Tel Aviv is a modern city and a tourist attraction on its own. It has a few wonderful beaches, markets, ancient and new architecture and one of the world’s most famous nightlife. However, it’s also a major hub, very well connected and a perfect base to travel in Israel. You can easily reach any part of the country within a few hours, using the highways, buses, and trains that connect to Tel Aviv. This means that you can set a base and do several day trips from Tel Aviv and get to know Israel and even Palestine. As you would expect there are also many operators offering organized tours from Tel Aviv.
We will explore some of the best day trips from Tel Aviv which include several UNESCO heritage sites, beautiful trails, deserts, beaches, ancient ruins, and other unique landscapes! There’s something for everyone in our list of the best Tel Aviv day trips!
Day trips from Tel Aviv
Jerusalem is the most obvious Tel Aviv day trip. In fact, you should spend a few nights in Jerusalem and not only do a day trip from Tel Aviv, unless you don’t have time for it. Jerusalem is very different from Tel Aviv in every way and that’s why we always encourage people to split time between the cities, but if you can’t at least make sure you can have a day trip.
There are so many things to do in Jerusalem that it’s impossible to do them all in one day. However, going to the old tow and roam through the 4 quarters (Jew, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian) is the thing you should do first. Don’t forget to visit the most famous highlights of the old city the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa, the Western Wall and obviously the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount.
Remember that the old city of Jerusalem is a holy place for 3 of the most important religions in the world. Thus it’s a very important pilgrimage site for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
You can easily spend the full day in the old city but if you need more things to do in Jerusalem you can go to:
- Yad Vashem – memorial site of the Jews who died in the Holocaust
- The Israel Museum
- Mount of Olives
- The tower of David
- The city of David
Jerusalem is very easy to reach from Tel Aviv. There are many trains connecting the cities and it takes about an hour to get there. There are also buses and a highway if you want to take a car (you don’t really need it but that’s your call). Finally, there are also plenty of organized tours if you prefer to travel as a group.
Haifa is the third city of Israel, located in the north about 90 km from Tel Aviv. You can easily reach it within one hour by train. If you want to drive it should take roughly the same time, plus you can stop at Caesarea along the way. We will talk about Caesarea later in the article.
The biggest and most famous attraction of Haifa is clearly the Baháʼí gardens. If you haven’t heard about these before, they are one of the beautiful landmarks in Israel. The gardens have a unique design and detail and comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending up the northern slope of Mount Carmel.
The Baháʼí gardens are considered the most important religious site of the Baha’i faith and include the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í. It’s fairly easy to get a view of the gardens, but to actually visit it you need to go on an organized (but free) tour of the Baha’i.
The remaining of Haifa isn’t the most impressive place in Israel, to be honest. The center is nice to walk around for a while, and have some falafel places, but that’s it. The German colony is probably the other famous area in Haifa.
Akko, sometimes also referred to as Acre, is further north than Haifa. The easiest way to reach it is by train, which takes about 1h30. You can also drive there, but it will take you roughly the same time.
Akko is a historic city with wonderful landmarks. Besides, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, it was easily our favorite town in Israel. The history of Akko is long and involves Israelites, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, and ottomans. Today it’s a mainly Muslim city.
Some of the things you need to visit on a day trip from Tel Aviv include:
- The templars Tunnel – this is a very unique attraction, a recently discovered tunnel built by the templars connection the old city and the port.
- The market – a lovely market with several places to buy nuts, spices, and teas.
- Hospitaller Fortress – a huge medieval fortress and maybe the biggest tourist attraction in Akko. A great place to learn more about the crusaders.
- The walls of Akko and the old city – the city and walls and wonderful. You should give some time to just walk around both the city and on the walls.
There are a few other interesting things to see and do in Akko, like the Turkish baths, the Mosque and the Okashi Art Museum. However, you probably won’t have time during a day trip from Tel Aviv.
Nazareth is settled about 100 Km from Tel Aviv, which should take at least one hour and a half to do. Though it could be longer if there’s traffic.
Nazareth is mainly an Arab city and considered the unofficial Arab capital of Israel. The main reason to visit Nazareth is that the city is described in the old testament as the childhood home of Christ. It’s considered one of the holiest places in the world for Christians.
The Basilica of the Annunciation is where most pilgrims gather and the most important attraction in Nazareth. It’s considered the biggest church in the middle east and it has two interesting features. On the outside, there are dozens of mosaics from all around the world depicting the annunciation of Christ under each countries view. On the inside, the first floor has the famous grotto of the annunciation, and the second is the actual church.
However, our favorite thing in Nazareth is the old town and the bazaar area. Here you’ll find the typical winding streets, with arches and old buildings. This area has plenty of hostels, local cafes, and the shouk. It’s very typical.
by Karolina Klesta of Karolinapatryk
Less than 120km away from the city of Tel Aviv, the small town of Capernaum is one of the best locations for a day trip. Easily accessible by public transport, the town can be reached by taking a line 70 bus from Tel Aviv Yafo Station to Katsabiya Junction and taking the line 142 bus from there to Kfar Nahum Intersection, which will set you back around 10EU.
Known to Christians as the town where Jesus has been living, Capernaum has more to offer than just religion or history. Even though it’s one of the best biblical sites in Israel, it also has stunning views of the Sea of Galilee and beautiful structures from a distant past. The Synagogue of Capernaum with its white limestone facade and intricately carved pillars that were built in the 4th or 5th century creates a wonderful contrast with the dark houses around it. Built 500 years after Jesus’ time, it is believed that it stands over the old synagogue where he once preached. The site is open from 8 AM to 5 PM and the entrance costs less than a Euro.
From this small town, one can also visit the marvelous nature reserves of Arbel and Tel Hazor where one can see sweeping views of the Sea of Galilee. If hiking is not your thing, then head to the Berenice Winery Villa in the town of Tiberias where you can enjoy cups of wine as you enjoy the views of the sea.
Going to Israel and not going to the dead sea would be a huge mistake, even if you only have one free day to have a day trip. The dead sea is about 170 km, which should take a little more than two hours to teach, but it’s worth the trip. You can also take one of the many tours that visit the area.
The dead sea is one of the most famous places in Israel and one of the weirdest places on earth. The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth at an unbelievable altitude of -430 meters. If this wasn’t enough the dead sea has 10 times more salt than the ocean – with such a high level of salinity, it’s very easy to float. Well, actually, it’s almost impossible not to float and difficult to swim and move around. It’s almost an otherworldly experience.
Masada is an ancient fortification built on the top of an isolated rock plateau in the Judean desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. In fact, Masada is a perfect add on to a trip to the Dead Sea. From there you get one of the best Dead Sea views.
However, Masada is much more than a nice lookout. It’s one of Israel’s most popular attractions by itself. King Herod built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE, which you can still see some remains.
Yet, the most famous story about Masada is the Roman siege that lasted 3 years and ended with the mass suicide of the 960 rebels who were hiding there. This is one of the most important stories of Jewish culture. You can read all about it here, or learn it on site.
Ein Gedi is another attraction very close to the Dead Sea, only 20 km north to Masada. Ein Gedi is the biggest oasis in Israel and it has springs and waterfalls, and flowing streams at the foot of the cliffs. It’s also home to a few animals like ibexes and rock hyraxes.
The best thing to do in Ein Gedi is to take a hike, following the river streams, discovering cascades, waterfalls and small ponds where it’s possible to dive and swim. Ein Gedi tends to be a little fresher than the rest of the dead sea area which means it also easier to hike, but it’s still very very hot in the Summer!
As it’s very close to both the Dead Sea and Masada, the 3 go together perfectly on a long day trip from Tel Aviv. Or if you have enough time, you can do a two-day trip and spend the night there.
Eilat is far from Tel Aviv, maybe too far for a day trip, but it’s possible. It will take you about 4 hours each way to do the 350 Km, so you’ll need to wake up very early and you’ll arrive very late. However, if you really want to go there, it’s doable in one day, but much much better in a two day-trip from Tel Aviv.
Eilat is a unique destination within Israel because allows you to contemplate the Red Sea, the small 20 km strip of Dead Sea shore Israel has. The beaches in Eilat aren’t amazingly beautiful, mostly because the sand is more like dust and gravel than actual sand. Though, the Sea is wonderful. The water is warm, so warm that you can bath at night, and it has a small but lively reef where you can dive and snorkel right from the beach.
Besides diving and snorkeling, our favorite thing about Israel is the red canyon trail, though I not sure you’ll find time to do it on a day trip. But, if you take a two days trip to Eilat, it’s something that we really enjoyed doing.
Any road trip to Eilat will have to include going through the Negev desert. You may sound like a few hours wasted, but we believe that it’s actually an opportunity to see the desert. The Negev is breathtaking, and it could be a day trip on its own. One of the most famous parts of the Negev is the Mitzpe Ramon crater. Even if you don’t have time to go to the visitor center, stop in the lookout to enjoy the views.
by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures across the world
Timna Park is one of the nicest places to visit in Israel and it can be seen on a day trip from Tel Aviv. Closer to Eilat, Israel’s Red Sea outpost, Timna Park is located at a little over 3 hours drive from Tel Aviv.
This is a great archeological site where you will get to see some of the world’s earliest copper mines, as well as intricate rock formations. Among the ones you shouldn’t miss there are the Natural Arch, the Mushroom and Solomon’s Pillar.
Timna Park is a great place to go hiking. The Israeli Trail, which connects the north of the country to the south, goes through. The only issue with hiking in Timna Park is that there often is no shade, so you really should avoid doing it in the hot season (April is already very hot) and wear a hat and apply lots of sunblock, as well as carry lots of water.
Timna Park is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, except on Fridays when it closes at 3:00 pm. During the summer months (July and August) the park closes at 2:00 pm because it is too hot to visit.
The entrance fee is 49 Israeli Shekels, which is about $14 USD
Caesarea is located about 50 km north of Tel Aviv, on the way to Haifa and Acre. It should take less than one hour to reach and it’s one of the easiest day trips from Tel Aviv. You can visit it by car, bus or train, or you can include it in one of the many day trips to Acre and Haifa, as it’s on the way and many tour companies stop there.
The biggest landmark in Caesarea is obviously the Caesarea national park which boasts some of the most impressive ruins in Israel. And that’s not easy, Israel is completely covered with ruins and history! The national park includes:
- A Roman Theater
- The reef palace
- Archaeological park
- Bath Houses
- Sea Promenade
- The hippodrome
- The Crusaders Gate
- the port and the old city
You can learn more about this astonishing site here. Though if you want something really unique, then you should go to the underwater museum where you are able to dive through the underwater ruins of this ancient city.
In fact, the Caesarea Aqueduct Beach is usually considered one of the best beaches in Israel. The water is beautiful and the aqueduct makes it truly unique, but the sand isn’t as good as in Tel Aviv, unfortunately.
Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem, only about 10 km, though it’s on West Bank. Despite this, it’s rather easy to get there, you only need to catch the Arab bus number 21 which departs from the East Jerusalem Arab bus station. Take your passport as you’ll probably be asked for it when returning to Israel. Note: it’s as easy as catching any other bus and in our experience perfectly safe.
The biggest attraction on Bethlehem is the nativity church, which was built on the site where supposedly Christ was born. This is obviously a huge pilgrimage destination for Christians. The whole church was built around the grotto of Nativity where Jesus is said to have been born.
Also in Bethlehem is Rachel’s tomb, the 3rd most important Jewish site in the world, but it cannot be visited. Finally, a very different attraction, the wall that separates Israel from Palestine, and the artwork that was done there. The wall has lots of Bansky graffiti and it’s definitely worth a look. Some of the most well-known are “Rage, Flower Thrower”, “The Armoured Dove”, and “Girl Frisking Soldier”.
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, Palestine, and is the home and resting place of Abraham, considered to be the founder of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The city is sacred to each religion and has been a central part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
by Ashlea Fairbairn of Dashing around the world
The city was specifically exempt from the Oslo Agreement, making it the only city in Palestine which is not completely under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Instead, Hebron is split into two parts, H1 the Palestinian district, and H2 the Israeli district, with little interaction between the districts (Israelis aren’t allowed into H1, and Palestinians need a special pass the enter H2).
It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to get to Hebron from Tel Aviv and is accessible to tourists without a guide. However, the best (and safest) way to understand the difficult history and cultural and political division in Hebron is by joining a tour. We joined the Dual Narrative Hebron tour by Abraham Hostel from Jerusalem (330 NIS/$95) and couldn’t recommend it highly enough (you’ll need to catch the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem independently). During the tour, you’ll have two tour guides (one Israeli and one Palestinian) providing unparalleled insight into the complicated situation and both perspectives on life in Hebron.
by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across The World
The Gaza Border isn’t exactly the kind of place most people would visit, yet this is one of the most interesting and intense day tours from Tel Aviv. You won’t get pretty views and merry, joyful stories during this trip. On the contrary, for most of the day you will be listening to stories about the suffering of people – both in Gaza and on the Israeli side of the border.
It’s a very interesting experience if you want to learn more about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. You don’t really get into Gaza – only NGO or IO workers are allowed to go, and a few local residents that have special permission to cross the border. Your Israeli guide will give a very detailed account of the history, logistics, and politics of the conflict all the while trying to give both sides of the story.
During the tour, you get to meet locals from Gaza while they cross the border and chat with them. You also get to meet people living in Moshav Nahal Oz, the closes village to the border. Both of them will share with you hope for peace.
The tour costs €91, to which you have to add the train ticket to Ashkelon, where you will be picked up by the guide, and the lunch. The overall costs including lunch and transportation come to about €115 for the full day.