To be honest, Israel intrigued me, but it was never on my bucket list. Then I got invited to a wedding in Tel Aviv and everything changed. Not one to pass up on travel
excuses opportunities, the invite was a chance to experience a totally new-to-me part of the world that turned out to be one of my favorite trips yet.
A few months later, I found myself eating hummus on the beach, sipping Arak in ancient alleyways, floating in the Dead Sea, taking a tour to Petra in Jordan and getting a glimpse at what life is like in one of the most controversial, and eye-opening, regions on earth.
Ready to see it for yourself? Here’s how to spend 7 days in Israel and Jordan.
Day 1: Tel Aviv Beach and Carmel Market
Get settled into your accommodations and head straight to the Mediterranean Sea. There’s nothing like fresh air and the salty sea to help shake off jetlag and bring you into the present moment. There are plenty of places to grab a bite or a drink right on the beach, so tuck into that delicious Israeli food right away.
Post-beach, stop by Carmel Market (Shuk Ha’Carmel) only a few blocks from the seafront. Wander through the busy stalls filled with spices, nuts, sweets, produce, clothes and other wares.
For dinner and drinks, head to the wide, tree-lined, pedestrian friendly Rothschild Boulevard.
Day 2: Neve Tzedek, Jaffa & Florentin
On your first full day, start with a stroll through the trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood. The area originated as the first Jewish settlement outside of Jaffa, but fell into disrepair after residents dispersed into what’s now the modern city of Tel Aviv. Today, the neighborhood has been restored and its narrow alleyways are lined with art galleries, fashionable boutiques, and outdoor cafes.
After an Israeli breakfast or a bit of window shopping in Neve Tzedek, dive right into the history and significance of Old Jaffa with a free (tip-based) Sandeman’s walking tour. Walk among ancient port city, learn about its historical and biblical significance and gaze back at modern Tel Aviv for a beautiful contrast of old and new…something that makes the region especially magical.
After your tour, head to the Jaffa Market (Shuk Hapishpishim) for lunch, drinks or shopping. You’ll find new, trendy spots intermingled with the old, sprawling flea market filled with Middle Eastern wares, fabrics, dishware and plenty of souvenir options.
Ready for one of those famed nights out in Tel Aviv? Head to the hipster ‘hood of Florentin. The graffiti-covered walls, industrial vibe, and local eateries give it that cool, Brooklyn vibe—and it’s the place to party. There’s something for everyone, from vegan food to Mexican cocktails and craft coffee.
Day 3: Dead Sea Day Trip
Getting to the Dead Sea is a long and winding road, literally. Is it worth it? Heck yeah! There’s really nothing like floating at the lowest point on earth. There aren’t really public restrooms or changing areas, but you can buy a day package at a hotel to use their showers, lockers, day beds and have lunch.
Day 4: Jerusalem Old City
Wake up early to make your way to Jerusalem. We used a car service and the drive took about an hour. Check in and make your way to the old city in time for another free Sandeman’s tour of the Holy City. I definitely recommend taking tours in places of such historical, cultural, and in Jerusalem’s case, complex, context. It’s also easier to navigate some of the more sensitive areas (like Dome of the Rock ) with a guide.
It’s ridiculously crowded in the old city, so I recommend heading to the “new city” (aka everywhere else in Jerusalem) for a more relaxed dinner.
Day 5: Jordan, Day 1
I’m sure there are plenty of Petra tours from Israel. However, we found Abraham Tours to be the most seamless option. They have the border crossing down to a science and it makes traveling between the countries so much easier.
After we made the trek from Jerusalem to the border, we met up with our Jordanian guide for the next two days. First stop: the ancient ruins of Jerash, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman towns in the world.
Next, we drove through the busy streets of Amman on our way to our accommodations for the night: a Bedouin campsite near Petra. Staying at the Bedouin camp was such a cool experience. I’ve never seen stars shine so bright as I did out in the middle of the Jordanian desert, surrounded by nothingness in the best possible way.
At night, the local Bedouins and visitors from around the world sat around the fire, petting the house cats, smoking hookah and drinking mint tea in the dark, star-bright sky. It’s the kind of experience you remember forever.
Day 6: Petra Tour, Day 2
You could spend days exploring Petra, but if you have less than a day like we did, you should see the famous Treasury and then hike to the Monastery (warning: the trek is no joke, especially under the beating sun). To get around, you can walk or ride camels or donkeys. I avoid animal tourism unless I know the animals are well taken care of. I heard opinions on both sides of the argument in this case, so I just decided to walk. Most importantly, take your time and soak it in. Experiencing Petra is awe-inspiring to say the least!
Day 7: Jerusalem’s New City & Machane Yehuda Market
Back in Jerusalem, spend the day exploring the city’s food scene. Whether you prefer local cuisine— that wonderful mix of North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors—or homemade kombucha and chia pudding, you’ll find it all.
Have you been to Israel or Jordan? What’s your favorite memory?
Ritu Chugh says
hello ! loved the post. planning to do something similar in feb 2020. but looking to do wadi rum and petra by night as well. also – i am flying in from india – so does it make sense to fly into amman – or tel aviv ? thank you and i look forward to your reply.