While many people prefer to stay overnight in each city they visit or do organized tours, Israel is a small country and Jerusalem is the perfect city to use as a base for your visit to Israel while taking day- trips to other exciting places. It’s located almost exactly in the middle of the country with access to major highways in all directions and is a central public transportation hub with bus and train lines to all parts of the country.

These are some of the top destinations for day - (or night) trips from Jerusalem:

Tel Aviv-Jaffa

This list almost has to start with Israel’s most rambunctious city. Tel Aviv is well-known for its many sandy beaches, the trendy Tel Aviv restaurant scene, a virtually endless expanse of bars and clubs , daily events and much more. You can also visit the Jaffa area of Tel Aviv and experience its unique mix of modern and ancient and Jewish and Arabic culture.

Only about a 45-60-minute drive by car, bus or sherut (shared taxi), it’s fairly convenient to make the trip to enjoy the beaches, shopping and architecture during the day or party the night away until early the next morning and come back to the relative serenity of Jerusalem whenever you’ve had your fill.

The Dead Sea

The salty, therapeutic waters and amazing scenery of the Dead Sea attract tourists from all over the world, but staying overnight at Dead Sea Hotels can be costly and impersonal, and in general, most of what the Dead Sea has to offer to the casual tourist can be seen in one day.

For these reason, it’s very common for people to take day-trips on their own or go on day-tours from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Masada. The trip is only about 90 minutes each way by car or bus, which leaves plenty of time to relax on the beach, get a spa treatment and even go up to the top of Masada.

You can usually even buy day-passes at hotels in Ein Bokek, which afford you access to facilities, such as a private beach at some hotels, the pool, some spa facilities and sometimes even a meal.

Look how easy it is to swim in the Dead Sea!


Just a half-hour from Jerusalem, the Bethlehem is one of the most popular sites for Christian tourists. It is home to the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus is said to have been born, as well as a number of other important Christian landmarks.

The best way to visit Bethlehem is either buy bus, taxi or organized tour, as it is located in the Palestinian territories and therefore off-limits to cars rented in Israel.

The Judean Hills

One of the most beautiful pockets of natural beauty in Israel, the Judean hills have a little bit of everything for nature-lovers.

Nahal Sorek, for instance, has become a popular tourist destination thanks to its proximity to Jerusalem and the many rivers that run through it, creating waterfalls and swimming holes. It is also home to the Avshalom Caves (aka Soreq Cave or Stalactite Cave), which has been equipped with lighting for visitors to better see its dense concentration of stalactites, some of which measure as long as 4 meters (yards) and date back as far as 3,000 years.

Other national parks like Rabin Park and Ayalon Park are great for picnics and hikes, and you can also find a number of specialty restaurants and wineries dotting the landscape.

Ein Karem

While technically part of both Jerusalem and the Judean Hills, Ein Karem is a place unto its own, where you can basically pack 3 different tour itineraries into a few hours.

You can start by going for a picturesque morning hike in any of the picturesque forests around the village, and then begin to unwind with some shopping at some of its unique boutique shops or get a dose of culture at some of the many independent art galleries.

After a short break for lunch at one of the well-regarded restaurants that make up Ein Karem’s thriving dining scene, you can check out some of the important Christian landmarks around town, such as the Church of St. John the Baptist.

Make sure to at least stop by the stunning Alegra Boutique Hotel for a glimpse of its unique design and maybe even a meal at its popular fine-dining restaurant.


Courtesy of iTravel Jerusalem. This article was published originally by iTravel Jerusalem, the City of Jerusalem's official website.