top places to experience in Israel.

Planning a trip to Israel can be challenging. Between conflicting information online, seeing scary news stories, trying to navigate the various territories, figuring out open hours for places, and making sure you see the most important sights, it’s not something you want to leave up to chance! We’ve spoken to a few leaders of various groups who are trying to bring students here and since we had the privilege of helping to bring a group of 10 students here last April, we thought we’d compile some of the top places we recommend! It has been a joy to explore Israel as much as we’ve been able to in the last year, especially in the last (almost) 7 months that we’ve lived here! This opportunity has given us a unique perspective on the land both geographically and spiritually. 

Starting with the WEST.

  1. Tel Aviv/Mediterranean Sea

This is the city you’ll fly into, and we found it very helpful to stay in Tel Aviv our first night in Israel. We had to do that because of certain quarantine restrictions at the time, but it was also really nice to have a place closer to the airport and to see this more modern side of Israel to adjust to the culture. The Mediterranean Sea is also a beautiful perk of spending some time in this coastal city!

Tel Aviv was known as Jaffa/Joppa is biblical times. This is the city where Peter had the vision where God showed Him not to call “unclean” what God had made clean (Acts 9-11). He was then called to Caesarea by Cornelius, went to minister to him and his family, and the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. This is also the port Jonah went through in his running from God (Jonah 1:1-3, 16-17) and where the Trees from Lebanon came in for the First Temple to be built (Josh. 19:46-47, 1 Kings 5:6, 2 Chron. 2:16, Ezra 3:7).

  1. Ancient Caesarea

Caesarea was a city that was built by King Herod and is a marvel of engineering. There is a National Park there now preserving the ruins and guiding tourists through the history that happened in this place. It is one of Israel’s most impressive archaeological sites with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop to the ruins of an Ampitheater, Hippodrome, Old City and port, aquaduct, as well as the modernized shops and restaurants. If you visit in warmer weather, the beaches are perfect for picnics and swimming after your hike around the ruins. Expect to take at least half a day there, depending on the size of your group, because there is a lot to see! (Modern Keisariya is located adjacent to its ancient namesake and is an upscale residential community; the sights you’ll want to see are in the National Park.)

This historic city is incredibly significant for the lives of Gentile believers today. The events in Caesarea is what led to Gentile inclusion and the hope of the Gospel for all people. Cornelius lived here, and it’s in this place that he called for Peter (Acts 10:1-8). Peter had the vision of the God calling the Gentiles clean in Joppa, went to Caesarea, ministered at Cornelius’ house, and the Holy Spirit fell on this Gentile family (Acts 10:23-48). This is also where Paul was imprisoned (Acts 24). In fact, you’ll see the spot where he gave his defense of the Gospel to Felix during his time there. 

Exploring the EAST.

  1. Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a big one that should be toward the top of your must-see list! There is so much to see of this ancient city that it’s best to set aside a couple of days to explore. 

The Old City holds a lot of the ancient biblical sites as it was the capital of the Jewish world in biblical times. You can see the Old Gates (Ps. 122:2), the location of the Last Supper & Upper Room (Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14: 12-25, Luke 22:7-38, 1 Cor. 11:23-25, Acts 2), the Western Wall of the Temple grounds and Temple Mount (2 Sam 7 for Temple Origins, Psalm 132:14 for Zion Gate mention, 2 Chron. 6:1-11 when Solomon builds the Temple, Ezra 6:3, 14-15 for the Rebuilding of the Temple, Luke 2:21-52 for Baby Jesus at the Temple, Gen. 22:1-18 for Abraham binding Isaac, Mark 11:15). The Western Wall has tunnels you can tour and a virtual tour you can watch that provides more of a detailed history of the Wall.

There are also more recently created sites to remember biblical figures or events like David’s Tomb to honor this man after God’s heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22), places on the Via Dolorosa like the Church of Condemnation to remember when Jesus was condemned to die for us (Jn. 19:1-16) and the prison of Christ and Barabas (Mark 15:6-15), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to remember the sacrifice of Jesus (Jn. 19:16-37), and the Garden Tomb to meditate on Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 19:38-42, Mark 15-16, Mark 26-28, Luke 23-24). The Tower of David Museum is right inside Jaffa Gate and is located inside the ancient citadel of Jerusalem. It walks you through some important history of the city and is home to some cool archeaological finds dating back over 2,500 years. 

The Temple Institute is a museum that we recommend to everyone who comes here. It walks you through the history of the Temple by using art, models, and kosher items that they replicated from biblical texts as they prepare to build the Third Temple. There is a lot of Jewish tradition mixed with biblical history in this museum, and they talk about their plans for building the Third Temple. As believers, there are always “signs of the times” being talked about and this goes to show that there are very big, very real things happening in the world that prove that we are quickly approaching those Times. It’s our personal opinion that this is extremely important for especially the younger generations to realize as the implications of this will affect them directly in years to come. 

The Friends of Zion Museum is one that we just experienced recently, and it was a very unique and powerful experience that served as a reminder to the faithfulness of God and how He desires to partner with people to carry out His purposes. This museum features 7 interactive exhibits that show the history of the nation of Israel from the time is was just a dream in the heart of God to now. It is a technologically advanced tour that highlights specifically the non-Jewish Friends of Zion who decided to believe God’s promises to the Jewish people. You have to schedule a tour ahead of time to make sure you get in a group that speaks your preferred language. The tour takes about an hour of your day, and it is definitely worth your time!

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is another more recent memorial that documents the memory of Holocaust victoms and gives a detailed history of the Jewish people during this devastating time in their history. It’s not a fun site, but it’s extremely valuable to see and attempt to understand this event, what led up to it, and how to continue to respond in light of what this event reveals about humanity. Set aside 3-5 hours for this site as it takes a while to walk through and really process what you’re seeing. 

Outside of the Old City you can explore the Jerusalem National Park, Mount of Olives (Matt. 21:1, 24:3, Mark 14:26, Luke 22:39, Acts 1), Bethphage Church which is believed to be the starting point of Jesus’ triumphal entry (Matt. 21:1–11), Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36–56, Mark 14:32–50), the City of David and Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Sam. 5:7, 2 Chron 32:30, 2 Kings 20:20). The City of David also has a light show that serves as a fun way to learn some history about the city. 

  1. Bethany 

Bethany is currently known as the West Bank town of Al-Eizariya. For this reason, you’ll want an Arab driver to take your group to see this place. (Message or email me if you need connections for this!) This city is where Jesus did a lot of His ministry and where a lot of the early church near Jerusalem liked to meet. I mean, wouldn’t you if it was at the house of a man your Lord raised from the dead? You can still see Lazurus’ Tomb to this day, the only undisputed site from Jesus’ ministry (Jn. 11:1-44). It is near the place believed to be Lazurus’ home with Mary and Martha, a favorite place of Jesus and the setting of many beautiful moments of faith (Luke 10:38-42, Matt. 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Jn. 12:1-8). 

Next- to the NORTH.

  1. Tiberius/Capernaum

We visited these places on the same day because they’re so close together. Capernaum is not a full city anymore, rather its history is condensed on a piece of land owned by the Custodia Terrae Sanctae and is home to gardens, look out points, some ruins, and a monastery. It was a beautiful place to see and sit under the big trees while reading the stories of the healings that happened in this area including the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13), two blind men and a man with an unclean spirit (Matt. 9:27-34), a lame man lowered through a roof (Mark 2), the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34) and even a girl raised from the dead (Luke 8:40-56). It is also said to be the hometown of Matthew (Matt. 9:9).

Tiberius is the modern day Galilee. Galilee is another place where Jesus did a lot of ministry including calling Peter, Andrew, James, John (Matt. 4:12-22), and Matthew (Mark 2:13-17), as well as the commissioning of the Twelve Apostles (Matt. 10). Now, there is a National Park that features an ancient synagogue with a wonderful story to tell (be sure to watch the video!) and hot springs to relax in. This is a place where many locals will go as well (especially towards sundown we’ve noticed), so you may have the chance to strike up a conversation while you’re there! There are also many beaches and camping places along the Sea- the very one where Jesus challenged His disciples’ faith and displayed His power over the wind and the waves (Mark 4:39). 

  1. Jordan River

There are a couple spots that we visited on the Jordan River. One was St. John the Baptist’s Greek Orthodox Monastery which is a baptismal area where some claim Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:13-17). It’s also the supposed place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan (Josh. 3), Elijah ascended to heaven (2 Kings 2), and a man was healed from leprosy (2 Kings 5). We went to a cleaner, more hidden spot on the river to do our baptisms and have some swimming time. There was even a rope swing and a bridge for jumping which was a good way to have a fun, restful afternoon after sightseeing. 

  1. Caesarea-Philippi

This place is a National Park now, known as Banias National Park, in the Golan Heights that features Temple of Pan, a Crusaders Gate, and Benais Falls. Historically, it was a center for worship of the Greek god, Pan. People would throw their sacrifices in the chasm in the ground and look to the spring coming from the base of the mountain as a sign that their gods were traveling to and from that world through the caves. Thus, the place became known as the “Gates of Hell.” It was the intentionality of Jesus that brought His disciples to this town where Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus said the “Gates of Hell” would not overcome the Church (Matt. 16:13-17). Jesus presented a clear challenge that His followers were not to hide from evil; they were to storm the Gates of Hell and overcome in both the physical and spiritual realms. Then Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain to the next place… 

  1. Mt. Hermon 

This is the “high mountain” Jesus took three of the disciples up to see His transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13). This is also the place where Abraham was called by God (Gen. 12:1-5) and where God made a covenant with him and his descendants (Gen. 15). God decided to initiate redemption through Abraham in this place and then, years later, Peter, James, and John caught a glimpse of the glorified Jesus in this same place- the One who fulfills, completes, and perfects humanity’s redemption. So while there isn’t much to see in terms of a “spiritual sight” or even touristy things, this mountain carries a lot of significance to the Christian faith. 

The most we’ve done here is visited the Mt. Hermon Ski Resort and rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain. You are free to explore (under supervision by the IDF), take pictures, and have fun in the snow that often dusts the surface. We’ve also taken the time to sing songs here as well since it’s the northernmost point of Israel. Mt. Hermon is actually three mountain peaks, not one. One is Israel, one is Syria, and one is Lebanon which makes for very interesting scenery. There are also some great Druze food trucks on the road down the mountain and I would recommend giving those a try if you get the chance!

  1. Mt. Carmel

This mountain has trails to hike up (check out the Muhraka Hike) and a Carmelite monastery at the top of the mountain where its believed Elijah confronted the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We did not get to go into the monastery’s land, but we hiked around and looked out from some of the lookouts. It’s a very spiritually significant piece of Israel’s history and how God displayed His holiness and power to the people groups in the area. 

Seeing the SOUTH.

  1. Bethlehem 

This is a famous biblical city as the site of Jesus’ birth according to the Gospels of Matthew (2) and Luke (2). It’s also known as the “City of David” because it’s the location of David’s family home (1 Sam. 16:1, 17:12) and where he was anointed king (1 Sam. 16:4-13). There are a lot of other biblical and historical mentions of this ancient town, but it is currently a city in the West Bank that has the Church of the Nativity located around Manger Square. Like a Bethany visit, you’ll want to get an Arab driver to take your group through the checkpoint to Bethlehem. (Message or email me if you need connections for this!) 

We went to Bethlehem during Christmas time, hence the Christmas set up in Manger Square. 🙂

  1. Hebron 

Hebron is a very significant place in the lives of the Patriarchs of our faith, and it’s where the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are to this day on the land Abraham bought (Gen. 23:1-20). You’ll be able to see the Jewish side (functioning as a place of prayer) that houses the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Leah. This location is also the resting place for Isaac and Rebecca as well, but it’s on the Muslim side so don’t plan on seeing those tombs. According to Jewish mystical legend, this is also the entrance to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve are buried. There is even a stone enshrined near Abraham’s tomb that is said to have a footprint of Adam as he was leaving the garden. While there’s not great evidence to support this, we do know that it was near this city that God made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 13:18), Abraham pitched his tent for a bit (Gen. 17:4), and offered hospitality to the three strangers who told him Sarah would have a son (Gen. 18:10-14). The spies who scouted out the Promised Land brought Moses giant clusters of grapes from this area 700 years after Abraham (Num. 13:22-25). Years later, King David ruled from Hebron for 7.5 years before moving to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 2:1-4, 11). There is a lot of history in this place!

  1. Masada

While Masada isn’t in the Bible, it holds deep significance for the Jewish nation. At the end of the Jewish-Roman War, a group of zealous Jews went to this desert fortress built by Herod the Great for refuge. The Romans followed them there and built up a ramp to get inside the highly fortified city. While the city was well prepared to sustain the inhabitants for a while, when the Jews realized the Romans were going to get in, all but two women and five children (who hid and later told the story) took their own lives rather than live as Roman slaves. This place stirs up some great questions about religious passion and conviction and is a great sunrise hike if you’re looking for an early morning sight. 

Bonus tip: Schedule a time to visit the “Fountain of Tears” art installation in Arad on your way to Masada. It is an extremely moving series of sculptures that show a dialogue of suffering between a Holocaust victim and Jesus on the cross.

  1. Ein Gedi & Dead Sea

Ein Gedi has a Nature Reserve that has a lot of hiking trails and some shallow pools to cool off in. Biblically, this is where David and his mighty men spent a lot of their time and it’s the area where David spared Saul’s life when he was pursuing David in the wilderness (Josh. 15:61-62, 1 Sam. 23:29, 1 Sam. 24). This is a wonderful spot to meditate on the faithfulness of God and perhaps even Psalm 57 (written by David after he fled from Saul in the cave at Ein Gedi) and Psalm 63 (written by David in the wilderness of Judah where Ein Gedi is located). 

The Dead Sea is nearby and isn’t a major part of the Bible, but is referred to as the “Salt Sea” (2 Chron. 20:2 & Ez. 47:8). The Southern Dead Sea is a wonderful spot to relax for a bit after hiking and exploring and is home to one of the most important discoveries in modern archaeology- the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Caves of Qumran, where they were found, are located on its northwestern shore and you can visit this spot as well. 

  1. Eilat/Red Sea

Eilat is a beautiful southern city in Israel that is right next to the Red Sea. It’s more of a touristy town, which is nice as far as there’s no foreign tax on anything you buy here so you can get more affordable, modern items here. From Israel’s side of the Sea, you can see the Jordanian mountains and sometimes even parts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia if it’s clear enough! This is the location of a powerful part of Israel’s history as it played a key part in the deliverance of the nation of Israel from the Egyptians (Ex. 14). 


Depending on how long you can set aside for your trip will obviously affect the amount of time you’ll spend in each place and how much exploring you’ll end up doing. Both of our trips were about 14 days, including travel days, so we ended up spending about 10 days in the land. 

Day 1: (travel day)

Day 2: Fly into Tel Aviv (stay in Tel Aviv)

Day 3: Jerusalem (stay in Jerusalem)

Day 4: Jerusalem, Bethlehem (stay in Jerusalem)

Day 5: Jerusalem, Bethany (stay in Jerusalem)

Day 6: Hebron, Arad (stay in Ein Gedi)

Day 7: Masada, Dead Sea (stay in Ein Gedi)

Day 8: Ein Gedi, Jordan River on the way to Tiberius/hot springs at sundown (stay in Galilee)

Day 9: Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, CaesareaPhilippi (stay in Golan Heights)

Day 10: Mt. Hermon/Golan Heights, Mt. Carmel (stay in the Haifa area)

Day 11: Caesarea to Tel Aviv (stay in Tel Aviv)

Day 12: Tel Aviv (stay in Tel Aviv)

Day 13: Fly out of Tel Aviv and head home. 

Day 14: (travel day)

This schedule includes 1-2 days in Tel Aviv (& 3 nights), 2 days in Jerusalem (& 3 nights), half a day in Bethany, half days in Masada, the Dead Sea, and Ein Gedi (& 2 nights in Ein Gedi), along with stopping by the Jordan River, Tiberius, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, and Caesarea-Philippi. It also gives time to see Mt. Hermon/Golan Heights (with 1 night there), Mt. Carmel (1 night near there), and then a day for Caesarea and getting back to Tel Aviv for some hang out time before your flight home! 

This itinerary does skip Eilat/Red Sea, but if you allot more time for your trip, that would be a wonderful thing to add after Ein Gedi when you’re exploring Southern Israel instead of heading North again. 


It’s surprising to consider how much history and spiritual significance is packed into land the size of New Jersey! Let this be an encouragement to you that all the planning and research you’re doing now will all be worth it when you step foot in the Holy Land and begin to let the Lord minister to your spirit in the land He chose.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message, email or comment below and we will try to answer to the best of our ability! If you’re interested in bringing a group at a specific time, like the High Holidays this Fall, connect with us and we’ll help you bring a group to celebrate and seek the Lord in Jerusalem! And please, regardless of when you come, reach out to us and we will try to connect while you’re here. We’d love to see you! 🙂

The Shokeda Forest in February.

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