My cousins are coming to Israel for a week. It happens about once a year that family who has never come, visits it me for the first time. This post is for all the cousins out there!
Some people who come to Israel are doing it as a second, third or 20th trip. They have family here and when making a visit focusing on getting closer to the communities they already know. About once a year, I get family from abroad coming and it’s always the same question? How to plan the trip? Where to go? Where to eat? There are plenty of apps that can help you plan a trip, but to get an authentic experience like a local (what will be meaningful, what can be skipped) it’s always best to ask a local cousin like me.
If I had a week in Israel — let’s say six full days — this is what I would do.
DAY 1 Arrive and spend a day in Jerusalem. Soak it up. Get the vibe. Go to the Old City, wander around the Old Quarters, go to the Arab market, the Western Wall, go see the grave of Schindler, go to the Austrian Hospice and see the view (stay there for the night).
DAY 2 From Jerusalem book a trip to the Dead Sea through the Abraham Hostel — they offer an amazing Masada Sunrise trip and climb and then a dip into the Dead Sea. You can’t miss that ship. Go back to Jerusalem and stay at the Abraham Hostel for the night.
DAY 3 Early morning you are going to Tel Aviv. Unless you love to shop, just stick to the seashore areas of Tel Aviv by day and if the beach bores you or is too cold, go and hang out at the Jaffa Flea Market and tour the tiny Old City there. Find some Abu Hassan hummus to eat, trip around in either Florentine, Neve Zedek or Jaffa, get a local to give you the best place to dine at the time (it can change from month to month) then plan to go to a nightclub. Any night of the week is fine.
DAY 4 Take your hired car and drive north to Nazareth and stay at the Fauzi Azar Inn. The market there is great. Ask for a tour and learn more about the Israeli Arab experience and culture. Early afternoon set your Waze to the Sea of Galilee. AirBNB has some great stays in the Galilee area – and I love Klil or Kadita but many places are perfect. Drive to the Sea of Galilee and tour there a bit along the western shore, and then head to your place for overnight.
DAY 5 Enjoy a local breakfast somewhere close or order it in if the guesthouse offers the service. Look for a local winery near your location and ask if you can get a tour. Some fashionable breweries like Malka Beer offers tours. That’s near Klil. Work your way towards Akko because you will stay in this ancient port for the night. Early up walk around the port, explore, see what you bump into. There are some great low cost hotels in Akko. Authentic ones. I have never stayed at one so I can’t recommend.
DAY 6 Early up — start heading to Jerusalem. Your last day should be spent in Jerusalem to soak up the vibe again. To see the parts you missed. This time visit the Machine Yehuda market and maybe a museum or two and take a quick trip back to the Old City to leave your prayers, hopes and dreams in the cracks of the Western Wall. If you have more time, head back to Jaffa and hang out at the flea market, port or Noga cafe area. That’s what the locals do, and it’s where you will find me.