Experience the Holy Land through the unique and varied viewpoints of the people who call it home. Hear from voices across the political and cultural spectrum, visit a kibbutz and a settlement in the West Bank, and meet representatives of Arab and Jewish community centers and peace-building organizations.
Starting at: $6,995 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 View of the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
 Panoramic view of Jerusalem
 The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
 Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
 Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
 Israel Museum with Shrine to the Book fountain, Jerusalem
 Model of the Second Temple, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
 The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem Memorial, Jerusalem
 Shabbat traditions
 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem
 View of Masada
 The Dead Sea, Israel
 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
 View of Haifa from Bahai Gardens
 Bahai Gardens, Haifa
 Coastal walls of Acre
 The El-Jazzar Mosque, Acre
 Traditional oud instrument
 Traditional Palestinian cuisine
 View of the Golan Heights
 Archaeological site of Ceasarea
 The city of Jaffa
 Skyline of vibrant Tel Aviv

Israel: Unique Perspectives on the Holy Land

With Optional Tour Extension in Jordan

11 days from $6,995

Experience the Holy Land through the unique and varied viewpoints of the people who call it home. Hear from voices across the political and cultural spectrum, visit a kibbutz and a settlement in the West Bank, and meet representatives of Arab and Jewish community centers and peace-building organizations.

or Call 855-330-1542


Experience the Holy Land through the unique and varied viewpoints of the people who call it home. Inspired by Geraldine Brooks’ 2019 Smithsonian magazine article, “Two Tour Guides—One Israeli, One Palestinian—Offer a New Way to See the Holy Land,” you’ll benefit from the knowledge and perspectives of both Israeli and Palestinian guides as you make your way from Jerusalem to Haifa, the Galilee and beyond. Hear from voices across the political and cultural spectrum, visiting a kibbutz and a settlement in the West Bank and meet representatives of Arab and Jewish community centers and peace-building organizations. Go wine-tasting, spend time with local families, float in the Dead Sea, and enjoy unparalleled access to local experts and thought leaders.

Highlights Include:

  • Unique Perspectives: Retrace the recent history of the Holy Land with both Israeli and Palestinian guides, engaging in dynamic discussions and hearing sometimes divergent viewpoints on the events and conflicts that have made world headlines for decades.
  • Jerusalem: Stay in the heart of Jerusalem and experience the fascinating cultural blend of the Old City, examine the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, and spend time commemorating the Holocaust at Yad Vashem.
  • Family Visits: Try your hand at making challah during a joyous Shabbat dinner in the home of a Jewish family and enjoy a festive evening of food and traditional music at the home of a Palestinian family. In the Golan Heights, sit down to lunch with a Druze family and learn about their traditions and beliefs.
  • Sacred Monuments: Meet with a rabbi, a pastor, and an imam, and experience some of the most sacred sites of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, including the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In Haifa, learn about the Baháʼí faith at its World Heritage-listed center.
  • Archaeological Sites: Explore evocative archaeological sites that tell thousands of years of history, from King Herod’s fortress atop Masada to early churches and synagogues in the Galilee, to the once-thriving Roman port city of Caesarea.


Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Israel

Arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport and transfer to Jerusalem, one of the world’s most sacred cities and pilgrimage site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Settle into your centrally located hotel. This evening, meet your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and get to know your fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers at a welcome reception and dinner. (D,R)

Day 3 — Jerusalem’s Old City

Begin the day at the top of the Mount of Olives, taking in a spectacular view of the timeless rooftops of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount. Next, head to the wonderful Israel Museum for an overview of the ancient history of the city and the Holy Land. View a scale model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period and examine the museum’s pièce de résistance: the Dead Sea Scrolls—biblical manuscripts dating back more than 2,000 years. Experience the spirit and bustle of the Mahane Yehuda Market on a lunch-time food tour. Then enter the Old City, where worshippers of many faiths intermingle on the cobblestoned streets. View the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Temple and a place of prayer and pilgrimage for Jews from around the world. On a walk through the Christian Quarter, follow the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took carrying his own cross, and see several of the Stations of the Cross marking significant moments along his journey. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the spot where he was crucified and buried—now controlled (sometime contentiously) by six different Christian sects. Meet with a pastor later this afternoon to hear a Christian perspective about life in Israel. This evening is yours to continue to explore Jerusalem on your own. (B,L)

Day 4 — Jerusalem

Today, retrace the birth of Israel as sovereign nation, beginning with a somber reminder of the events that led to the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people. Spend time amid the poignant exhibitions and remembrance halls of Yad Vashem, a living memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Continue to learn about Israel’s 20th-century history at Mt. Herzl, the national cemetery and resting place of Zionist leader Theodore Herzl and five prime ministers, including Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. Stroll through the charming Ein Karem neighborhood and find a spot for lunch on your own. This afternoon, meet with a former Israeli military leader to discuss Israel’s security and political challenges, including the controversial decision to build a security wall. As the sun sets and the calm of the Sabbath begins, join a Jewish family to prepare for Shabbat with a hands-on challah-braiding workshop followed by Shabbat dinner in their home. (B,D)

Day 5 — Masada and the Dead Sea

Depart Jerusalem after breakfast and drive into the Judean Desert to Masada, an isolated plateau upon which King Herod built his fortified palace between 37 and 31 B.C. Ascend more than 1,400 feet by gondola to explore the ruins of this lofty royal refuge, and learn the dramatic history of the 960 Jews who were besieged here by Romans after the sack of Jerusalem in the first century C.E. Descend to the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth, and enjoy a float in its hypersaline water. Back in Jerusalem this evening, attend a panel discussion with representatives from organizations committed to peace in the Middle East. (B)

Day 6 — Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Hear two perspectives on the history of conflict in Israel and Palestine, gaining rare insight into politically relevant sites from an Israeli and a Palestinian local guide. Approach the great, glittering Dome of the Rock to see the oldest standing Islamic shrine in the world, where Mohammed is said to have risen to heaven—and learn how pivotal events that took place on the Temple Mount changed the course of recent history. At Gush Etzion, a Jewish settlement outside Jerusalem, a community leader joins us to discuss everyday life in the settlements. After lunch together, continue to Bethlehem and tour the Church of the Nativity, built in the 6th century over what many consider the site of Jesus’ birth.

Then, learn about art as advocacy on a visit to the Walled Off Hotel Museum—a permanent work of art by the enigmatic street artist Banksy located next to the barrier built around the West Bank. Meet with a Palestinian speaker to further explore his perspective on current events. Then, you’re invited for dinner in the private family home of Aziz Abu Sarah, one of the peacemakers who inspired this tour. Enjoy local dishes and typical Palestinian hospitality, and listen to a musician playing the oud, a short-necked stringed instrument that is a predecessor to the European lute. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Haifa, Acre, and Tiberias

Depart Jerusalem and travel north along the coast to Haifa, a leafy city known for its harmonious blend of cultures and faiths. Head to Beit Hagefen, an Arab-Israeli cultural center dedicated to promoting coexistence, good will, and tolerance through cultural and artistic activities, festivals, and community programs. Learn about the Baháʼí faith on a walk through the beautiful Bahai Gardens, a World Heritage site set on the slopes of Mount Carmel. After lunch at leisure, take a short drive this afternoon to the ancient port city of Acre—another World Heritage site. Explore underground tunnels and chambers built by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th century, stop at the El-Jazzar Mosque overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and venture into the bustling old town and market. Continue east toward Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and settle into your kibbutz hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — The Galilee and the Golan

Spend the morning discovering the sites of the Galilee, the tranquil region where Jesus is said to have performed many miracles. See the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount, and, in the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, meander among the ruins of a 4th-century synagogue and the home of St. Peter, where Jesus is thought to have stayed. Drive north into the long-disputed Golan Heights to meet with a Druze family for lunch in their home. Ascend to the top of Mount Bental, where you’ll be met by an Israeli military expert for a political and security briefing as you look out at panoramic views across Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. You will also visit Maghar, recently declared Israel’s first Druze city, for a discussion about the complex reality along Israel’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria. On your return to the kibbutz late this afternoon, stop for a wine tasting at a local vineyard. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Nazareth and Caesarea Maritima

Journey to Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent his youth and now a bustling center of Israeli Arab culture and enterprise. Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, erected on the site where, according to Catholic tradition, the archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God. Meet with representatives from Sindyanna of Galilee, a nonprofit organization led by Arab and Jewish women working to promote fair trade products and create economic opportunities for local women. This afternoon, drive south to the Roman port city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great in the first century B.C. Explore the seaside ruins of this ongoing excavation site before continuing to Tel Aviv. The evening is yours to discover this hip city’s world-renowned restaurant scene. (B)

Day 10 — Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Spend the morning exploring historic Jaffa, one of the oldest ports in the world. Begin in the Ajami neighborhood, known for its distinctive architecture and traditionally Arabic culture. Here, meet Doris Hiffawi for coffee and pastries and an introduction of life in Jaffa. Doris will share her personal stories about growing up as an Arab Christian woman in a majority-Muslim community and discuss the cultural heritage of Jaffa and the Arab Christian identity. Next, tour the picturesque neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood built outside the city walls by Jewish families in 1887. See the Bauhaus-style architecture that has led to Tel Aviv’s recognition as a World Heritage site, and pass by Rabin Square, the public plaza in Tel Aviv’s center where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. Cap off your city tour at the Innovation Center, where you will learn about Israel’s booming high tech sector. Gather this evening to celebrate your journey at a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Return Home

After breakfast, transfer to Ben-Gurion International Airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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