Holyland Travel Guide

The Holyland is the destination of pilgrims from all over the World as the central to the three monolithic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is where King Solomon (pbuh) reigned in all his glory, where Jesus (pbuh) taught and performed miracles, and where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) visited during a miraculous night journey to heaven.

A journey to the Holyland is a journey to a place where the past and present call out to travelers in astonishing ways. There are layers of meaning everywhere you turn in this intense land, and why not? People come to Holyland to touch the past. The events that occurred here in ancient times and the stories and legends that arose are firmly planted in the minds of more than 3 billion people throughout the World.

The great sacred sites all possess extraordinary power, mystery, and beauty, at least partly conveyed upon them by centuries, if not millennia, of reverence. The ownership and histories of the holy places are often a matter of contention and debate, not only among the three great monotheistic religions, but also among sects within these religions. Religious highlights include the biblical sites of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee and Mount Sinai, and an array of churches, monasteries and mosques.

Holyland is also amazingly dramatic and diverse. When you find yourself in the silent, haunting desertscape near The Dead Sea, spotting ibexes on sheer cliffs that are dotted with caves like those in which the Dead Sea Scrolls lay hidden for more than 18 centuries, it can be hard to believe that less than 60 minutes away is the 19th-century East European ghetto world of Jerusalem's Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter. A few blocks away from Mea Shearim you'll find the labyrinthine medieval Arab bazaars of the Old City, with ancient church bells and calls to prayer from the city's minarets punctuating your wanderings.

Hop into a sherut (shared taxi) to Tel Aviv on downtown Jerusalem's Jaffa Road, and in less than an hour you're in a world of white skyscrapers, surfboards, and bikinis on the beach, with the Mediterranean lapping at your feet. Two hours to the north, and you can be exploring ruined Crusader castles in the green forests of the Galilee mountains.

Best time to visit The Holyland

Spring in Holyland usually arrives in the latter part of March. This coincides with the Christian Easter and Jewish Passover celebrations, when the city is filled to bursting with pilgrims. The religious festivities are accompanied by cultural events, which increase in frequency as summer approaches. The weather is mild, and this is the best time for trips to Holyland's many parks, even though around the Dead Sea the thermometer is already regularly above 30°C (86°F). Summer comes with fewer religious festivals when the attention shifts to the coast, where the soaring temperatures are tempered by sea breezes, and to the towns of Galilee, where the altitude partially counteracts the heat.

Autumn is the ideal time to visit Jerusalem. However, several major Jewish holidays occur in September and October, seriously disrupting public transport and reducing opening hours for shops and restaurants. Christmas is obviously a good time to visit Bethlehem and Nazareth, especially if you can attend one of the special church services. It does occasionally snow in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.