Go North

Up for a little northern exposure? Israel’s north has the perfect blend of pine cones, waterfalls and shady spots for outdoor adventures. It’s also the background for historic battles and geopolitical decisions that shaped much of Israel’s current political reality.

Browse below for some of the highlights a trip through northern Israel might include.

The Northern Coast

This gorgeous sea front was the backdrop where Herod the Great built an entire Roman city and one of the largest ports known at the time, all from scratch.  We’ll see the ruins reconstructed as well as the remains of the crusader fortress city that stood here.  We’ll also enjoy the aqueduct’s beach – one of Israel’s finest secluded Mediterranean beaches.

One of the earliest Zionist settlements, Zichron Yaakov is also one of the most charming. Its cobble stone streets were laid by the founding settlers and weave a path through a town filled with artist’s galleries and boutiques, a wonderful place to pick up gifts and souvenirs.

After a stroll through the main strip we’ll visit the Carmel winery, now Israel’s largest, founded with the help of Baron Rothschild. A visit to the home of Aaron Aronson, who helped found the Nili spy ring that ultimately helped General Allenby of Britain take Palestine from the Ottoman Turks, will round out our day.

One of Israel’s two deep sea ports and home of the Israeli navy, the city is as beautiful as it is functional.  The Bahai Gardens highlight the integration of the natural hills and mountains in the architectural plan for the city.

It seems like everyone who lives here must have an amazing view of the sea from their apartment. We’ll visit cafes in the German colony, and climb to the top of the Carmel for the stunning views.

One of Israel’s several world heritage sights, the city of Acco has much to offer visitors. The best way to get sense of Acco is to climb on the city walls, the same walls that held off Napoleon’s army.

After we’ve conquered the Old City, we’ll wind our way through the alleyways, taking a scenic boat ride from the ancient port that was the gateway to Israel for centuries.

The stunning contrast of sea, sky and the cliffs are enough to make a visit to Rosh HaNikra worthwhile. But the visit to the grottoes, formations in the cliff side formed by erosion and waves, definitely takes it up a notch. Watch out! If the waves are rough, it’s easy to get soaked.

Hover for Fun Fact: Wondering if you can catch the train from here?

The Galilee

We’ve reached the gateway from the coastal plain into the Jezreel valley and the Galilee. One of the world’s most heavily excavated archaeological parks, here we’ll see the remains of Canaanite settlers, Israelite conquerors and Kings followed by all the later residents of this contested land.

Still in tact from over 2000 years ago, this mixed Jewish Roman city, with many homes and structures hosts an ancient synagogue, Roman theater, decorated villas, and a Roman marketplace.

Let’s spend some time exploring and thinking about what life was like back then.

The city of Tiberias is a great launching site for swimming and water sports on the Kinneret.

After a couple of hours of fun on the largest lake in Israel, we’ll have worked up an appetite – perhaps some pizza and ice cream along the boardwalk while taking in the local shopping finds. Afterwards we can visit the final resting places of some of the greatest Jewish sages including Rabbi Akiva and Maimonides.

One of the four holy cities in Judaism, the city of Tzfas represents wind, or spirit (ruach in Hebrew). We’ll visit synagogues where some of the original Kabbalists, like the Ari HaKodesh (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) themselves prayed.

Tzfat offers a wide variety of interesting things to see and do. A stroll through the mysterious alleyways of this mystical city gives us a chance to see Israel and Judaism through the eyes of the artists represented by the numerous galleries here. The blending of modern art with the feel of the old city is a great example of how Israel blends spirituality with modernity with ease.

Considered the “Kotel” of the north, Meron is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar. The grave site attracts visitors year round with hundreds of thousands coming specifically on Lag B’Omer.

The highest peak in Israel west of the Jordan river, the mountain itself offers us beautiful views of most of Israel’s north.  The summit trail will loop us around through the native Mediterranean forest with plenty of shade and viewpoints along the way laid out before us.

The Golan Heights

Civil war, or no civil war, we’ve come as close to the Syrian border as we’d like…

Here we can explore a Syrian army camp with an elaborate bunker system. We’ll hear the stories of heroism involved when the Israelis conquered this camp during the Six Days War.

The Banias are one of the most gorgeous hikes that Israel’s lush north has to offer. We’ll visit the water fall and pools hidden in the canyon during this invigorating hike.

Be prepared to get wet.

Not to be confused with Herod’s fortress in the south, this Druse village is mountainous, agrarian and pastoral.

Taste the fruits grown here and the unique honeys made by the locals, while we learn about the Druse traditions which are largely kept secret.

Made famous by the battle that took place here during the Yom Kippur war, this site celebrates the heroic tank commanders who refused to withdraw from their post. Their bravery held off the Syrian forces, which were ten times larger than our Israeli forces, from crossing our line.

We’ll visit the actual battle site and the memorial, viewing live footage of the battles and testimony of the soldiers that fought here.

Now we’ll ascend to Har Bental, one of several extinct volcanoes that line Israel’s border (cease fire line) with Syria. From the top we have a 360 degree view of Israel, Syria and specifically Mount Hermon.

We can “hide out” in a bunker built, but never used, right after the Yom Kippur war, while we talk about some of the battles that played out here.

Wine and chocolate pairings can be quite the kick. We’ll start off with a visit to the De Karina chocolate factory, where we can tour the factory and boutique outlet, take a workshop and enjoy the tasting rooms.

After we’ve had our chocolate fix we’ll head over to the Pelter Winery, where we’ll sample some of the local wines and hear about the unique flavors and spirit of the Israeli wine scene.

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