We have provided four sample itineraries, however, these itineraries are customizable for your groups specific needs and interests. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have specific requests to include in your trip itinerary.
Throughout our spiritual pilgrimage, we will experience the holy places in which Jesus was born, ministered, crucified, and rose again. Through this spiritual journey, we will remain open to God’s message and will return home with a new and deeper understanding of the living history of this incredible place and of those who inhabit and keep it—the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land.
Day 1: Departure
Our Holy Land pilgrimage begins as we depart on our international flight. Meals and in-flight entertainment will be provided.
Day 2: Travel & Arrival in Tel Aviv
After arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, an HCEF Representative will guide us through our transfer to the city of Bethlehem for dinner and rest.
Day 3: Bethlehem
We will begin our day with a welcome address by an HCEF representative to orient us in our spiritual journey. We will then visit Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, where angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. Afterward, we will visit the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus. Our tour will continue to the Grotto of St. Jerome and the nearby Milk Grotto, where the Holy Family took refuge during the Slaughter of the Innocents. After our lunch at Al Karmeh restaurant, we will have free time to tour the Bethlehem Museum to learn about the history and culture of Palestine from Pre-Roman times until today. Afterward, we will visit Bethlehem University to meet with students and learn about their experiences. After leaving the university, we will walk the path taken by the Holy Family through the old city of Bethlehem until we reach Nativity Square. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 4: Jerusalem
We will depart for Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives to visit the Churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit. We will also visit the Church of All Nations, located in the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before his Passion. After lunch, we will visit Mount Zion and the Upper Room, the scene of the Last Supper, and then the Church of the Assumption (Tomb of Mary). Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 5: Jerusalem
We will depart for Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City of Jerusalem, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Tomb of Christ. Afterward, we will visit the Church of the Redeemer, and will meet with a representative of the Christian Religious Leaders of Jerusalem. After lunch, we will enjoy free time in Jerusalem’s Old City. We will then visit the Dome of the Rock, the Golden Gate, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount. We will then continue to Ein Karem, the birthplace of St. John the Baptist to visit the Church that commemorates his birth, as well as the Church of the Visitation which commemorates the Virgin Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 6: Birzeit and Ramallah
We will depart for the town of Birzeit, located in the outlying hills of Ramallah. Birzeit is also known as ancient Berzetho from the Greek –Roman period. There, we will visit the local Catholic Church and meet with the parish priest, who will give us an introduction about the history of local Christians, as well as a tour of the church’s archeological museum, which houses a collection of artifacts from the stone and bronze age. We will then visit HCEF’s Birzeit Senior Citizen Center, giving us the opportunity to meet with Birzeit’s elders, hear their stories and break bread with them. Afterward, we will visit Jifna, a small scenic village that was once an important Roman-Byzantine city. Previously known as Gophna of Josephus, Jifna was the region’s capital during the first century AD. Afterward, we will travel to Ramallah to visit the Church of Hope, opened in 1954 to support those seeking refuge from conflict. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 7: Nablus/ Jenin
We will depart for the town of Nablus (Neapolis) which was founded in 72 AD by the Flavian Emperors as part of the Roman dynasty built on the northern slope of Mount of Gerizim. There, we will visit Jacob’s Well, where Jesus met the Samaritan woman who offered him water. Afterward, we will take a tour of Nablus’ Old City and later, will visit Mount Gerizim, or Jebel At-Tor, a sacred mountain that has been inhabited by the Samaritans for thousands of years. After lunch, we will travel to Sebastia, traditionally associated with John the Baptist, and we will also see the Roman tombs, a Hellenistic Tower and the Herodion Gate Towers. We will then head to Jenin to visit the Church of Burqin, considered to be the third oldest church in the world, as well as site where Jesus cured the ten lepers. Dinner and overnight in Jenin.
Day 8: Nazareth/Mount Tabor
We will depart for Mount Tabor to visit the site of Jesus’ transfiguration at the summit of the mountain and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Valley of Jezreal. Afterward, we will head to Cana to visit the Church where Jesus performed His first miracle, changing water into wine. In Cana, there will be an opportunity for married couples to renew their wedding vows. We will then travel to Nazareth, the town where Jesus and the Holy Family lived, to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel first told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. While in Nazareth, we will also see Mary’s well and Joseph’s workshop. Dinner and overnight in Nazareth.
Day 9: Ibillin-Mt Carmel-Haifa
We will depart for Ibilin to tour Mar Elias schools. Mar Elias schools are well-known for their dedication to educating children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds based upon the principles of peace, reconciliation, respect, and justice. There, we will meet with representatives from the 3,000 students and faculty of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Druze heritage who study and teach together as one community of learning and service. After lunch, we will head to Haifa to visit Mt Carmel, a Christian holy site where the prophet Elijah performed various miracles, and which is believed to be the site of the first Catholic Carmelite monasteries, established in the 13th century. The city of Haifa sweeps up the slopes of Mt. Carmel and is home to many cultural and educational institutions. No visit to Haifa is complete without touring the restored Templar Colony, the Bahá’í Shrine and Gardens, Elijah’s cave, and Stella Maris Church and Monastery. Dinner and overnight in Nazareth.
Day 10: Sea of Galilee
We will depart for the Galilee, to the Mount of Beatitudes to recall the Sermon on the Mount. We will then continue to Tabgha (Heptapegon) for a visit to the Church of the Multiplication of Fish and Loaves, admiring a well-conserved Byzantine mosaic from the fifth century. Afterward, we will visit the small chapel of the Primacy of St. Peter, and then continue to Magdala Synagogue. After that, we will go to Capernaum, the Town of Jesus. Among its ruins, we will see the remains of the House of Peter, the “Insula Sacra” and the White Synagogue. We will then take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where we will reflect on Jesus’ calming of the wind and the waves. Dinner and Overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 11: Jericho, Masada and Dead Sea
We will depart to Masada, where we will tour the ancient desert fortress. Afterward, we will head to Jericho, where we will reflect on scenes from the bible, such as Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree and the healing of Bartimaeus’ blindness. We will take time to consider the temptations of Jesus, as we view the Monastery of Temptation on the summit of the Mount of Temptation. After lunch, we will enjoy ourselves at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 12: Bethany – Qumran
We will depart for Al-Eizariya, traditionally identified as the biblical village of Bethany, on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives, some 2.4 km (1.5 miles) east of Jerusalem. Here, we will visit the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, as well as the Tomb of Lazarus, the site of a miracle recorded in the Gospel of John in which Jesus resurrects Lazarus. Holy Mass will be observed in Bethany. We will then continue across the dessert to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. After lunch we will have some free time for worship and will tour the old city of Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 13: Hebron
We will depart for Hebron to visit the Abraham Mosque, where Abraham and his family are laid to rest. We will then head back to Bethlehem for lunch, after which we will visit the Carmelite Convent, followed by a visit to Herodion to visit the Fortress and Palace of King Herod where he is buried. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 14: Return Home – Tel Aviv Airport
After an early morning check-out and transfer to the airport, we return home. Although our pilgrimage has ended, our faith journey continues in a new, invigorated way. Having visited the sacred places in our tradition, having met the descendants of the first disciples of Jesus, and having witnessed how the people of the Holy Land strive to build bridges of justice, peace and reconciliation—our spiritual lives will have been enriched and transformed.
- Mass/Service can be arranged daily according to Leader’s request
- Itinerary is subject to change without notice
- Itinerary includes interaction with the Living Stones
- Meeting with church leaders may be changed depending on their schedules.