Jerusalem is a multicultural city that holds significance for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
As such it is a popular site for pilgrimages, as well as cultural tourism.
Divided between Israel and Palestine, there are also interesting political tours across the city.
Aside from the religious and historical sites, visitors are also attracted to the surrounding natural beauty, bustling atmosphere and unique culture of the city.
Israel and Palestine are both packed with historical attractions, and the relatively small size of both states make these great options for day trips.
Please keep in mind that if you do decide to visit any of the sites in the West Bank, you will need to cross security checkpoints, so factor this into your timings.
If possible, we suggest any day trips to the Palestinian Authority should be made with guided tour organisations.
Here are the top 15 best day trips that can be made from Jerusalem.
A short trip from the bus station in East Jerusalem, Ramallah is the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority.
Many tourists to the region are concerned about the safety of the West Bank region, but Ramallah is one of the safest and most liberal cities in the Arabic speaking world.
You can partake in cultural and political tours, organised by knowledgeable tour guides with your safety in mind.
There are also plenty of great, authentic Palestinian restaurants and cafés where you can try falafel and hummus.
Locals are very friendly and usually well educated in English, so it is a good place to learn a more local perspective – though we advise you do a lot more listening than talking just to keep on the safe and respectful side.
Also located in the West Bank, Bethlehem is famed as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
You can visit a number of religious sites in the city – from Catholic Churches to Greek Orthodox places of worship.
It is also the birthplace of King David – King of the Ancient Kingdom of Israel – and there are many attractions in the city which depict the centuries of history of the region.
The Church of the Nativity was built to commemorate the birth of Christ and is one of the oldest churches in the world to have run continuously since it opened.
Manger Square is in the city centre and is said to be the place where Jesus was born, though most historians trace his actual birth to a cave nearby, which can also be visited.
Recommended tour: Best of the West Bank Full-Day Tour from Jerusalem
Located on top of a mountain in the Judean Desert, Masada is an ancient fortress that provides breathtaking views over the region.
Masada is an important site to the Israeli people as it is the place where the Jewish uprising against the Roman Empire is said to have started.
It became synonymous with the fall of the ancient state of Israel and has more recently come to symbolise the establishment of the modern state.
It can be reached on foot – the best option if you want to visit during the sunset – or by cable car if you would rather skip the stairs.
It has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Suggested tour: Masada & The Dead Sea Full-Day Tour from Jerusalem
4. Ein Gedi
Also located in the Judean Desert, Ein Gedi National Park overlooks the Dead Sea Valley and is packed with great activities for natural history lovers.
There are two main attractions in the area – Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and Ein Gedi Eco Park.
The Nature Reserve is filled with hiking trails, native desert birdlife and cave walks.
The Eco Park has a zoo, natural mud sculptures and a great tour about the impact of the environment on modern Israel and the technology being developed to fight it.
There is also a kibbutz (community established using collectivist principles) nearby with a botanic garden.
Available tour: Masada at Sunrise, Ein Gedi, & Dead Sea from Jerusalem
5. Dead Sea
The lowest point on earth – at 1269ft below sea level – can be found on the eastern border of Israel and the West Bank.
The second saltiest body of water in the world, it is impossible to sink in the Dead Sea and is a popular tourist attraction for photo opportunities and relaxing along the edge.
The mud surrounding the sea is claimed to have therapeutic purposes, so you can test this out by covering your torso in the mud.
There are also large salt flat areas that are worth exploring.
The nearby settlement of Qumran also has some ancient caves and is the area where the oldest ever Bible scrolls were found.
The childhood town of Jesus Christ, Nazareth is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians.
It contains the largest Catholic Church in the Middle East – the Church of the Annunciation.
This was named after the Annunciation of Mary – or when the Angel Gabriel delivered a message to her.
There are also two Greek churches and an impressive Franciscan church located within the town.
Aside from the churches, Nazareth is also home to the largest Arab population in Israel proper, and has an eclectic mix of cultural activities such as markets and restaurants.
Suggested tour: Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee Tour from Jerusalem
7. Sea of Galilee
Located in the north of the country, the Sea of Galilee is another popular destination for Christian pilgrimages.
The main city, Tiberias, is packed with historical sites, restaurants and hiking trails.
There are ruins of synagogues from the ancient Kingdom of Israel, as well as a number of sites associated with Christianity including the Jesus Boat Museum and the birthplace of three of Christ’s apostles.
For the more adventurous you can try kayaking on the Jordan River, and hiking in the surrounding mountains.
There are also plenty of opportunities to visit Neolithic sites and learn more about this part of Levantine history.
Jericho is an important religious site for both Christians and Jews, and can easily be visited in half a day or as part of an extended tour that continues onwards to Jordan.
You can visit the Good Samaritan Inn, a converted building from the Ottoman Empire that now pays homage to the story of the Good Samaritan from the bible.
Jericho claims to be the oldest inhabited city on the planet, and gives you a good insight into the ancient cultures of the Judean Desert.
The Mount of Jericho is said to be where the first civilisation in the area began, and provides great views over the desert.
You can also visit the Mount of Temptation where some Christians say Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Available tour: Half Day Jericho Tour from Jerusalem
Located across the border in Jordan, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.
This trip will require a lot more travel than other places on this list, however it is well worth it.
The former capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, you will be able to discover an ancient civilisation located within the Jordanian Desert.
The entire city was carved out of the natural red rocks, and you can also visit some important areas for natural history nearby such as Wadi Rum.
You can make your way around Petra on foot, or opt to take a camel ride through the site.
Recommended tour: Petra, Jerash and Amman: 2-Day Tour from Jerusalem
Also located in Jordan, Amman is the capital and very easily accessible from Jerusalem.
The city centre area is very modern and vibrant, and there are also more historic areas in other parts of the city.
The city is quite hilly, so take plenty of water and good shoes if you plan on walking a lot once you are there.
You can try a variety of traditional Jordanian dishes in the city’s restaurants for reasonably cheap prices, and visit Roman ruins just a few minutes from the centre.
At the old Citadel you can check out the Temple of Hercules.
If you are more adventurous, you can opt to spend the night with Bedouin nomads in the desert surrounding the city.
Located on the Mediterranean coast, Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and very easily accessible from Jerusalem either by private car or public transport.
A very modern city, it is an important site for the Bahá’í Faith and the Bahá’í Gardens and World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be found here.
Haifa is a multicultural city with German, Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods all within walking distance.
The National Museum of Science and the National Maritime Museum are both based here, and there is an impressive beach along the coast of the city.
12. Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is also on the Mediterranean coast and is the second largest city in Israel.
Due to the status of Jerusalem, it acts as the de facto capital and most international embassies are based here.
Tel Aviv is probably the most liberal city in the whole country, with thriving gay communities and feminist movements.
There are a whole host of museums, cultural attractions and historical monuments to discover.
The nearby town of Jaffa is also worth a visit whilst you are in the area as it is one of the oldest port towns in the world.
Tel Aviv itself is quite a modern city and is comparable to most European capitals.
Located roughly halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, Caesarea is a wealthy town on the coast.
The main attraction in the town is the Caesarea National Park which is filled with archaeological artifacts and brims with ancient history.
Originally built by the Phoenicians, Caesarea was later developed by the Romans and contains many monuments from the era including one of the largest remaining Roman amphitheatres.
There is also a Roman aqueduct, and houses that have been excavated to reveal ancient mosaic designs.
If you are a keen golfer, there is also a large 18-hole golf course within the town.
The southernmost city in Israel, Eilat is the only city in the country located on the coast of the Red Sea.
It is a popular tourist destination for both international and domestic visitors thanks to its glamorous beaches and surrounding natural beauty.
The southern beach allows visitors to enjoy snorkelling in a small coral reef where you can get up close with some of the native marine life of the Red Sea.
If you would rather stay dry, you can visit the Underwater Observatory which functions as an aquarium and viewpoint into the coral reef.
There is a nearby mountain nature reserve for hiking opportunities, and the coastline is lined with restaurants and bars.
15. Be’er Sheva
Located north of Eilat in the Negev region, Be’er Sheva is another important historical site in Israel, and a gateway to the natural beauty of Negev.
The town itself is widely spread out thanks to its desert location, and is surrounded by a few nomadic villages.
The Old Turkish Town is one of the main highlights of the town proper and has a number of artifacts from the Ottoman Empire and Turkish settlements.
You can also visit the Municipal Market to pick up some local food, handicrafts and souvenirs.
For nature lovers, there are natural desert spas and scenic hiking trails surrounding the town.