Welcome to Israel! Check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. This evening, meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers.
Enjoy a full day exploring some of the Holy Land's ancient biblical and modern sights. Begin by driving to the old port of Jaffa, an atmospheric town where Jonah set sail before he was swallowed by the whale. Continue to Caesarea, an ancient port turned incredible archaeological area. Built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC, the city was one of the most splendid in ancient Palestine and its capital for more than 600 years. Admire what remains of Herod's grandiose building works, including the restored 3,500-seat Roman theater, the aqueduct, the harbor, the stadium, and the crumbled moat and towers from the 12th-century Cruisader fortress. From here, travel to the archaeological site of Megiddo, an age-old fortified town with 25 layers of ancient findings and one of the most important biblical sites. According to the New Testament, this is where the Battle of Armageddon will take place: the final struggle between good and evil, which will prompt the return of Jesus to defeat the Antichrist and cast Satan into the abyss. Continue to Nazareth to visit St. Joseph Church and the Church of the Annunciation, where the Archangel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. This evening you may have an opportunity to join a candlelight procession starting from the Church of the Annunciation square. Today's Distance: 121 mi / 195 km (B,D)
Attend one of the early morning Mass services if you wish, then join today's included excursion. Bet She'an is one of the best preserved archaeological sites of this region and well worth some time to wander around. Ongoing excavations at this UNESCO World Heritage site reveal time-worn colonnade-style streets, bathhouses, and a theater with perfect acoustics. Today's Distance: 48 mi / 77 km (B)
Today, celebrate [M] Mass in Magdala, home to Mary Magdalene, then skirt the Sea of Galilee, and enjoy its scenic beauty. Continue to Tabgha and visit the church commemorating the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves. On to Capernaum, home to the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, and to Jesus himself. Here, you'll see its ancient synagogue and the house of St.Peter. Spend some time in the gardens on the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered his famous sermon, and meditate its significance. On the way back to Nazareth, stop in Cana, site of the wedding miracle. Today's Distance: 91 mi / 147 km (B,D)
Enjoy a spectacular drive through the Jordan Valley. Stop at the Qasr El Yahud baptismal site where, according to tradition, Jesus was baptized by St. John the Baptist. Continue to Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus and King David. Visit one of Christianity's holiest places, the Church of the Nativity, built over the cave thought to be the spot where Jesus was born. Here, you will have time to pray and attend [M] Mass, if you like. Reach the holy city of Jerusalem in the late afternoon. Today's Distance: 119 mi / 192 km (B,D)
A day of reflection awaits as you set off on a walking tour of Jerusalem's Old Town. From the Mount of Olives, take in memorable views over the city's domes, walls, and rooftops before strolling in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed on the night before his arrest. Your guide will then lead you into the Jewish quarter, pointing out the Western Wall with its prayer notes tucked between the stones, and the Dome of the Rock, the gold-topped mosque on Temple Mount. Walk the famous Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross), following in Jesus' footsteps as he bore the cross to Calvary for his crucifixion and burial, where the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre now stands. Later this afternoon, attend [M] Mass, if you like. (B)
Today is free to relax, explore Jerusalem at leisure, revisit some of the most significant places of worship, or join an exciting optional excursion to the Dead Sea, the planet's lowest point on dry land. Travel through the mountainous Judean Desert and pass the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Ride the cable car up to the magnificent Fortress of Masada, perched high on a clifftop plateau above the Dead Sea, where 960 Jewish rebels made their last stand against Roman forces in 73 AD. Later, head for the shores of the Dead Sea, where you'll have some time to experience the incredible buoyancy in the salt water. Toward the end of the afternoon, return to Jerusalem. (B,D)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (The nearest airport is Tel Aviv.) (B)