Trips & Excursions

Trips Excursions 1

The Holy Land offers an abundance of religious and historical sites that program participants can visit either as part of a planned excursion or during their free time. These may include the Bethlehem District, the Mount of Olives, the different quarters of Old City Jerusalem, and, further afield, Nablus and Sinai. 

Below you will find brief descriptions for our most often-included field trips. Our staff at Tantur are happy to provide information on additional excursions and sites that you may plan to undertake independently.  

Jerusalem Environs

This half-day introductory bus tour will introduce you to the geography and topography of Jerusalem by taking you to several scenic vistas in the Jerusalem area where you will get a sense of the city and its beautiful setting atop a range of hilltops. We will look out over the municipality from several stops. In addition, you will also get a view of the Judean wilderness from the eastern edge of Jerusalem, quickly realizing how close to the “barrenness” of that land this historic city is located.

Bethlehem District

Tantur Ecumenical Institute Bethlehem

Bethlehem District lies within a couple of hundred meters of Tantur. Your first stop on this tour will take you to a flat-topped hill with the amazing ruins of the Herodion, the site of one of King Herod’s lavish desert palaces and the possible location of his tomb, built between 23-15 BCE. A short distance from the Herodion is Shepherd’s Field, identified since ancient times with the shepherds who saw the Star of the Nativity. We will visit the church as well as several of the nearby caves where shepherds would have kept their flock.

We then head to the most important religious site in Bethlehem, The Church of the Nativity, a basilica considered to be one of the oldest continuously functioning Christian churches in the world. The site of the Church of the Nativity is Palestine’s first designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Constantine originally commissioned the Church in 327 CE and the site is considered to be the birthplace of Jesus. In addition to the Nativity Grotto, you will visit the cave chapel of St. Jerome, where tradition holds that he translated the Bible into Latin.  

Finally, our tour visits one of the refugee camps in Bethlehem. As a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, many Palestinians were displaced from their villages, and some ended up in Bethlehem. Since that time generations have grown up in these camps. This stop is intended to assist in understanding one of the many issues in the current conflict and how it impacts any peace negotiations.

5 Day Galilee Trip: Jesus’ Home Region

One of the many highlights of our Continuing Education Programs is a multi-day tour of the Galilee (our Easter program has a shortened four-day tour). This 5 Day Galilee Trip hits the five main areas of the Northern part of Israel and the Holy Land.

  • Day 1 focuses on Caesarea Maritima (a national park area of North-West Israel where the Roman ruins of Caesarea are located), Mt. Carmel (where Elijah encountered the priests of Baal), and Megiddo (where there is evidence of a large population as early as 1100 BCE).  
  • Day 2 takes participants into Nazareth and its surrounding areas. Reflection time is spent at the Basilica of the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s Church (which tradition says was built over his workshop) and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.  
  • Day 3 is to the northern area of Galilee and the Dan archaeological sites, the ruins of Caesarea Philippi (where Peter identified Jesus as the Christ), Nimrod’s Castle, and the Druze area of the Golan Heights.
  • Day 4 focuses on the Mount of the Beatitudes, Tabgha (the Mount of the Multiplication and the fourth occurrence of the Resurrection), the Church of the Primacy of Peter, Capernaum, and a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee.  
  • Day 5 completes the excursion with a visit to the top of the impressive Mt. Tabor, (where some traditions identify Christ’s “transfiguration” having taken place) and the Beit She’an Archaeological Site (the ruins of one of the most ancient cities in the Holy Land).

4 Day Sinai and Negev Desert Trip

Tantur Six Week Sinai

There are very few sights that leave a lasting impression.  Watching the sunrise atop Mount Sinai in Egypt is a wondrous and moving experience!  Many who have experienced this moment have said that they truly felt closer to God on top of that mountain as the landscape, devoid of man’s influences, stretched off into the horizon.

You will stay at St. Catherine’s Monastery, a spectacular Orthodox monastery reputed to be one of the oldest living Christian monasteries in the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Library and Museum at St. Catherine’s is world renowned. On the return from Sinai, we spend some recreation time relaxing along the Red Sea before venturing into the vast and barren Negev Desert in the southern half of Israel. You will visit one of three treat craters as well as the city of Mamshit (a Nabataean city that once covered 10 acres and is probably the smallest and best-preserved ruins in the Negev).