Have you ever wanted to travel to the Holy Land and if so are you looking for the Best Things to Do In Israel while you’re there? A few weeks ago, Daron and I had the opportunity to check off one of our bucket list travel destinations and visit the country of Israel! To say the trip was life-changing is an understatement. The ten days we spent there were incredible for each of us personally and our marriage and spiritual relationships.
The country is gorgeous, and due to the unique landscape of Israel, it is a popular destination with many unique attractions. Many of the places that we visited have meaningful spiritual significance as well. During the ten days we spent there, we traveled to so many unique places (too many to share in this one post) but to help you plan your trip, I’ve tried to share some of our favorite travel spots and the 14 best things to do during your time in Israel.
Best Things to Do In Israel
My first tip to discovering the Best Things to Do In Israel is to go with a knowledgable tour guide who can help you make the most of your time and educate you along the way. We had the honor of traveling with Governor Mike Huckabee, and the tour was fantastic; everything from the travel and the hotels to the food was terrific. His tour was definitely filled with the best things to do in Israel!
1. Pray at the Western Wall
The Western Wall, also known as Kotel HaMaaravi or Wailing Wall, is one of the most sacred sites in the Jewish religion. This structure was the last remnant of the Second Temple, and it has been hearing the prayers of the Jewish people for centuries. Walking through the streets of Jerusalem, one can feel the excitement of the religious and ancient history.
While at the Western Wall, one can leave a note containing their deepest prayers in the wall’s cracks. One can tour its excavated foundations for a deeper understanding of the structure.
While there, Daron and I had the opportunity to go pray at the wall, and we left notes of prayer for our marriage, family, dreams, and blessing for the people of Israel.
2. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also known as the Church of the Holy Innocents, is one of Jerusalem’s most significant religious sites. It’s believed that Jesus was buried and resurrected inside this building. There’s an actual place inside where you can spend time in prayer at this location. In addition, the building itself is a fantastic example of architecture and design.
Currently, the church is divided into three central communities: the Armenian, Greek, and Franciscan. Therefore, visiting the church during off-peak hours is best as it attracts many visitors daily.
3. Explore the Sea of Galilee
One of the most important places to visit during a trip to Israel is the Sea of Galilee. It’s where Jesus most likely recruited four of his first apostles from the lake. These men, namely Andrew, James, John, and Peter, had been working as fishermen, and Jesus told them that He would make them “fishers of men.”
The location where the Sermon of the Mount was given, also known as the Mount of Beatitudes, is on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. It overlooks the lake, and various miracles mentioned in the New Testament were said to have happened here.
While we visited the sermon on the mount, Daron helped lead worship and sang one of my favorite songs, “Bow On My Knees,” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place!
For a few days during our trip, we stayed at a hotel directly on the Sea of Galilee banks. We also took a beautiful boat ride one day and could view the water and surrounding areas.
4. Stand on the Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is also an important site in Christian and Jewish traditions. It has been a burial ground for the Jews for 3,000 years. There are over 150,000 graves on the mountain; among these are the remains of various prominent figures, such as Zachariah, Haggai, and Malachi. It’s proximity to the temple mount is very close and you can take incredible photos like this of the Temple Mount in the distance.
The mountain is mentioned in the Bible because of the Garden of Gethsemane. In the garden, you will see some of the oldest trees in the world, and it’s believed to be where Jesus prayed before being crucified.
5. Cath the View at Mount Tabor
Located in the far east of the Galilee region is Mount Tabor. It’s a striking mountain that stands alone and is also 15 kilometers away from the Sea of Galilee; another name is the Battle of Armageddon.
Both Christian and Jewish texts refer to it as Mount Tabor. In the Old Testament, it is regarded as the border of three tribes: the Naphtali, the Zebulun, and the Issachar. It’s believed that its height provided the route between the north and the south through Galilee. During the time of the Second Temple, it was the site of various battles and settlements.
For Christians, Mount Tabor is regarded as the place where Jesus underwent his transfiguration and was revealed to Elijah and Moses. It’s believed that He began to radiate light as He talked with them.
After walking through the mountain, one can also visit the Church of the Transfiguration, which was built in 1924. It features a beautiful mosaic that shows the transformation of Jesus.
6. Float on the Dead Sea
While visiting Israel, the Dead Sea is a must-visit area. The Dead Sea, located between Jordan and Israel, is the lowest point on Earth and has a salty water content over eight times greater than the ocean.
Because of this, almost no marine life can survive in it. But, interestingly, you can float on top of the water; it’s wild! I’ve tried explaining it to my family and friends, but after getting in the water, you can sit back and float on your bottom or back without sinking!
The presence of various minerals, such as magnesium and bromide, has been regarded as a healer. Therefore, it’s encouraged to put the mud on your body and let it dry, almost like a DIY mud bath, because of its healing properties.
Daron and I both did this, and once you wash off the mud, your skin feels incredible. But be warned that if you have any open cuts or sores on your body, they will burn because of the high salt content.
Due to its salt content, many resorts are along the Dead Sea’s coast. There are also several public beaches along the route. It’s also a fun place to take photos and relax.
Also, it’s worth noting that due to industrial exploitation of the salt and minerals, the shoreline has shrunk dramatically, and sinkholes have formed in some areas. It’s shocking to look at photos and see how much the shoreline has reduced over the years.
7. Have a Moment at Mount Sodom
While at the Dead Sea, you can see Mount Sodom. As described in the Bible, the destruction of Sodom has fascinated people for centuries. The mountain that overlooks the Dead Sea, known as the Mountain of Sodom, is made of rock salt. It’s a 10-kilometer walk that will take you through some of the unique views in the area. One of the most popular places to catch a glimpse of the mountain is the statue of the Lot’s wife, who is stuck there as a pillar of salt.
8. Spend the Day at Masada
One of the most popular attractions in Israel is the Masada fortress, located near the Dead Sea. It’s a must-visit site. Masada was one of my favorite places to visit while on our trip. The views from the top of the mountain are breathtaking!
The fortress dates back to the 8th century and is located on the Dead Sea’s edge. It’s known as a haven for the Jewish people against the Romans. It’s also a symbol of Israel’s determination. I loved learning about the history of the battles and how strong the Israel people fought to protect their families.
There’s a cable car that’s available to take you to the fortress, and this is what we opted to do during our visit to Masada. However, you can also hike up the mountain. This 60-minute hike offers a different view of the Dead Sea and Jordan. However, be aware that it can get hot in summer, and the authorities may close the path at times due to the weather.
9. While at the Golan Heights, Visit the Hermon Stream Nature Preserve
During our trip to the Golan Heights, we went north until we reached Banias, a nature reserve near Mount Hermon.
During the Old Testament, this region was the northernmost section of the region known as Bashan. When Israel’s army captured the area from the Canaanites in the desert, the tribe of Dan created a city known as Dan. Later it was renamed Caesarea Philippi.
Mount Hermon was a pagan worship site in the Old and New Testaments and was referred to as the “Rock of the Gods” by the Romans. Its name is after a storm god, Baal, who supposedly lived on the mountain. Jesus called it the gates of Hades.
During our visit to Mount Hermon, Daron and I gained a new perspective of what Jesus was saying to his disciples in Matthew 16. In this passage, Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi and asked his disciples who they thought was the Messiah. After they had listed down a few names, such as John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah, Peter quickly responded to Jesus’ message, stating that he was the Son of the living God. Jesus told them that he was the Messiah and would build a church on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith. The significance of what Peter was saying at this location is profound.
10. Tour the Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem is a 220-acre area divided into four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian. It’s filled with history, culture, and spirituality and is one of the most significant religious sites in the world. When you walk the streets, it feels as if you have taken a step back in time. Everything from the shops, and the food, to the songs of the pilgrims is what you would imagine the Old City to be.
A highlight of walking through the Old City is the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus traveled on His way to the cross. It’s an exciting and sobering experience to walk the steps Jesus would have made. The Old City is full of sites that are off the pages of the Bible. These include the Temple Mount, King David’s Tomb, the Last Supper Room, and the Tower of David. The Old City is a must-see during your trip to Israel.
11. Ride a Camel in the Judean Desert
One of our trip’s highlights was riding a camel in the Judean Desert at Genesis Land. Located in the Judean desert, Genesis Land is a tourist attraction on the way to the Dead Sea. It’s a magical place that allows visitors to experience life in the ancient world.
The attraction is also known for its hospitality experience, offered in a Biblical setting. During our time there, we had lunch overlooking the desert, and our server was dressed in linen clothes and portrayed Abraham as he told the Bible story. You also can meet other “Bible Characters” who share their life experiences. We were even given a camel driving license at the end of our time there, haha!
12. Get Baptized in the Jordan River
The most memorable experience Daron and I had during our time in Israel was getting baptized in the Jordan River! The Jordan River flows through the Sea of Galilee and into the Dead Sea. The river is one of the most important sites of Christian pilgrimage and has been a metaphor for salvation and spiritual rebirth since the time of the Bible.
Physically the Jordan River is the lowest in the world, and as a caution, the water is cold and maybe not the cleanest, but it is worth it for the experience if you visit.
13. Tour Yad Vashem
The Israel Holocaust Memorial, also known as Yad Vashem, is the country’s official Holocaust memorial. It’s dedicated to commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and honoring those who fought against the Nazis. It also studies the phenomenon of genocide and fascism in general.
I believe every tourist in Israel should visit this museum. It is also a must-see for anyone passionate about learning about the Jewish people. We spent about two and a half hours learning about the Holocaust through the audio guide and written explanations. You will leave humbled and heartbroken after touring the museum, as it’s hard to process that this happened to the Jewish people.
Yad Vashem also has a children’s museum that I recommend everyone visit during their time at the museum. The museum’s entrance features a large white sheet made of broken pieces of metal. The light reflected from the sheet creates an illusion of space, which looks like candles burning and represents the 1.5 million children and young people murdered during the Holocaust.
14. Visit the Town of Nazareth
The town of Nazareth is known for its Biblical landmarks, such as the Basilica of Annunciation. It’s also the town where Jesus grew up.
One of my favorite parts of visiting Nazareth was touring the Nazareth Village. The village features various houses, olive presses, terraced fields, and wine-producing facilities. Christian history experts recreate the life of a local town in the 1st century. They demonstrate what it might have been like living in Nazareth when Jesus did. The history experts also show visitors how household and farm activities were performed during this time.
Closing Out Our Best Things to Do In Israel:
Overall our trip to Israel was incredible, and we can’t wait to go back! We plan to take our children the next time we travel as we want them to experience the history and diverse cultural attractions. Israel is indeed a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique experience!
I would love to hear from you? Is it on your bucket list to visit Israel? And what are some of the things that you most look forward doing while you’re there? Comment below and follow our reels on Instagram @ourfarmerhouse
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