There are many excellent day trips from Jerusalem that you can easily do independently or on a guided tour. It’s just a matter of deciding where and when you want to go.
Jerusalem is a gorgeous city. There are many places to visit and it will take you at least 4 or 5 days to explore it properly. You will enjoy its religious as well as its secular atmosphere; you will appreciate the temples and churches as well as the museums (make sure to visit Yad Vashem) and the markets; you will like the restaurants, cafés and bars.
If you have a bit more time in the city, you will be glad to know that it is easy to get out of it to explore other places in Israel and the West Bank.
In this post, I highlight some of the places that can be visited on day trips from Jerusalem and share some practical information to help you organize your trip and make the most of it.
9 Great Day Trips From Jerusalem
Tel Aviv is one of the easiest day trips from Jerusalem. In less than one hour you can find yourself in a city that has a completely different climate and vibe.
This is a city that is incredibly fun and easygoing. You can walk around and admire the Bauhaus architecture Tel Aviv became famous for; you can head to Jaffa for a free walking tour that will highlight its complex and interesting history; you can wonder around the lovely Neve Tzedek neighborhood; go for a walk along the waterfront and hang out at the beach; shop at HaKarmel Market and even visit one of the many museums.
There are many restaurants, cafes and bars in Tel Aviv that will make your visit all the more pleasant – if only they were not that expensive!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: There are direct buses and trains from Jerusalem Central Station to Tel Aviv. The bus goes all the way to Savidor, and the train will leave you at HaHagana station. The train ride lasts around 40 minutes. Both options are in the range of $5 USD.
If you would rather go on an organized tour, these are some good options:
One of the easiest day trips from Jerusalem is to Bethlehem. The city is at a mere 12 km from Jerusalem, though getting there may be a bit tricky (more about it in a bit).
Among the places you can’t miss in Bethlehem, there is the Church of the Nativity and the Grotto of the Nativity, known to be the birthplace of Jesus. You should also visit the Milk Chapel – the place where Mary breastfed baby Jesus and as some drops of milk fell of her breast, they colored the chapel of a bright white.
Yet for non-religious people the most interesting place to see is the Separation Wall. Among the many graffitis testimony of the suffering that the separation is causing, you will also be able to see those of famous faceless graffiti artist Banksy.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Buses to Bethlehem leave from Damascus Gate. Take bus 231 or 234 (the latter goes to the checkpoint).
Once in Bethlehem, you can count on Ali Jebreen to take you around. Make sure to contact him a day or two before going.
Alternatively, you can consider going on a guided tour. These are some excellent options:
- Full day Bethlehem and Dead Sea tour
- Bethlehem Old City and Jericho guided tour
- Bethlehem and Jericho day tour
- Bethlehem, Jericho and Jordan river tour
- Bethlehem half day tour
Not many go on day trips from Jerusalem to Hebron. That’s because this isn’t exactly a merry place.
Sometimes we travel for the fun and joy of it; other times we do it to learn – about the history, culture and even the people of a place we are visiting. Hebron is one of such places. A perfect destination for a day trip, but not one you should visit if you are in for a light, merry experience.
Hebron is one of the most contested cities in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Located in the West Bank, it has a 3% Jewish population that lives completely separate from the Palestinian one, with check points to go from one side to the other of the city.
In Hebron, you will have the chance to visit the Cave of the Patriarch and the bustling market.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can reach Hebron by public transportation from Jerusalem Central Bus Station. The trip takes around one hour.
However, I recommend going on a guided tour. When I visited, I took a dual narrative tour during which I had two guides – one Israeli guide for the Israeli side of the city, and a Palestinian one for the other side. This way I got to hear both perspectives. You can book the tour here.
Make sure to read my post “Why I took a Dual Narrative Tour of Hebron.”
Jericho and the West Bank
Among the most popular day trips from Jerusalem, there are those to Jericho and the West Bank.
Jericho is known as the oldest and lowest city on earth. It was founded around 8000 years BC, but according to research the area was inhabited already in 10000 BC. The city is located at 260 meters below sea level.
Among the best attractions in Jericho, you should not miss the Mount of Temptations and Qurantul Monastery, where Jesus fought with the temptations by Satan. The views from the monastery, which you can reach by cable car, are stunning.
You can also go to Wadi Qelt, where St. George’s Monastery is located, to admire a beautiful sunset.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can take the bust from Jerusalem to Mitzpe Jericho.
The best option however is to actually join one of the guided tours departing from Jerusalem. You can opt for the Jericho half day tour from Jerusalem.
If you want to see a bit more of the West Bank, you can go on a tour that goes to other places such as Ramallah, the current administrative capital of Palestine, Jericho, the Jordan River and the Baptismal Font and Bethlehem. If you are tight you can opt for this best of the West Bank full day tour from Jerusalem.
Have a look at my post “Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit Palestine.”
This is another of the most interesting day trips from Jerusalem during which you can learn a lot about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. If you want to go, the only way it makes sense to do it is on an organized tour with a guide that will help you understand the history, the politics and the logistics of the conflict.
You won’t be able to cross the border into Gaza – only NGO and IO workers can do that. So you will be driving around the perimeter, visiting small towns, meeting local workers who have special permits to cross the border, seeing places of historical significance for the conflict.
You will only have an Israeli guide, but he’ll do his best to give both sides of the story.
The tour departs twice a week from Jerusalem and you can book it here.
Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea
One of the best day trips from Jerusalem is that to Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea – they are close to one another that it makes sense to visit them all in one go.
The Masada is a fortress that became known for the siege which ended with the mass suicide of the Zealot Jews who had been living there. When they realized that the forces of the Roman Empire where about to enter the fortress, they decided to kill themselves.
You can reach the Masada in one of two ways. You can use the cable car to get to the top of the hill where the fortress is located; or you can walk the snake path to the top. This is best done at sunrise, when it is nice and chilled outside. The sunrise views from the Masada are out of this world!
Not far from the Masasa, you will find Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, a lovely oasis with lots of hiking trails, wildlife and beautiful waterfalls and swimming spots. I bet you will want to spend more time exploring the Ein Gedi once you get there, but if a day is all you have try to make the most of it.
Finally, the Dead Sea is a great addition to this day trip. To many, this is the highlight of a trip to Israel. The Dead Sea is a unique place. Located more than 400 meters below sea level, it is so salty that no fish can live there. In fact, you can’t even really swim – float at must. And even then, you have to be careful not to get any water in your eyes or mouth or wounds, as that would hurt terribly!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: It takes around one to one and a half hour to get from Jerusalem to the Masada. There are public buses going there, but the best way to do it is to either rent a car or go on a guided day trip.
These are the best tours departing from Jerusalem and going to the Masasa, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea:
- Masada and Dead Sea full day tour
- Masada and Dead Sea tour from Jerusalem
- Masada sunrise, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea tour
- Dead Sea chill out day trip
Nazareth and Galilee
Nazareth isn’t exactly my favorite place in Israel, but I must say that the region where it is located is really pretty and that it is a great access point to Galilee, which is lovely.
Similarly to Bethlehem, Nazareth is a sacred place for Christians. It’s here that the Archangel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, the Basilica of Annunciation marks that spot. There is a nice market and the White Mosque which is also worth visiting.
Not far from Nazareth, many places in Galilee are worth visiting. Cana of Galilee is the place where Jesus performed one of his miracles. Zippori National Park is home to a lovely archeological site; Horns of Attin is part myth part archeological site; Moshav Arbel has an ancient synagogue and it is close to Mount Arbel, from where you can get incredible views of the Sea of Galilee.
In other words, Galilee is a very good destination for day trips from Jerusalem.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can get from Jerusalem to Nazareth by public transportation – the trip lasts more than two hours. The best way to explore it is actually by car, so that you can move from one place to the other at your own pace.
Another way to do it is on a guided tour departing from Jerusalem. These are the best options:
- Jordan River, Nazareth and Sea of Galilee day tour from Jerusalem
- Nazareth, Tiberias and Sea of Galilee day tour from Jerusalem
- Jesus footsteps tour: Biblical highlights from Jerusalem
- Private customizable day tour to Nazareth and Galilee
Cesarea, Haifa and Akko
At the north of Israel, the site of Caesarea and the lovely cities of Haifa and Akko are really worth visiting and perfect for day trips from Jerusalem.
Caesarea was founded by Herod the Great during the first century BC. It now is one of the most impressive archeological sites in Israel, where you will be able to admire the thermal baths, the amphitheater, the hippodrome, the aqueduct, the royal palace and the temple of Augustus. There is also a large portion of it underwater – perfect for diving geeks.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The entry fee to Caesarea National Park is 39 NIS (little over $11 USD).
Haifa is another 30 minutes drive north. It’s a lovely city with an easy going vibe, where the best sight is the symmetrical Ba’hai Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You should also make it a point to explore the German Colony area, and to gorge on some of the best street food you will find in Israel.
Akko is another 30 minutes drive north, close to the border with Lebanon. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Akko is a nice maze of narrow alleys and small squares perfect to get lost; a market and many fish and seafood restaurants. Its highlights include the Citadel and the City Walls – Akko was originally built by the Crusaders, as well as Al-Jazzar Mosque, which was built in the 19th century.
The best way to see all these places in one go from Jerusalem is on a guided tour. These are the best ones:
Petra honestly deserves way more than just a day, but if a day is all you have, you will be happy to know that you can visit it on day trips from Jerusalem. It’s the only way you can do it – between the border crossing and the distances, you really need to have everything organized if you want to do it in just one day, and even then you are in for a 3:00 am departure!
This is an incredible, huge archaeological site. The city of Petra started being built as early as 500 BC. The main highlights are the Treasury, the Monastery, and the High Altar of Sacrifice.
TIP: Wear very comfortable clothes and shoes for your trip to Petra: you will be walking a lot!
You can book your guided day tour to Petra here.
Check out my post “13 Things To Know Before You Visit Petra, Jordan.”
Further readings about Israel
If you are planning a trip to Israel make sure to also read my other posts:
- The 10 Best Places To Visit During A Trip To Israel
- A Complete Guide To Israeli Food
- 29 Things To Do In Jerusalem You Can’t Miss
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of Jerusalem
- What You Must Know Before Visiting Temple Mount And Dome Of The Rock
- What You Need To Know About Shabbat In Jerusalem
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- 15 Great Tel Aviv Beaches
- Where To Stay In Tel Aviv: Recommendations By An Almost Local
- Tel Aviv Vegan Food Guide: The Best Vegan Restaurants In Tel Aviv
- A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel
- 17 Truly Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail
- Masada Sunrise Guide: Hiking The Masada Snake Path
- The 13 Best Day Trips From Tel Aviv