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The Best Day Trips from Jerusalem

Skyline of the Old City at the Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.

Also known as “The Holy City”, Jerusalem is a true paradise for tourists. You can start exploring the city by visiting the magical old town, one of the greatest historical sites in the world! While exploring the inner city, do not miss the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock!

Carve out time to visit the Israel Museum and dedicate your evenings to exploring the local dining scene! Amazing tourist attractions are also waiting for you outside of Jerusalem though! Read through our guide to learn more about the best day tours from Jerusalem!

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Day trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

Known from Christmas carols and Christian hymns, Bethlehem is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. On top of your Bethlehem itinerary should be the Church of the Nativity (also known as the Basilica of the Nativity). Inside of the big church, you will find the so-called “Nativity Grotto” which is believed to be the cave in which Jesus was born, more than 2000 years ago. 

The basilica was originally commissioned by Emperor Constantine the Great, whose mother Helena visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the 4th century AD. In the 6th century, the church was destroyed by fire, but the site was rebuilt by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

Another site worth visiting is the Mar Saba Monastery that was founded in the 5th century AD by Saint Sabas (who is believed to have persuaded Emperor Justinian to rebuild the Church of Nativity after its destruction). The monastery is an old Greek Orthodox cloister, situated in between the rock walls of the Kidron Gorge. Nowadays only men are allowed to enter the monastery; female visitors may go as far as a hill on the right side of the monastery, from where there are excellent views of the cloister domes. Inside the monastery there are preserved icons and wall-painting as well as the tomb of Saint Sabas.

Last, but not least try to make your way to Shepherd’s Fields by the village of Beit Sahour. The fields are located just 3 kilometres from central Bethlehem, and they are believed to be the site where the angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. The fields are also visited for the amazing views and several historical sites and ancient churches with well-preserved artworks and mosaics.

Bethlehem is only 25 kilometres from Jerusalem, and public buses are departing frequently every day. Bus no. 21 operates every day, but keep in mind that it is a public bus, and hence the travelling time may be longer, as public buses must go through security checks that tourist buses can bypass. The fare for the public bus is around 5 NIS (New Israeli Shekel), approx. 1,5 USD. It is not possible to drive to Bethlehem on your own, as the car rental companies do not insure their cars for travel into the West Bank. If you do not want to travel by public bus, we, therefore, recommend booking a guided tour from Jerusalem.

Day trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, ISRAEL - Groups of people gather outside the Church of Nativity on cloudy day

Day trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth

Did you know that Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel? It is a vibrant place where cultures merge and it is filled with interesting ethnic and historical sites. On your trip to Nazareth, make sure you stop by some of the city’s impressive churches like the Salesian Church of Jesus the Adolescent.

You can climb (the 250 stairs) to the top for some amazing views of the city. St. Joseph’s Church is believed to be built on the site where Saint Joseph used to have his carpentry shop and the church is known for its impressive religious artworks. Probably the most popular (and of great significance to Christians) is the Basilica of the Annunciation though. It is believed to rest on the very place where Virgin Mary received the message from God’s Angel Gabriel telling that she shall be the mother of Jesus.

If you want a taste of the local (and very busy) Nazareth, you should make your way to the city bazaar (also known as “The Shuk”). It is a maze of alleyways with stalls and street sellers – go there to feel the authentic middle eastern atmosphere! And if you are hungry for more middle eastern sites to explore, add El Babour Spice Shop (also known as “The Galilei Mill”) to your itinerary. Located on the edge of Nazareth’s Old Town, it combines an active spice store with a 100-year-old mill – a fascinating piece of the local history.

The two cities are approximately 140 kilometres apart, and you can take a public bus from Jerusalem to Nazareth. The entire journey will take around 2 hours (with one interchange) and the fare is 64 NIS (around 18 USD) for a single one-way journey.

Day trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth

NAZARETH, ISRAEL - View of the modern houses of Upper Nazareth and Mount Tavor

Day trip from Jerusalem to Caesarea

Originally, the city of Caesarea was a present from King Herod to Caesar Augustus more than 2000 years ago. Today due to the fascinating balance of beautifully preserved ancient sites and well-developed modern city, Caesarea is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel.

On your day trip to Caesarea, you surely want to visit Caesarea National Park. It is regarded as one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Israel. It contains a harbour that was originally built by King Herod (now you can see its restored version) as well as the Caesarea Amphitheater that regularly hosts performances in the summer season. The National Park is also home to Caesarea Underwater Museum where you can dive through the undersea city ruins. Don’t worry if you aren’t an experienced diver! The dive is led by professional instructors who make this adventure fun, unforgettable, and most important of all, completely safe!

Nowadays, Caesarea is also known for its many galleries, try to carve out some time to explore them, and if you need a break, try some of the charming local coffee shops and small restaurants!

If you want to get to Caesarea from Jerusalem using public transport, you will have to take a bus that goes through Tel Aviv. Take bus no. 480 first (departing every 20 minutes), and in Tel Aviv interchange for coach no. 926 or 910. You will need two separate bus tickets, and the total fare should not exceed 18 USD for a one-way journey.

Day trip from Jerusalem to Caesarea

Caesarea, Israel - Sunset view of the old port, with fishermen and other visitors, in Caesarea National Park, Northern Israel

Day trip from Jerusalem to Dead Sea and Masada

The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water on our planet, and if you have ever looked at images of people “swimming” in the Dead Sea, you will see them floating (and even reading newspapers) on the sea surface. The high levels of salinity make the lake a harsh ecosystem where neither plants nor animals can flourish – that is how the sea got its name! In general, the region of the Dead Sea is known for its unique climate (it’s a place of lowest elevation on Earth) with various health benefits. Around the Dead Sea, you will find many resorts and therapeutic centres, and the seawater itself is rich in healthful minerals. 

It is common to combine a getaway to the Dead Sea with a visit to Masada, an ancient fortress situated on a plateau above the Dead Sea. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is regarded as a national symbol of bravery and heroism. When Masada was attacked by Romans in the 1st century AD, 960 Jewish zealots who lived there at the time chose to take their own lives rather than to witness the fall of the fort into the hands of the enemy. Nowadays, Masada is visited both for its well-preserved structures (among them the Northern Palace of King Herod), but also as a viewing point of the surrounding landscape, and it is very popular for sunrise trips!

Especially if you are interested in a Masada sunrise trip, we recommend you book a guided tour from Jerusalem to Dead Sea and Masada. Otherwise, you can take a public bus (Egged Bus no. 486) to the Dead Sea. Keep in mind that during Shabbat (Friday afternoon through Saturday evening) there is no public bus service.

Day trip from Jerusalem to Dead Sea and Masada

Scenic view of Masada mount in Judean desert near Dead Sea, Israel. Snake Path, favorite tourist hiking destination in Israel, great way to visit Herods mountain palace, Masada, Israel

Day trip from Jerusalem to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

A very popular tourist attraction in the Judean Desert by the Dead Sea is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. The name translates to “kid spring” or “fountain of the kid”, and the reserve is consists of botanical gardens and varied landscapes and features some of Israel’s best hiking spots.

There are 9 hiking paths, most popular of them is the trail that goes through Wadi David. “Wadi” loosely translates to “valley”, but in fact, it is a dry river stream in the desert. Wadi David was named after King David who arrived in the area around 1000 BC, however, the archaeological inspections of the site prove that the valley has been inhabited since 5000 years ago! Unlike other, desiccated “Wadis”, there is a spring flowing through Wadi David. The waters from the spring as well as rainwaters have given the valley its spectacular carvings and formed natural pools.

The presence of water has also contributed to a change in the ecosystem of the valley. In contrast to the adjacent desert, in Wadi David you will experience a lush landscape and natural shade. An important point on the trail is David’s Waterfall. It is a popular place for people to take a break and even swim in the pools, and the waterfall also marks the starting point of the second part of the hike, which is more challenging than the first section. If you decide to continue the trek, you must prepare for another 3 – 4 hour of hiking!

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is not only known for its exceptional flora; it is also home wolves, foxes and many bird species. On your hike through the park, you can be sure to encounter some of the amazing wildlife, unique to the area.

An excursion to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is often combined with a sunset tour to Masada and the Dead Sea, so if you want to visit several spectacular locations in one day, we recommend booking a guided tour that will take you to all three sites. Otherwise, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve can be reached by bus from Jerusalem. The journey will take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, and you can expect to pay 34 NIS, around 9,5 USD for a single one-way bus ticket.

Day trip from Jerusalem to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

David's waterfall at Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel.

Day trip from Jerusalem to the Judean Desert

The Judean Desert is one of the smallest, yet most outstanding desert regions in the world. It is a rock desert marked by a large number of wadis (dry river streams) cutting through the rocks. The Judean Desert has often been viewed as a place of tranquillity in times of conflicts in the region. Throughout times the monks have formed several spectacular monasteries in the desiccated valleys, like St George’s Monastery, a cliff-hanging cloister, one of the oldest in the world, and one of the most interesting religious sites in Israel, or “The Mar Saba” situated close to Bethlehem.

One other historic site worth visiting is the so-called “Herodium” (also referred to as “Mountain of Paradise”), which is the tomb of King Herod. When visiting Herodium, make sure not to miss the bathhouse that consisted of a changing room, stretching room and hot (steam) and cold bathrooms, ruins of which we can still see today. Another remarkable part of the Herodium is its synagogue that was converted from (what is believed to have been) the dining room by the Jewish rebels during the First Jewish–Roman War in the 1st century AD.

You will see parts of the Judean Desert when you visit sites like the Masada or when you drive out of Bethlehem to The Mar Saba. However, many tourists long for a specific desert excursion. If you wish to spend more time in the dunes, you may look into booking an ATV or a Quad Bike tour in the Judean Desert! It is an unconventional way to explore the desert and its sites and a fun way to add some adrenaline to your trip!

Day trip from Jerusalem to the Judean Desert

Scenic mountainous Judean desert landscape near Jericho, Israel

Trip to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan

Many tourists going to Jerusalem are also interested in visiting the breathtaking sites in neighbouring Jordan – Wadi Rum, “Valley of the Moon” and Petra a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wadi Rum is well-known for its stunning desert landscape with sandstone mountains, naturally formed canyons and dunes. Due to its incredible sights, it was used as a filming location for blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Martian” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

The remains of the ancient city of Petra that used to serve as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, are a part of Wadi Rum. It is uncertain when the city was built, however, due to a major earthquake in the 4th century AD, much of the city was damaged. This initiated the downfall of the city and essentially led to its abandonment. The site was re-discovered by a Swiss archaeologist in the early 19th century who pretended to be an Arab and tricked his Bedouin guide to show him the remains of the lost city. Since then Petra’s popularity as an incredible tourist site grew tremendously. Nowadays it is also known as the rose-red city due to the hue of the rocks from which many buildings and city structures were built.

Many agencies offer excursions to Jordan as a multi-day trip, visitors often want to have the experience of spending the night in a Bedouin camp in the Moon Valley, but day trips from Jerusalem to Petra can be arranged too! Just keep in mind that the drive from Jerusalem to Jordan takes 5 hours on its own, and there is often additional waiting time at the border crossing.

Trip to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan

Petra by night, Treasury ancient architecture in canyon, Petra in Jordan. 7 wonders travel destination in Jordan

Jerusalem Old City Tour

This one is not a getaway from Jerusalem, rather a deeper exploration of the city itself! We mentioned already that Jerusalem’s Old City is both extremely atmospheric, but also home to amazing sites that you might want to explore led by a knowledgeable local guide.

The tour around the Old Town will include Dome of the Rock; it is an Islamic shrine known for its significant golden dome. Your guide will tell you all about its religious significance and continue the tour following what is believed to be The Way of The Cross – the route taken by Jesus up to the place of his crucifixion. The path is said to have had 14 stations marking different points on Jesus’ way, like falling under the weight of the cross, receiving the woven crown of thorns or being helped by Simon of Cyrene.

Inside Jerusalem’s Old City you will also explore the Cardo – old Jewish quarter with remains of Jerusalem’s ancient main street. Nowadays the street has been brought back to life and houses many modern shops. Do save some money for the last stop of the tour though! You will be led through the Muslim bazaar; it is a great place for buying souvenirs.

You can meander around Jerusalem Old Town on your own, however, if you want not to miss any of the important spots and learn about the history but also listen to local myths and tales, we recommend booking a guided Jerusalem Old City Tour. Because the inner city is so vast and filled with interesting sites, those walking guided tours usually last up to 6 hours!

Jerusalem Old City Tour

Old Town of Jerusalem. Cityscape image of Jerusalem, Israel with Dome of the Rock at sunset.

Recommended Day Trips from Jerusalem

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The Best Day Trips from Jerusalem

The Best Day Trips from Jerusalem

The Best Day Trips from Jerusalem

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!