Expert-Led Group Tour

Israel & Palestine group tour - Journey through Biblical Lands

Travel in the company of local experts

9 days

from £4,995pp
  • Engage with leading experts spanning archeology, Middle Eastern geo-politics and contemporary art
  • Eat (and drink) your way through one of the world's hottest culinary spots.
  • Visit the spiritually charged sites of Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee and Nazareth.
  • Visit a Kibbutz to learn about this extreme ‘social experiment’ and its role in Israeli history

This journey through the Holy Land will have both mind and belly fully engaged! Although Israel is a tiny country (about the size of Wales), it packs in so much content - spanning a multitude of disciplines - that we have opted out of the traditional ‘one expert fits all’ model, and have instead curated an amazing array of experts.

This Israel experience will be led by a lecturer with a Masters degree in Middle East studies, and the expert guides and speakers will include an archeology curator at the Israel Museum (recognised by the New York Times as one of the top 10 museums in the world); an expert on the Israel-Palestine conflict who personally participated in the two track negotiations; an expert on the conflict in Syria who is also a member of an elite Israeli intelligence unit; and an art historian who will introduce you to Israeli contemporary art at the Israel Museum.

In addition to the ‘guru meetings’, experience the classic Holy Land touring sites of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and the buzzing Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, as well as some fascinating specialist tours such as a visit to a winery with wine tasting and lunch, and a kibbutz tour where we will learn about this ideological movement and how it has evolved over time. All of this brainy subject matter can create quite an appetite so luckily Israel is a renowned for great food. During the tour, experience a traditional home meal in Jerusalem, a culinary tour through Jerusalem’s famous Mahane Yehuda market, a ‘cook off’ competition where you will get your hands dirty and learn some secrets of the Middle Eastern kitchen, dinner at the Machneyuda restaurant (the original restaurant of the chefs who brought you London’s award-winning Palomar and the Barbary restaurants); and a closing fresh fish meal at Jaffa port.

Why travel with our experts to Israel?

Part of what makes Israel so exciting is its complexity and there is no better way to truly engage with the country than with the help of curated experts, each of whom brings a different perspective and a different lens through which to view the country. This journey truly provides a privileged insider’s view of one of the world’s most fascinating, important and sometimes controversial places.

What is the accommodation like in Israel?

During this tour, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, stay in boutique accommodation selected for its character and design. In Tel Aviv, your hotel consists of a property which enjoys protected status for its Bauhaus architecture. In the north of Israel, stay in charming and comfortable kibbutz accommodation.

How fit do I need to be to enjoy this tour?

General overall fitness is required and during some days for example when touring the Old City of Jerusalem, you will cover quite a bit of ground on foot.

Is this Tour suitable FOR solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of our tour experts.

Do I need a visa to travel to Israel? Will MY PASSPORT be stamped?

UK passport holders will receive a tourist visa upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport. Passports are not stamped (which means you won’t have problems if visiting Arab countries in the future), rather your visa comes on a small slip of paper.

What will the weather be like in Israel in September?

Beautifully warm to hot during the days, and warm to cool in the evenings.



Departing on:
  • 20th September 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
20th Sep 2019 28th Sep 2019 £ 4,995 £ 600 £ 1,085 Local Experts Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation, as detailed
  • Accompanied by local experts throughout
  • Airport transfers
  • All meals
  • Entrance fees to all sites mentioned
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • Transportation in private vehicles

what is excluded

  • Any alcoholic beverages
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa (if applicable)

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Celebrate Shabbat
This evening proceed to the Western Wall. As today is Friday, experience the singing, dancing and celebrations as the Jewish sabbath (shabbat) is welcomed into the city.

Enjoy dinner which celebrates Shabbat in a traditional style in the home of a local Jewish family. The host family may also be entertaining other guests, giving an insider's view of the meaning of Shabbat in a Jerusalem home. Food will be plenty and conversation is sure to be lively. This will be an experience to remember.

Steeped in religion, fiercely disputed and rich in history, Jerusalem is one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the world. Sacred to the three largest monotheistic faiths, the city was founded almost 7,000 years ago.

Claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians alike, Jerusalem's limbo status doesn't prevent it being one of the greatest sites of pilgrimage in the world. Religious wonders pack its streets and the faithful come in droves to pay their respects.


Lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Bezalel Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Full tour of the Old City of Jerusalem
This morning, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel. A full tour of the Old City of Jerusalem will introduce you to this place of intense sanctity to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where holy sites tumble over each other. Your expert guide will unpeel layers of history and provide an overview of what Jerusalem means to the three monotheistic religions. Among other sites, you will visit the sites most holy to these three faiths, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Kotel (Western Wall of the Second Temple), and you will visit or view the Dome of the Rock.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Bezalel Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Masada
This morning your guide will meet you in the lobby of the hotel - an early start is recommended to avoid some of the desert heat. Arguably Israel's most dramatic site, Masada's mountain top ruins, set against the extraordinary backdrop of the Judean desert, are but a stage for the retelling of a heroic and ancient tale, now engrained in national mythology. With your expert guide as storyteller, you will hear about the lives of the final Jewish resistors to Roman rule, relive their struggle against the mighty Roman army, and wonder at their heroic end. Masada is a totally unique site, well deserving of its UNESCO world heritage status.


Dead Sea
Take a dip in the Dead Sea. The waters shimmer like nowhere else on earth. Full of good-for-you minerals and surrounded by air which is naturally rich in oxygen, the Dead Sea should leave you feeling full of energy. Best of all, here you really will float. *If you would like to swim, please remember to pack your swimsuits and a towel in your day bag.

Lying at 400 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea's highly salinated waters - made up of almost one third salt - have been famous for their healing powers since biblical times.

A place of refuge and relaxation for just as long, this harsh environment belies its fabled health benefits. People still come to immerse themselves in the lifeless waters, whether it be to float in amazement or to embrace their curative power, just as Kings David and Herod did millennia ago.


Dead Sea to Qumran
Travel to Qumran, the site of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century. This is the place where the most well-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls were found - the ancient religious writings hidden in jars in eleven caves near the site of Qumran. Ten miles south of Jericho, Qumran was on a 'dead-end street' and provided a perfect location for the isolationist sect of the Essenes to live. Here your expert guide will unfold the events of the discovery and eventual recovery of these precious scrolls. Return back to Jerusalem later this afternoon.


Mahane Yehuda Restaurant
This evening dinner will be taken at the lively Mahane Yehuda restaurant. Located in the market area of the old city, the restaurant is a pulsating expression of fresh market foods deliciously prepared and beautifully presented.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Bezalel Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Yad Vashem
A visit to Yad Vashem starts today's touring with a weighty and essential note. Yad Vashem is Israel's official monument to the Holocaust, located on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. The museum has justifiably achieved international acclaim for its in depth and powerful portrayal of extremely challenging material. The complex includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center named The International School for Holocaust Studies.


Mahane Yehuda
Visiting Mahane Yehuda market you will find yourself surrounded by a plethora of sights, smells and tastes, and the colourful hustle and bustle of Jerusalem life. Your expert culinary guide will show you little known, hidden away gems, and will also explain how Mahane Yehuda serves as a symbol of Israel's immigrant culture. You will see foods from all parts of the world, and will understand how culinary trends have mixed and influenced each other, just as immigrants from the four corners of the world have preserved their own traditions, and yet integrated to create a unified Israeli culture. The tour lasts for about two hours and includes plenty of tastings. Lunch is included so fear not - you will not be left hungry.


The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum is one of Jerusalem's treasures. Following a multi-million dollar renovation the museum has received international acclaim and has been named one of the ten most impressive museums in the world. The Israel Museum is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Shrine of the Book), the oldest known copy of the Bible. You will learn about the remarkable story of these manuscripts, the sect who most likely wrote them, and how they were discovered. In addition you will enjoy a special one hour curator led tour focusing on archaeology. Your curator led tour will provide you with a depth and richness of insight not obtainable on other tours.


Dinner with Ron Shatzberg
This evening there will be a private dinner with discussions led by Ron Shatzberg. Ron is senior advisor at the Economic Cooperation Foundation (a leading Israeli think tank) where he is an expert on security and Israeli Arab relations, and is actively involved in track two negotiations with the Palestinians. Ron is also the external adviser to the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC) on International Humanitarian Law and Laws of Armed Conflict dissemination in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). In his IDF reserve duty, Ron ranks as a Colonel. Over dinner Ron will lend his experience and knowledge opening discussions on the geo-political tensions in which Israel is enmeshed. Precise topics will depend upon your interests but may include the disputes around Jerusalem, including the security barrier and disputes around the historic basin - the Temple Mount; the territorial integrity of Israel's Northern borders; the future of the West Bank and an independent Palestinian state and other related topics. Kindly note all specialist speakers are subject to availability and will be confirmed nearer the time


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Bezalel Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Drive from Jerusalem to Nazareth


A journey time of approximately two hours.


Nazareth
Nazareth is home to the imposing and modern Church of the Annunciation. Together with your guide you will view gifts of Mother and Child art sent by nations from the four corners of the globe. You will also see the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary. Nazareth is also Israel's largest Arab town, presenting a good opportunity to ask your guide about the country's rather complex demographics. It is also a great place to eat traditional Arab food, be it street food or something more formal at one of the delicious local restaurants.


Kibbutz Degania Beth tour
Continue to Kibbutz Degania Beth and discover a real insight into the history and present day reality of kibbutz life. You will learn about the theoretical foundations for the kibbutz, both socialist and zionist, about the important role which the kibbutzim played in the history and defence of the young state of Israel and about the current day challenges they face. You will also visit the kibbutz archive which is found in the home of Levi Eshkol, the former prime minister of Israel. The archives contain fascinating material relating to the early days of the pioneer movement generally and Degania Beth specifically.


Sea of Galilee
Continue on to the Sea of Galilee.

Ancient Jewish communities thrived around the Sea of Galilee, as testified by several remains of early synagogues, such as those at Capernaum, It was amongst these communities that Jesus chose to live and preach, and the area is therefore also replete with important Christian sites. Your expert guide will lead you to key sites including the Mount of the Beatitudes (where tradition holds that Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount); Capernaum, interesting for both the early octagonal church built around the house of Peter, and for the later and ornate 5th century synagogue; and the "Jesus Boat", a boat dating back to the time of Jesus, found and now exhibited at Kibbutz Ginosar. We love the boat for the air of mystery which hangs over it. Together with your guide you will be able to discuss who the men (or women?) were who sailed the boat 2,000 years ago. Was it a fishing boat used by disciples of Jesus? Or a military boat used by Jewish resistors against the Romans? Thinking about who owned the boat, and what it was used for, helps us to consider the various different communities living around the Sea of Galilee at this crucial time in history.


Evening Cooking Workshop
This evening take part in a cooking workshop to see who is the best chef in the group! Following a welcome drink we will divide into two groups and then set to working with our cutting boards, knives and herbs as well as fresh vegetables and produce. Learn how to make an authentic Israeli meal with the help of the resident chef. Following the workshop we will sit down and eat our amazing fresh meal of salads, freshly cooked bread, barbequed meats and some local wine.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Merom Golan Kibbutz, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from the Sea of Galilee to the Golan Heights


A journey time of approximately one hour.


Sea of Galilee to The Banias Spring
In the morning, depart for The Banias Spring which, emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 kilometres, eventually leading to the impressive cascade of the Banias Waterfall. Access to the waterfall is via an easy and pleasant family friendly path, refreshing to walk through on a hot day. The Banias combines history with nature and boasts the wonderful archaeological remains of Caesarea Philippi, the city built by Herod's son Philip. The site also contains Crusader ruins and the remains of a far older pagan temple dedicated to the god Pan. For Christians, the Banias holds particular significance as the place where Peter recognised Jesus, and Jesus named Peter the 'rock' on which his church would be built.

From ancient wine presses to modern day boutique wineries, the nectar of the vine has a long history in Israel. You will therefore stop at one of Israel's award winning wineries for an explanation about the wine making process, and of course for a wine tasting. Each winery has its very own story, so listen out carefully for the story of these bottles.


Mount Bental
You will focus on life in the Golan visiting Mount Bental which offers stunning views of the Golan extending all the way into Syria. Mount Bental was itself the site of a decisive battle in which the Israelis, significantly outnumbered, achieved an astonishing victory over the Syrians in the Yom Kippur war in1973. Today, Syria's internal strife gives rise to new considerations and complexities for Israel. A visit to Mount Bental with its bunkers open to the public, is likely to give rise to much discussion of geo-politics with your expert guide.

Against the backdrop of the border, you will be briefed by an expert member of the intelligence community on the geo-political situation in the north of Israel, focusing particularly on the extremely complex situation in Syria. We will address questions such as who are the religious, ethnic, political and military groups at play in Syria? What are their objectives and how likely are they to achieve them? What is the true influence of Iran in the area? What sway do Russia, America and other international players hold?


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Merom Golan Kibbutz, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Drive from the Golan Heights to Tel Aviv


En route to Tel Aviv today stop to visit the Old City of Acre. A site well deserving of its UNESCO world heritage status. Acre boasts stunning Crusader remains which are by and large complete. Marvel at the halls of the Knights Hospitallers and escape to the sea via underground runaway tunnels. Time allowing, explore the thriving Arab market, the second most holy mosque in Israel and the newly renovated Underground Prisoners Museum which commemorates Jewish resistance fighters imprisoned by the British during the Mandate period. The final stop will be at Caesarea, which was King Herod's imposing port town and where Rome was honoured with temples. Later Caeserea became a thriving Byzantine town and then a Crusader conquest.


Only a century old, Tel Aviv is a young city in a country packed with ancient settlements. Meaning 'Hill of Spring', the city has grown rapidly since independence and is now Israel's second largest city, after Jerusalem.

A relaxed, modern and surprisingly liberal city, Tel Aviv is the heart of contemporary Israel. Looking out over the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean, the city benefits from a relaxed beach vibe as well as a lively art and music scene.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at White Villa, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Ancient Jaffa and modern Tel Aviv
Ancient Jaffa and modern Tel Aviv are wonderful to tour together because of their contrasts. In Jaffa you will explore one of the most ancient ports in the world, replete with history from Biblical, ancient Egyptian, Roman, Napoleonic eras and more. Visiting Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv's prettiest and oldest neighbourhood, you will hear the story of the city's beginnings - how the first modern Hebrew city was molded out of the barren sand dunes in an out-pouring of ideological vision and determination.

In the morning, make your way through the colourful and bustling Carmel Market, full of additional tasty treats. The very great variety of foods reflects the fact that Israel is an immigrant society with citizens who have come here from the four corners of the earth.

Continuing into more central Tel Aviv you will visit Rothschild Boulevard and Independence Hall (from the outside) where David Ben Gurion famously declared the independence of the modern State of Israel. You will note the various architectural styles of the buildings from eclectic to Bauhaus, and hear stories about the waves of immigration who designed and created these remarkable buildings. The Bauhaus buildings are internationally significant and Tel Aviv's UNESCO world heritage status is thanks to them.


Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Meet your expert art guide at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. With reference to the permanent exhibitions she will walk you through the narrative of the history and development of art in Israel, outlining changes in themes and styles which have reflected changes in wider Israeli society. You will also view some of the museum's most treasured jewels and will discuss the celebrated architecture of the new wing of the museum.


Farewell Dinner
This evening there will be a farewell dinner at the Old Man and The Sea restaurant. This informal, local restaurant is located right on Jaffa Port and offers a menu of fresh sea fish, grilled meats and plenty of Israeli salads.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at White Villa, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Day at leisure in Tel Aviv

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Israel

Katie Benden, Travel Expert

"Katie was brilliant and very helpful. Helped to put together the itinerary I was dreaming of for my honeymoon and she was excellent with communication."

"Very happy with Katie Benden. Great service – always prompt reply to queries and always polite, attentive and informative. A wonderful holiday."

Read More

Thomas Frost, Travel Expert

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Local Experts

Designed to take advantage of the best local leaders Israel has to offer, this tour will be escorted by experts ranging from a Geopolitical expert on Jerusalem, a specialist on Syria and northern Israel, museum curators to an evening with a local family to celebrate the traditional Sabbath Friday dinner. The tour will also be accompanied by an experienced guide to ensure all runs smoothly.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Local Experts

Departure Date (S):

  • 20th September 2019

Holiday Ideas in Israel

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey
 

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Wanderlust

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom