There are times when it’s impossible or not convenient to travel to Israel, like now, when there’s a war going on. If you already bought a flight ticket and had to postpone or completely cancel your trip, it’s probably frustrating. But you can use this time to learn more about Israel from the comfort of your home and understand Israel better before coming here. You can watch recommended movies about Israel, read interesting books, and check out some free virtual tours of Israel.
In some cases, you can get even more information from virtual tours than from touring the place in reality. That’s because you can explore the sites at your own pace, focus on what really interests you, and won’t get distracted by the heat, the cold, or other people walking around the place.
Here are some of the best free virtual tours of Israel today.
Virtual tour of the City of David
The City of David is the most ancient part of Jerusalem, where you can feel the Bible come to life. This is where the city existed in the time of the First Jewish Temple, in the time of King David, King Solomon, and King Hezekiah. When you come to Israel, this place should definitely be on your list. But until then, they have a beautiful free virtual tour.
Their virtual tour includes commentary, written descriptions of points of interest, and videos that show how things looked in the ancient past. There are even points where you can read phrases from the Bible that are connected to the locations. The only downside is that you must subscribe to their newsletter to view it.
The virtual tour covers all the sites of the City of David, including Warren’s Shaft, King David’s Palace, the Siloam Tunnel, and the Givati Parking Lot, the newest area excavated in the City of David. It even covers part of the Davidson Center Jerusalem Archeological Park!
Virtual tour of the Israel Museum
The Israel Museum is the leading museum in Israel, with the most comprehensive collection of Bible time archeology. Apart from the archeology wing, the Israel Museum has an extensive art exhibition and changing exhibitions focusing on different aspects of Israel.
The museum offers a virtual tour of its galleries through the Google Arts & Culture Street View platform. You can virtually “walk” around the exhibitions and see the different displays, but it’s very hard – and in some cases impossible – to read the signs that explain what you are seeing.
There are also other virtual tours on the Israel Museum’s website. Some of them lead to an insecure link, while others, like the Maimonides Exhibition, the Veiled Women of the Holy Land Exhibition, and the To Go Exhibition, are powered by 4panorama and are actually quite good! You can clearly read the signs in the exhibitions, get “up close” to the displays, and view videos showing the story of each display. The problem is that in some of the tours, the description inside is only in Hebrew. But in some, there is also English, so it’s okay.
If you want to enjoy commentary of the main museum exhibitions, you can book me for a virtual guided tour of the museum. We’ll “walk” around the museum using Google’s Street View platform, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the museum’s highlights. Contact me at [email protected] for a price quote and more information.
Read more about the highlights of the Israel Museum.
Virtual tour of Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. It’s a huge center that includes memorial monuments, a history museum, and other spaces that focus on researching the Holocaust. You can find a lot of online resources about the Holocaust on Yad Vashem’s website, but I want to focus on their free virtual tour.
The virtual tour doesn’t enter the Yad Vashem Museum. Instead, it takes you to an online space where you can explore six different exhibitions, each focusing on a different aspect of the Holocaust – life in the Ghetto, Nazi ideology, the Beginning of the Systematic Murder and its Spread to Occupied Poland, the Europe-wide murder of Jews, Liberation and a New Life, and Historical Figures from the Holocaust. Each exhibition has several videos that tell more about each topic. If you’re interested in the Holocaust, this is definitely an enriching resource!
Yad Vashem also uploaded a fascinating virtual tour to YouTube, which uses the 4panorma platform to explore the different exhibition halls. The tour is about an hour long and can be viewed here:
Virtual tour of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Another top-notch museum in Israel is the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which displays both international and local Israeli art. The museum offers free virtual tours of some of its changing galleries. The best virtual tours of the museum are the 360-degree tours, but not all of them are perfect. In most of them, you can clearly read what is written on the explanation signs, but in some, the signs are too small to view.
Virtual tour of Israel by Taglit
Taglit, or Birthright Israel, is an educational tourism program for young Jewish people in the Jewish diaspora. The program lets them travel to Israel free of charge and explore the country’s highlights. During the Coronavirus pandemic, Taglit created a fun interactive virtual tour powered by Eko that shows you the best of Israel from the comfort of your home.
The tour is an interactive video that lets you choose where your guide will take you. It is guided by tour guide Navee Cohen and other tour guides who join him at the different sites. The footage is fantastic, but the explanations are pretty basic. I think it’s meant more to give you a taste of Israel and less to explain each point. Also, there’s no option to skip forward, so you’ll have to make time to view the entire tour.
My virtual tours of Israel (not free)
If you prefer a private guided virtual tour of Israel, I’ll be happy to show you the highlights of Israel through a Zoom or Google Meet meeting. On my virtual tours, I guide you using platforms such as Google Street View and Google Earth and show original photos and videos I’ve taken during my travels in Israel. I’m a certified Israeli tour guide and would love to share my knowledge about the different sites and topics.
The virtual tours are usually one hour long, starting from 280 ILS (around 70 USD) for one group. Contact me at [email protected] for a quote, availability, and more information.
Here are some of my top virtual tours, but you can request any topic that interests you.
Temple Mount virtual tour
On this virtual tour, we’ll talk about the history of Temple Mount, the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions connected to it, and understand a bit about the Status Quo from 1967.
This tour will include only images of Temple Mount, without videos or Google Street View. It’s more of a lecture and less of a tour.
The Via Dolorosa virtual tour
On this virtual tour, we’ll virtually walk along the Via Dolorosa – the traditional route Jesus took to the crucifixion point. We’ll view the different stations and also learn about the history and stories behind the Via Dolorosa.
This tour will include images and a walkthrough using Google Street View.
Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967 virtual tour
This online lecture will tell Jerusalem’s story from the 1948 Independence War to the 1967 Six-Day War. We’ll talk about the fall of the Jewish Quarter, the life along the border from 1948 to 1967, and the unification of Jerusalem after 1967. Did East Jerusalem really unite with the West?
This tour will include images and a few parts with Google Street View. It’s more of a lecture and less of a tour.
Israel Museum Highlights virtual tour
On this virtual tour, we’ll virtually walk through the main exhibitions of the Israel Museum and talk about its highlights, focusing on the archeology wing. This is an excellent tour for those interested in ancient archeology and history.
This tour will include images and a walk-through using Google’s Street View platform.
When it’s impossible to travel to Israel, it’s the perfect time to delve into the virtual tours of Israel. Sometimes, you can learn much more from a virtual tour than an actual tour of the site because there are no distractions, and you can focus more on the information that interests you. I hope you’ll have a good time exploring the free virtual tours of the Israel Museum, the City of David, Yad Vashem, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. They’re all interesting!
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