Posted: 11/12/19 | November 12th, 2019
From unexpectedly cosmopolitan Tel Aviv — including a rapidly expanding foodie scene with delicious organic offerings — and the holy city of Jerusalem to the natural wonders of the Negev Desert and the historic Masada National Park and other ancient archaeological sites, Israel has a lot to see.
Israel is home to thousands upon thousands of years of history, as well as key historical sites for the three major monotheistic religions, making this a destination for millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.
The country is pretty small and you can get around it very easily, especially if you rent a car. It’s just 290 miles from Haifa on the northern tip of Israel to Eliat in the south (about five hours of driving).
That said, some people don’t want to drive, and some places out in the desert are hard to get to. For those people, there are tours! There are lots of options, from walking tours in Tel Aviv to multiday tours across the country (and neighboring countries).
I’ve put together a list of my favorite tour companies in Israel. They focus on different kinds of travel, but all offer good value for the money:
1. Abraham Tours
Abraham Tours aim to suit independent travelers, and give you lots of information about the culture, history, and politics of the region so you can be better informed while you travel around Israel.
Generally aimed at budget travelers, the tours range between two and 12 days in length and cater to those keen to go hiking, experience Israeli food, or head into the desert. The company has short half- or one-day tours, like a Jerusalem graffiti tour for $28, or a kibbutz experience from Tel Aviv for $63. A three-day tour of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea starts at $146; a five-day trip through northern and coastal Israel costs $375.
They also run “dual narrative” tours of Gaza, Jerusalem, and Hebron, which include activities like driving along the Gaza border, exploring Jericho, seminars on the Gaza-Israel conflict, and video calls with Gaza residents, designed to help you understand both sides. These one-day trips cost around $100.
2. Delicious Israel
Delicious Israel offers small-group walking tours covering places like the Carmel and Levinsky Markets in Tel Aviv and the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, where you’ll be able to taste authentic hummus, shakshuka, and much more. There’s also a tour that includes a cooking class after the shopping part. Tours range from $90 to $120, depending on the length.
3. Bein Harim Tours
These days, Bein Harim, founded in 1993, has over 70 tour options, so it’s easy to choose exactly what you want to see and do. It offers small group tours — both one-day visits to all the major tourist destinations and multiday tours up to 12 days in length, some including nearby Jordan. The one-day trips range from $73 to explore Jerusalem up to $125 to visit Bethlehem and Jericho. Multiday trips range from $300 for two days up to $2,000 for 12 days, for which you can choose options like the history and archaeology of Israel, or a Christian-oriented package.
Intrepid offers really high-quality, authentic tours in small groups, and focuses on staying in locally run accommodations like small guesthouses and homestays, and visiting locally-owned restaurants and shops.
Intrepid offers a dozen trips covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories, from a five-day highlight tour (around $770) up to 26-day journeys that also visit Egypt and Jordan (up to $8,000). It also has specialized tours, including a nine-day Christmas trip and a couple of lower-priced ones especially for those under 30.
5. Bike Israel
A unique and really enjoyable way to explore Israel is on a bike tour — it’s a country with reasonably short distances, and the routes these tours cover varied landscapes: desert areas, dirt roads, and seaside routes. (If you’re worried your fitness level might not be up to it, Bike Israel now also offers e-bikes.)
Tours range from a half-day seaside ride near Tel Aviv to multiday trips in the desert to cycling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Prices range from $100 for a half-day; the longer trips, depending on the number of participants, can be as little as $400.
6. World Expeditions
World Expeditions focuses on thoughtful travel and wants you to experience cultural immersion on its tours. It has a focus on hiring well-trained, enthusiastic local guides and also includes some degree of adventure.
In Israel, World Expeditions offers trips between six and 14 days in length. Some are self-guided hikes with transfers between trails and accommodation each day, hiking through the Galilee and other beautiful areas (starting at $1,300). The longest tour takes in Jordan and the Palestinian Territories as well as the key sites of Israel, and spends one night in a Bedouin camp, for around $7,000.
7. Mejdi Tours
Mejdi Tours has a strong focus on cultural immersion, social responsibility, and giving back, and its tours focus on travelers who want to do more than just basic sightseeing. The word “mejdi” translates as “honor and respect,” which are values the company definitely works hard on.
In Israel, you can join various multiday tours, each with a different focus. For example, in 2020 it is running a ten-day multinarrative tour of Israel and Palestine in conjunction with Hands of Peace (from $3,900). As well as visiting Jerusalem’s holy sites and the Dead Sea, this tour includes meeting politicians and visiting a refugee camp.
If food is more your thing, then Mejdi also has a one-week culinary and wellness tour (starting at $4,900) that includes an incredible range of eating experiences along with yoga classes and personal development.
Joining a tour in Israel is a sure way to make sure you don’t miss out on learning all the cultural and historical nuances of this amazing country. From short walking tours of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, through one- or two-week trips covering most of Israel (and neighboring lands), and even specialized trips focusing on religion or politics or food or nature, there are many fantastic ways to see Israel on a group tour.
Book Your Trip to Israel: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!