The Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: Yam Kinneret) is the largest freshwater lake of Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is a picturesque lake located in the east of the Galilee region (the Golan Heights are on the other side of the lake). The area is best known for its Gospel associations with the life and ministry of Jesus. As such, it forms a natural destination for pilgrimage among all varieties of Christians. Its beaches are also a prime recreational spot for Israelis and foreigners alike.
The Sea of Galilee region is mainly served through Tiberias by buses from most of the nearby Israeli cities like Afula, Nazareth, Karmiel, Nahariyya, Akko and Haifa, as well as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Virtually all buses in this region pass through Tiberias.
The following sites are listed roughly from north to south.
- 1 Korazim National Park, ☏ . Winter 08:00-16:00, summer 08:0-17:00, closing one hour earlier on Fridays and eve of holidays. An old Talmudic town overlooking the Sea of Galilee, featuring the remains of a lovely basalt synagogue. The nearby Jewish settlement to the west has the same name. ₪22/9 adult/child.
- Churches (To get there, take bus 59 north from Tiberias (₪10), get off at Cafarnaum junction, and from there walk east towards the lake. Or get off one stop afterwards for Mount Beatitude and walk down the hill to the other churches.). Sometimes considers as the top three Christian sites; Capernaum, Tabgha and Mount of Beatitudes can be found about 12 km north of Tiberias and close to each other.
- 2 Capharnaum (Capernaum, Kfar Nachum, The Town of Jesus). The house of Peter and a marvelous ancient Roman synagogue. ₪5.
- 3 Church & Monastery of the Apostles. A Greek Orthodox complex on the site of a Byzantine monastery that was destroyed by the Persians in the 7th century. Since then the complex has been rebuilt and destroyed numerous times; the buildings standing today date from the late 19th century but have been restored as recently as 1975. Three monks live here and they'll usually admit visitors who ring the bell. There are four chapels beyond the pleasant, walled courtyard. One chapel is dedicated to St Peter, one to the disciples, and one to Mary Magdalene; the one in the ancient round tower is dedicated to St Nicholas.
- 4 The Beatitude Monastery & Mountain. ₪5 for 2.
- 5 Eremos Cave. Great view of the lake. And a good place for an evening drink-out and BBQ in a small group.
- 6 Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha (Benedictine Monastery of Tabgha). M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 09:00-15:00. The Primacy Church and a church retelling the Gospel account of the miracle of Jesus Feeding the Multitude.
- 7 Peter's Primacy Church.
- Tel Kinnarot. Ancient tel.
- 8 Hurvat Minnim (Khirbat al-Minya). Remains of a palace from the Umayyad period (8th century). North of Genossar.
- 9 Ginosar. Site of Jesus Boat Museum.
- 10 Arbel mountain. A magnificent viewpoint over the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding areas. A steep trail leads from the peak to the Sea of Galilee. A castle dating to the Roman period is nestled in the cliff, partway down the trail. Beautiful, but not for those scared of heights.
- 11 Kinneret Cemetery. Overlooking the See of Galilee. A number of early Zionist leaders and pioneers are buried here, including Berl Katznelson.
- 12 Tel Beit Yerah (Khirbet Kerak). Ancient tel.
- 13 Jordan River Baptismal Site. Christian site not to be missed. The baptismal site described in the Gospels is a few miles away in Jordan though. Bring swim wear and a robe if you plan on having a baptism in the river. An excellent restaurant is on premises: "Tmarim" fuses French cooking techniques with local ingredients.
- 14 Degania Alef. The first Kibbutz. It houses Gordon House which is a regional museum of nature and prehistory.
- 15 Museum of Yarmukan Culture. A small museum documenting the Levant's most prominent Neolithic culture. Located in Kibbutz Sha`ar Hagolan.
- 16 Hamat Gader (Gadara hot springs). The hot springs here have been a tourist magnet since Roman times. Current attractions include Israel's largest spa complex, Roman ruins, a large crocodile and alligator farm, and a water park. Hamat Gader very close to the Jordan border (but is perfectly safe). The Roman city of Gadara is in Jordan (see Irbid), in the hills above Hamat Gader; there is no access between the two. As a mnemonic, Hamat Gader is where you can see 'gators.
The Sea of Galilee is an interesting destination for water activities - leisure cruises, Christian holy site cruises, water sports, kayaking, SUP (standup paddleboarding), and more. Companies offering these attractions include Ein Gev Kinneret Sailing Company, Sail on the Sea of Galilee [dead link], and Halom Olami.
A regional delicacy is the so called St. Peter's fish. The fish lives in the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan river. It is also offered down the Jordan river very often. It is bony but very delicious.
Tiberias has many accommodation options listed.
- 1 Genghis Khan, Giv'at Yo'av (having a good map, you can hike up from the road along the lake), ☏ . Staying in a outdoor yurt. Grumpy owner and sheets are extra. But seems to be a good (family) experience staying. Member of ILH. Dorm bed ₪100 plus sheets.
- 2 Ein Gev Holiday Resort (Ein Gev, on the shores of the lake), ☏ . One of the largest resorts in the area with 166 rooms. ₪560.
See also Tiberias for convenient destinations out of the Sea of Galilee region (by bus).
- Golan Heights (northeast) – A flat plateau made out of volcanic basalt, with streams cutting through the plateau, forming deep valleys and occasional waterfalls. Looks and feels very different from the rest of Israel.
- Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee (west) – Valleys and high mountains including the famous Nazareth.
- Jezreel Valley and Beth Shean Valley (southwest) – Famous for Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park and Mount Gilboa overlooking it.