Best Day Trips from Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the central city and the base of almost most of the travelers, it holds significance for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
It is a popular city for pilgrimages, as well as cultural tourism. The city is divided, East and West Jerusalem and claimed to be the capital of both Israel and Palestine. Aside from Jerusalem religious and historical sites, visitors are also attracted to the surrounding areas. The West Bank is becoming more interested and visited by travelers.
Israel and Palestine are both packed with historical attractions, and lots of day trips are available to make your trip rich and memorable with lots of joy and your visit will never complete without visiting the West Bank.
All-day trips to the Palestinian Authority is recommended to be made with a local tour guide.
Here are the best day trips that can be made from Jerusalem.
It is located in the West Bank, 8 km south of Jerusalem and it’s known for the birthplace of Jesus Christ and the birthplace of King David – King of the Ancient Kingdom of Israel
Different religious sites can be visited in the city – from Catholic Churches to Greek Orthodox places of worship and also non-religious sites such as the mosaic workshop, the olive wood workshops, the local market, refugee camps, Banksy Graffiti and much more.
The Church of the Nativity was built to commemorate the birth of Christ and is one of the oldest churches in the world to have run continuously since it was built.
Manger Square is in the city center where you can walk from there in the narrow old city streets, most famous is the Star Street and nothing is more enjoyable than drinking your coffee or tea in the street side looking at people around and talking to locals.
Recommended tour: Bethlehem Full Day Private Tour
Jericho is an important religious site for both Christians and Jews, and can easily be visited in half a day or as part of an extended tour that includes other visits.
You can stop by the Dead Sea Level on the way to Jericho and have a camel ride there.
Jericho is the lowest and oldest inhabited city in the world and gives you a good insight into the ancient cultures of the Judean Desert.
The archaeological site of ancient Jericho is where the first civilization and the first city to be built in the area began. The site gives you a great insight on how life used to be. A nice video is available to watch about the site.
You can also visit the Mount of Temptation where this place commemorates where Jesus was tempted by the devil and fasted for 40 days and nights.
Another great site to visit is Hisham’s Palace which contains the largest one-piece mosaic carpet from the ancient world and still in good condition in addition to the tree of life.
Recommended tour: Jericho, Mt. of Temptation, Hisham’s Palace and Bethlehem Private Day Tour
3. Monasteries of the Judean Desert
The desert is undoubtedly one of those places that bring solitude and calm to those seeking it, and when you first catch a glimpse of the magical St. George’s Monastery, Mar Saba Monastery, Mount of Temptation Monastery and the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in the Judean desert, you can’t imagine a better place for being at peace with yourself.
Saint George Monastery is an amazing cliff-hanging monastery, one of the world’s oldest and definitely one of the most inspiring churches in the Holy Land, is a must-see for the desert. It takes about 15 minutes down to the monastery on foot and 20-25 minutes on the way back and donkey rides are available. It originally started in the fourth century by a few monks who were looking to immerse themselves in the lifestyles and desert stories of John the Baptist and Jesus. A very nice panorama view can be seen from the top before walking down.
Mar Saba Monastery is a must-see on any journey through the Holy Land. Women can view the phenomenal cliff-clinging copper-domed hermitage, founded in 439 CE, from the opposite slope, but men are permitted inside. The monk at the entrance is very friendly and he is usually happy to offer water or something to drink for the women waiting for the men while they are visiting inside the monastery. What can be seen is the remains of 5th-century ascetic St Saba, whose body lies in the church.
The Monastery of St Gerasimus, one of the earliest of the 70-plus monasteries in the Judean desert, is named in honor of a pioneering monk who is usually depicted with a pet lion. According to an old tradition, the monastery was built where Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus took shelter in a cave while fleeing from Herod the Great. It’s a place of hospitality and refreshment for pilgrims, with fruit trees, flowers, and birdsong, the gold-domed monastery offers a contrast to the hot and barren environment of the Judaean wilderness.
The Mount of Temptation, with a gravity-defying monastery clinging to its sheer face, is traditionally regarded as the mountain on which Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast. A spectacular panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab and Gilead can be seen from the balcony of the monastery. There are long steps to take up to the monastery.
4. Dead Sea, Jordan River, and Qumran
The lowest point on earth, 430 meters below sea level located on the eastern border between Palestine and Jordan.
The water is almost 10 times saltier than ocean water, it is impossible to sink in the Dead Sea and it’s a popular tourist attraction for photo opportunities and relaxing along the edge. Drag your hand along the seafloor underneath your feet to scoop up some Dead Sea mud that’s a natural skin cleanser.
Today the Dead Sea is constantly shrinking because of erosion and water diversions, and most of the prime beachfront locations are owned by Israeli hotels, where, for a fee, you can have access to the sea, restaurants, showers, toilets and other amenities for the day.
Close by, within a short drive is the Jordan River, it is the natural border between Palestine and Jordan. It is the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The river is very small that one can take to the person on the Jordanian side. Often, pilgrims, they visit to renew their baptismal vows in this site.
The nearby site of Qumran also has some ancient caves and is the area where the oldest ever Bible scrolls were found.
Recommended tour: Bethlehem, Qumran and Dead Sea Private Day Tour
Hebron (Al Khalil in Arabic) means ‘The Friend of God’ in ancient times, it was known as Mamre and Kiriat Arba(‘the town of four,’ referring to its position on four hills). Situated at an altitude of 3,000 feet, Hebron has been continuously settled for 5,000 years. It is a holy city for Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike because the prophet Abraham is believed to be buried there.
It is no exaggeration to say that if you want to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, its set of conflicting stories, and the harsh reality that makes peace a distant possibility, go to Hebron. Located deep in the center of Palestine, it is one of the oldest cities in the world, the largest in the West Bank and the second largest in Palestinian territory – after Gaza. It is home to some 200,000 Palestinians and one of the most wanted lands by Israel, which it considers sacred.
The ancient town of Hebron is considered to be one of the oldest towns in Palestine. Hebron is a busy hub of West Bank trade, generating roughly a third of the area’s gross domestic product, largely due to the sale of limestone from quarries in its area. It has a local reputation for its grapes, figs, limestone, pottery workshops, and glassblowing factories. The old city of Hebron features narrow, winding streets, flat-roofed stone houses, and old bazaars.
Recommended tour: Hebron and Bethlehem Private Day TourN
Herod the Great built this monumental fortress and palace on the highest hill in the Judean desert, 15KM south of Jerusalem. Herod was buried in the site which bore his name. The site was later a rebel stronghold and hiding place during the great revolts against the Romans. It is one of the most fascinating sites in the Holy Land.
he mountain on which the Herodion sits rises 758 meters above sea level and overlooks both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, along with a dominating view of the Dead Sea and the Judean Wilderness.
Excavations have uncovered many remains such as huge water cisterns, towers, ritual baths, the pool complex featuring a large uncovered pool that was actually fed by the aqueduct from the village of Artas near Solomon’s Pools. Also found were the remains of three Byzantine churches. Secret tunnels used for escape in case of danger were also uncovered. Complete bathrooms dating to the Roman times, churches, buildings, and other archaeological remains of successive eras, particularly the Byzantine, were also found.
Recommended tour: Herodion and Bethlehem Private Day Tour
Battir village is the Land of Olives and Vines, Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem. It is located a few kilometers south-west of Jerusalem, in the Central Highlands between Nablus and Hebron. The Battir hill landscape comprises a series of farmed valleys, known as Widian, with characteristic stone terraces, some of which are irrigated for market garden production, while others are dry and planted with grapevines and olive trees. The development of terrace farming in such a mountainous region is supported by a network of irrigation channels fed by underground sources. A traditional system of distribution is then used to share the water collected through this network between families from the nearby village of Battir.
Recommended tour: Battir to Bethlehem Hiking Tour in the Suburb of Bethlehem
The de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, hilly Ramallah is the center of economic and cultural life in the region, like a Tel Aviv of the West Bank. Tourism here isn’t as well developed as in other Palestinian cities like Bethlehem, but that’s part of Ramallah’s fun. It’s a city restless with interesting people, food, and music, so you get a real feel for everyday life and Palestinian perspectives and experiences.
You can partake in cultural and political tours, organized by knowledgeable tour guides with your safety in mind.
There are also plenty of great, authentic Palestinian restaurants and cafés where you can try falafel and hummus.
Locals are very friendly and usually well educated in English, so it is a good place to learn a more local perspective – though we advise you do a lot more listening than talking just to keep on the safe and respectful side.
Nablus doesn’t see many foreigners passing through, but the city’s main attraction – its historic covered market – is always filled with shopkeepers and shoppers haggling over prices and people pushing through the crowds to exchange pleasantries with friends and family. Prices here are much cheaper than Jerusalem and even cheaper than Ramallah, so it’s a good spot for shopaholics who want to stock up on souvenirs, clothes, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
But you haven’t really visited Nablus until you stop by Al Aqsa for its storied Kunafeh, a super cheesy and sugary pastry, or any of the shops selling fresh Tahina and halwa paste made from sesame. For a unique present to take home, ask to try the Qizha, or black sesame version. Just beyond the city’s borders lie beautiful hills, where you can visit the Samaritans on Mt Gezarim, Roman ruins in Sebastia or biblical sites like Jacob’s well.