You have one week in Israel and it’s your first time visiting. You’re an American woman. If you must spend two days in Jerusalem, what would you do during this one week to get a decent flavor of the country? Would you do it by bus or rent a car?

No, no, I’m not asking for myself. 😉

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  • I’d spend a day or two wandering around Tel Aviv and Yafo, head up north for to wander around the ruins at Caesarea and the shops in the Druze village of Daliat el Carmel. The Bahai Gardens in Haifa are beautiful (I think you need to call ahead to get a proper tour, though they can be viewed from outside the gardens from either the top or the bottom without a tour). Zichron Yakov has some nice museums and galleries, good restaurants too.

    Renting a car is probably your best bet, though driving in Israel is one of my least favorite things to do.

    Hope this helps!

  • You know, it depends also what kind of person she is. If she’s at all outdoorsy, she has no excuse not to go both the Golan and the desert. Nachal Yehudiyyah in the Golan should be very nice now that the rains have ended, Ein Gedi and Makhtesh Ramon of course are always fun. If she’s really feeling adventurous and Zionist, she should go to Sde Boker and check out Ben-Gurion’s grave for the best view in Israel and an increased appreciation for the work of those real hardcore Zionists in the desert.

    Oh, and tell her to avoid Eilat – no matter what good things she may have heard about it, it’s a hole that happens to be in a nice location. If she wants a much nicer, much less crowded beach, there’s literally dozens along the Mediterranean.

  • The question says she MUST spend two days in Jerusalem, so I don’t know why everyone is giving advice for all the OTHER places she should go! (I would hope that she WANTS to see J-lem, not just that she’s stopping here because she has to).

    To get the flavor, I’d send her to the shuk, for sure, if only to stroll around and watch the people. Of course you must include a tour of Ir David and the Old City, with a good 30-60 minute stop at the Kotel. After that, the things that come to my mind are: a stroll/picnic at the Sherover/Haas/Goldman promenades in Talpiot; shopping for Judaica in Meah Shearim/Geulah (or just strolling and seeing it; remember to wear a long skirt and sleeves past the elbow); Perhaps doing one’s shopping for gifts either in Merkaz HaIr or at the Malcha Mall, just to get the feel of them (it still amazes me that we have this beautiful, glitzy mall and everything is in Hebrew).

    If she’s a site-seeing type, she should spend a full day in the Old City on tours, and consider a look at the Israel Museum and/or Yad Vashem. The new Yad Vashem museum (recently opened) is supposed to be amazing.

    But if her goal is to just soak up the vibes, I’m all for simply walking around and really WATCHING and listening and BEING here. If she’s coming now, spending time outdoors is glorious.

    I recommend eating at the Anna Ticho House if you can. It’s so charming, and has a built-in historical exhibit to boot.

    If she’s into the club scene, you’ll have to ask someone else. That is so not my style.

    No point in renting a car. Getting around Jerusalem by car is confusing and will cause needless stress. My recommendation: If you are in a hurry and trying to pack a lot of sites into 2 days, take taxis. The drivers know how to get places better than you ever will. But if you would rather set a liesurely place and, like I said, soak up the vibes, then definitely take buses at least a couple of times.

    PS if you want to see a lot of soldiers in one place: the central bus station.

  • I just re-read the question and understand why there are tips for other areas. Sorry! Misunderstanding. My bad. 🙂

  • renting a car is a must, or she will waste all her time waiting for the bus!
    I would go (Day 1) to the Dead Sea, Massada (just because it’s really cool), Ein Gedi then head up to Tiberias and ride on a boat across at Ein Gev and eat a fish dinner, spend the night in a guest house and head (day 2)to the Golan and go to the Dan River and drive thru to Tzfat and do a sunset dinner there. Get to Haifa or spend the night in Tzfat or somewhere on the Northern Coast,(Nachsholim is beautiful), spend day 3 in Haifa/Acco possibly get to Rosh Hanikra, head to Cesarea see ruins for dinner/sunset, stay overnight in Netanya or Herzliya, spend the day/night (day 4) in Tel Aviv and get to the Shainkin street/shuk area for a real culture experience. Take her or send her to the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, then Mini Israel on her way back to the Airport/Jerusalem wherever her last night will be.

  • Oh right! Mini Israel! I knew there was something in that area that was a definite must see, but couldn’t think of it! Totally awesome place.

  • when I said not to rent a car, I meant not to try driving around from site to site WITHIN Jerusalem. But for the week as a whole, to go from city to city and see the sites in the north, you MUST have a car. Waiting for buses is a real drag.

  • Pretty good recommendations so far. Like Michael said, though, the whole itinerary depends entirely on the traveler. I’d say focus on either the south of Israel or the north, and if it was me I’d go for the north. One day in the Ein Gedi/Masada/Dead Sea area. I’d say do Masada at dawn, if not for the cheesy reasons then simply because it is way too hot to do any later in the day. If this person only has two days in Jerusalem, Meah Shearim is not a high priority in my opinion. Yad Vashem is a must. Ein Karem is fun. The Israeli Museum is really nice and impressive, but there’s too much to see. Save it for next time, unless the woman in question is an indoors type.
    On the way up north I’d recommend stopping off for an hour or so at Ein Hemed. It’s a beautiful little place right outside of Jerusalem with a stream, gorgeous lawns, and this awesome Crusader period building. The crusaders called it Aqua Bella, and it lives up to the name. Of course, I used to go to summer camp at this place so if they are still doing that and this woman has an aversion to children, I’d check first.
    Moving on, I think Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv is a must, as well as Yafo. If she’s an art lover, there is a little Nachum Gutman museum in Neve Tzedek that’s worth checking out. Then obviously Nachlat Binyamin and that area, and the beach if she is so inclined. Zichron Yaakov is lovely. There’s a vineyard between Binyamina and Zichron that I’ve never been to but heard good things about. Caesaria is a must. Natzeret is pretty cool. The big important church there (the name escapes me just now) was remodeled and looks pretty awesome, but I don’t know that it’s a big priority for a Jew on her first visit to Israel.
    As for outdoorsy activities, I agree with ayala about Tel Dan. It’s beautiful and refreshing. Wear sandals and walk in the river. Mivtzar Nimrod (Qua’alat Namrud or Nimrod Fortress) is so cool and the view from up there is breathtaking. I’d save Dalyat el Carmel for another visit, since all it is is a flea market, but definitely eat in a Druze restaurant while up north.
    I love driving, so I say rent a car for sure. The roads in Israel have improved dramatically in recent years, and travel is much shorter and less traumatic. However, this person would inevitably waste so much time getting lost inside Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I would suggest taking a bus or a cab inside the cities.

  • well, the obvious answer is she should contact us. ck, Micahel and I have a pretty good track record for showing folks a good time.

  • It’s been a while since I was in Israel, but I always loved the archeological tours of Jerusalem and the SPNI tours of the rest of the country. Both provide different perspectives of the land and help the freshman visitor to get a sense of what Israel was and is.

  • Silly me, I went up to Tzfat and checked into Livnot U’Lehibanot my first time in Israel. No one told me it was a land where the streets are lined with gorgeous, hot promiscious young men in uniform waiting to be distracted from their duties. Yeah, I learned about G-d and Zionism…blah, blah, blah….but I still feel I missed out on experiencing the true natural resource of the land. Both Livnot and Isralight s are running amazing one week life-changing learning experiences, but make sure you eat a lot of fast food and fast men first because you may not want to after learning all the Holy stuff…

  • no, no! Please dont send her to mini Israel…expensive and obscenely touristy.

  • mini Iseael would be a good idea…if it wasnt actually in Israel. Instead of walking in a circle for a few hours looking at mini replicas of all the amazing sites Israel has, you may as well actually go see them in all their real size glory. And for the cost of a ticket to mini Israel, you’ll be able to buy many bus tickets (or you could put it towards that car rental)

  • The essence of Eretz Yisrael is at the Kotel… the rest is just sightseeing.

  • “The essence of Eretz Yisrael is at the Kotel… the rest is just sightseeing”

    That’s one of the dumbest fucking things I have ever read. Who the hell do you think you are?

  • well, to hear all those Conservative and Reform Jews bellyaching about mixed minyans at the Kotel instead of the perfectly acceptable and holy Robinson’s Gate, you’d think the Kotel was the be all-end all of thee Jewish world. Man those reform Jews were far less trouble when they believed that Berlin was the new Jerusalem …