While you won’t have shortage of things to do in Jerusalem, you will be happy to know that you can go on many day trips from Jerusalem. Indeed, the city is a great starting point to visit many other places in Israel and the West Bank. Some day trips are easy to do independently, others best tackled with a guided tour.
Curious to find out where to go on day trips from Jerusalem? I will select the best places for you, and share a few helpful planning tips.
11 Great Day Trips From Jerusalem
Less than one hour from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv 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; 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. Hungry? The many restaurants, cafes and bars in town will make your visit even more pleasant.
There are direct buses and trains from Jerusalem Central Station to Tel Aviv that will take you there in around 45 minutes. The bus goes all the way to Savidor, and the train will leave you at HaHagana station. Both options are in the range of $5 USD.
Bethlehem, in Palestine, is incredibly easy to visit on day trips from Jerusalem. Its main landmarks are 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, known as the place where Mary breastfed baby Jesus. The Separation Wall is another must see – you will see many graffitis testimony of the suffering that the separation is causing, including those by artist Banksy.
Bethlehem is just 12 km (7.5 miles) from Jerusalem and you can get there by bus. Bus 231 is direct, whereas bus 234 goes to the checkpoint. Once in Bethlehem, taxi driver Ali Jebreen can take you around. Make sure to contact him a day or two before going and definitely mention “Claudia from Italy” as your contact.
Jericho and the West Bank
Jericho is known as the oldest and lowest city on earth, at 260 meters (853 feet) below sea level. It was founded around 8000 years BC, but according to research the area was inhabited already in 10000 BC. The main places of interest are 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.
You can take the bus from Jerusalem to Mitzpe Jericho or join one of the guided tours departing from Jerusalem such as this 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 also goes to Ramallah, the current administrative capital of Palestine, Jericho, the Jordan River and the Baptismal Font (pictured above) and Bethlehem. For more information, click here.
Hebron isn’t exactly a merry place. You see, sometimes we travel for the fun and joy of it; others to learn – about the history, culture and even the people of a place we are visiting. Hebron is one of such places.
This 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. The main landmarks include the Cave of the Patriarch and the bustling market.
You can reach Hebron by public transportation from Jerusalem Central Bus Station. The trip takes around one hour. However, it’s much better to go on a guided tour such as a dual narrative tour during which you have two guides – one Israeli guide for the Israeli side of the city, and a Palestinian one for the other side. You can book the tour here.
Another place to visit to learn about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, 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.
Only NGO and IO workers can actually cross the border to enter Gaza. So you only 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.
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 rather than becoming slaves.
You can reach the Masada via cable car – which affords you magnificent views of the desert; or you can walk the snake path to the top, best if at sunrise, when it is nice and chilled outside.
Not far from the Masasa, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is a lovely oasis with lots of hiking trails, wildlife and beautiful waterfalls and swimming spots.
Finally, the Dead Sea is located more than 400 meters (1312 feet) below sea level, and it is so salty that no fish can live there. In fact, you can’t even really swim – float at most. 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!
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. You can consider this Masada and Dead Sea tour from Jerusalem or this Masada sunrise, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea tour. Finally, you can opt for this private tour.
Nazareth and Galilee
Similarly to Bethlehem, Nazareth is a sacred place for Christians. The main places to visit are the the Basilica of Annunciation, located in the place where Archangel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, the Old City market and the White Mosque.
Not far from Nazareth, there are a bunch of other beautiful places: Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed one of his miracles; Zippori National Park and archeological site; Horns of Attin; Moshav Arbel ancient synagogue and Mount Arbel, from where you can get incredible views of the Sea of Galilee.
You can get from Jerusalem to Nazareth by public transportation – the trip lasts more than two hours. The best way to explore Galilee is actually by car, so that you can move from one place to the other at your own pace. Alternatively, opt for a guided tour such as this Nazareth, Tiberias and Sea of Galilee day tour from Jerusalem.
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.
Caesarea was founded by Herod the Great during the 1st century BC. It now is one of the most impressive archeological sites in Israel, with ruins of thermal baths, an amphitheater, a hippodrome, an aqueduct, a royal palace and the temple of Augustus. There is also a large portion of it underwater – perfect for diving geeks.
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.
Further north, Akko close to the border with Lebanon. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to a nice 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, built in the 19th century.
You can visit Caesarea, Haifa and Akko on guided day trips from Jerusalem such as this one.
This is one of the places I feel thorn about recommending – Petra honestly deserves way more than just a day! This is an incredible 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.
Between the border crossing and the distances, you really need to have everything organized if you want to visit Petra in just one day, and even then you are in for a 3:00 am departure! I recommend joining a guided tour. For more information, click here.
Be’er Sheva is one of the lesser known places to visit Israel and the kind of place you should consider if you want to get off the beaten path. The main landmarks are in the Old City, where Abraham’s Well is located. That’s also where you’ll find and some nice cafés where you can enjoy a meal or a drink, and the Bedouin Market.
You can get to Be’er Sheva from Jerusalem by train. The trip takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The city is easy to explore on foot.
Israeli wines aren’t world famous, but the region has been producing wines for 3000 years now, and there are hundreds of wineries scattered around the country that produce excellent wines and that are open for wine tasting experiences.
Not far from Jerusalem, in the Judean Hills, you will find a selection of vineyards and wineries making some of the best wines in the country. Tzora makes both excellent whites and reds. You’ll also find great wineries in Galilee – there’s a fantastic one in Zippori, a short distance from Nazareth.
One important thing to note is that you should not be drinking and driving. So, if you really want to make the most of a wine tasting experience, you should probably opt for a wine tasting tour.
Where Not To Go On Day Trips
I have seen some sites recommend places such as Eilat, in southern Israel, and Amman, in Jordan as good day trip destinations from Jerusalem, and I wonder if they have traveled in the region at all and have any idea of its politics and geography. Let me explain more.
Eilat is at 4.5 hours drive from Jerusalem and in theory – if you have a car and wake up super early and prepare for a very long day, it can be done. Whether it’s a good idea or not, though, it’s a different story. I don’t think it is.
Amman is directly across the border from Jerusalem, and where this a different continent it would take one hour to drive there. However, there is no border crossing from Israel to Jordan at Allenby / King Hussein, supposedly the closest border (though you can cross from Jordan to Israel – I know, complicated!). This means that on your way to Amman you’d have to go all the way to the north of Israel, to Beit She’an / Sheikh Hussein border.
The overall travel time would be more than five hours, to which you’d need to add time at the border (which can hardly be predicted). Add to this the fact that there are no guided tours, and that Israeli cars can’t cross the border to Jordan, and you see it is virtually impossible to do it in a day.
My tip? Stick to what is actually doable!
If you are planning a trip to Israel make sure to also read my other posts:
- 33 Tips For Traveling To Israel
- How To Plan The Perfect Trip To Israel
- A Complete Guide To Israeli Food
- 15 Great Bars In Jerusalem
- Where To Stay In Jerusalem
- 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
- 15 Great Tel Aviv Beaches
- Where To Stay In Tel Aviv: Recommendations By An Almost Local
- The 13 Best Day Trips From Tel Aviv
- The Best Airbnbs In Tel Aviv