Israel Travel Guide

Israel FlagThe Kingdom of Israel was established by 900 BC under King David, but conquered and enslaved by Babylon in 586 BC. After that time, the land we know as Israel was under Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine control until The Arabs conquered the area in the mid 600 AD, bring the new Islam religion with them. Starting in 1099 the Crusaders controlled the area for almost a hundred years until the Arabs expelled them and controlled the area again. In 1516 the entire area was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and remained under their control until the end of World War 1 when the empire was dissolved.

Helpful Info
Population – 8,908,000
Money – Shekel (as of Feb 2020 US$1 = ₪3.45; current rate available at XE.com)
Language – Hebrew, Arabic
Religion – 74.7% Jewish, 17.7% Muslim
When to go – Spring and fall are best, summer is very hot
World Heritage Sites – 12 – Acre, Bahá’i Holy Places, Battir, Bet She’arim, Biblical Tels, Birthplace of Jesus, Incense Route, Jerusalem, Maresha & Bet-Guvrin Caves, Masada, Mount Carmel, Tel-Aviv
Country formed – The modern country was established on 14 May 1948
Church of Nativity Bethlehem

Birthplace of Jesus in the Church of Nativity

Since the 1st century AD Jewish revolts against the Romans were put down the Jewish population in the area dwindled significantly, but interestingly the small population that did exist fought with the Arabs against the Crusaders. By the 15th century the Jewish population was around 10,000.

Following World War 1 and through World War 2 the area was under a British mandate system called Mandatory Palestine. Starting in the last years of the Ottoman Empire Jews were immigrating back to the area and after World War 2 this increased significantly and reached 1.4 million Jews in the area. In 1948 the State of Israel was established under United Nations resolution and ever since that time, Israel and their neighboring Arab nations have been in constant conflict.

My Visit

Baptismal Site near Jericho

Baptismal Site near Jericho

In 2016, I undertook a week long religious pilgrimage trying to visit all the important sites of Jesus’s ministry while taking in the history and culture at the same time. I started in Old Jaffa, where Peter received his vision to share the good word with non-Jews. From there I headed to Jerusalem where I followed the Via Dolorosa, which is the route Jesus followed to his death and contains the 14 stations of the cross. I spend a day in Palestine visiting Bethlehem (birthplace) and Jericho (baptism) before I headed to Nazareth, where he grew up, via Akko (long story, but worth it….read the blog to see why). I finished at the Sea of Galilee to see many of his ministries before I headed across the border to Jordan.

I ended up enjoying my time in Israel and Jordan so much that I returned with my parents in 2019 to show them all the sites I had seen and to spend more time exploring the historic sites dotting this small country. This time we spent almost two weeks starting in the Negev Desert before crossing to Jordan via Eilat. Upon returning into Israel we explored the Galilee area with a base of operation in Nazareth for four days and then moving to Jerusalem for another five days.

Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations

Israel - Sea of Galilee - Sunrise

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed both trips in Israel and felt a vast spiritual growth due to my pilgrimages. On top of the sites of Jesus, I was able to see many historical and religious places. This is due to Israel’s long history and having locations of the upmost importance to four different religions.

Israel - Jerusalem - Jesus - Holy Sepulchre - Tomb

Tomb of Jesus

I felt like the itineraries fit our needs and showed us the most in the weeks we had here, but there is so much to see in this country that you could have spent an entire month and still have a busy itinerary. You can quite easily do a trip on your own, but tours are plentiful also. You can choice from private tours ($700-1000 a day) or group tours ($1500-2500 a week). I would also be interested in leading a group through this facinating country again, so feel free to contact me if you are interested.

One thing I can honestly say that I did not like in Israel is the security at the airport. You can read what happened to me here.

You can get even more helpful hints by watching the travel video I made for Israel. Also, you can read what all I did there in my blog posts below the video.

All Blogs From Israel

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