10 Fantastic Day Trips From Jerusalem

There are many excellent day trips from Jerusalem. Some are easy to do independently, others are best tackled with a guided tour. While you won’t have shortage of things to do in Jerusalem, you will be happy to know that the city is a great starting point to visit many other places in Israel and the West Bank. 

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.

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a perfect destination for a day trip from Jerusalem

10 Great Day Trips From Jerusalem

Tel Aviv

At just 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. 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. 

Bethlehem
Bethlehem Separation Wall

Bethlehem

Bethlehem 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 at just 12 km from Jerusalem and you can get there by bus. Bus 231 is directly, 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.

Alternatively, you go a guided tour such as this Bethlehem half day tour or this full day Bethlehem and Dead Sea tour.

Jericho and the West Bank

Jericho is known as the oldest and lowest city on earth, at 260 meters 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 and Bethlehem. For more information, click here.

Have a look at my post Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit Palestine.

Hebron day trips from Jerusalem
Hebron is perfect for a day away from Jerusalem

Hebron

Hebron isn’t exactly a merry place. You see, sometimes we travel for the fun and joy of it; other 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, I recommend going 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.

Make sure to read my post Why I took a Dual Narrative Tour of Hebron.

Gaza border

Another place to visit to learn more 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 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 Fortress
The Masada Fortress is a must see when in Israel

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 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.

best places to visit in Israel
Gorgeous views of the Sea of Galilee

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 places worthy of a visit: 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 it 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.

Caesarea archeological site
Caesarea archeological site is one of the best in Israel

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 first 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, Akko 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.

Petra day trips from Jerusalem
Petra can be visited on (rather expensive) day trips from Jerusalem

Petra

This is one of the places I feel thorn about recommending – Petra honestly deserves way more than just a day! 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.

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! I recommend joining a guided tour. For more information, click here

Check out my post 13 Things To Know Before You Visit Petra, Jordan.

trip to Israel

Be’er Sheva

Be’er Sheva is one of the lesser 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 visit on foot.

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 trips 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

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.

Amman

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, 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 actually 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!

Further Readings About Israel

If you are planning a trip to Israel make sure to also read my other posts:

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Read about the best day trips from Jerusalem - via @clautavani

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