After throwing around a number of ideas, we settled on a trip to Istanbul over Thanksgiving 2013. Our only “problem”? It was going to be pretty chilly there and we wanted a few days in warmer weather. But in Eastern Europe at the end of November, where were we going to find that? A two-hour flight south, in Israel!
Because we only had a few days we decided to use Tel Aviv as our home base and make a few day trips to Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea from there. I definitely think if you don’t want to be constantly moving and only have a few days this is the way to go.
I absolutely loved Tel Aviv and would love to go back in the summer. Living in San Diego, I loved the city on the beach vibe.
What To Do
Half-day trip to Old City Jerusalem – I thought this was a great trip if you were limited on time. The van picked us up at our hotel and we made our way to Jerusalem. We stopped at the Mount of Olives where you can see views of the Old City and New City. We then made our way inside the walls of the Old City and were able to visit the Western Wall, the local Bazaar, the Christian Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. It was an incredible experience. Once that part of the tour ended you were either continuing on to the Dead Sea or…left to get back to Tel Aviv on your own. Unfortunately we were NOT aware that this was the situation we were in so with some loose instructions we decided to head to the New City for lunch. After lunch in a restaurant in what resembled a mall we began the journey home. All of the local train signage was in Hebrew so we picked the direction that seemed to be the correct way to the bus station and hopped on. Luckily, we were right. When we arrived at the bus station we were at a loss for where to go. It was giant. We quickly located an Israeli soldier who was nice enough to bring us exactly where we needed to go. People here are nice – don’t be afraid to ask!
Full-Day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea – To be honest, I wasn’t all that familiar with Masada when we planned our Dead Sea trip, but since we were heading all the way out there it seemed to make sense to do both. For those of you who don’t know what Masada is, it’s an ancient fortress that sits high above the Dead Sea. We took a cable car up and toured around. It was hot and I didn’t love our tour guide, so I don’t have the best impression, but if you’re going to go all the way to the Dead Sea it’s probably worth seeing Masada – there is a good chance you’ll never be back! The Dead Sea however, was amazing! We had plenty of time to relax in the water – the buocancy was crazy! And then rub “magic, healing mud all over ourselves (but ouch – it’s kind of rough, which can irritate your skin and then the salt gets in and burns!…but it’s magically healing, so it’s worth it I guess?).
Rothschild Street – wander around, shop, eat, drink and just enjoy your day in Tel Aviv!
Jaffa – we visited the neighborhood of Jaffa, the old port area in Tel Aviv and again wandered around, ate and drank – the common theme of all of our trips.
Last, but not least, head to the beach, wander around, maybe find a rave party in the middle of the day – relax and take it all in in this city by the beach!