Through the Holy Lands: Israel and Palestine
The Levantine lands of Israel and Palestine sit at the core of three world religions and 5,000 years of oft-contested Western history, making them treasured places of spiritual origin for much of humanity.
The rich, complex and at times baffling history of places like Jericho, Nazareth, Bethlehem and the spectacular city of Jerusalem, makes them an unparalleled and challenging travel experience. From ancient sacred sites that emerged out of prehistory and whose names resonate in myth and story, to Greco-Roman cities whose markets can still be shopped in today, Israel and Palestine are unlike any other destinations. This vibrant history lives on in the 21st century adding powerful layers of meaning waiting to be uncovered by those prepared to scratch beneath the surface.
This tour is designed to connect with Through the Holy Lands: Jordan tour to create a grand adventure of 19 days.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested morning departure from Australia on Qantas to Bangkok to connect with Royal Jordanian Airlines to Tel Aviv via Amman. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Arrive in Tel Aviv in the early morning. Transfer to the hotel and check-in. The remainder of the day is at leisure. This evening join Julian and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner.
Enjoy a scenic coastal drive to the ancient Roman capital, Caesarea, founded by Herod the Great. Once a sleepy Phoenician port city called Straton’s Tower, Caesarea (named after Augustus Caesar) became one of the largest cities of the eastern Mediterranean and Herod’s showcase city. Explore on foot the numerous archaeological ruins including the Roman amphitheatre, temple, hippodrome and aqueduct.
Continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tel Megiddo (archaeological mound), the site of 26 layers of ancient cities, a result of Megiddo’s numerous battles spanning thousands of years. View the remains of fortifications, water systems, stables, dwellings and a palace.
After breakfast join Julian for a talk, followed by a cruise on the Sea of Galilee. Drive to the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount. Visit Capernaum, the fishing village that was home to St Peter and the site of the Byzantine-era synagogue where Jesus taught.
Continue to Tabgha, where the miracle of the loaves and fishes is said to have occurred, and visit the Church of Multiplication, housing the 5th century Christian mosaic as well as the traditional stone on which the miraculous meal was laid.
Following breakfast explore the old town of Nazareth. See the Basilica of the Annunciation, which was reconstructed in 1969, the Church of St. Gabriel and the Church of St. Joseph’s, believed to be the site of Joseph’s carpentry workshop.
Drive into occupied Palestinian Territory to the fertile green oasis city of Jericho, believed to be the oldest permanently inhabited city on earth, dating perhaps from about 9000 BCE. Visit the Tel e-Sultan, an archaeological site that has uncovered more than twenty settlements dating back thousands of years.
Continue to the history-rich Old City of Jerusalem, home for the following six nights.
After breakfast join Julian for a talk followed by a walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, built by King David in 1004 BCE. Visit the Jewish and Islamic quarters, wander through the recently restored Roman Cardo, and tour the Western Wall Tunnels. View the Temple Mount area, the holiest site in Judaism, the third holiest site in Islam, and a revered site to Christians.
Following a visit to the bazaar, enjoy a guided tour of the Tower of David Museum, located in the medieval citadel known as the Tower of David, near the Jaffa Gate.
After breakfast join Julian for a morning talk. Then enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the Mount of Olives, and visit Pater Noster Church, a 4th-century Byzantine church that has been partially reconstructed. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations, a mosaic-covered church built in 1924 by architect Antonio Barluzzi.
Later visit the Christian Quarter and walk the Via Dolorosa, held to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion, a winding route from the Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Today we drive to Bethlehem (situated in the West Bank), stopping en route at the Katisma ruins, an important Byzantine church named ‘The Seat of Mary’ and a monastery.
Continue to Bethlehem and enjoy a walking tour of the Old City and its seven historic quarters, laid out in mosaic style around Manger Square. See the traditional architecture of Kawawseh and Najajreh clans and visit the Nativity Church that was built by Justinian in 530 CE.
After lunch, travel to Hebron, a holy city in the West Bank to tour the Israeli and Palestinian sectors of the city. Visit major Jewish and Islamic sites including the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
After breakfast join Julian for a talk, followed with a visit to the fortress of Masada, rising 400 metres above the desert plain. Ascend by a cable car to the ancient synagogue of Masada and explore the ancient fortress. Here was the last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots in their struggle against the Romans. From the top of Masada the outlines of the Roman encampments are still visible below.
Continue to the 2,000 year-old ruins of Qumran, overlooking the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1948.
The afternoon is free to enjoy a swim and float in the Dead Sea.
Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Jerusalem’s Old City and surroundings.
This evening, celebrate the end of the tour with a special farewell dinner.
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and drive to the Israel Museum. Enjoy a guided tour by the museum’s curator, see a magnificent scale model of the Second Temple Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, housed at the Shrine of the Book.
If you are returning to Australia today, we recommend a late-evening departure from Tel Aviv via Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines to Bangkok, to connect with a Qantas flight to Australia. Arrive in Australia in the early morning of Thursday, 26 October. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements.
If you are joining the Through the Holy Lands: Jordan tour, transfer by coach to Amman, crossing the border at Allenby Bridge (also known as the King Hussein Bridge). Please see important note under ‘visas’ about the border crossing visa formalities #
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
15 August 2017
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.
Qantas and Royal Jordanian Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a tourist visa for Israel. If you are joining the Through the Holy Lands: Jordan tour, then you will be crossing the border to Jordan from Israel at Allenby Bridge (also known as the King Hussein Bridge). Australian passport holders must arrange their Jordan visas in advance.
# Important consideration: Please note, if you intend to travel to certain Muslim countries, you will require a new passport as entry will be refused to all travellers with any evidence of visiting Israel, even if there are no Israeli entry/exit stamps in your passport. This is particularly the case involving a land crossing between Israel and Jordan.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with breakfast (B) daily including early check-in on arrival in Tel Aviv on the first day
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with welcome and farewell dinners. Picnic lunches on certain days
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader throughout the tour
- Transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on suggested flights on day of tour arrival and departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Transfers on arrival and departure if not travelling on suggested flights on day of tour arrival and departure
- Alcoholic beverages (except welcome and farewell dinners – wines included)
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service, minibar etc.
- Travel insurance (recommended; please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
Tel Aviv – Don Panorama ****
Nazareth – Golden Crown ****
Jerusalem – Mt. Zion (Citadel rooms) ****
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.