I’ve been involved in the Group Tours now intensely for the last weeks and traveled the country multiple times. When I spoke with a couple of tourists from Canada in the central bus station in Tel Aviv, they were asking me for the best tourist attractions in Israel. There are so many attractions, they got lost. Here is my list and the images with them.
1. Old Akko/Acre
My most favorite city, Akko. The city of Acre also know as Akko – is a famous for it ancient port city. It also contains a tunnel leading to a 13th century fortress and the largest prison during the British Mandate (museum). There are many archeological excavations in progress. Acre has a high proportion of non-Jews (Arab and Druze) approximately 25%.
Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Marco Polo are mentioned as some of the giants in history that visited this ancient sea-port city.
During biblical times the city was under Canaanite control. During the Roman period was a very important harbor and trade city although it was overshadowed by Caesarea. After nature changed landscapes in the 7th century, Caesarea became less important with muddied coastline. Acre took a more dominant position as the major port in the region.
Acre developed into an important trade route after the Crusaders took control in the 12th and 13th centuries, The Crusaders expanded the city and enclosed it with huge walls and towers. From 1191 to 1291 Acre was the capital of the Crusader kingdom and took on international status.
In the 18th century, Acre was a major city that became famous when Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in trying to siege Acre. His plan was to use this as a stepping stone to conquer India as a French colony. Instead the English conquered Acco and became part of the British colony.
2. Dead Sea
The Dead Sea area has been built up as a major tourist area with many hotels, spas and sites.
Visitors of the Dead Sea and its surroundings include King David and King Herod. The prophets knew it via the infamous Sodom and Gomorra. In Roman times the Essenes settled in Qumran on the Dead Sea’s northern shore as a place to on the heights of Masada a small group of rebellious Jewish zealots held out against the might of the Roman Legion.
Haifa is the largest city in Northern Israel built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, and the third-largest city in Israel. Haifi offers cultural diversity home to a mixed population of Jews and Arabs.
Today, the city is a major seaport located on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa and is the major regional center of northern Israel. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, and the city plays an important role in Israel’s economy. It has several high-tech parks, among them the oldest and largest in the countryan industrial port, and a petroleum refinery.
The Port of Haifa is the leader in passenger traffic among Israeli ports, and is also a major cargo harbor.
Haifa has many malls and shopping centers, among them Hutsot Hamifratz, Horev Center Mall, Panorama Center, Castra Center, Colony Center (Lev HaMoshava), Hanevi’im Tower Mall, Kanyon Haifa, Lev Hamifratz Mall and Grand Kanyon.
History: Haifa has been conquered and ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, and the British.
4. Jerusalem-Old city
As soon as Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked en masse by its Arab neighbors. Jordan took over east Jerusalem and the Old City and Jerusalem was left divided between Israel and Jordan. On June 7, 1967 as a result of the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making the day a national holiday.
Biblical History: One of the holiest cities in the world is Jerusalem. It is the holiest city for Judaism. It contains significant religious sites for Judaism, Christianity and Muslims that includes: Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. The old walled city, is divided into four quarters, the Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim Quarters.
5. Sea of Galilee
Did you know that Israel’s famous Sea of Galilee is actually a lake? It’s had a variety of names since biblical times, but in Israel it’s called Lake Kinneret, and it holds several distinctions: the largest freshwater reservoir in Israel, the only natural freshwater lake in Israel and the lowest freshwater lake in the world. (The only lower lake is the Dead Sea, also in Israel.)
No matter what you call it, the Kinneret is the focal point of the Galilee. Its cool waters are surrounded by both sandy and rocky beaches, kibbutzim – including the very first one, Degania (“Cornflower”) – and a huge assortment of historic, natural, archeological, recreational and religious attractions that bring in visitors from all over the world.
6. Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv founded as a suburb of Jaffa in 1909 by a small group of Jews is located on the Tel Aviv located on the Mediterranean coast and is now the second-largest city in Israel. Tel Aviv’s growth was greater then Jaffa and eventually merged with Jaffa in 1950 with establishment of the State of Israel. In 1950 Tel Aviv’s population was 200,000.
As the economic center of Israel, Tel Aviv is home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Many corporations have their corporate headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv today is a popular tourist destination known for its beaches, cafes, shopping, nightlife, cultural activities, performance centers, contemporary architecture, and museums. Despite its image as a secular city, Tel Aviv has about a hundred synagogues.
Tiberias was founded under the British mandate in 1922 and became part of independent Israel in 1948. Today Tiberias is a major tourist area with many attractions and water activiites. Tiberias is also home to the Annual Tiberias marathon, the longest running full marathon is Israel that attracts numerous world elite marathon runners each year from Kenya and Ethopia.
History: Herod Antipas named Tiberias for the Roman emperor Tiberius. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans CE 70, it became a center of Jewish learning and later the seat of the Sanhedrin and rabbinical schools.
After the destruction of the second temple, the Sanhedrin relocated to Tiberias. Tiberias was an important spiritual center in the Mishnaic and Talmudic period. The Mishna was completed in Tiberias in 200 C.E. under the supervision of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi. The Jerusalem Talmud was completed in 400 C.E.
The city of Nazareth draws its worldwide reputation as the hometown of Jesus of Nazareth. The important role of Nazareth as a pilgrimage and religious center has had a dramatic impact on the history of the city. The special role Nazareth has in the Christian world created special conditions and a unique atmosphere in which a very diverse, rich and complex community has evolved.
The unique history of the city of Nazareth and its location in the heart of the Galilee region makes it one of the most interesting spots in any visit fo the land of Israel.
If you have any question or inqiuiries about planning your Nazareth tour, please contact us using the form bellow, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
The city of Nazareth was a small and insignificant agricultural village in the time of Jesus. It had no trade routes, was of little economic importance and was never mentioned in the Old Testament or other ancient texts. Archaeological excavations indicate Nazareth was settled continuously from 900 – 600 BCE, with a break in settlement until 200 BCE, from which time it has been continuously inhabited.
During the lifetime of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, it is believed the population did not exceed 500. Nazareth was a small Jewish village where people knew one another, and like Jesus, lived, prayed and studied in the Jewish tradition. They gathered in the synagogue, meeting for prayer and holidays. To this day, visitors can see the Synagogue Church, dating from the Crusader period, which was built to commemorate the spot where it is believed Jesus prayed and preached (see Nazareth sites and attractions). The New Testament mentions Nazareth many times, referring to it as the home of Mary and Joseph, the town that inspired Jesus during his childhood and early manhood, the place of the Annunciation and his clash with fellow citizens who disapproved of his non-conventional way of thinking.
From the 1st to the 4th century AD, the small Christian presence in Nazareth was often persecuted for their beliefs. It was only later towards the 6th century when legends of Mary’s life began spreading, that the town of Nazareth became the Christian pilgrimage site it is to this day. During this time, the Byzantines built one of the first churches on what was believed to be the site of the Annunciation. With the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099, an era of growth began and they built a magnificent church in Roman style. With the defeat of the Crusaders in 1291 by the Muslim army, and during Ottoman Rule (1517 – 1917) Nazareth fell into decline. It was only in 1720, when the Franciscans built a new church, that the site of the Annunciation was again revived. In 1955, the church was demolished to carry out extensive archaeological excavations and was finally rebuilt in 1969.
Nazareth Israel TodayModern day Nazareth is a bustling, growing city believed to be located very close to the origins of the ancient village. It is home to the largest Arab community in Israel and has a new quarter, Nazareth Illit, populated mainly by Jews. Amongst a fascinating array of churches of many denominations, a variety of cafes and restaurants has sprung up to make Nazareth a hot spot of tourism. When you take our Nazareth Day Tour you can walk the cobble-stoned streets of the Old City, visit the famous spring believed to be that which fed Mary’s well, and see the remains of a cavern believed to be Joseph’s carpentry shop. The life of Jesus of Nazareth will come alive as you witness the development of Nazareth through the ages, from an isolated village of little importance to the seat of one of Christianities most important sites.