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I'm planning to spend 3 weeks in Israel & Palestine. I'm open to seeing all of the region apart from the Gaza Strip.

I'm told the region is relatively small and I could feasibly stay in Tel Aviv and explore the whole country from there. Is that wise? If not what other cites would be interesting and safe to use as bases?

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One consideration no-one here mentioned is that English is much more nearly universal in Jerusalem (except Geula and Meah She'arim and parts of the Arab Quarter); the further from Jerusalem you get, the less English. If your Hebrew and Arabic aren't so hot, it's a consideration. P.S.: good call staying out of Gaza. "Israel proper" is much safer than Chicago; the West Bank is probably similar to Chicago, and Gaza is much less safe. –  Jeffiekins May 22 at 22:13
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6 Answers 6

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As an American who just recently traveled to Israel for the first time with a former Israeli, my impression is that you should stay in Jerusalem.

We took a bus that only took about 45 minutes from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They are very close together. And Jerusalem was much more interesting to me from a tourist perspective (i.e. the rich history and architecture).

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However, it's considerably easier to reach Haifa and northern Israel from Tel Aviv than from Jerusalem. –  Eyal Apr 27 at 10:18
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Yes, it have links to all major cities and regions by rail or by road

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I live in the Tel Aviv area, and I can confirm that most of Israel is easily accessible from there. I have no idea what tourist infrastructure exists in the Palestinian Authority area, if any, and how to get there from Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is something like Miami, in that attractions include the beach and a lively nightlife, while Jerusalem has a lot more historic attractions. Haifa, my hometown, is a beautiful city about 60 miles north of TLV, that overlooks a gorgeous bay and has the Bahai hanging gardens - definitely worth a visit! If you have 3 weeks, my suggestion is to work your way through Israel, sleeping a few nights in each region, don't just stay in Tel Aviv.

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I think I would pick Jerusalem, but both would be decent choices, they are a short bus trip apart anyway.

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Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are both large cities near the center of the country, which is to say that they are both good choices for you.

Tel Aviv has the advantage of being on the coast, and therefore closer to Haifa, the other large city in the north (away from the Gaza Strip), meaning that it is the better base for visiting Israel alone.

But Jerusalem is closer to Palestine (the non-Gaza part, that is), and is more historic. Based on my "read" of your interests, that could be a slightly better choice for these reason. Tel Aviv would be a close second, in any event, since they aren't that far apart, with the non-central Haifa, a distant third.

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No. Stay in Tel-Aviv to visit Tel-Aviv and then move on. Tel-Aviv is a cool city, the coolest in Israel, but exploring the whole country from there is cumbersome. One of the highlights in Israel is Jersualem. Visiting Jerusalem takes some days. This means that you have to travel several times back and forth along the same road. The roads are congested. You will lose time in traffic jams. And the Israelis are aggressive drivers. So driving around is not really fun, especially if there is a lot of traffic. Now I have been talking about Jerusalem. But there are also sights further away, as the Dead Sea, Upper Galilee, the Golan heights, ...

I recommend that you make a plan of what you want to see, and then choose several bases accordingly. Choosing Tel-Aviv as a base to visit the whole country, plus parts of the West Bank does not make really sense.

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protected by Mark Mayo Sep 29 '13 at 22:17

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