Israel is an incredible country for tourism. There’s something new and exciting around every corner – mountains, seas and deserts; ancient history mixed with gritty, satirical street art; people and food from dozens of countries around the world. In this article we’ll take you through what we think are the most essential sites and experiences for an Israel itinerary of 10 days. Of course if you plan to stay longer, we’d love to recommend more fun things to do in Israel!
Why should you trust us? We haven’t lived in Israel, but we’ve seen it through the lens of tourism many times and at different stages of life: organized group tours, solo travel, couple travel and now, of course, family travel. I’ve visited Israel five times, Ronnie’s been seven times, and the kids have even notched two trips – most recently for an incredible six-week adventure. We also have a huge network of family and friends in Israel who have given us all the intel for our own visits, and now we want to pass that along to you!
We’ve done nearly every activity on this list (many of them several times), and we promise to only send you to the best places in Israel. Ready to dive in? Check out our top picks for your 10 day Israel itinerary.
2 days in Tel Aviv2 day Carmel roadtrip4 days in Jerusalem2 day Dead Sea roadtripStaying a little longer? A two-week Israel itineraryShort on time? An itinerary for 7 days in Israel (or less)Suggested modifications for those planning an Israel family itineraryPlan your trip to Israel
Want to skip all the planning and access my detailed Israel itinerary complete with daily schedules, awesome activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
2 days in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a bustling, modern city with an outdoor-oriented lifestyle, amazing food on every block, great beaches and tons of cultural institutions. We spent a month in Tel Aviv sightseeing during our most recent visit and still didn’t go everywhere! But if it’s your first trip and you only have 10 days in Israel to see the whole country, you’ll want to be speedy here and see just the most distinctive elements. We recommend that you grab a car from Welcome Pickups to get your to the city – after an excruciating flight you won’t want to rent a car, and you won’t need it for your first few days anyway.
Day 1 – A city of neighborhoods
Start strong with a traditional Israeli breakfast at one of Tel Aviv’s many trendy cafes. Beat your jet lag by spending morning strolling south along the tayelet to neighboring Yafo – enjoy stunning coastal views from atop the Sultan’s Garden, get lost in the narrow alleyways and poke into the many boutique art and craft galleries – don’t miss our favorite, Adina Plastelina, where they use a special type of polymer clay to mimic traditional Italian millefiore style. Stop in for an incredible modern Turkish lunch at Onza – it’s some of the best food we’ve eaten in Israel – then continue exploring the Yafo flea market.
When you’re ready to move on, head back north – but not too far. Your next stop is in the charming neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, a former artist colony established in 1887 (predating the city itself by more than two decades). Wander the small streets, grab a coffee or an ice cream and make your way to the nearby original train station, where you can play on century-old train tracks and peruse the galleries and boutiques. Another worthwhile stop in the area is Shuk HaCarmel, where locals have been buying their groceries for more than a century – Ronnie’s great grandmother even had a bakery here in the 1920s! You’ll also find vendors selling almost anything you can imagine, from kitchen supplies to toys to Thai elephant pants and Judaica items.
Stop by the beach to sit on the steps with hundreds of Tel Avivians watching the always-spectacular sunset before making your way out for dinner. Tel Aviv offers an amazing selection of restaurants ranging from traditional Israeli food to Asian specialties. It’s hard to go wrong, but walk a little away from the major tourist thoroughfares for better food and more reasonable prices.
Day 2 – Fun, foundations and foodies
Grab a quick breakfast (including local favorite iced coffee) at Aroma Cafe on your way to one of the city’s amazing beaches. The sand is heavenly soft and the water is pleasant (though beware of the hoards of jellyfish that invade in late summer). The city has invested huge sums of money in bringing life to the beach – you’ll find a great mix of locals and tourists enjoying cheap chair and umbrella rentals, playing spirited games of matkot, reading from mobile library carts and sharing sand toys from the communal boxes.
Next up head inland toward Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv’s first official neighborhood back in 1909 and still one of its hottest addresses. If it’s a Tuesday or Friday, be sure to walk there by way of the Nahlat Binyamin craft fair, a favorite for tourists and locals alike. Even if the craft fair isn’t going, this is a great area for checking out some of the best street art in Tel Aviv. Pop into a falafel or sabich stand along the way for a cheap, filling lunch. Once you hit Rothschild, it’s a great opportunity for some people watching, either in the wide, park-like median (complete with pocket playgrounds for the kids) or over a drink at one of the many sidewalk cafes.
Located at number 16 you’ll find Israel’s Independence Hall, where you can truly be “in the room where it happened”. Call ahead for the day’s schedule or just show up and wait for a guided tour in your language. Both times that I’ve been, the guide has done an excellent job of explaining the context leading to the formation of the state, the challenges of declaring independence and the aftermath. I had the same guide on both visits, more than a decade apart, and she does an excellent job of bringing this moving story to life.
Cap off the day by strolling over to one of Tel Aviv’s newer hot spots, the Sarona Market. This foodie-haven has everything you could possibly want – top-notch ramen, a whisky bar with hundreds of varieties to choose from and the best cookies we’ve had anywhere in the world (trust me, when you travel for a year with two young kids, you try a lot of cookies). You’ll even find some small shops with unique kitchen wares from around the world. It’s an especially great place to visit if you’re traveling with people whose taste vary, as there’s plenty of communal seating you can use regardless of where you bought your dinner.
Sarona is somewhat far from most of the city’s hotels and rental apartments, so hop on a bus or an Uber to take you back across town for the night. If you still have a little energy, head back to the tayelet to listen to street musicians with waves crashing behind them, sit at a beachside lounge with your toes in the sand while you enjoy a drink, or even head out to one of Tel Aviv’s legendary clubs.
Use the interactive map to find vacation rentals and hotels in Tel Aviv
2 day Carmel roadtrip
Hope you’re rested! You’ll want to grab a quick bureka and coffee before you pick up your rental car this morning and begin your epic road trip to discover northern Israel’s coastline. The great news is that Israel is a fairly compact country, so your drive times will be short. If you’d rather not drive, you can also follow this route using the excellent train and bus routes along the coast (though we think it works better as an Israel roadtrip itinerary to give you more flexibility). Note that this itinerary does involve a little bit of backtracking due to the scheduling of tours at the Baha’i Gardens. Fortunately the distances involved are fairly short.
Your first stop is in Haifa to visit the famous Baha’i Gardens, one of the most scenic spots on your Israel 10 day itinerary. Though there isn’t a large group of the Baha’i faith members living in Israel, their world headquarters here are an important pilgrimage site and members often spend a year or more living there (often between 500 and 1000 people at a time). Go straight to the top of the garden for a spectacular view and then take a tour for an even closer look at both the landscaping and the religion.
You’ll want to arrive in Haifa for the first tour of the Ba’hai Gardens that’s available in your best language – and if you’re reading this website that’s probably English. The tour schedule varies each month, but often slots English at 10am and noon during the week with an additional afternoon option on Shabbat; there are no tours on Wednesdays. Check the latest schedules here before you make your plans. If you prefer, tours are also available in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. Ideally you’ll make it onto the 10am tour that begins at the top of the garden, which will wrap up just before 11am at the bottom of the garden. Pro tip: The dress code for both men and women requires that shoulders and knees are covered. You’ll be turned away if you aren’t dressed appropriately.
Since the entire city of Haifa is built on a hill, take advantage of being at the bottom to hit one of the city’s popular restaurants on Ben Gurion Street. If you’re feeling up to it, you can climb the steps back up to the top of the gardens to retrieve your car; otherwise, hop on bus #136 or #23 to get back up without the workout.
Next, you’ll head back south to the ancient Roman settlement at Caesarea National Park. It was established as a port for the newly-expanded empire around 25 BCE and used as such for over 1500 years. The city is still remarkably well preserved and includes residential buildings, a commercial area, an amphitheater and a chariot racing arena. The site is very large, so plan to spend about three hours exploring (though I could easily spend more).
You’ll also find a fun, short movie showing the history of Caesarea Maritima, an art gallery and several restaurants. We’ve enjoyed a number of nice lunches at Crusaders Restaurant, which serves solid (if pricey) food with a side of stunning sea views; this is a great choice if you didn’t already eat lunch in Haifa.
Pro tip: If you plan to follow this complete itinerary, purchase a 3-park discount pass at the ti