Interior View-Bethlehem ,Jerusalem, Israel


Revered by Jews and Christians, Bethlehem lies 30-minutes outside Jerusalem, and is a major destination for religious travelers. The city has changed hands throughout history, belonging to the Samaritans as far back as 529 and to the British during World War I. Despite unsteady ownership in the past, Bethlehem has had relative stability since 1995, when the Palestinian National Authority gained control over the city.

The Church of the Nativity abuts Manger Square and is the city’s most visited site. According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in the cave below the church, the Grotto of the Nativity, which now holds a replica manger (lines can be hours long, so go with a guide or be prepared to wait). Despite its religious significance, the church is notably shabby, especially when compared to the stunning Franciscan Church of St. Catherine next door, which is worth a visit just to see the elaborate interior.

The site is deeply meaningful to many, so while it is interesting, non-religious travelers may feel out of place amongst the occasionally emotional crowd. What stands out regardless of religion is Bethlehem’s location in the West Bank, and status as a Palestinian city.

Interior View - Church of the Holy Sepulchre,Jerusalem, Israel - Courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Located in the Christian Quarter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem. The church is regarded as the site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and subsequent resurrection, and the last five Stations of the Cross are within its imposing stone walls. The church itself is stunning; an immaculate mosaic of Christ details the Church’s inner dome, elaborate lamps and intricate metalwork adorn the Calvary, and the glow of candlelight throughout adds an eerie beauty to the sacred space.

Aerial View - Dead Sea,Jerusalem, Israel - Courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, Itamar Grinberg

Dead Sea Excursion

The Dead Sea is not actually a sea, but a lake that sits at the lowest point on earth, 400 meters below sea level.
Aerial View-Herodion ,Jerusalem, Israel-Courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism


To commemorate a 40 BCE victory over the Parthians, King Herod the Great constructed a sprawling palace, fortress and small town at the battle site, now known as Herodion. The ancient ruins—and suspected burial site of King Herod—lie in the Judean Hills, roughly 30 minutes from Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Excavations began in 1972, and despite nearly 40 years of work (excavations paused when the lead archeologist died in 2010), much of the site is still undiscovered.

Food at Indagare Tour: Cooking Class,Jerusalem, Israel

Indagare Tour: Cooking Class

Second to the food tour of the Old City, this delightful activity is a must for foodies visiting Jerusalem. Your guide will escort you through the Machne Yehuda market, where you’ll pick up groceries and sample treats from some of the best vendors, before heading to the chef’s home to prepare a classic Israeli meal. Indagare members can contact our bookings team to arrange a class.

Food at Indagare Tour: Food Tour of the Old City,Jerusalem, Israel

Indagare Tour: Food Tour of the Old City

Wandering the streets of the Old City can be overwhelming given the plethora of vendors all seemingly selling the same falafel, pita and baklava. With the help of a guide, navigating the madness becomes a delicious treasure hunt. Stop in at a tahini factory hidden in the back of a convenience store, learn the secret to making the best pomegranate juice (only one place in the city knows it), duck into a true hole-in-the-wall for a sweet and savory Lebanese pastry and sample a delicious pita-pizza mash up served at an unmarked storefront. This foodie tour is best to do on your first day, as you’ll want to return to many of the restaurants in the following days. Indagare members can contact our bookings team to arrange for a tour with an expert guide.

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Indagare Tour: Political Briefing

For even the most up-to-date politicos, keeping up with the situation in the Middle East can be challenging, and understanding Israel’s political situation makes it easier to engage with and understand the people, places and historical sites. Whether you want to converse with an expert or have a family-friendly tutorial on the basics, Indagare can organize an experience to meet your needs. Members can contact our Bookings Team for help arranging a tailor-made experience.

Exterior View - Israel Museum,Jerusalem, Israel - Courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

Israel Museum

Israel’s national museum boasts a well-curated roster of rotating exhibitions, a sprawling replica of Jerusalem, delightful art garden and most notably, the Shrine of the Book. The white-domed structure—built to resemble the jar in which the ancient manuscripts were found— houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical texts in the world. Discovered in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea, the documents are written on parchment, and significant as they are the earliest evidence of Jewish religious sentiments later included in the Hebrew Bible. Because of the delicate nature of the scrolls, they are not always on display, so check with your concierge before going.

Aerial View-Masada , Jerusalem, Israel-Courtesy of the Israeli Ministy of Tourism, Itamar Grinberg


If you’re Jewish—or even if you’ve only seen the 1980 movie on TCM—you’ll probably know not just the name “Masada” but the story of its fall to the Romans. As the famous tale goes, this fortified mesa-top city overlooking the Dead Sea was the last rebel stronghold during the first Jewish revolt, which began in 66 AD. When its seemingly impenetrable walls were breached in 74 AD, after a months-long siege by Roman soldiers, the leaders of its nearly 1,000 occupants chose death for the entire population rather than submission—thereby making Masada a symbol both of adherence to Jewish faith and of religious freedom. Today you can reach the fortress, located an hour-and-a-half southeast of Jerusalem, by means of a cable car instead of the enormous ramp and battering ram used by the Romans, and even though much was destroyed over the centuries, enough remains of King Herod’s skyward citadel to constitute a remarkable site. Looking down from 1,200 feet at the desert beneath it and the Dead Sea, you can still see shadowy outlines in the sand of the eight camps built by the Roman army to encircle the mountain during the assault.

Aerial View - The Austrian Hospice,Jerusalem, Israel

The Austrian Hospice

An insider secret, the rooftop of the Austrian Hospice boasts spectacular, 360-degree views of the Old City. Despite its location on a busy corner in the Muslim quarter, the hostel offers a peaceful oasis and a truly new perspective. While the views are the main draw, the 150-year-old building is also a center and dormitory for Austrian Catholic pilgrims and tourists. The British occupied the formidable structure during World War II, after which the Jordanians used it as a hospital until the 1980’s. If a craving for traditional Viennese delicacies strikes, the café serves schnitzel (an Israeli favorite), Sacher-torte and a number of other Austrian dishes.

Tip: See if you can identify the four quarters based solely on their differing rooftop architecture.

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Outside View -The City of David , Jerusalem, Israel

The City of David

If you have a few days to explore Jerusalem, taking a tour of the City of David is a must. Located just outside the walls of the Old City, the site is the birthplace of Jerusalem and where King David established his kingdom. Excavations here are ongoing, but the fully excavated site of the Spring Citadel is open to the public and provides access to the Canaanite fortress and underground water systems, where you can tour the tunnels. For families traveling with kids, navigating the 2,700-year-old Hezekiah’s Tunnel is a fun way to experience the city and learn about its history. It is also possible to walk the tunnels from the City of David back into the Old City of Jerusalem to conclude your tour.

Aerial View - The Mount of Olives,Jerusalem, Israel - Courtesy of W. Robrecht

The Mount of Olives

The land between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Judean Desert is one of Israel’s most well-known tourist attractions thanks to the bounty of religious and historic sites located there. Referred to as the Mount of Olives, this stretch of hilltop is home to the Tombs of the Prophets, the Dominus Flavit Church, the Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of Pater Noster and a massive Jewish Cemetery, the final resting place of many prominent Israelis. The base of the Mount of Olives is home to the Garden of Gethsemane, a peaceful garden said to have been the place Jesus wept when he learned of Judah’s betrayal, and the stunning Church of All Nations.

Aerial View - The Old City,Jerusalem, Israel

The Old City

You’ve been here before—to the bazaar, the medina, the souk, the old town, the old city, in Cairo and Istanbul and Marrakech and more. Here again are chaotic, crowd-filled cobblestone streets and alleyways, alternately picturesque and powerfully smelly and full of junk-laden souvenir shops and visitors in search of the real thing, wherever it is and wherever they are. Fortunately, Jerusalem’s Old City has much more than mere tourism to draw the crowds.

Within its famously honey-colored, 16th-century walls are the Western Wall, the most sacred site in Judaism; the Dome of the Rock, where Muhammad ascended; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. Not bad for three sites about 10 minutes apart. Their presence is what makes Jerusalem “O Jerusalem” and quite arguably the most hallowed ground on earth.

On your first visit, get your bearings and do your pilgrimage—pray at the Wall, prostrate yourself at the mosque or put your hand on the rock of Golgotha. The next day, take it more slowly; now you can start to really see the place, noting the differences between its four quarters (Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian) or walking its walls to appreciate both its compactness and its density. No matter the plethora of vendors hawking hookah pipes and plastic Stations of the Cross placemats, the Old City, against epic odds, remains a one-of-kind pileup of cultures and beliefs and ways of seeing and living in the world. Once you see it and experience being moved by a place that means so much to so many, as you inevitably will, you’ll almost certainly see your own world and beliefs a little differently, long after you get back home.

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Statue at The Stations of the Cross,Jerusalem, Israel

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross provide an interactive scavenger hunt of one of the most tragic and widely known events in Christianity: Christ’s journey to his crucifixion. The route is compact and engaging; tourists can stop at one of the many food stalls along the route (one of Jerusalem’s best hummus spots is next to the 5th station), and each station contains an artistic depiction of each chapter of Christ’s final journey. From the first, when Jesus is condemned to death, to the last, where is body is laid in his tomb, the stations provide an easy-to-grasp, visual depiction of the well-known tale. Keep in mind, most of the religious sites are theoretical; while station four marks the place Jesus met his mother, the stations were in installed to give the story a physical home, and are not exact representations. Pilgrims often walk the stations during Lent, but tourists navigate the course all year.

Exterior View - The Western Wall,Jerusalem, Israel - Courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

The Western Wall

Construction of the Western Wall began in 19 BCE, when Herod the Great ordered the expansion of Temple Mount, the nearby structure revered as the most sacred site in Judaism because the Foundation Stone is located there. The wall was not completed during his lifetime, and additional layers were added from the 7th century and on.

According to the Jewish sages, the gate of heaven is located at Temple Mount, and as the Western Wall is the closest accessible remnant of the wall that surrounded the Temple’s courtyard, pilgrims travel from near and far to pray at the sacred wall. There is evidence of Jewish pilgrimage dating as far back as the 4th century. Visitors of all religions can partake in the tradition of writing a prayer to God and placing it in the wall’s crevices.

A number of activities provide supplementary information about the Wall, and are recommended for any visit to Jerusalem. A tour of the tunnels below the wall provides a new perspective, and gives a sense of the scale and scope of the imposing walls. Note: The tunnel tours require visitors to walk through cramped spaces, so those with claustrophobic tendencies should steer clear.

Shabbat is celebrated Friday evening in a moving ceremony at the wall. To welcome Shabbat, there is a special prayer meant to encapsulate the emotion a groom feels when he sees his bride for the first time: joy, longing, and love.

Interior View - Yad Vashem,Jerusalem, Israel

Yad Vashem

Set in a park in west Jerusalem and adjacent to Israel’s national cemetery, Yad Vashem encompasses a museum, archive, library, school and numerous commemorative and exhibition spaces. There is sadness here, in abundance, but also strength. You feel it in the supremely affecting displays, the extraordinary buildings, the generous scale and intelligent design of the campus’s mountaintop setting and the purposeful vision behind the entire institution.

Allot at least four hours for a visit here, with three hours spent in the memorial’s centerpiece, the Holocaust History Museum. Simply, sharply and unrelentingly built as a long narrow tunnel, it cuts down into the earth and then rises back up. As you proceed along it, you repeatedly leave its central spine and enter galleries left and right along it. Devoted to various stages of the pogrom, these rooms, which you don’t see until you’re upon them, are filled with artifacts, photographs, videos, personal possessions, and together they convey, as understandably as is possible, how the unthinkable was conceived and carried out, and at what cost.

You’ll come away knowing a country’s and a people’s determination that history will forever be a lesson to all, and even if you find it challenging to enter the museum in the first place, by the end you might well find it hard to leave.

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