BBYO STANDS WITH ISRAEL
We have not canceled any of our BBYO Summer 2024 Israel experiences. We will keep a careful watch on the situation and elevate the safety of our participants above all else. That said, we remain hopeful that by the summer, the Jewish homeland will once again be a place where Jewish teens can safely explore, connect, and have fun together. Read more on our safety page →
Spend two weeks in Greece, a slice of paradise. Visit some of ancient history’s most well-known spots and see how Greek culture has influenced today’s society before hopping on a plane and continuing the journey for an additional three weeks in the Jewish homeland.
DESTINATION: Greece, Israel
Jul 10 - Aug 13, 2024 Available
current grades CURRENT GRADES: 9-11
COMMUNITY SERVICE: ~6 Hours
DURATION: 35 Days
LAND COST: $11,150
- Accommodations (hotels, kibbutz lodging, and desert tents)
- All meals
- All programming
- Private transportation
- Security escort & monitoring
- Medical insurance
- Laundry service
- Gratuity for program staff
On this program, teens will have the opportunity to visit Greece’s most popular sites around Athens, Olympia, and Santorini. Together, we’ll trek to the ancient citadel of Acropolis to see the Parthenon—the temple dedicated to Greek goddess Athena—and venture to the site of the original Olympic Games. Then, we’ll travel to Israel for an enriching experience where teens will dive in and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be Jewish and proud.
Instagram-worthy stops for your feed:
- #NoFilter needed on your snap of the iconic Blue Domes of Oia in Santorini
- Even your tallest friends will look like shorties at the base of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece and mythological home of the gods
- Watch the ♥s roll in on the pic of you in front of the unique graffiti art in Florentin, a hipster neighborhood on the outskirts of Tel Aviv
In November 2023, BBYO launched a new summer registration system that requires families to create a brand-new account, as it is not connected to any of the systems you may have previously used. Please visit bbyo.my.site.com/s/login and click Register Now to start this process. Need help setting up your account? Visit this document for step-by-step instructions.
We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience. The actual program will vary. A confirmed itinerary is distributed no later than two weeks prior to the start of the program.
DAY 1 | DEPARTURE FLIGHT
Meet your staff and teens at the airport before traveling together to Europe on an overnight flight. The program starts with a tour through Greece. Once we land, your trip officially begins! We’ll break the ice with some fun and engaging activities so that you get to know everyone in the group. To learn more about how we organize travel to and from the program, click here.
DAY 2 | ATHENS, GREECE
Our adventure begins with a tour of the ancient city of Athens. See Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the central square of Athens. Just a stone’s throw away from Herodou Attikou Street—considered one of the most beautiful streets in the city—the Presidential Palace and its lush gardens await you. We’ll also stop at Panathenaic Stadium—the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble—where the first Olympics of the modern era took place in 1896.
DAY 3–5 | NORTHERN GREECE
We’ll drive to Thessaloniki, a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. Evidence of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires remain, especially in upper town. The group will tour this area to see the medieval walls, main harbor, and Arch of Galerius, a magnificent stone structure built around 300 AD. As the sun starts to set, teens will celebrate their first Shabbat together in Greece.
Spend the Sabbath relaxing before we continue touring Thessaloniki. You’ll walk by White Tower, a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city. See how the Roman Empire’s influence is still sprinkled throughout the city when you stop at the Rotonda, where frescoes that were painted on the walls in the 4th century survive today. Learn about La Madre de Israel—translated to Jerusalem of the Balkans—Thessaloniki’s historical Jewish community. We’ll spend our final evening here exploring the city center, which is bustling with shops, bakeries, clothing stores, and more. Before leaving the city, we’ll visit the Jewish Museum.
After, we’re southbound! The group will stop in Kalambaka—located in central Greece—to visit Meteora. This impressive rock formation hosts one of the largest complexes of monasteries in the world at the top. We’ll rest for the night before continuing south to Delphi.
DAY 5–8 | SOUTHERN GREECE
Step back in time and unearth some of history’s oldest artifacts at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Greece. We’re going to continue south to Olympia, spending time swimming at a nearby beach before we arrive. Then, we’ll visit the site where the first Olympic Games took place in the ancient world. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia features some of the most significant exhibitions of Ancient Greece. See breathtaking sculptures from the excavation of the sanctuary of Zeus, masterpieces from the long history of the Olympic Games’ birthplace, and thousands of years of art.
On our journey to Nafplio, we’ll stop in Mycenae, a prominent site in Greek mythology that inspired poets, writers, and artists. Teens will have more time on the beach to play some water sports before we walk through the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, dedicated to the Ancient Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. Famous for its acoustics, this awe-inspiring marble theater sits in the lush hills of the Peloponnese. It’s argued to be the grandest and best-preserved in all of Greece.
Before we head back to Athens, the group will enjoy a folklore dinner in Plaka. Teens will learn Greek dances and enjoy live, authentic Greek music.
DAY 9–11 | ATHENS, GREECE
Our second visit to Athens will be more meaningful than when we arrived now that we’ve learned so much about Greek culture and can take a deeper dive to understand the city and all its glory. During a full day tour, we’ll visit the Athens Jewish Museum, Monastiraki Flea Market, and the Acropolis, an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above Athens. This area contains the remains of several historically significant buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon. The Parthenon was dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena. Enjoy spending your second Shabbat in Athens with the group before we embark to Santorini.
DAY 12–14 | SANTORINI, GREECE
One of the most famous islands in the world, Santorini has some of the most breathtaking views in the world. You’ll stop for a few photos on Red Beach. One of the most stunning beaches on the island, it stands out for its red colored cliffs that were formed due to volcanic eruptions and is situated near the ancient site of Akrotiri. You can see how volcanic activity formed the beautiful black sand beach of Perissa. Sigh as you watch the sun set from the village of Oia, infamous for its whitewashed houses and blue-dome churches.
Feel the island come alive as you walk through Fira, the captivating capital of the island and the biggest settlement of Santorini. You’ll take the cable car down to the old port and return up via donkey ride—you read that right! Learn about the pirate hideaways that are sprinkled throughout the hidden gem, Megalochori. This village has traces of settlements that date back approximately five thousand years and offers a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea.
We’ll return to the mainland and spend one final evening in the Greek capital of Athens. Spend time shopping for last minute souvenirs, exploring the streets, and indulging in your favorite foods one last time before we head to Israel.
DAY 15–17 | JERUSALEM
Teens will continue to build on this awe-inspiring adventure by connecting into one of our Israel Journey trips. We’ll head to the airport for a transfer flight to Israel. Once we arrive, our journey begins in Jerusalem. We’ll gather at the Haas Promenade—overlooking the unique topography of the city—for a Shehecheyanu blessing, which is a Jewish prayer said to celebrate special occasions. Walk along the ramparts of the Old City walls from Jaffa Gate to Zion Gate, explore the ancient squares and rooftops of the Jewish Quarter, then reflect on your time in Jerusalem at the Kotel, also known as the Western Wall. Before departing, your group will splash through Hezekiah’s underground aqueduct deep beneath the city and enjoy a night out on Ben Yehuda Street, arguably the most famous street in Jerusalem.
DAY 18–23 | NORTHERN ISRAEL
Our adventure north to the Galilee region begins with a quick stop to explore the ancient city of Caesarea. Enjoy a day at the beach before crawling through the catacombs of Beit Shearim, where we’ll learn how the center of Jewish life shifted to the Galilee following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The group will spend their first Shabbat in the Holy Land relaxing on a boat cruise across the Kinneret—or Sea of Galilee—and end the Sabbath with a group night in Tiberias.
Take a walking tour of the mystical Tsfat—the historic center of Judaism’s Kabbalah movement and Jewish life during the exile period—to see awe-inspiring works by Kabbalistic artists in the artists’ colony and hear their story about how the movement inspires their designs. After this, we’ll hike to the waterfalls of the Banias Nature Reserve and finish the day rafting down the Jordan River.
Get wet hiking down Nahal Jilaboun Canyon and step underneath the Devora Waterfalls in the Golan Heights. Encounter with Druze culture and share a traditional meal in the Golan village of Ein Kinya, then view Israel’s neighbors on the summit of Mount Bental, a dormant volcano. Learn the remarkable story about Israeli super-spy Eli Cohen from Mitzpe Gadot, a lookout point in the Golan.
Discover Israel's frontier pioneering history in the Galilee and view Israel's border with Jordan from Old Gesher, overlooking the Island of Peace and its complicated history. Continue south and view the Jezreel Valley from Mount Gilboa. Then, spend the rest of the afternoon swimming in the natural spring pools of the Sachne and learning about the Tower & Stockade tradition of the Galilee pioneers. We’ll travel to the Western Galilee—stopping to view Keshet Arch along the way—before descending to the ocean caves of Rosh HaNikra. Tour the Templars’ Tunnel that date back to Crusader times and immerse yourself in one of Israel’s most diverse communities, Akko. Spend the rest of the afternoon in Haifa and explore the beauty of the Bahai Temple Gardens on Mount Carmel.
DAY 24–26 | TEL AVIV
Travel to Tel Aviv and volunteer at the Jaffa Institute, an innovative charity dedicated to combating poverty in one of Israel's most diverse communities. Then, enjoy a traditional Ethiopian meal while learning about the cultural and historical experience of Ethiopian-Israelis at the Battae Center in Tel Aviv. We’ll spend the rest of the day touring old Jaffa Seaport and browsing the colorful Jaffa Flea Market.
Honor the bravery of the pioneers who helped establish modern Israel at Machon Ayalon, a secret underground ammunition facility. We’ll visit Netiv HaAsara on the frontier of Gaza to learn how this community has adapted to its surroundings while maintaining a hopeful outlook for peace. After that, surf’s up on the Mediterranean Coast as we enjoy a surfing lesson at Palmachim Beach. We’ll welcome our second Shabbat with a joyous, musical experience and spend the rest of the Sabbath relaxing in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
DAY 27–29 | CENTRAL ISRAEL
Take part in an archaeological dig with the professionals at Beit Guvrin National Park and explore the impressive natural wonder of the Bell Caves. Spend some time learning about David Ben Burion—Israel’s first prime minister—in Sde Boker at his modest desert hut. We’ll drive further south to view the world’s largest erosion crater, Makhtesh Ramon. Enjoy running, rolling, or even tumbling down the massive Kassui sand dunes as we make our way to Eilat for a guided snorkeling tour in the Red Sea. See fish and coral of all shapes, sizes, and colors before we take a banana boat ride on the sea. Stop for fresh ice cream at Israel’s famous Yotvata dairy farm.
Learn how kibbutzim—agricultural settlements in Israel—thrive in the desert, protects its ecology, and stay self-sustaining. Experience effortlessly floating in the salt water at the Dead Sea's Ein Bokek beach, the lowest point on Earth. The group will spend one night camping in the desert at a Bedouin encampment. Together, we’ll embark on a camel trek, share a Bedouin feast and stargaze after a unique bonfire experience.
DAY 30 | MASADA
One of the most anticipated moments of the trip, the group will take a pre-sunrise climb up Masada via the Roman Ramp Trail and arrive just as the sun starts to peek over the horizon. Teens will tour Herod’s desert mountaintop fortress and the bastion of an ancient Jewish rebellion before descending via the Snake Path or cable cars. Then, we’ll spend the rest of the day cooling off under the desert waterfalls in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.
DAY 31–34 | JERUSALEM
Our trip ends right where it started, in Jerusalem, but this time is different. Teens will have three weeks of travel under their belt and a completely different perspective on Israel. We’ll start with a visit to the Theodor Herzl Museum and explore the grounds of Mount Herzl National Cemetery, honoring Israel's founders, national leaders, and fallen soldiers. Then, we’ll experience the colorful Mahane Yehuda open-air marketplace. Tour the Knesset—Israel’s supreme state body—and learn about their parliamentary system and how it safeguards the Jewish State’s democratic laws and traditions.
Pay your respects at Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center—and reflect on your journey in Mifletzet Park. We’ll re-enter the Old City to experience one last Kabbalat Shabbat together at the Kotel, an emotional experience for all after the experiences we’ve had together. Spend Shabbat viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls, Temple Model, and Israel’s most prized cultural and historic treasures at the Israel Museum. Enjoy a group night out at First Station Market.
Explore the geopolitical complexity of Jerusalem in the Gilo neighborhood and take part in an eye-opening conversation about conflict through the Roots program, a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians. We’ll explore a few additional spots before celebrating the end of our time in Israel with a tree planting ceremony in Neot Kedumim Park. Afterwards, we’ll make our way to the airport for an overnight flight back to the U.S.
DAY 35 | RETURN FLIGHT
It’s never goodbye, just see you later. Give your friends one last hug and part ways once your flight arrives at the airport. While your summer trip with us is over, the memories you’ve made will last a lifetime!
Our most frequently asked questions about this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Still need something? We’re here to help! Schedule a call to learn more about this trip or contact us.
What are the rules for Israeli citizens or children of Israeli citizens?
If either of your parents is an Israeli citizen, or if you have ever lived in Israel, it is your responsibility to make sure your status with the Israeli Defense Forces is worked out and clear. Moreover, you may still have obligations to the State of Israel that must be resolved prior to your trip, even if you do not have an Israeli passport. These matters must be taken care of before you arrive in Israel.
Note: If you hold an Israeli passport, you must enter Israel with your Israeli passport.
If you do not take care of these matters prior to your trip, you may be obligated to stay in Israel by the State of Israel until resolution. If this applies to you, you will be solely responsible for your own situation and any costs involved. Again, we highly recommend you be extremely cautious about these matters and contact one of the regional Israeli consulate offices if you have any questions.
How will my teen travel to the program?
BBYO requires all North American participants to fly on the group supervised flight for this program. Flight costs are not included in the program’s land cost. BBYO will purchase a ticket for each traveler and charge the family directly. The flight cost for programs with supervised flight options will be announced, along with the flight details for all programs, in the spring. The supervised flight for this program will depart from the New York City area, typically Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Learn more about flying to the program.
Where will my teen be sleeping?
The group stays in a variety of 3-star hotels in Europe. When booking accommodations, we request for each teen to have their own sleeping accommodations in a shared living space. In Israel, many of the accommodations we stay at are kibbutz-based guest houses that are located in Israel’s countryside and provide space for exploration within a secure environment. We use conventional hotels when we stay in cities. During evenings where we will be camping, all camping gear (including sleeping bags) will be provided. Finally, all accommodations in Israel have security and we book rooms so that each teen has their own sleeping accommodation in rooms that typically accommodate 2 to 5 teens per room.
How is the program staffed?
In Europe, each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors), a local European tour leader, and a bus driver. In Israel, each group is also accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) and a local Israeli guide. Teens are also joined by an armed guard and bus driver in Israel. Madrichim are not always the same between Europe and Israel.
Senior field staff also circulate between our groups for extra support. Staff names are sent out approximately 2–3 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation emails. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to teens before departure. Feel free to ask them any remaining questions you may have. Learn more about our staff team.
What’s the summer weather like?
The weather throughout Greece is a typical Mediterranean climate—dry heat, cool evenings, and little to no rain. Temperatures will typically be in the 80s and 90s. Due to the dry nature of the heat in the Mediterranean, the sun is deceptively strong and you should plan to bring plenty of sunscreen and a good hat for outdoor touring.
In Israel, the sun is strong—often stronger than teens are accustomed to—so dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn are serious concerns, especially in a desert climate. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. The good news is the heat is mostly dry, there is very little humidity and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is extremely low so no umbrellas are needed. Evenings in Israel tend to get chilly quickly. Because we will not always return to our accommodations to change before an evening activity, always bring a day pack with a windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt, or light sweater. Layers are key!
How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.
What’s the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size for Ultimate Greece Israel is 35-42 teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have multiple parties from the same area register together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.
What’s the food like?
You’ll try delicacies like tzatziki, olives, baklava, and stuffed grape leaves in Greece. In Israel, expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, borekas, and much more. When traveling, your teen may encounter new foods that will not be to their liking, so we ask teens to be flexible and have snacks and other alternatives on hand just in case.
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, catered meals, and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian, pescatarian, or dairy options available and we will not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice.
Some meals may be provided via a cash allowance where teens will be given money to purchase the food of their choice, called a pizur meal. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options and teens can choose the food of their liking. When time is limited for meal choice, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds.
Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program.
Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport, good news! You don’t need a visa to enter Israel or any of the European countries we visit. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa.
What are the payment and cancellation terms?
All of these details are available here: Registration Terms.
Looking to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning, and self-discovery? BBYO makes it easy! This trip connects into our Israel Journey program. Check out these other trips that connect Israel Journey:
- Ultimate Central Europe Israel
- Ultimate Iberian Israel
- Ultimate Morocco Israel
- Ultimate Sephardic Israel
- Ultimate Western Europe Israel
- Ultimate Mediterranean Israel
- Abraham Accords Extension
- Israel Journey Plus
Learn more about our trip connections.
Watch the sun set in the village of Oia, infamous for its whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches
Descend to the caves of Rosh HaNikra, formed by the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, by cable car and explore the underground grottoes
Enjoy the thrill of riding a donkey uphill after visiting the old port in Fira
Experience Mahane Yehuda’s open-air market, the Nahalat Binyamin street festival, and nightlife on Ben Yehuda Street
Stop to see the impressive rock formations of Meteora, which host one of the largest complexes of monasteries in the world at the top
Discover 3,000 years of Jewish history and traditions in Jerusalem’s Old City
Step back in time and visit Acropolis, an ancient citadel that contains the remains of several historically significant buildings like the Parthenon.