With cheap flights from Europe and so much variety on offer, Isreal makes a great destination for a short visit. Here’s my recommended one week in Israel itinerary. I’ve also included a budget breakdown and accommodation options to make your planning as smooth as possible!
I’ve become an expert at visiting the country….I married an Israel (we met while travelling!) and I’ve now visited dozens of times…..I even hiked the Israel National Trail (and had a book published about my experience!). It amazes me that even though the country is so small I’m still discovering new places when I return to visit my in-laws. I’m happy to answer questions, just use the comments box below.
If you are looking for a travel guide, my favourite is the Lonely Planet travel guide for Israel & the Palestinian Territories.
One week in Israel itinerary
With just a week on your hands, you are going to want to keep your itinerary simple and to use Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as your base.
It is very easy to travel between these cities via train (or bus if you prefer) so there is no need to hire a car. Some hotels also offer a shuttle bus between the 2 cities.
3 nights: Tel Aviv
The main sights to see in Tel Aviv are Old Jaffa, Carmel Market and the beaches that sit right in the city centre. Hiring a bike for the day is a great way to get around the city. If the weather is good and you want a bit of relaxation you could set aside a whole day for resting on the beach.
If you are happy to visit the main sights at a relatively fast pace then 1 and a half days seeing the city should be enough. You could then look at doing a day trip from Tel Aviv. I’d hire a car and head visit Caesarea (Roman ruins), Zichron Ya’akov (good for lunch shopping and seeing Ramat HaNadiv gardens) and Ein Hod (an artists village) as a day trip.
Haifa is another option but I personally don’t rate it so highly as a must-see destination so wouldn’t prioritise this if you only have a week.
I’ve done a few tours in Tel Aviv but the one I would really recommend is the Vegan Tour. Tel Aviv is often considered the vegan capital of the world and this interesting (and tasty) tour will get you trying lots of Israeli dishes.
Where to stay in Tel Aviv: Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv
($120 per night for a double room for 2, including breakfast)
Abraham offers both private rooms and also dormitory rooms. It’s a fantastic hostel right in the city centre with a great rooftop bar. Abraham hostels are always my go-to for accommodation in Israel as they are so great!
If you are travelling on a budget, my guide to visiting Tel Aviv on the cheap will give you some useful tips!
4 nights: Jerusalem
I’d set aside 2 days to visit the sights of Jerusalem. Spend 1 day exploring the many sites in the Old City and Mount of Olives. On your second day, you can visit Mahane Yehuda Market, Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum.
Do a day trip from Jerusalem to visit Masada and the Dead Sea. You could hire a car to do this (which would also give you the option to visit the desert for a half-day hike or to see a viewpoint). Another day trip option could be to visit West Bank if you are looking for something more unusual.
Lots of sites in Jerusalem – like Dome on the Rock – come with strict rules and visiting times. So you’ll want to have a well-planned itinerary to make the most of your time here. My guide for visiting Jerusalem will help!
If you only have a short time, consider signing up to a tour in the Old City of Jerusalem.
*IMPORTANT TIP* On Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening) most of Israel closes down. While places in modern cities like Tel Aviv stay open, you’ll find in Jeruselum there will be nothing for you to do so make sure you account for this when you put your itinerary together!
Where to stay in Jerusalem: Abraham Hostel Jerusalem
($130 per night for a double room, including breakfast)
Abraham provides a great location and options for both dorm and private rooms. If you stay at Abraham in both cities you get 10% off your stay and also on their tours which are very good.
Isreal Itinerary 7 days; summary
If this is your second visit to the country or you are looking for something a bit different then check out my alternative itinerary suggestions below!
1 Day: Arrival in Tel Aviv
2 Day: Sightseeing Tel Aviv
3 Day: Sightseeing Tel Aviv or day trip to Caesarea, Zichron Ya’akov & Ein Hod
4 Day: Travel to Jerusalem
5 Day: Sightseeing Jerusalem (the old city and Mount of Olives)
6 Day: Sightseeing Jerusalem (Yad Vashem, Israel Museum & Mahane Yehuda Market)
7 Day: Sightseeing Jerusalem or day trip to Madasa & the Dead Sea or West Bank
8 Day: Departure
Need some inspiration?
My debut published book – Three Stripes South – shares my story of hiking the full length of the country on the Israel National Trail. Read about the highs and lows from this life-changing adventure exploring Israel and crossing the dangerous Negev desert.
I hope you enjoy the book!
Alternative ideas for your week in Israel….
If this is your second visit to Israel or you really aren’t interested in the cities and sightseeing, then here are 3 alternative ideas for your 7 days in Isreal…
You could instead base yourself just in the north of Israel. Stay in Hafia at Bat Galim Boutique Hotel. From here you can visit Caesarea, Zichron Ya’akov and Ein Hod in a day. Akko also makes a nice day out.
Then head to Safed and stay in Rosenthalis Safed. From here you can comfortably visit Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee area.
If you enjoy hiking and nature then how about a week spent in the Negev desert? You could stay in a traditional Bedouin tent at Kfar Hanokdeim. There are lots of hikes in the area and some springs to swim in if it is the right season. Masada and the Dead Sea are also nearby for a day trip.
Into hiking? You might want to check out the best hikes in Israel to give you an idea of places you can go.
Israel is not the cheapest country. While you can pick up street food really cheaply and the public transport is very reasonably priced, accommodation, restaurants and excursions are comparable to UK prices.
Below is the rough cost per person (based on 2 people sharing a double room) for my recommended 1 week itinerary. Prices as of 2020.
Flights (from London to Tel Aviv return) – $200
Transport (Train rides are usually under $10 and bus rides under $2) – $30
Accommodation – $450
Food & drink (A dinner meal with a drink costs around 100NIS / $25 although street food is very cheap. A filling falafel costs just 10NIS / $3) – $150
Entry fees (Masada entry, the Israeli Museum, bike hire) – $30
Day trips (Car hire for a day to the North & Masada and the Dead Sea) – $150
Extras (the market souvenirs are hard to ignore!) – $30
TOTAL (with international flights from the UK) – $1,040
TOTAL (without international flights from the UK) – $840
You could definitely make this trip much cheaper by staying in dorm rooms or using Airbnb. If you’ve not used Airbnb before you can click here to get a first time £34 off voucher.
Travel insurance for israel
I’ve found Israel to be a very safe place, despite media perceptions and the ongoing conflict (which you almost certainly won’t be aware of while you are travelling there).
Because of the conflict though, flights can be disrupted from time to time so it really is worth making sure you have proper travel insurance.
- Generally, you do not need to worry about dressing conservatively or covering your shoulders and knees (ie, you can wear a bikini on the beach). The exception is if you are visiting a religious site or if you are in Jerusalem
- English is a national language so signs are in English and it is widely spoken
- Try and enjoy as much of the street food as you can. Including bourekas, hummus, falafel, Arabic tea, baklava and jachnnu
- If you stay in Abraham hostels in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem you can 10% off your stay and off their tours (which are very good!). They also offer a shuttle between their hostels
- In markets, it is common to haggle on the price given
- When using taxis ask them to use the meter
- If using buses in the cities payment is often done using a machine that doesn’t give change so make sure you have change
For a bit of final inspiration, watch this short film which will give you a flavour of what to expect when you visit:
I hope this one week in Israel itinerary helps you with your travel plans. If you have any questions please ask in the comments box below.
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