1- & 2-Day Affordable Escorted Tours
Egged Tours and United Tours are two major day tour companies in Israel. They offer 1- and 2-day (and longer) guided bus tours from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to the Galilee, the Dead Sea, the Negev, the Coastal region, as well as tours of city and metropolitan areas. Some tours can also be taken from Haifa, Eilat, and other secondary cities. These tours can be an efficient way to visit a lot of places and fill in itineraries.
Much depends on the luck of the draw. Guides range from adequate to fabulous-- you might find yourself in a small congenial tour group that’s virtually a private tour, or a busload of unruly kids. A lot of time may be consumed as your tour bus makes the round of hotels picking up and dropping off other travelers in your group before the actual tour begins. If you’re thinking about taking more than two or three of these tours, it might be better to consider an organized, complete flight/hotel/package tour that will take you to all the major destinations you want to see in Israel.
Brilliant, low-budget routes were designed by Abraham Tours. The routes take visitors to major cities throughout Israel, with brief sightseeing stops at sites along the way that would be hard to get to by public transportation.
Day Tours to the West Bank
Depending on political conditions at the moment, a number of independent groups now offer escorted day tours into the West Bank/Palestinian Authority Areas. Always check State Department and Foreign Office travel advisories before entering the West Bank. For those who wish to see Bethlehem, Jericho, and other historic West Bank sites, these tours (all of which include varying degrees of emphasis on social and political conditions), can be an efficient way to explore.
In addition to Abraham Tours, there's Green Olive Tours, which places a heavier emphasis on politics.
Private guides arrange all the logistics of travel during the times they are under hire and can take you to major sites as well as out-of-the-way places efficiently. For those with little time, this can be a restful way to get a great deal done and get an in-depth understanding of the country. The government licensing program has helped to raise the general quality of guides in Israel tremendously, but there’s still always a risk in touring with a guide—you never know if they’ll be articulate, a compelling storyteller, or a complete bore. So ask for extensive references before booking and, when you can, read online reviews of the guide in question. Many good professional guides have put together a brochure or video that will give you an indication of their styles and approaches. At these (or any) prices, you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon.
In Israel, it’s illegal for people to guide without a license. Unfortunately, if you go by car with an unlicensed guide, you’re probably not insured in case of an accident.
Israel's tourism information website lists many (but not all) of the country’s licensed guides.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.