Explore The Galilee

Explore the Galilee


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Day Trips from Fauzi Azar

Courtesy of Cleome Bernick-Roer

So you’ve gone on the free walking tour of the Old City, explored all the local historical and religious sites, and feasted your way through the amazing restaurants in Nazareth. Time to move on, right? WRONG.

Sounds like it’s time to explore the concept of day trips.

Day trip
(n): an excursion completed in one day (source: freedictionary.com)

Nazareth (especially the Fauzi Azar Inn) is pretty much the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the northern areas of Israel. Just one hour west of the Sea of Galilee, east of Haifa/Akko, and south of Rosh Hanikra, there are a multitude of locations that are perfect to venture out to, while still close enough to return to the comfort of Nazareth at the end of the day.

Day Trip Idea #1- Rosh Hanikra

What is it?

A nice drive whether you’re in a rental car or on a bus, this trip takes you along the Mediterranean coast all the way to up the caves straddling the Israel-Lenanon border (you can’t cross it, but feel free to take a picture of the sign denoting the division).



Rosh Hanikra boasts not only gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea, impressive white chalk grottoes, and plenty of sea spray- the history of the caves and their use in both WWII and the Israeli Independence War of 1948 will please both history buffs and casual observers. Plus, the steepest cable car descent in the world begins and end the journey with a sharp rush of adrenaline.

Watch the short introductory movie, wander through the caves, and marvel at the views. And since the touring of the caves themselves don’t take all day, maybe plan a detour to the beach or the cities of Haifa or Acre on the way back to Nazareth. This trip is certainly worth a day’s exploration.

Logistics
Hours:
Summer weekdays: 09:00-18:00
Winter weekdays: 09:00-16:00
Friday and Holiday Eves: 09:00-16:00
Saturdays and Holidays: 09:00-18:00
Holiday Eves: 09:00-12:00

Getting There:

By car – travel north on Road 4 to the north-western most point of Israel, which is a 10 minute ride north of Nahariya.

By train or bus – get off at the Nahariya Station, behind the train and bus stations. On Lohamei HaGettaot Street, there is a taxi stand to Rosh HaNikra and the surrounding area.

Cost:
Adult: 45 NIS
Children (3-18) and Seniors: 35 NIS

Day Trip Idea #2- to Caesarea

What is it?

A day trip to Caesarea (sometimes spelled “Qisarya“) should be on your list of things to do in Israel. Located halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, this archeological national park should not be missed.





So much of this country boasts impressive historical significance, but in the ruins of King Herod‘s massive city the ghosts of ancient times come to life in an awe-inspiring way.

Not simply excavated foundations of old buildings, the ruins at Caesarea include mosiac floors, stone vault archways, traditional marble columns, a chariot racing arena, and the first large amphitheater of its kind in Israel. Walking around the archeological park you most certainly can imagine the bustling city it was in Roman times, and once you’ve explored the ruins there are nice cafes overlooking the Mediterranean to relax at. A perfect place to take kids, partners, friends, or yourself. Caesarea is also a town that houses Israel’s only full-sized golf course, the Ralli Museum with (its impressive collection of South African and Salvador Dali art pieces), and a picturesque park to walk through. Plenty of activities to occupy a good day out.

Logistics
Hours:
October-March: 8:00-16:00
April-September: 8:00-18:00

Getting to Caesarea:
Unfortunately public transportation to Caesarea is a bit more complicated than it should be.

By car- Caesarea is located just off of Road 2, the main coastal highway about mid-way between Haifa and Tel Aviv. It is about a one hour drive from Nazareth.

By bus- Either take a bus to Hadera (about 5km away) and transfer to route 76 (the only direct public bus that goes to Caesarea- however the times bus 76 runs are rather erratic) or take a bus to Or Akiva, get off at the large roundabout on the far end of the town (tell the bus driver you want to get to Caesarea), and from there it’s roughly
20-30 minutes of walking directly down the road to the park.

Cost:
Adult: 38 NIS
Child: 23 NIS

Day Trip Idea #3- to the Cliffs of Mount Arbel

What is it?

Mount Arbel is a national park area that includes multiple hiking trails, scenic overlooks, picnic spots, and the awe-inspiring main attraction: Crusader castles carved into the side of the cliffs.






Whether you’re interested in the adrenaline spike of clambering down the rocky mountain face, playing hide-and-seek inside the castle’s many alcoves, or simply taking in the views, this day trip to Mount Arbel is highly recommended. It may quite literally take your breath away.

If you’re into hiking, follow the Israel National Trail from Mitzpa (about 5km before Tiberias when coming from Nazareth) to the national park is a wonderful walk. It takes between 90 minutes and two hours to reach Mount Arbel from where the bus lets you off, and the winding path up hills, through fields, and past a Jewish cemetery (not to mention multiple cow herds) provide gorgeous views of the Sea of Galilee.

Note: To reach the Crusader structures, follow signs leading to the “Castle.” Making it there will entail following the Red Trail markings down a steep cliff side, so if mobility is an issue, this part of the day trip to Mount Arbel may not be for you. The top of the mountain is still a great place to hang out for an afternoon, though.

Logistics
Hours:
Winter: 8:00-16:00
Summer: 8:00-17:00

Getting To Mount Arbel:

By Car- Take the Tiberias-Golani junction road (no. 77), and turn at the Kfar Hittim junction to road 7717. Turn right at the turnoff for Moshav Arbel, and before entering the moshav, turn left and it’ll take you straight to the entrance of Arbel.

By Bus- Take route 431 from the stop at Mary’s Well Square to Tiberias, but tell the driver you want to go to Mount Arbel. From where you get dropped off (a little ways before Tiberias), climb the hill until you reach the entrance to the national park. Alternatively, you could take a taxi from Tiberias to Arbel.

Cost:
Adult: 21 NIS
Child: 9 NIS

(Entering on the Israel National Trail or through a back entrance [though not a commendable action] waives the entry fee.)

Day Trip Idea #4- to the Baha’i Gardens

What is it?

Located in Haifa (only an hour at most from Nazareth), a day trip to explore the Baha’i Gardens is an easy activity to say yes to. The Gardens are one of the most holy places in the world for followers of the Baha’i religion- a relatively new faith founded on peace and communication between people of all different cultures and backgrounds.


Take a day to meander through the utopian flora and learn a bit about the Baha’i religion at the same time.

Tours of the Upper Terrace occur every day but Wednesday in Hebrew, Russian, and English (the English tour begins at 12:00pm). The Lower Gardens are open to the public from 9:00-17:00 daily.

Logistics
Hours:
Inner Gardens: 9:00-12:00
Outer Gardens: 9:00-17:00

Getting to the Baha’i Gardens:

By Car- Take the road to Haifa, and the main entrance is located at 80 Hatzionut Avenue, on the north side of Mount Carmel. The website for the gardens has a great explanatory map.

By Bus- Take bus 331 to Haifa and get off at the last stop, Palmer Square (also where the train station is located). From there, cross the street and turn right, walking down the main road until you can see the garden’s entrance unobstructed. Turn left and walk toward the lower entrance.

Note: To get to higher levels of the gardens fast, take bus number 23
up Mount Carmel. Or walk it if you’re in the mood for some exercise.

Cost:
Free

Day Trip Idea #5- to Tabash

What is it?

The town of Tabash itself is no great draw for a day trip- what is worth a visit is the gorgeous nature reserve on the edge of town.








With multiple dirt paths running through seemingly-endless fields of flowers, cows, and tall grasses, you can spend a good chunk of your day breathing in the fresh air and stretching your legs.

And if you happen to enjoy the serenity of being completely unplugged, spending a night at the Galilee Bedouin Camp-lodge extends that vacation from modernity a bit longer.

Logistics
Hours:
Any time

Getting to Tabash:
The easiest way is to take Bus #12 from Nazareth (Basilica Station), and tell the driver you want to get off in Tabash (it will take about 30 minutes). From where you’re let off, to arrive at the nature reserve walk straight down the road past the town, and take a right to head down the hill to the greenery. If interested in getting to the
Bedouin Camp-lodge, also continue straight down the road past the town, but walk a bit further and after you pass a bus stop on your right, turn right and head up the hill. At the top of the hill turn left and continue on the road until you see signs for the Camp-lodge.

Cost:
Nature reserve- free
Contact Galilee Bedouin Camp-lodge for prices.

Day Trip Idea #6- to Yehudiya Nature Reserve

What is it?

If hiking in the Golan Heights is on your to do list (which it should be), this day trip to Yehudia Nature Reserve is a must.







The reserve encompasses ruins, breathtaking views, rivers, waterfalls, Hexagon Pools (amazing, naturally-formed rocks shaped like hexagons surrounding fresh water that you can swim in), and enough nature to satisfy even the most hardcore outdoors-person for a day. With plenty of different hikes to choose from, there’s something for every fitness level, time commitment, and terrain preference. A day trip to Yehudiya Nature Reserve cannot be recommended enough.

Logistics
Hours:
April-September: 8:00-17:00
October-March 8:00-16:00
Fridays and holiday eves: 8:00-15:00
(Last entry is two hours before the closing hours)

Getting to Yehudiya:

By Car- From Nazareth, head to Tiberias, and then take road 87 (Yehudiya-Hushniya road) north. The reserve is right off of road 87, roughly 7km east of the Yehudiya junction.

By Bus- Catch bus 431 to Tiberias, and from there any of the bus routes 52, 56, or 57 to Katsrin. Make sure to tell the bus driver you’d like to get off at Yehudiya, though. The trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes by bus.

Cost:
Adult: 22 NIS
Child: 10 NIS