Plan A Special Israel Tour For Your Family!
Israel is a unique country and captivating for visitors of all ages. It’s steeped in history and culture, and a place where the present and past coexist today. Israel not only has exceptional and original sites galore, but it offers some of the most delicious food in the world. All these things combined make Israel a fantastic family destination.
Since everyone’s ideal Israel tour looks different, I’ve broken out our trip into seven posts (they’ll be linked each week as they’re published):
- Head To Israel: Super Unique Country-Wide Tips To Plan The Best Israel Tour For A Young Family
- Jerusalem Area
- Tel Aviv Area
- The North and Galilee Region
- The South and Negev Region
- Israeli Food Across The Country
- Unique Family-Friendly Israel Hotels
A Little About Our Israel Trip
My family of five (with kids aged six, nine, and thirteen) visited Israel in February for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and toured the entire country for two weeks. Initially, this trip was planned in place of a large party, but as we got closer, she decided she wanted both (shocking). Luckily, thanks to clever party planning and our DIY approach to our Israel tour, we were able to do it all.
Since we went big on her Bat Mitzvah in New York we decided on a small ceremonial Bat Mitzvah service in Jerusalem to mark this special occasion. It was perfect.
Planning A Unique Israel Tour For Your Family
Israel is one of the most interesting places in the world. With every step you take, you’re literally walking on history. With that said there are many ways to visit the county from super luxury to off the beaten path. Equally, there is a long list of “must-sees” for first-time visitors. Since this was my third time visiting but my husband’s and kids’ first, I aimed to create an Israel tour for both fresh and seasoned eyes.
I combined the most important historic sites with fun and unique experiences. My goal was simple – I wanted to keep my kids intrigued and entertained and to see the country through the eyes of a local.
When Should You Visit Israel?
We chose to tour Israel in February over our President’s Week school break. Accordingly, winter was a great time to go with mild weather, however, some things were closed. The truth is anytime you visit Israel is perfect, just check ahead to make sure your top sites are open.
Engage In Interactive History Lessons On Your Israel Tour
History lies around every corner – not to mention above, below, left, and right. Touring Israel is a great opportunity to teach kids about ancient civilizations and a place to bring stories from religious school to life. Take advantage of the opportunities to have meaningful conversations while standing on a piece of history.
Explore Nature Reserves and National Parks
Israel is filled with tons of outdoor beauty so be sure to fit in at least one hike or nature walk. You get extra points if it has a waterfall – which is easy to find! With that said, many historic sites are in national parks and have entrance fees. After much research, I found the Israel Pass (and more specifically the one-year Matmon pass) was a cost-effective addition to our trip despite our short stay. There are several different combinations available for purchase online and in Israeli hotels. We opted to buy the pass in advance, so our entry QR code was ready to go upon arrival.
Israel Tour: Jerusalem
We started our trip in Jerusalem – one of the most exciting places to visit – and stayed there for five nights including Shabbat. Thanks to careful planning ahead, we saw many things in a short time. We combined self-guided tours, private guides, and group tours to best cover the area.
Our Jerusalem itinerary included the incredible Kotel tunnels, the Bat Mitzvah ceremony under the wall, Yad Vashem, the Tower of David Museum with its beautiful overlook, the Ramparts Walk, Mount Herzl – the military cemetery, the Machane Yehuda Market, and full-day Old City and New City tours. For more details, check out my upcoming Jerusalem area post.
Israel Tour: Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a total vibe filled with colorful fun. During our three-night stay, we did an interactive graffiti tour and workshop with Grafitiyul, a Yaffa Walking Tour, and hung out by the beach on Shabbat. For more details, check out my upcoming Tel Aviv area post.
Day Trips From Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are great bases if you don’t want to change hotels. You can easily access Ein Gedi, Masada, and the Dead Sea from both cities. You can also head south and visit the absolutely incredible Dig For A Day archaeological dig or the counter-terrorism training class at Caliber 3.
Israel Tour: The North and Galilee Region
The North of Israel is huge and filled with gorgeous scenery. We spent two nights in the North with a private guide using Tzvat as our base. From here we explored the ruins of Caesarea, Hermon Stream Banias Nature Preserve, Misgav Am Kibbutz, Nimrod Fortress, Mt Avital – Mt Bental Nature Reserve, Keshet Cave, Rosh HaNikra, and Haifa. For more details, check out my upcoming North and Galilee Region area post.
Israel Tour: The South and Negev Region
We headed south from Jerusalem and hit everything from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat in two nights. This includes star-gazing in the Mitzpe Ramon crater with Astronomy Israel, riding camels at Camel Ranch Eilat, and seeing dolphins in their natural habitat at Dolphin Reef Beach. We also took a full-day trip to Petra, Jordan to satisfy my Indiana Jones craving. For more details, check out my upcoming South and Negev Region area post.
The food in Israel is clean, fresh, simple, and excellent. Since Israel is filled with many cultures there are a variety of different cuisines to try. Keep an open mind and try them all! Some of our favorite meals included Piccolino, Hatzot, Hummos Shel Techina, Adom, Land of Tents, Varkada, HaShomer, Alma Beach, Brisket Bar, Lahuhe Original Yemenite Food Bar, and GalilEat. For more details, check out my upcoming Israeli food post.
Our ideal active trip accommodations are low-key, inexpensive, and centrally located. Since we are New Yorkers and used to walking ten miles a day, we go full throttle from breakfast to bedtime. Thus, we don’t spend a lot of time in hotels and look for modest accommodations. Additionally, as a family of five, it’s challenging to find hotels that can fit all of us in one room. For these reasons, we were thrilled to stay with Abraham Hostels in Jerusalem, Eilat, and Tel Aviv, Silent Arrow Desert Lodge in Mitze Ramon, and the Maim Haim Suites in Tzvat. For more details, check out my upcoming family-friendly hotels in Israel post.
Shabbat comes every Friday night and is interpreted differently throughout Israel. If you’re lucky enough to celebrate multiple Shabbats abroad, I suggest varying your experiences. Additionally, check operating hours since some places close.
Introducing Israel To Children Before Your Trip
Since my youngest was six and not so familiar with Israeli history and sites, we read Good Night Israel as a crash course to Israel’s historic hot spots. This fun and simple book taught him about the famous places on our itinerary. Once there, he not only recognized them but remembered why they were important!
Israel is the size of New Jersey (making it easy to see the whole country in one trip) with visible bordering countries. If you look across the Dead Sea or the Red Sea you can see Jordan. In the Galilee Region in the north, you can see Syria and Lebanon – separated by simple roads – and emphasized with barbed wire. Our family had many interesting discussions about what it must be like to live next to someone you don’t always get along with, but also the idea that most people just want peace.
Israel gets a country-wide A+ for public art. Everywhere we looked there were murals, fountains, mosaics, sculptures, outdoor pianos, or big signs for fantastic photo ops. These free, accessible, outdoor modern touches were great finds and even more fun if they were next to ancient ruins.
This first post in my series of planning the perfect Israel trip for your family is just the beginning. These tips will help blend history, culture, nature, adventure, education, and fun into the ideal Israel tour. So, start packing your bags and get ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime!
*I put together our Israel trip itinerary and then reached out to certain attractions and business owners to work together. All opinions above are my own. No compensation was received for my opinions. In some cases, a discount or hosted experience was provided in exchange for my honest review.
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