banqueting spaces, that blend sophistication and modern international style with the unique and rich culture of Jerusalem.
Scotts Hotel Tiberias
The Scots Hotel is uniquely situated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee overlooking the Golan Heights and enveloped by peaceful and mysterious tranquillity. The hotel is a 120-year-old historical complex that extends over an enchanting 15-dunam plot. This boutique hotel complex, owned by The Church of Scotland, comprises of several sensitively refurbished 19th century basalt stone buildings, together with a “new build” main bedroom block. It was redesigned and planned with the clear intention of preserving the original character and air of the properties. The outcome is a unique harmony of old and new, combining the original architectural style with the modern amenities you would expect of a five star hotel. The hotel complex includes stretches of green lawn gardens, an ecological pond, and basalt rock terraces that overlook breath-taking views of the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights. The Scots Hotel, combining peace and tranquillity, with history and unrivalled service will ensure your visit is the ultimate retreat for body, mind and spirit. Facilities: 69 fully equipped hotel rooms each of which includes a complimentary coffee corner, refrigerator, cable TV, personal safe, and hair dryer.
In the Eastern Galilee with the spectacular panoramic view of the Hermon Mountains, the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee, between the artist village of Rosh Pina and the deep-rooted Cabbalistic City of Sefad, stands the Mizpe Hayamim Hotel and Spa. Wrapped around of 15 Hectares of untouched land since biblical times, all made up of fragrant gardens, walking paths, pools and running water. Mizpe Hayamim is well known for its biblical grown organic fruit, vegetable gardens, and the organic dairy farm with herds of sheep, goats, cows and chicken. The spa is one of the first spas in Israel and forms a vital part of the overall experience. The composition, values, beliefs and exclusive location of the Mizpe Hayamim creates an island of ecological harmony between man and nature. The hotel is a member of the prestigious worldwide Relais & Chateaux Association.
Holiday Inn Haifa Bay
The Holiday Inn Haifa Bay View Hotel is located on the top of Mount Carmel with an incredible view of the Mediterranean Sea & Haifa Bay. The hotel has been designed with luxuriously fitted rooms and all the services required by clients visiting the hotel. Facilities: – The hotel offers 100 rooms and from each of them a wonderful view of the Haifa Bay and the B’hai Gardens. The seventh floor has non-smoking rooms. Guest room amenities: AM/FM radio, alarm clock, all guest rooms air conditioned, all news cable channel, bathrobe & bathroom amenities, coffee maker, colour TV, free morning newspaper delivered to room, hairdryer, iron/ironing board, mini bar, modem connection, remote control TV, tea maker, trouser press.The hotel’s executive rooms are all equipped with an extra line enabling modem link-up & faxes, trouser press and an extra phone in the bathroom.The hotel’s business centre has computer stations, messenger service, cell-phone rental, fax transmission, e-mail, printing, translation conference rooms & more.The hotel offers in their Executive Lounge, 24-hour complimentary service including breakfast, soft and hot drinks, aperitifs, fruit & snacks. Special features: Gym, Jacuzzi, wet & dry saunas, pressure showers, beauty treatments, personalized treatments & massages.
Tel Aviv Hilton
Hilton hotel Tel Aviv located in the heart of the vibrant city of Tel Aviv. The Hilton is known as the best address in the city that never sleeps. It occupies a unique location in the heart of Independence Park on the shores of the quiet Mediterranean, yet is less than a few minutes away from colourful Dizengoff Street. Facilities: 582 rooms and there is a wide choice of luxury special accommodations and suites. The Health Club and Spa is the largest and best equipped of any hotel in Tel Aviv.With an outdoor salt-water swimming pool set in terraced gardens overlooking the sea, health club & spa including sauna, steam room & massage rooms, shopping arcade, 3 non-smoking floors, 2 business floors, synagogue, shabbat elevator, covered parking, babysitter services and advanced flight check-in for El Al passengers.
Something wonderful is happening in the Negev Desert. Here you can combine tranquillity and a pastoral landscape with action-packed outdoor activities. Here, you’ll find warm hospitality in family suites that include a kitchenette – and all this amid the unforgettable experience of a desert vacation. To sit beside a glowing fireplace, or to relax by the swimming pool, to savour authentic homemade cooking, to take part in spiritual workshops or to go out on desert adventures only to return at the end of the day to a warm, relaxing and welcoming environment. Ride bikes,camels or jeeps enjoy the thrill of rappelling, visit the Alpaca Farm and much more – all the action starts at the Ramon Inn. A dream vacation for all desert and nature lovers.
The magnificent Dan Eilat is a self-contained vacation paradise. Located on Eilat’s striking Red Sea beachfront, the Dan hotel offers everything one needs for the perfect vacation. Imaginative architecture, luxurious decor, warm blue pools and cascading waterfalls, excellent cuisine and the highest standards of service; all combine to help guests indulge and enjoy.The hotel is set in the most desirable surroundings – on Eilat’s sun kissed north beach, close to many of town’s attractions and within easy reach of a wide range of water sports. Spectacular jagged mountains and stunning desert scenery frame the Red Sea, famed for its beautiful coral reefs and huge variety of exotic fish. Eilat’s climate is ideal for sun lovers, as it is warm and sunny all year round. The Dan Eilat provides an ideal base for exploring the natural wonders of the region or simply for relaxing and indulging in everything the hotel has to offer.
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Adrian J Cohen