The 5 coolest day trips from Tel Aviv
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
In recent years, Tel Aviv has emerged as the Middle East city break destination par excellence for many European travelers, in part due to the increase in flight options from many cities. In fact, Virgin Atlantic launched its first-ever Tel Aviv service in September, with daily nonstop flights departing from London Heathrow en route to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV).
And with the city’s growing reputation as a glittering capital of Mediterranean cool comes something of a predicament: to stay the whole time in Tel Aviv or not to stay the whole time in Tel Aviv? Because Israel is such a small country, there are plenty of great destinations that make for very manageable day trips, so you can see some of the fascinating fabric of modern Israel while overnighting back in Tel Aviv.
Halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, Caesarea is among Israel’s brightest archaeological gems. It was built some 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great, who dedicated the port to Caesar Augustus.
Ruins from the Roman and Crusader periods are framed by stunning sea views, and the restored ancient amphitheater is now used for concerts in the summertime. The ancient ruins notwithstanding, this is also a great place to indulge in a breezy seaside lunch away from the urban fray of Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem is Israel’s official capital city and is sacred to three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It’s perfect for a culturally stimulating jaunt from Tel Aviv, and you can get there easily by car or train in about an hour, and virtually every large hotel will be able to set up a guided tour. The ancient Old City is encircled by imposing stone walls that date to the Ottoman period and contain within it such holy sites as the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In a day-long visit you can also take in Yad Vashem, the world’s largest Holocaust museum and memorial. There are numerous exhibition halls within its dramatic central triangular structure. Archaeology buffs can opt for the Israel Museum, which is the biggest cultural complex in Israel and permanent home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Billy Rose sculpture garden on the museum grounds contains works by the likes of Picasso and Rodin. The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem is also a part of the Israel Museum.
Masada and the Dead Sea
The desert fortress of Masada was the scene of the tragic last resistance of the Zealots, an ancient Jewish sect, to the Romans in 73 A.D. You can still see the ramparts that the Romans built as part of their siege of Masada, and many other evocative ruins as well. You can climb to the arid 1,300-foot peak by hiking up the Snake Path or by cable car.
Close by and at some 1,380 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. Its water is about 10x saltier than the ocean’s, giving it a buoyancy that makes it possible to float on top of it. In a day trip from Tel Aviv, whether by driving on your own or by organized tour, you can easily fit in a visit to both Masada and the Dead Sea.
Herzliya and Zichron Yaakov
Herzliya is barely more than 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, but with its wealth of breezy restaurants and great beaches make it an interesting detour. Pair a visit with a couple hours in Zichron Yaakov, technically in the Haifa District but just less than an hour away from Tel Aviv by car. The pleasant hilltop village overlooking the Mediterranean was founded in 1882 by the Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and is also home of the Carmel Winery, the largest winery in Israel.
Acre, also called Akko, is a hidden gem of the Mediterranean coast. Its urban history stretches back more than 4,000 years. Among the seaside town’s myriad historic sites, the absolute coolest is the underground Crusader city, known as the Hospitalers’ Fortress. It is situated next to the Mosque of Ahmed al Jezzar Pasha and is one of the most spectacular Gothic ruins in existence.
Hotel options in Akko aren’t great, but that’s what makes it perfect for a leisurely day trip from Tel Aviv. What’s more, because it’s on the coast, getting there by car is pretty straightforward — in good traffic conditions you can drive there in less than two hours.
Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!