Every country in the world is different and have something special that you can’t find anywhere else. But Israel is a truly unique destination. Christians, Jews and Muslims alike consider Jerusalem and other places in Israel holy places. Today, our guest blogger Krasen Jelyazkov shares his favorite 5 day Israel itinerary with us and introduces us to the best things to see in the holy land.
The table of content below provides a quick overview of the five day Israel itinerary. Click on the links to get right to the section. Or ust scroll down to read the full 5 day Israel itinerary.
Israel is a small country. In fact, it is only a little larger than Belgium (including the autonomous territories of Palestine). You could easily drive through it in only 2-3 days. But since there are so many sights packed into the tiny nation, you will actually need at least five days for a great trip to Israel. Five days may still feel rushed, though. If you have more time, you can also use this itinerary and add more time to some of the places outlined in this post. We will indicate where it would make sense to spend more time or add additional side trips.
The most important destination in Israel is undoubtedly Jerusalem, the most spiritual city in the world. And it is obviously a must for every 5 day Israel tour. Other important places that shouldn’t be missed are the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and several other sights in the eastern and northern part of the country. These are Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River valley.
Transportation – How to get around in Israel
The best way to see Israel in five days is by rental car. Even though the public transport system with busses and trains is well established, you would need to plan your entire trip around bus schedules which will add a stress factor to your short Israel itinerary. If you have more time, let’s say 10 days in Israel, you could also follow this itinerary and use public transport to get around. Read more about public transportation in Israel here.
Driving in Israel is rather easy and relaxed so you won’t need to worry about driving a rental car. Especially outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the traffic is usually rather light.
Israel driving tip: Avoid refueling in gas stations without attendants – they will only accept local Israeli cards. However, most gas stations are attended and there you will be able to pay in cash.
Let’s get started with the 5 day Israel itinerary
Day 1: Tel Aviv – Haifa
Most Israel visitors arrive to Ben Gurion Internation Airport in Tel Aviv. After immigration and customs, you can pick up your rental car and start your Israel adventure.
Tel Aviv and Yafo (Jaffa)
The first stop on the five days Israel itinerary is Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv, the most interesting place from a historical point of view is Yafo (Jaffa). Jaffa is an ancient city that was “swallowed” by the modern Tel Aviv and is now a part of it.
Jaffa was also featured in the Bible, where two Biblical events have happened. The first is dated back around 860 BC when prophet Jonah was swallowed by a whale here. The second event happened around 40-45 AD. Apostle Peter lived here and accepted the Roman Centurion Cornelius and his servants. You can stop your car in the parking at the “Whale fountain”, walk in the narrow old streets, visit the house of Simon the Tanner (where Apostle Peter lived), descend to the Mediterranean Seacoast, then ascend to the top of the hill and enjoy the stunning views of Tel Aviv from up there. Here you can find a detailed guide about things to see in Tel Aviv.
Later proceed north to Rotschild Boulevard, the main attraction of modern Tel Aviv.
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere, continue the drive north out of the city and follow the highway to Haifa. After about 1h 30 min, you will reach Caesarea – a magnificent ancient city on the Mediterranean beach.
Is it expensive to travel in Israel? Check out this post to read more about prices in Israel.
The ruins of Caesarea are located on a magnificent small peninsula in the Mediterranean Ocean. Around 2000 years ago, this place was an important Roman center and one of the largest sea ports of the Roman Empire. The main sights in Caesarea are the oval Roman stadium and the semi-circle theater. You should also visit the remains of its fortress walls.
Caesarea is another place with Biblical importance (as almost every place in Israel). It was the home of Apostle Peter for a few years. Also, Apostle Paul was imprisoned here for 2 years, before sailing to Rome.
After visiting the main sights of Caesarea in about two hours, continue your drive up north to Haifa.
When you continue your drive north towards Haifa, you will see a beautiful hill rising on your right hand side. This is Mount Carmel – a low mountain range. Haifa is located on its northwestern end. The third largest city in Israel is beautifully situated at the sea coast, on the foot of Mount Carmel.
Before you visit the center of city, you can stop at the Cave of Elijah. Here, Prophet Elijah was hiding from King Ahab in 9th century BC. Today, it serves as a Judaic prayer place. Afterwards, proceed to the center of Haifa and visit Bahaii Gardens – an important landmark of Haifa. Take a stroll inside, to finish day one of your itinerary. Later, you can have dinner in one of the restaurants near the gardens and enjoy this place in the lights of the night.
Day 2: Haifa – Tiberias
On day two of the 5 days in Israel itinerary, it is time to explore the northern part of Israel. The route is picturesque, full of stunning views and rich in history. From now on, you will be driving on smaller mountain roads instead of the highway. But don’t worry, the condition of the roads is good – it just means less traffic and more time to stop on the side of the road.
Mount Carmel is a low mountain range, covered with pastures and forests. Although low, it offers great panoramic views in every direction. It also has a long history, related to the times of King David (11th century BC), Prophet Elijah (9th century BC) and the Crusader’s era (12th century AD).
The first destination on your way to the top of Mount Carmel is Stella Maris Chapel, built by the Crusades, with breathtaking views over the Mediterranean Sea.
The next important stop is the University of Haifa, particularly its museum. It exhibits numerous ancient artifacts, among them an original boat which has been used some 2000 years ago. The museum and the university itself, is located on the summit of Mount Carmel. Notice that exploring a museum usually require longer time and you may want to skip it if you are short on time. If you have 10 days in Israel, you should definitely make the time for a visit.
Your next stop is Mukhraqa Monastery. It was here where Prophet Elijah has killed the 450 false prophets of Baal around 870 BC. Nowadays, you can visits the monument of Elijah, a Catholic monastery and enjoy great views of the surrounding area.
If you continue your drive, you will eventually reach the southeastern end of Mount Carmel. After passing Yokneam, you will arrive at a very special place – Tel Megiddo. This is Armageddon, the famous symbolic place of the Apocalypse. Here, two of the Israelities’ kings have been killed between the 9th and 7th century BC. And, according to legend, a battle here will mark the end of the world.
The next destination is Nazareth – the hometown of Jesus Christ. Beside several magnificent churches in the city, you can visit the Museum of Ancient Nazareth and the “Nazareth Village”. Here you can get an idea what life was like during the time of Jesus.
The next stop is Tiberias, the biggest city on the Sea of Galilee. The city itself hasn’t got many sights but it is a great place to get some great food and find a hotel for the next two nights.
Day 3: Tiberias – Circle Trip of the Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is a truly unique place. It is the lowest fresh water lake on Earth (with an altitude between 209 and 215 m below sea level). It is connected with the Dead Sea by the lowest flowing river on Earth – the Jordan River. On day three of your trip to Israel, you are going to make a trip around the Sea of Galilee and visit the most important destinations. I recommend reading the New Testament of the Bible, especially the four Gospels. They can be your historic travel guide while exploring the shores of the lake.
After a short drive north of Tiberias, you will reach Magdala – the birthplace of Maria Magdalena. You can explore its ruins and learn more about the history of this place before continuing your journey.
In the small town of Ginosar, you can see the Galilee Boat. It is quite similar with the one exposed in Haifa University, but it is considered the original boat of Jesus and his disciples.
There is a wharf on the lake behind the museum, and you can make a cruise on the lake if you plan to extend your Israel itinerary. Alternatively, you can also enjoy the nearby beach, especially if you travel to Israel during the hot summer.
Chorazin and the Mount of Beatitudes
“A city that is set on a hill can’t be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Jesus speaks these words in a specific location – a hill slope on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee: The Mount of Beatitudes.
When you reach the junction of Tabgha from Ginosar, proceed on the left road and ascend to Chorazin. From here, you can enjoy some stunning panorama views of the Sea of Galilee below.
Your next destination is only a few hundred meters ahead. Tabgha is a place referred to in many Biblical events. The most famous one is the story of Jesus walking on water. If you have some time, you can try it yourself. Good luck! Nowadays, you can visit an Orthodox church in Tabgha and a small waterfall, called Ein Eyov, that is located behind the church.
This is the most important ancient city at the Sea of Galilee. Here, Jesus has spent a large part of his life. The Synagogue of Capernaum is a well-preserved location where Jesus used to preach back in his days. Capernaum is also a great place to visit if you are less interested in Christian history since the views over the lake from here are stunning.
After passing the northernmost point of the lake, you will now proceed to Kursi on the eastern coast. This is a great place to relax a little and swim in the Sea of Galilee. If you feel more adventurous, you can also try kite surfing and windsurfing.
After some well-deserved relaxation, you can head back to your hotel in Tiberias. Get some rest for day four of the itinerary. More details on the circle trip around the Sea if Galilee can be found here.
Day 4: Sea of Galilee – Jerusalem
Now it is time to turn south, to the most important city of Israel – Jerusalem. The landscapes along the road from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem are stunning. The road follows the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, entering the Palestinian Autonomous territory of West Bank. You will be able to drive there without any issues, but keep your passport and driving license at hand for the military checkpoints.
When you leave from Tiberias and head back to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, you will see the sign for Jerusalem.
Before entering the West Bank, you will reach Beth Shean. Another ancient city, mostly known for the death of Saul, the first king of Israel, whose body has been hanged on the city walls by the Philistines in 11th century BC. Later, the city has flourished under the Roman rule and you can visit its magnificent amphitheater. The complex of Beth Shean is quite large, including a hill with stunning panoramic view over the ruins and the valley of Jordan River.
The Baptism Site of Jordan River
After leaving Beth Shean, you will cross the checkpoint for the West Bank. Afterwards, the road proceeds through a wild deserted landscape, gradually descending lower and lower. Finally, near Jericho, you will see the sign pointing to the Baptism Site of Jordan River. Today, the river marks the border between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan.
You can actually go down to the river, and you can enter the water. You may see some people who actually get baptized here and others who take baptism photographs for Instagram. Regardless of what you decide to do there, don’t cross the river since it is an international border.
Ein Gedi and Dead Sea
After taking some pictures, it is time to proceed to your next destination for this day – Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. Here you descend to the lowest place on Earth – 430 m below sea level. The Dead Sea is also one of the saltiest lakes in the world. Its water is clear, but when you touch it, it feels like oil. Make sure to protect your eyes from the water of the Dead Sea or you will have a very painful experience.
There are a few beaches on the northwestern coast of the Dead Sea, where you can have a swim and take some iconic floating photographs. The northernmost of them is Kalia Beach and its neighboring Biankini Beach. Further south are Neve Mudbar Beach, the Mineral Beach and Ein Gedi Public Beach. Make sure to have a fresh shower right after swimming in the Dead Sea to avoid skin irritations.
In addition to the beaches, Ein Gedi National Park is a great place to visit at the Dead Sea. Here, a stream of water makes its way through a picturesque valley and cascades over several waterfalls. The highest of them is David Waterfall.
After visiting the Dead Sea, it is time to head to the famous city before nightfall. I would highly recommend booking a hotel inside the city walls. Even though you will have to park your car outside and carry your luggage to your hotel, spending a night inside the walls of Jerusalem is one of the best experiences in Israel you can have. Everything inside the walls feels like time had stopped a thousand years ago.
Day 5: Jerusalem
Jerusalem, also called the “City of Peace”, is the most important religious place in Israel, if not in the whole world. It has been a capital of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah from 11th to 6th centuries BC, then again during the Jewish Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties (including the time of Jesus). Many other kingdoms and empires have fought to possess Jerusalem – the Babylonians, Persian, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Crusaders and the modern British Empire. The city lived through several eras of prosperity and destruction.
The Old City
Your Jerusalem itinerary should start from its most important part – the Old City. It is surrounded by a fortress wall that was built by the Ottoman Turks 4 centuries ago. The old city is divided into of four parts – the Jewish, Arabic, Armenian and Christian quarter. While there are many incredible sights inside the walls of the Old City, make sure to leave some time to just wander around and get lost in the narrow stone alleys of Jerusalem. We at 197TravelStamps consider Jerusalem one of the best places to travel to in the world.
The Western (Wailing) Wall
The Western Wall is one of the main sights of Jerusalem and Israel. The Western (Wailing) Wall is part of the wall of the Temple Mount. It has three main layers. The highest level is newest, with smallest stones, built by the Ottomans. The middle level is older, with bigger stones and was built by the Arabs. The lowest level is the oldest and was built by the Jews during the times of Achaemenid Persia in 5th century BC. The Western Wall it is the only remainder of Jerusalem after its total destruction in 70 AD by the Romans. Nowadays, it is considered a sacred location for Jews, who come here to pray and wail. Some of the streets behind the wall offers great views over the wall with the iconic Dome of the Rock Mosque in the background.
Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock Mosque
The Temple Mount inside the Old City of Jerusalem is a holy place for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Inside its area, there are over 100 buildings but the most famous and largest building is the Dome of the Rock Mosque with its iconic golden dome. The Temple Mount can only be visited from Monday through Thursday for several hours a day. The exact opening hours are as follows:
- Winter: 7:30 am – 10:30 am and 12:30pm – 1:30 pm
- Summer: 8:30am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Make sure to show up at the entrance near the Western Wall early since the lines can get very long. Entrance to the Temple Mount is free.
The Davidson Center is an important archaeological site, located around the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. Here you can learn a lot of the history of Jerusalem and you can feel like being in a time machine. Taking one of the guides here is highly recommended as you will learn so much more about the history of the place.
The Church of Holy Sepulchre
Another highlight of all things to see in Jerusalem is Via Dolorosa. Along this street, Jesus has walked to Golgotha, bearing the cross. Follow the signs of the Via Dolorosa until you arrive to the Church of Holy Sepulchre.
Tower of David
This is another important sight of Jerusalem. The Ottomans built this tower on the location where the palace of King David used to be. It also features a terrace that offers one of the most best panoramic views of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and its golden Dome of the Rock.
The western part of Jerusalem
After you’ve explored the sights of the Old Town, you can take a walk to the western part of Jerusalem. It is a newer part of town but you can still find many old buildings. There are shops, malls, restaurants and many other attractions on its streets, creating a unique atmosphere that is worth visiting.
On the next day morning, you head back to Ben Gurion International Airport and say goodbye to Israel. Alternatively, if you have more time, you can head south to relax in Eilat on the Red Sea for a couple of days.
5 Day Israel Itinerary on a map
The following map shows all mentioned points of interest in Israel for your itinerary.
About the author:
KRASEN JELYAZKOV is a traveler from Bulgaria. He has visited countries in the Balkans, Middle East, Middle Asia, East and Southeast Asia. Currently he is living in China with his wife and travel mate Ying Ying and his children, and currently working as an English teacher. This year they started a new travel blog, called Journey beyond the Horizon. The main idea of the blog is to share and give valuable information about the geographical and historical side of destinations, lands, and also to provide travel tips, related with exploratory type of travel. Follow Krasen on Facebook or Instagram.
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