Maximum Awesome. Minimum Hassle.
One of the first questions that tends to come up with clients is how to divide their time between different parts of the country, where they should stay when they do so, and for how long. The best answer is that you should contact an expert to book tours before you book hotels. Your particular needs and what you and your group want to see will be relevant for someone with expertise to help you plan out an itinerary that makes maximum use of your time with minimum hassle.
A General Outline
Different agencies and guides and travelers have different ideas about this, but I generally think the best strategy is to have a ‘home base’ as much as possible, with only one hotel change over the course of the trip. Two hotel changes maximum. This becomes especially important the larger your group is, as every check in and check out takes more time and energy.
I recommend clients stay in Jerusalem as their main base, doing day trips from there to the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Judea and Samaria, the Judean Lowlands, and even to the Negev. Let’s say you will be on the ground in Israel for 8 days, with two days for travel, which is the most common trip length. I recommend making Jerusalem your home base for 6 of those days, and doing a two day trip (one or two nights) to the North, making your home base in Tiberias or another hotel near the Kinneret.
Exceptions to the Rule
Obviously there are some exceptions that don’t fit the outline above.
If you plan to go to Eilat that would be at least a 3rd hotel. Keep in mind that it takes a day to drive down to Eilat from the center of the country, and a day to drive back. To make it worthwhile you need to have at least 3 days available for this part of your tour. If you want to do a day tour to Petra from Eilat, add at least one more day to that.
Because of how much time is necessary to travel to and from Eilat and/or Petra, and the relative dearth of important sites to see in the area compared to closer and more easily accessible areas, I don’t usually recommend including it on most itineraries. If you are lucky enough to be spending two or three weeks in the country, or you’ve been here several times already, I would consider adding this area to your tour, otherwise I recommend skipping it for now.
Also, for return visitors, you may have found other parts of the country on your previous trip that you fell in love with. You may want to hang out in a cabin in the Golan for a week and hike, or go glamping in Mitzpe Ramon, or do a beach and shopping holiday based in Tel Aviv. Every trip is unique, especially when it’s not your first and you have a feel for what’s interesting to you.
If you’d like some help planning your trip, get in touch with me. I’ll help you plan your tour and make sure you see everything you want with a minimum of hassle.