Essential Israel – 10 day itinerary

Jerusalem old city

Essential Israel – 10 day itinerary

Here is our 10 day itinerary for cover essential sights in Isreal. This is at a relaxed pace so that you have enough time to see various sights Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ein Gedi. 

People of Israel love folks from India. We were welcomed every where and had a friendly reception and many conversations with everyone. Language was not a problem for us at all. 

The essential Israel – 10 day itinerary will help you see the important sights on your first visit to Israel. 

10 day itinerary for Israel

Day 1 Land in Tel Aviv head to Jerusalem
Take the bus $485 to Jerusalem. Its best to start there.
Day 2 - Jerusalem
Take a free or private tour to acquaint yourself with the old city of Jerusalem.
Day 3 Jerusalem
Step out of the Old city to the Mahane Yehuda Market. Shop for food and eat well.
Day 4 - Head to the Dead Sea
Rent a car or take the bus to Kalia. More about this later in the post. Spend the night in Ein Gedi
Day 5 - Masada
Take the bus or drive to Masada and hike up the mountain for great views.
Day 6 - Hiking in Ein Gedi
Do the easy hike to Ein Gedi waterfall. Relax at the Ein Gedi Spa or go to the Ein Bokek beach for one last dip in the dead sea
Day 7 - Head to Tel Aviv
Drive or take the bus to Tel Aviv.
Day 8 - Tel Aviv beaches
Relax at the Tel Aviv beaches. People watch and eat lots of hummus and other amazing food
Day 9 - Jaffa Old town
Spend a day in Jaffa. Eat amazing hummus and pita there. See the sights.
Day 10 - Neve Tzedek
Enjoy the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. Rent a scooter and enjoy the beach promenade before catching your flight out of Tel Aviv

We spent March 23rd to April 2nd in Israel in 2019.

Getting a tourist visa in Delhi for Israel

Getting a VISA for Israel in India for our kids was a pain. Israel has a strange requirement. They want kid’s birth certificate to be apostilled by the ministry of external affairs in Delhi. The MEA does not want to be bothered and have assigned agents that help with this process. Help in this context means bribing. Most of this agents want 1500/birth certificate even when the published fees by the MEA is 100 rupees only. I had to make many calls to the embassy and write emails to various folks to get this sorted out.

Apparently, if your birth certificate can be verified online, the embassy is willing to wave the apostille requirment for a “Tourist VISA to Israel”

Israel is fascinating for its history and the Dead Sea area. The beaches around tel Aviv are great on a sunny day but March is not the best weather for Tel Aviv and it can be avoided entirely in my view.

Here is what we did in our 10 days in Israel.

3 days in Old city of Jerusalem

We spend all three days in the old city of Jerusalem. Staying in the Jewish quarter was great. It is clean and the most well kept part of the old city.

The Old city is fascinating to walk through. It is especially exclusive at night, when the tourist buses and tour guides leave the city.

The history of Jerusalem is what attracted us to this city. The complicated history has been documented well in various places. We found the piece on wikipedia on temple mount succinct and balanced. We decided not to write about it on this blog because we can’t add much to what exists already. 

Here are the things that worked really well for us. 

Tips for Old city of Jerusalem

  • Stores and restaurants just outside the Damascus Gate are much cheaper than the old city.
  • Hummus ikremavi was excellent and best value for money in the area
  • Pizza just outside the Jaffa gate was great for kids
  • Hummus at Abu Shukri was better than Lina’s and Tala’s and cheaper too. Eat there or at Damascus gate

4 Restaurants in the Old City of Jerusalem

1. Humus Acrmavi or Ikremavi

2 Haneviim St, Jerusalem, Jerusalem
+972 2-626-1658
https://goo.gl/maps/kaTYTDeB1vs

2. Abu Shukri

https://goo.gl/maps/HsSoUmebVTM2

3. Lina

עקבת אל חנאכה 42, Jerusalem
+972 2-627-7230
https://goo.gl/maps/6kLJrpw77Gr

4. Pizza mamilla

Shlomo ha-Melekh St 2, Jerusalem, Israel
+972 54-660-2176
https://goo.gl/maps/uanQ6kGazJy

How to see the Dead Sea from Jerusalem

There are three common ways to see the Dead Sea

  1. Paid entry at Kalia beach at 60NIS/person
  2. Paid entry at any Dead Sea resort like the sea of spa in Ein Gedi
  3. Free entry at Ein Bokek Beach

Kalia beach

We recommend going to the Kalia beach. It is a 40 minute bus ride away or a 30 minute drive from Jerusalem. Take bus 486 or Bus 444 or any bus to Ein Gedi or Ein Bokek and asked to be dropped off at Kalia Beach.

Kalia Beach

https://goo.gl/maps/uuYQJDryDqu

You have to walk 15 minutes to get to this beach so keep at least half a day for this outing. Kalia beach is great because you have good showers and a nice bar with a great view at the lowest place on earth.

The beach has tonnes of black sand that you can apply to your body and then take a dip in the sea. The sensation is amazing and it leaves your skin feeling so smooth. None of the other ways to see the Dead Sea have access to this sand.

The beach has showers and a changing area. They also have lots of seating and shade. Just get there early in the day to avoid a sun and the crowds. The beach is not rocky.

If you have car, eat at a small pizzeria on the road to Jericho. The owner is very friendly. He also built the tourist facilities at Masada and has great stories to share. He was the one who asked us to go to Kalia beach and we are glad he did.

Me Casa Damka

Almog Junction, Vered Jericho Roundabout

+972 2-970-7078

https://goo.gl/maps/BfY49KccEHH2

 

The Ein Gedi Kibbutz

The Kibbutz in Ein Gedi Is a fantastic place to stay. It was our favourite place to visit during our entire trip. We hiked to Masada, visited the free public beach at Ein Bokek and the dead sea spa too. It was a lovely, relaxing time. The host at Ein Gedi was super welcoming too.

Ein Gedi Hot springs or Ein Gedi Sea of Spa

This paid resort has an indoor complex with a changing room, hot smelly sulphur baths (avoidable) and a mud bath area. They charge 100 NIS/person and I think they are not worth the money.

They put you on a tractor that takes you to the beach. The beach does not have any facilities. Just some chairs and some shade. The beach is rocky. You need shoes to enter and enjoy it.

Ein Gedi Hot Springs

Ein Gedi, Israel

+972 8-620-1030

https://goo.gl/maps/BHNVTbVYQkR2

Dead Sea at Ein Bokek Beach

This is the best way to sea the Dead Sea for free. Just pay for public parking all around the beach and access the Dead Sea. Buses to Ein Bokek are frequent and should take about 1:20 minutes one way.

The beach has good shower facilities. The beach is rocky and I recommend wearing crocs or plastic slippers when you access the beach. The beach floor is full of sand crystals. You can buy black mud packs from stores nearby and apply them on your body. You won’t find this sand on the beach.

You can rent a car from Hertz or Avis or other providers on King David Street in Jerusalem. Call them directly for good rates. Online car bookings in Israel have wrong prices. Their prices don’t include insurance and often insurance is very expensive in Israel. As much as $25/day.

Always decline theft insurance. You don’t really need it and it can save you $5-10/day.

 

Visiting Masada from Ein Gedi

Its easy to get to Masada form Ein Gedi by bus or by your own car. I recommend renting a car in the dead sea area because it gives you a lot more freedom than a bus. Masada is great to see 

Tel Aviv

There is a lot to do in Tel Aviv. 

  • You can party on Allenby steet
  • You can walk through Neve Tzedek and have yummy ice cream
  • You can watch people and enjoy the sea at the long Beach Promenade
  • You can learn about the history of the Old City of Jaffa and eat amazing food here
  • Take a free tour in the old city of Jaffa. There are great stories about Napoleon and other invaders that local’s share.
  • You can walk around Harakyon Park on a good weather day.
  • Walk through Carmel Market and have a chocolate Babka or a Jerusalem bagel

You will most likely run out of time in this city. So pace yourself. 

You will also like to eat a lot in this city. So pace yourself again. Here is our list of great places to eat in Tel Aviv

10 Great places to eat in Tel Aviv

All of these have been marked in the map. We tried them and they are great. 

  1. Hummus Abu Hasan in Jaffa
  2. Awni in Jaffa
  3. Sabich at Tchernikhovski street
  4. Johnny’s falafel is right next door
  5. Czech beer at Little Prague restaurant is on the other side of Allenby street
  6. Benedicts on Allenby street
  7. Super Falafel on Allenby street
  8. Pizza Tommy on Allenby street
  9. Sputnik Bar has a great atmosphere at night and is on Allenby street
  10. Anita’s ice cream and frozen yoghurt in Neve Tzedek 

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