CHRISTIAN TOUR – 10 DAYS:
DAY 1: OLD & NEW
We’ll start our day in Jaffa, one of the most ancient port cities in the world. As we wander the quaint alleyways of this timeless gateway to the Holy Land, we’ll visit St Peter’s Church and discuss the vision he had at Simon the Tanner’s House (Acts 10), before descending to the port where Jonah was swallowed by the whale.
After a local lunch, we’ll head into modern Tel Aviv, exploring the early neighborhoods such as Neve Tzedek and Rothschild Boulevard, and discovering the story of the pioneers who helped build this city, and country, from sand dunes into skyscrapers. Overnight at hotel in Tel Aviv.
DAY 2: HOLY CITIES
We’ll travel north to Caesarea, the regional capital that was built by King Herod the Great two thousand years ago. We’ll explore the remarkable ruins, and discuss Peter’s conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10) before visiting the port area from which the first Christian missionaries would have spread their message to the rest of the world.
We’ll continue north to Nazareth, the home of Jesus. We’ll begin with a visit to Nazareth Village, which recreates life here at the time of Jesus – we can even have an authentic Biblical lunch! Next, we’ll explore the remains of the ancient city in the bottom of the grand Basilica of the Annunciation, where it’s believed that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1). We’ll conclude our day on the edge of the city with a stunning view from Mt Precipice, where we will get a great insight into the geography of the Biblical Galilee. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
DAY 3: SPIRITUALITY IN NORTHERN ISRAEL
We’ll begin our day at Tzippori, the former Roman capital of the Galilee. We’ll walk its ancient stones, as it is likely Jesus would have done also, and marvel at its stunning mosaics. Tzippori also plays an important role in Judaism as the home of the codification of the Mishnah (the Jewish oral law).
Our next stop will be at Mount Tabor, the site associated with the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17). After ascending to the peak, we’ll enjoy the stunning views and the beautiful church whose architecture is designed to symbolize the event of the Transfiguration.
We’ll conclude our day in Safed (Tzfat), one of Judaism’s four holy cities. We’ll wander its ancient alleyways and discover the secrets of the Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) which developed here 500 years ago. Expect beautiful synagogues, stunning vistas, and remarkable tales. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
DAY 4: GOLAN IN THE BIBLE
We’ll begin with a visit to Tel Dan where we’ll be able to discover remarkable Biblical ruins including the gate likely seen by Abraham (Genesis 14) and the altar likely built by King Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). We’ll then ascend further into the Golan Heights and stop at the ancient pagan worship site of Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus gave Peter his name (Matthew 16). This evocative location, surrounded by a free-flowing spring and lush greenery, is a great place to reflect.
After a brief stop to enjoy some fantastic local olive oil (olives are one of the seven fruits and grains of the Holy Land named in Deuteronomy 7) our day will conclude at an observation deck near the Syrian border. We will look towards where Saul of Tarsus saw Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), and get an understanding of the complex relationship between contemporary Israel and Syria. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
DAY 5: JESUS' MINISTY IN THE GALILEE
We’ll descend to the Sea of Galilee, pausing on the Mount of Beatitudes to reflect on Jesus’ famed Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). We’ll follow in his footsteps, descending the mountain by foot to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, passing Tabgha (marking the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14) and Jesus later appearing to Peter following his resurrection (John 21) and reaching Capernaum, where Jesus made his home following his expulsion from Nazareth. We’ll see the house we believe he lived in, and the ruins of a remarkable synagogue.We’ll continue to a local restaurant for a traditional lunch of St Peter’s Fish (other options available for non-fish eaters!) and then enjoy a restful boat cruise on the very waters where Jesus once walked.We’ll conclude our day at the Yardenit baptismal site for the chance to go down to the shore of the Jordan River and, if desired, it’s possible to arrange a baptism / baptism rededication ceremony. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
DAY 6: REVOLUTION IN THE WILDERNESS
After checking out we’ll drive south through the Jordan valley, part of which is in the West bank. We’ll use the driving time to get a better understanding of the political situation in the West Bank and Israel’s relationship with Jordan, before arriving at the Ein Gedi desert oasis. We’ll take a short walk in this marvel of nature and will pause by one of the waterfalls to discuss Saul and David’s meeting here (1 Samuel 24).
Our next stop will be the UNESCO World Heritage Site Masada. After a quick lunch we’ll ascend by cable car and will explore the ruins of this remarkable desert fortress built by King Herod 2000 years ago, and discover the tragic end of its final defense.
Before driving up to Jerusalem, we’ll pause at a private Dead Sea beach for some well-earned relaxation. Float on these saline waters and you’ll come out rejuvenated – guaranteed! Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 7: THE BIBLICAL WEST BANK
We’ll open our day in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David and Jesus. We’ll begin with a visit to the famed Basilica of the Annunciation, marking where Jesus was born (Matthew 2), and will also visit the traditional site of the Shepherds’ Fields, where it’s believed that the announcement of Jesus’ birth was made to the local shepherds (Luke 2).
We’ll then journey into the desert, stopping at Qasr el-Yahud on the Jordan River, marking the traditional site of the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land (Joshua 3) and also the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3).
Our day will conclude in Jericho, the oldest city in continuous habitation in the world, where we can see remarkable ancient ruins that are possibly connected to Joshua’s conquest of the city (Joshua 6). It is also the location for the famed encounter between Jesus and the tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19). We’ll conclude our day with a visit to the traditional site associated with Mount Temptation (Matthew 4). Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 8: BIBLICAL JERUSALEM
Jump straight into the atmosphere of ancient Jerusalem as we open the day with a walk on the 500-year-old city ramparts. We’ll then visit the City of David, the most ancient ruins in Jerusalem, taking us back into the time of the Hebrew Bible. We’ll see David’s Palace and can walk underground in a tunnel built by King Hezekiah (great fun for kids!). We’ll emerge from the tunnel at the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed the Blind (John 9).We’ll ascend by foot in the spirit of the ancient pilgrims to the impressive excavations in the Davidson Center where we’ll be able to transport ourselves 2000 years back in time and walk on the very stones that Jesus and his disciples would have walked on in the time of the Second Temple.
We’ll pause at the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) to soak up the atmosphere, and after a great local lunch, we’ll explore the Jewish Quarter (including more ruins from the Biblical period) and the Room of the Last Supper (Matthew 26) and King David's Tomb on Mount Zion. Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
Optional (If on a Friday): In the evening return to the Western Wall plaza to experience the joyous ‘Receiving the Shabbat’ Jewish prayer service. Continue for a traditional Shabbat dinner at a local home or at the hotel.
DAY 9: BIBLICAL JERUSALEM CONTINUED
We’ll open our day with a spectacular panoramic view over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. We’ll use this view to locate and understand the key sites in the story of Jesus in Jerusalem, before descending the mountain, just as he would have done, to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26), where we’ll reflect on Jesus’ final moments before being arrested.
Our next stop will be at the Tomb of Mary where we will explore one of Jerusalem’s oldest churches and understand the unique sharing arrangement under which it is managed. We’ll then ascend from the Kidron Valley to the Old City where we’ll visit the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a paralytic man (John 5).After seeing the most holy site for Muslims in Jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock, from a very unique angle, we will walk the ancient pilgrim route known as the Via Dolorosa, or the Stations of the Cross, marking Jesus’ path with the cross from his trial until his crucifixion. The route culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed to be the location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial (Matthew 27) and venerated by many as one of the most important holy sites in the world.
Optional: Continue to the alternative site of the Garden Tomb, recognized by many Protestants as the location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 10: THE JUDEAN LOWLANDS
We’ll begin our day with a drive into the area known as the Judean Lowlands, an area where historically the Israelites clashed with their enemies the Philistines. After a short walk up to the ruins known as Khirbet Qeiyafa, we’ll explore what was once a grand settlement dated to 3000 years ago, and believed to have been part of the kingdom of David. We’ll discuss how the findings here help reinforce the Biblical narrative.
Our next stop will be at the ruins of ancient Azeka where we can enjoy a fantastic look out over the Ella Valley and imagine the ancient battle that took place there between David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). We’ll then have a short visit to ancient Beit Shemesh, where the ark of the covenant was returned to the Israelites by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6).
Our day will conclude back in Jerusalem with a visit to the world-class Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We’ll use the museum’s models and displays to trace our footsteps around Israel as our trip sadly comes to a close.
(To see you again)