Tel Aviv is one of Israel’s top cities for those looking to dive into the country’s history, explore the tantalizing food scene, and relax on beautiful Mediterranean beaches. There’s plenty to keep you busy in Tel Aviv for weeks on end, from bustling markets and impressive historic architecture to museums and vibrant nightlife.
Although it might be tempting to spend all your time in this captivating city, it would be a shame to miss out on some of the other gems of this area. Tel Aviv is the perfect place to make your home base while you explore the rest of what Israel has to offer, with tons of historical sites and incredible landscapes all within a couple hour’s drive. There are also large train and bus networks with connections to all the major cities and towns.
Keep reading for our guide to the top best day trips from Tel Aviv, Israel.
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Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, making it a no-brainer on our list of the best day trips from Tel Aviv. This capital city is less than an hour away, and you could easily spend hours just walking through the walled city and admiring the breathtaking architecture.
Jerusalem is filled to the brim with holy sites from many major religions including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Some of the most famous structures can be found in the Old City. It can be a little overwhelming to decide where to start, so you can opt to take a tour.
The Damascus Gate is where many start their exploration of this ancient city. From there, you can get lost amongst the charming cobblestone streets lined with unexpected displays of religious sites, hidden quarters, and plenty of mouthwatering street food.
Some main points of interest you should deliberately seek out include the:
- Dome of the Rock
- The Western Wall
- The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- The Garden Tomb
- The Tower of David
If you somehow managed to miss your chance to taste some street food during your promenade, make your way to the popular Machane Yehuda Market to indulge in fresh falafels, samples of sweet halva, or malawach (a delicious fried bread).
About an hour and a half north from Tel Aviv is Akko, sometimes referred to as “Acre”. The scenic journey along the Mediterranean coast will keep you entertained the whole way, and a direct train line connects the two seaside towns.
Similar to Jerusalem in that it was occupied by many different countries and religions, Akko is a hotbed of unique culture and historic architecture. The Old City dates back thousands of years and has been toppled and refortified several times since its inception. Don’t miss your chance to peruse the stalls and try some of the best hummus in the country at the Old City Market.
Other sites that shouldn’t be missed include the Bahá’í Gardens and Shrine, the Ahmed Al-Jazzar Mosque, the Khan al-Umdan, and the Citadel of Acre. There’s a lot to see and do in Akko, getting there bright and early will help you fit everything into your day trip.
3. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Nature lovers looking to leave the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv behind will find the best day trip at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, where you’ll find lots of native flora and fauna, natural springs, and some of the best hiking trails in Israel.
One of the most popular routes is the Lower Wadi David trail. This well-marked path will lead you past lots of shrubs, trees, and freshwater pools, ending at the breathtaking waterfall named after King David.
The hike to the falls will only take you about half an hour. From there, continue on to discover caves, archeological sites, and sweeping views across the desert landscape all the way out to the dead sea.
You could also head to one of the other nearby points of interest including Masada National Park, which is only 15 minutes away.
4. Masada National Park
Masada National Park combines stunning views with ancient history, all from the top of a massive plateau. Those who didn’t get enough hiking in at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve can take the 90-minute trek to the top via the Masada Snake Path, and those that are more reserved can simply take the cable car to the top.
Besides sweeping views over the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, you’ll also find ruins of King Herod’s palatial fortress at the top of the plateau. The remains of this somewhat precarious fortress are truly a sight to see, and thanks to their UNESCO World Heritage List designation, many of the ruins have been impeccably preserved.
You’ll be able to see what remains of the siege wall, a synagogue, and the infamous Tombs of the Zealots, all while learning about the brutal history of this desert fortress.
5. The Dead Sea
While you’re in the area, it’s almost compulsory that you take a dip in the Dead Sea. These nutrient-rich waters are famous across the globe, and the high salinity allows you to float effortlessly while your skin reaps the benefits of the healing minerals.
The shoreline is full of mud baths that offer even more restorative properties, so don’t hesitate to coat yourself in the warm substance for an even more enjoyable experience. For the best results, let it dry completely before rinsing it off in the salty waters.
Make sure to research which beaches are best along the Dead Sea, as some are tourist traps with hefty fees and long lines.
One of the best day trips from Tel Aviv can be found just half an hour to the south. Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world, and this beautiful old town is filled with ancient architecture, buzzing markets, and a mix of cultures that’s as intriguing as it is beautiful.
Jaffa is a city where old meets new, so you’ll see hip new restaurants sandwiched between ancient buildings and trendy boutiques tucked into charming side streets.
The best part about Jaffa is that it’s a quick, 30-minute bus ride away, so you can spend the whole day in this lovely town and be back in Tel Aviv in time for dinner!
Haifa is one of the best day trips from Tel Aviv, in part because of its nearby location and easy accessibility via public transportation.
Every year millions of people make their way to Haifa to explore the incredible Bahai Gardens, a verdant, vertical garden on the slopes of the city. These terraced gardens are located on the northern side of Mount Carmel and have been dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You’ll find the gold-domed Shrine of Báb at the top of the gardens, a beautiful edifice and the final resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. Haifa is home to some other significant sites as well, including the Cave of Elijah and the massive Mount Carmel National Park.
Beach bums will love Haifa’s beautiful sandy beaches, the most popular being Dado Beach or Carmel Beach. Surfers can head to Dado or Bat Galim beach to catch some waves.
You could also spend the day perusing the flea markets or wandering through the Israeli, Arabic, or German Quarters sampling street food and admiring the architecture.
8. Zichron Ya’akov
One of the most tranquil day trips from Tel Aviv is the town of Zichron Ya’akov. This small settlement was founded in 1882 by Romanian Jewish Pioneers, and was one of the first villages in modern-day Israel. Today, the town is a thriving tourist destination complete with stunning Mediterranean views and enchanting wineries. The most famous is the Carmel Winery, named after the mountain on which the town sits.
After you indulge in some of Israel’s best wine, grab a bite to eat at one of the cozy cafes or learn a little bit about Zichron Ya’akov’s history at the First Aliyah Museum.
Israel was once home to some important Roman cities, and they have the ruins to prove it. Caesarea was a major Roman trading town, and here you’ll find some of the most well-preserved remains from the period when King Herod reigned (37 to 4 B.C.).
This ancient city is littered with Roman ruins. Some of the most noteworthy include the remains of an ancient harbor, a hippodrome, a bathhouse, and one of the largest amphitheaters ever built. The most impressive, however, is the aqueduct beach, and to this day archeologists are recovering ancient finds from the city’s Mediterranean coastline.
Bethlehem is another important religious city in Israel, mainly because it’s widely acknowledged as the place where Jesus Christ was born.
There are a few important places to visit while you’re in the city. The Church of the Nativity is perhaps the most noteworthy, as this massive structure is said to be built over the spot where Jesus was born. Visitors should note that this historic place is a popular one, and lines can often last for upwards of three hours.
The Catholic Church of St. Catherine is located right next door to the Church of Nativity, and the Chapel of the Shepherd’s Field is another biblical place that’s important to pilgrims (albeit one that’s a bit underwhelming).
Bethlehem is located on the country’s West Bank, and the massive barrier between Israel and Palestine really puts the area’s conflict into perspective. Although there has been a widespread outcry about the legality of the wall, it stands tall today with impressive murals depicting local’s feelings of oppression, unease, and hopes of peace.
11. Petra, Jordan
Although quite a ways from Tel Aviv, those who make the trek to Petra will be rewarded with a day trip full of history, nature, and incredible sights.
Petra is an ancient city that is considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in the world. Located in the middle of the desert in the narrow Al Siq Canyon, this historic site dates all the way back to 500 B.C. and is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The jaw-dropping Al-Khazneh doorway is the main draw here, but the sandstone edifice also contains tombs, carved structures, and temples. The pink hue of the sandstone has earned this place the nickname of the “Rose City”, and those who visit are guaranteed to be blown away by the ornate architecture.
The nearby town of Wadi Musa caters to tourists visiting Petra, so you’ll have no problem finding accommodations if you choose to stay the night. There are also plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops for those passing through the area.
For those interested in seeing more religious sites, the city of Nazareth is a great day trip from Tel Aviv, famed for its biblical ties.
One of the top sites in this ancient city is the Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the cave where the archangel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary. It’s an impressive building, complete with statues of Mary and Jesus and a viewing platform into the famed grotto.
Other important buildings include the Church of St Joseph and the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, where Jesus is said to have fed thousands with just two fish and a few loaves of bread.
If you plan on spending the day in Nazareth, make sure you allot plenty of time for exploring. This city can get extremely crowded, especially during the high season. Even though it might take a bit longer to get around, taking public transportation is the better option; the time saved by driving will likely be spent hunting down a parking spot – which are few and far between.
13. Rosh HaNikra
Sitting at Israel’s northernmost point along the coast is Rosh HaNikra, a beautiful geological attraction that is popular with both tourists and locals alike. The grottoes (sandstone sea caves) were been formed over time by waves crashing up against the stone, resulting in the stunning cave pools complete with turquoise waters and trickling waterfalls.
After you’ve had a look underground, take a trip on the world’s steepest cable car to the top of the cliffs and take in sweeping views of the Mediterranean.
Famed as the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Yardenit is one of the best day trips from Tel Aviv.
This peaceful holy site is situated on the banks of the emerald green Jordan River and is surrounded by verdant pathways and various lookout points. You’ll see pilgrims in white robes lined up for their turn in the water, and anyone can opt to be baptized here – either by yourself or with the assistance of a pastor (which needs to be arranged in advance).
Even if you’re not interested in dipping your head underwater, this tranquil area is a great reprieve from some of the other crowded cities on our list.
Located on the northern banks of the Sea of Galilee (a freshwater lake that also goes by the name of Lake Tiberias), Capernaum is an ancient fishing village that makes for a great day trip from Tel Aviv.
This tiny town is home to some well-preserved Byzantine ruins in addition to historic synagogues. The original Capernaum Synagogue dates back all the way to the 4th century, while a newer synagogue was built over the old and protects the ancient structure below.
Capernaum also boasts a beautiful national park that houses an old Franciscan monastery by the same name.
Tiberias is another ancient village located on the banks of the freshwater Sea of Galilee, and if you’re already in the area, you won’t want to miss this beautiful town.
Tiberias is located on the western side of the lake and is full of funky architecture and beautiful vistas. Spend the day visiting popular sites such as the Tomb of Maimonides and Abulafia, or hunker down at one of the waterfront restaurants and enjoy some fresh seafood.
If you head a few miles south of the city you’ll find the Hamat Tiberias National Park, which is home to some ancient mineral hot springs.
17. Golan Heights
Day-trippers from Tel Aviv hoping to spend some time in nature will love the Golan Heights, located just north of the Sea of Galilee.
Famed for its friendly residents and verdant rolling hills, Golan Heights is a great place to hike, enjoy a picnic, or simply go for a scenic drive. The hills are also dotted with vineyards and wineries where you can stop and taste some of Israel’s finest wines.
Some parts of the road are extremely underdeveloped, so make sure your vehicle is up for the task before setting out on this enchanting day trip. If you’re not comfortable driving, you can even arrange a tour from Tel Aviv.
Some say Jericho is the oldest inhabited city in the world, boasting ancient artifacts and edifices dating all the way back to 10,000 B.C.. There’s no denying that the history here is hard to match.
Jericho is bursting with archeological sites, ancient ruins, and even a couple of monasteries built into the mountainous landscape.
Visitors should note that although Jericho is only a few hours away by bus, you’ll be passing into Palestine – so make sure you have your passport with you.
Those looking for a relaxing beach day should head straight to the nearby city of Herzilya. Located just half an hour away from Tel Aviv, this exclusive city boasts luxurious stretches of white sand and a plethora of waterfront bars and restaurants.
You’ll also find surfers riding waves, shoppers frequenting the stores downtown, and people of all ages enjoying this city’s famous nightlife once the sun sets.
20. Timna Park
Although a bit far from Tel Aviv, it’s still possible to make a day trip to Timna Park if you get an early start.
This archeological site offers a wide range of things to see, including copper mines and interesting rock formations, including:
- The Mushroom
- The Natural Arch
- Solomon’s Pillars
There are also miles of hiking trails, but if you’re looking to take on a long trek, be sure to get an early start or plan your trip for the off-season, as the desert provides little shade from the hot summer sun.