Nine Tips for Choosing The Right Private Tour Guide in Israel

Tourist making good-bad sign

Good or bad private tour guide? We’re here to help!

So, you’ve decided to hire a private tour guide for a trip to Israel. Excellent!

When we lead groups on our trips with Break Forth Journeys, we are very selective. You should also be selective if you choose a private tour guide.

There are many private tour guides in many countries. While all of our Break Forth Journeys tour guides have been exceptional, we’ve had some bad experiences on other trips we’ve taken. In fact, some of them have been horrible.

  • We’ve had guides we could barely understand.
  • We’ve had guides walk away on the group and leave fifty people stranded.
  • We’ve had guides who were clearly making up ‘facts’ and stories.
  • We’ve had guides taking most of the time complaining about their country’s politics.
  • We’ve had guides saying there were too good for us.

But, it doesn’t need to be this way for you . . .

If we could have or would have followed the following Nine Tips from David Wexler we would have had consistently great experiences.

We’ve asked our Break Forth Journeys Head Israel Tour Guide, David Wexler to provide you with 9 tips to help you choose the right private tour guide to make this your best experience ever!

Most of these tips will also work in choosing a private guide for any tour you take, whether it’s Israel, other Lands of the Bible or a trip to another land.


David Wexler

Here are David’s Nine Tips and they’re great ones:

  1. Define a time-frame for your guided touring experience – Are you seeking a single-day walking tour in Jerusalem’s Old City, a 10-day “cross country” program or something in between? Have a ball-park time allotment in mind when reaching out to prospective guides. Make sure to provide your specific dates for touring right at the outset so that candidates can check their availability.
  2. Ask friends, colleagues, clergy for referrals – Personal recommendations are always the best way to select a tour guide. Ask others who’ve already visited about their experiences with their guide. Check references and read testimonials.
  3. Visit online travel forums, such as Trip Advisor – A wealth of travel related information is available on the Internet. Ask questions on online travel forums dedicated to Israel. You’ll find plenty of experts willing to give you free advice.
  4. Work only with a tour guide licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism – Israeli law requires any person guiding tourists to be licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. Israel’s licensed guides are some of the best professionals in the industry worldwide. This is because the State of Israel requires its guides to complete the most rigorous two-year program of academic study in order to become a licensed professional. Be wary of charlatans offering you tours at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate or at other high traffic tourist sites. Make sure the guide you work with prominently displays his/her license at all times, as is required by local law.
  5. David davidson-center-overlook

    David at Davidson Center Overlook

    Be specific about the expertise of the guide you’re looking for – All licensed guides in Israel receive training and education concerning a broad range of topics. But after licensing, guides tend to acquire specific specializations. If nature hikes are your thing, make sure your guide is up on the best hiking routes in Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Judean Desert. Many guides have an expertise in Christianity and others in Judaism. You’ll even find some expert guides who are quite knowledgeable about both religions and can help you delve into the Jewish roots of your Christian faith. Even experts on birding or ethnic minorities you’ll find in Israel. Just specify what areas of knowledge are most important to you.

  6. Determine the English proficiency of your guide – Although many Israeli guides have a good command of the English language, sometimes a heavy accent can become an obstacle. If you feel there’s even a slight chance of this, make sure to have a phone or Skype conversation with your guide before finalizing the deal.
  7. Allow your guide a first stab at your itinerary – After you’ve shared your religious background, your interests and your time and budgetary constraints with your guide, allow him/her to present a first draft of a touring itinerary. Use that draft as a basis for your continuing interaction with your guide for fine-tuning the program until it meets your full satisfaction.

    David with a Private Tour Van

    Ask questions about the mode of transportation you’ll be using – If your tour involves a vehicle, ask about the type of transportation. Is the vehicle appropriately licensed and insured? How many seats? Will an SUV be used? A van or a minibus? Who will be doing the driving? Will you be paying for a vehicle on days you’ll be entirely on foot in Jerusalem’s Old City?

  9. Clarify terms of payment and method of payment – In order to book a guide’s time and allow him/her to draft a custom itinerary for you, a non-refundable deposit is typically required. How much is that deposit and how is it to be paid? Cash, credit card, bank transfers and PayPal are all modes of payment used by private guides. Find out which are preferred by your guide. Make sure the guide clearly defines a payment schedule prior to your arrival in Israel and how much must be paid (typically in cash) at the conclusion of the tour. Make sure you are aware of your guide’s cancellation policy in case it becomes necessary for you to cancel your trip.

David Wexler is a licensed Israel tour guide based in Tel Aviv. David was born and raised in the United States and immigrated to Israel in 1986. For more information about David, visit his website at and follow him on Facebook at

Break Forth Israel NEXT Level MAY 2016 (3)NOTE: David Wexler will be guiding us for Break Forth Israel & Jordan NEXT Level 2016.

We will be experiencing marvelous spiritual growth, jaw-dropping sights, deep friendships and unique experiences that few offer.

Our Spiritual Guide will be Rev Hans Weichbrodt. His teaching is beyond compare. We will worship and celebrate communion in the desert. We will spend time in prayer ministry. This is truly a journey of a lifetime!

Spaces are filling fast. You can learn more about this tour: Click Here!


Ten Reasons to Hire a Private Guide in Israel

David Wexler Guiding Smile

David Wexler Israel Tour Guide

As much as we love conducting our Break Forth Journeys trips to the Lands of the Bible, we know that a bus tour is not for everyone. If you are touring the Lands of the Bible we strongly encourage you to hire an excellent private guide if it’s in your budget. 

This article is written by David Wexler, one of the top guides we use in our Break Forth Israel tours. If you are looking for reasons to hire a private guide, you’ve come to the right place.

Please read on . . .

Ten Reasons to Hire a Private Guide in Israel

  1. Maximizing limited time – Considering its tiny size, there is a vast amount to see and experience in Israel. The time you have available for touring is always a limiting factor. By working with a tour guide, you’ll find that you can see so much more than when trying to figure it all out on your own. And the time you spend at each site will be of far higher quality with a professionally guided experience.
  2. david2Crafting the most sensible day for touring – A good tour guide will know how to structure each and every day of touring to make sure you’re in the right places at the right time of day. For instance, a typical Christian walking tour in and around Jerusalem’s Old City should start with a morning panoramic view from the Mount of Olives (when the sun is in the right location to optimize those fabulous photos you’ll want to capture). Your tour guide will know just when to get you to the Pools of Bethesda before the site closes for siesta and will know where it makes sense to stop for lunch along the Via Dolorosa.
  3. Planning an itinerary that integrates guided experiences with days of independent exploration – Not all visitors to Israel are interested in working with a guide for the entire duration of their visit. Sometimes budgetary constraints influence visitors to explore certain places on their own, while using a guide for other sites. A well-trained licensed tour guide can help you with itinerary planning for those days you’ll be on your own. He/she can make recommendations as to where you’ll receive the most benefit from a professionally guided experience versus which places you can effectively explore independently.
  4. rooftop-austrian-hostelBridging a cultural gap – Selecting a guide with a good command of the English language and with an accent you can understand is important. But is that good enough? Though your guide may have a good handle on English, does he/she understand the culture from which you come? There are many licensed guides in Israel who were born and raised in North America in environments similar to yours. They understand how you think and can put themselves into your shoes while you’re experiencing Israel. A bi-cultural guide can help you effectively understand the cultural differences between your world and the world you will encounter in Israel.
  5. Handing off the logistics headache – Many sites in Israel require you to make advance reservations. Churches often having split opening hours. Sometimes something as mundane as lunch can become a challenge to integrate into a day of touring. By working with a tour guide, you’ll leave the logistics headache to a professional and free yourself to enjoy and absorb all Israel has to offer you.
  6. Leaving the driving to a local – Driving in Israel, especially in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is not for the faint of heart. Parking can be a considerable challenge in the major cities. Just the thought of driving in Nazareth leads many a Christian pilgrim right into the arms of a professional driving guide or guide with a dedicated driver.
  7. David Wexler CamelsEngaging children – Touring Israel as a family can be a particularly rewarding experience. But keeping the attention of young children or teens can be a challenge. A tour guide with experience in guiding families will know how to include kid-friendly activities in each and every day of your Israel program. Your children stand to gain the most from a guided experience they’ll never forget.
  1. Setting a reasonable pace for those with mobility challenges – Touring in Israel, especially in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, requires a considerable amount of walking. Those with mobility challenges may find it impossible to keep up with the pace of a group tour. By hiring your own private guide, you’ll tour at a pace that’s slow enough for all in your group to enjoy. And if the walking challenge is too difficult, your guide will suggest a way to make the most of your days while keeping the physical challenges to a minimum.
  2. Tailoring the tour to your own specific interests – A visit to Israel is not like touring in London, Paris or Berlin. The religious heritage and specific interests of visitors will always influence their Israel itinerary. A Jewish heritage program will look quite different from a Roman Catholic pilgrimage. And an evangelical Protestant itinerary will differ from either of the two. Share your background and interests with your private guide and he/she will come up with a program that’s geared specifically for you.
  3. David Wexler BibleEnhancing the experience by making history and the Bible “come to life” – There is nowhere on earth where the Scriptures ‘come to life’ like Israel. Add to that thousands of years of human history and a multitude of cultures and civilizations. Making sense of it all is one of the biggest advantages in working with a professional tour guide. A good guide will tie together sites such as Old Jaffa, Caesarea and Mount Zion in exploring the birth of the Gentile Christian Church. A mound of rocks in Capernaum will come to life when your guide shares with you the significance of the historical house of Peter. The site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus is often particularly challenging for Protestants to grasp. An expert guide will help you make sense of some pretty intense places.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 7.20.22 AMWatch our next post on top tips to know how to hire the right guide to make your experience the best ever! Don’t miss this one whether you are hiring a private guide or whether you are conducting your own group tour!

NOTE: David Wexler will be guiding us for Break Forth Israel & Jordan NEXT Level 2016. Spaces are filling fast. You can learn more about this tour: Click Here!

David Wexler is a licensed Israel tour guide based in Tel Aviv. David was born and raised in the United States and immigrated to Israel in 1986. For more information about David, visit his website at and follow him on Facebook at