Israel in 2-3 days
It’s got to be Jerusalem.
Explore the four-quarters of the Old City including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sephulchre and the Dome of the Rock. You’ll need to dress modestly in all these places (cover shoulders and legs), although it’s good practice to do so throughout the Old City or else you may suffer unwanted attention.
Make sure you leave plenty of time for wondering around the four quarters although do exercise caution, especially in the Arab souks around Damascus Gate where it can get confusing. Also visit Yad Vashem, the world’s leading museum dedicated to the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Recently completely rebuilt, the new museum combines video testimony, letters and objects to bring a human dimension to one of history’s most evil chapters.
In 7-9 days
Spend at least three days in Jerusalem and see the Old City, Yad Vashem and explore some of the more modern bustling parts of the city, including Machane Yehuda, the city’s frenetic market place.
Next, head south east to the Dead Sea and spend a day floating and applying the distinctive black mud to your skin.
Get up before dawn the next day and climb Mount Masada in time to see the sunrise, then explore the ruins.
Spend the remainder of your time in Tel Aviv where you can explore the ancient port of Jaffa, take a dip in one of the city’s fabulous Mediterranean beaches, check out some of the Bauhaus and Art Deco architecture or spend an afternoon exploring one of this modern city’s world-class museums.
Tel Aviv also boasts the best nightlife in Israel – expect anything from salsa clubs and sushi joints and mega clubs – so make sure you squeeze in a couple of all-nighters.
Two weeks +
Before leaving Masada and the Dead Sea head south into the Negev to experience the desert, stopping off at the incredible moonscape-like Mitzpe Ramon crater. Continue south to Eilat and get a taste of the Red Sea resort life.
After Tel Aviv, carry on north up the coast stopping off at the incredible Roman city of Caesarea where you should explore the ruins before continuing onto the charming city of Haifa with its massive Baha’i Temple. Next head to the bustling port city of Akko, which combines Ottoman, Arab and Jewish history, before heading further north still to Rosh Hanikra, where white cliffs and grottos await.
Turn inland and head into the Galilee to see the ancient mystical city of Safed before heading north to explore the Golan Heights.
Next head towards Lake Kinneret and Tiberias for a taste of New Testament Israel, hire a bike and make your own way around the sea, stopping off to explore Israel’s first Kibbutz.