When is the best time to visit the Holy Land? If you feel called to go, there is certainly no time like the present!
Through years of experience and careful planning, Glimmer Tours has found that two times of year offer better weather and more opportunities for immersive experiences. Additionally, these times avoid the inflated costs of summer travel and the bigger crowds.
Below is a breakdown of the best times of year to travel to Israel, along with feasts and festivities you can enjoy only during these months.
The Best Time of Year to Visit the Holy Land
Glimmer Tours offers pilgrimages to the Holy Land during the best times of the year:
- March – May
- September – November
March – May in the Holy Land
A view of the Dead Sea in Israel
Winter in Israel lasts from late November through February. During this time temperatures average in the mid-50s, and rainfall is the highest during those months. For this reason, we begin our pilgrimages in the beginning of March–the best time of year to avoid the rain and colder temperatures.
With sunnier days and just the right amount of cloud coverage, March through May is a near-perfect time to explore the Holy Land.
During this time, the average temperatures in the Holy Land are:
- March: highs in the 60s and lows in 40s
- April: highs in the 70s and lows in 50s
- May: highs in the 80s and lows in 50s
The chance of precipitation is generally no higher than 13% during these months. While it’s always good to be prepared, you can worry less about rainy weather from March to May.
Holidays and Special Events
March through May is rich with religious holidays. With them are countless possibilities to celebrate.
Depending on which month you go, Catholics will be just starting or in full swing of Lent.
Here are a couple of things that occur during Lent in the Holy Land:
- Each Friday – At 3 pm (the hour that Jesus died on the Cross), you can join Franciscan Friars in praying the Stations of the Cross while walking down the Via Dolorosa (“The Way of Suffering” or “Sorrowful Way”).
- Each Saturday – The Patriarch of Israel leads a candlelit procession around the tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
In addition to Catholic celebrations, there is a coinciding celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover (Pessach) in April. During these eight hallowed days, visitors will see a vibrancy of Jewish culture. Kids are out of school, and families gather to spend the holiday together. You’ll notice that only unleavened bread, called matzah, is eaten by the faithful.
Additionally, Muslims are celebrating the moveable feast of Ramadan. During this feast, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
September – November in the Holy Land
A view of Tel Aviv in Israel
To beat the summer heat in Israel, September through November is an excellent time to visit. These months provide a golden window until the end of November, just before the temperatures drop.
Beginning in September, the heat of the summer is no longer a challenge. With a little more cloud cover and lower temperatures, these months promise to have comfortable weather for exploring.
- September: lows in 60s and highs in 80s
- October: lows in 50s and highs in low 80s
- November: lows in 50s and highs in 70s
The chance for precipitation is generally no higher than 3%. A pilgrim can more confidently take the day to explore without concern for rain (or excessive heat).
Holidays and Special Events
There are various feasts and solemnities that occur from September to November, especially for Catholics, even though it is Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar.
- September 14th – This is the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It was placed on this day to coincide with the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A special Mass is celebrated at the church, followed by a procession to the chapel of Mary Magdalene (who was present at the Crucifixion).
- November 1st – On this day, Catholics celebrate All Saints Day. Various solemn Masses are celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Dormition Abbey. Relics of saints are present everywhere in this ancient city, making Jerusalem the perfect place to celebrate this day.
- November 2nd – This day is set aside for All Souls Day, when the Church prays for the souls in purgatory. Processions make their way to various cemeteries on Mount Zion. There, the graves of the deceased are blessed.
This time of year is also of major importance to the Jews. It is the time of Yom Kippur (the highest holy day in their calendar) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)
- Yom Kippur – Also known as the Day of Atonement, it was the one day when Temple priests would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple (before its destruction in 70 AD). Today, businesses close, transit stops, and fasting lasts 25 hours until the Day itself. It’s an excellent opportunity to see how Israelis observe this holy day and to reflect on Catholic roots in Judaism.
- Sukkot – After the fasting of Yom Kippur, this is a time of high festivity. People and businesses set up outdoor huts for the week, making for a unique dining experience, and parades and music festivals invigorate the streets. There’s no better time to experience the life of the city.
Glimmer Tours intentionally plans pilgrimages to the Holy Land during the most enjoyable months of the year, knowing that the liveliness and energy in the city makes every visit worthwhile.
See what your Holy Land itinerary has in store for you.