Cities and villagesEdit
- 1 Nazareth – believed by Christians to be the hometown of Jesus, now the largest Arab city in Israel and one of the major centers of Arab Christians
- 2 Karmiel – a modern city located on the border between upper and lower Galilee. The city is near Route 85 (the Acre-Safed road). The Karmiel Dance Festival is held in the city every summer for three days and nights in July.
- 3 Shefa-'Amr – an Arab town half-way between Haifa and Nazareth with sights dating from Byzantine, Crusader and Ottoman periods.
The Galilee, apart from the Western Galilee, the Galilee Panhandle and the Sea of Galilee region, can be separated into the Upper Galilee and the Lower Galilee. It is generally a forested highland area with relatively sparse population. Its landscape and historical associations are a great draw for travellers.
A branch line from Acre (Akko) to Karmiel opened for traffic in 2017. Together with the line, two stations opened and there are plans for a further extension, perhaps as far as Kiryat Shmona in the very northeastern corner of the country.
There is frequent bus service between each of the 10 or so significant cities in the Galilee. However, if you want to go to a village, kibbutz, or out-of-the-way natural or historic site, bus service can be quite sparse and inconvenient. Taxis or hitchhiking can be a good solution for the "last mile" after you get off the bus at the closest stop on the main road.
The Galilee has a good road system. But expect traffic even in rural areas, particularly on weekends and holidays when many people from central Israel drive here for a quick vacation.
Hitch-hiking is definitely an option and easy along the non-highway roads, also where buses are sparse. Due to high concentration of Arab and Druze villages, it is also more likely to get picked up. Jewish Israelis are more wary nowadays, which in other parts of the country can be an issue when hitch-hiking.
Historic and religious sitesEdit
- 1 Beth Shearim (On the southeast edge of the town of Kiryat Tivon, midway between Haifa and Nazareth. Frequent buses from Haifa, Nazareth, Afula, and Tel Aviv stop within 2 km of the site. Get off at the road junction just east of Kiryat Tivon (Tzomet Hashomrim), walk south on road 722 for 800 meters, then make a right turn on Shikun Ela street. From here there should be signs directing you to the site. These directions work for car travel as well.), ☏ . daily 8am–5pm, one hour earlier in winter. Beth Shearim was a Jewish town and necropolis in ancient times. Most of the remains date from the 2nd to 4th century CE. Among those buried in the caves are such famous figures as Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, author of the Mishna, the text to which the Talmud is a commentary. You can explore several burial caves with intricately carved sarcophagi and wall decorations. ₪22/9 adult/child.
- 2 Belvoir Fortress (Hebrew: Kokhav haYarden meaning 'Star of the Jordan') (20 km south of the Sea of Galilee shoreline and about 500 m above the floor of the Jordan Valley. From Route 90 between Beit Shean and Tiberias, turn left onto route 717 (signposted) about 15 km north of Beit Shean. From the highway you can also walk up the hill directly, right after passing the mine - you just have to get over or through the tiny cattle fences.), ☏ . Closed and under reconstruction, but the surrounding area and mountain is still accessible. A well-preserved Crusader fortress on a mountaintop overlooking the Jordan Valley. It was built starting in 1168 by the Order of the Hospitallers, and became a virtually impregnable fortress - built in concentric design and strategically located on a number of primary trade and access routes. Belvoir withstood a Muslim attack in 1180, serving its purpose as an obstacle to the Muslim invasions from the east. Following the Crusader defeat at Horns of Hattin, Belvoir was besieged for 18 months, until surrendering in 1189. Belvoir's fortifications were dismantled in 1217-18 by the Muslim rulers who feared the reconquest of the fortress by the Crusaders. However, the walls are well-preserved up to a certain height, as is the moat surrounding the castle on three sides (all except the steep hillside to the east). The rock hyrax can sometimes be seen along the trail leading down from the eastern viewing point outside the castle. ₪18/8 adult/child.
- 3 Bethlehem of the Galilee (Beit Lechem Haglilit) (10 km west of Nazareth). A German Templer town from the 19th century with beautiful houses from its former settlers. Though, it has not much in common with Bethlehem itself. The scenic/interesting road is the upper one running through town.
- The village 4 Alonei Abba right next to Bethlehem of the Galilee is equally interesting and has a beautiful 5 Evangelical church in its centre. Alonei Abba was founded in 1907 under the German name "Waldheim" (freely translated: "Forest Home") by German Protestants affiliated with the Old-Prussian State Church.
- 6 Cana (Kafr Kanna) (8 km NNE of Nazareth). The site of the Marriage of Cana.
- 7 Horns of Hittin (Karnei Hittin). Where the crucial battle over the Holy Land took place between the Mameluks and the Crusaders. Now it is just a barren hill though.
- 8 Mount Tabor Nature Reserve and National Park. The site of the Mount Tabor battle between Barak under the leadership of the Israelite judge Deborah, and the army of Jabin commanded by Sisera, in the mid-12th century BC. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The mountain is very prominent, and covered with forests. There are several nice hiking trails going up and down. No admission.
- 9 Nabi Shu'ayb. In Druze (and Muslim) tradition, this is the burial site of the prophet Shu'ayb (called Jethro in the Bible). Visitors are welcome. You can take photographs, but not in the tomb chamber. From April 25-28 each year, the Druze have a massive pilgrimage to this site.
- 10 Zippori (Tsipori, Sepphoris) (9 km northwest of Nazareth), ☏ . daily 8am–5pm, one hour earlier in winter. An archaeological site famous for its well-preserved mosaics from the Roman period. It was once the biggest city in the region. ₪28/24/14 adult/student/child.
- 11 Yodfat Monkey Forest (Yaar HaKofim) (in Yodfat village. 30 km east of Haifa, 25 km north of Nazareth, almost no public transportation). An animal sanctuary where you can see and hand-feed many different types of monkeys and some other animals. It gets great reviews!
- 12 Elroi Spring. This spring drains into a shallow pond, which is great for little kids to swim in, or adults to dip their feet into. There is also a restored section of the Turkish rail line, with old rail cars you can climb into.
- Hiking – The picturesque Galilee landscapes are covered by a dense network of hiking trails. See Hiking and backpacking in Israel for more details.
- 1 Dvorat Hatavor (Honey farm), Moshav Shadmot Dvora (On road 767 just off the northern road 65), ☏ . 09:00-15:00. A unique visitors' center at the foot of Mount Tavor in the Galilee. A live demonstration of the production of silk and honey as it was done in biblical times and up to this day. The tour also include explanations regarding the healing capacities of honey and its products. The visitors center includes a kiosk, gift shop, and art gallery. The visitors center is open every day, call to schedule a visit.
- Shvil Parot HaChalav (Milky Cow Way) (In the Beit Lechem Haglilit village), ☏ . A child-oriented hands-on activity where you get to take part in all the stages of dairy farming - feeding cows, milking them by hand, watching an automated milking machine, and preparing butter. Highly recommended for families. Generally open every day, but call to be sure.
- By the river, Kibbutz Kineret (near the baptism location). 19:00-00:00. A very nice local pub at the baptism site.
See Nazareth for vast accommodation options.
Apart from the accommodations of the above mentioned cities and towns, there are these:
- The Western Galilee at the coast, the Upper Galilee with the interesting Safed, the Galilee Panhandle just before the Golan Heights and of course the Sea of Galilee region are must sees close by.
- In the south the Jezreel Valley which is an extensive inland valley, largely rural, extending inland from east of Haifa, and the Beit Shean Valley, which is the core of the north Jordan River valley.