The city of
Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee attracts thousands of Christian pilgrims who believe that this was where Jesus walked on water.
The area is home to many churches and sacred sites. The city of Tiberias itself, established in 20 CE, was named in honor of the emperor Tiberius. It is sacred not only to Christians, but to Jews as well and offers an abundance of religious and historical sites, including the tombs of Jewish Sages and impressive archeological finds. Add to that the allure of the beaches around this big lake and health spots like the Tiberias Hot
Springs, and you've got the perfect destination for an action-packed vacation
Tiberias is a city on the western shore of the Kinneret (or Sea of Galilee), in the Lower Galilee region. It is located 140 km (86 mi) northeast of Tel Aviv, and 70 km (42 mi) due east of Haifa. The climate here borders on the Mediterranean and the semi-arid; the summers are extremely hot and humid, and the winters are mild.
Five Great Reasons to Visit Tiberias:
• The area around the Sea of Galilee is dotted with meaningful Christian sites, many of them in villages like Tabgha and
Capernaum. The first has two churches, at the site where Jesus is said to have performed the miracle of the loaves.
Capernaum sits on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and holds an important place in Christianity: it is here that Jesus is believed to have preached many of his sermons, and many of the miracles recounted in the Gospels took place here.
slopes, Arbel also has the added bonus of an ancient synagogue, a mysterious cave fortress and a nearby spring.
• Tiberias holds a special place in Judaism since the middle of the 2nd century CE, and from the 16th century onwards has been considered one of the Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed. No wonder, therefore, that some of the greatest Jewish scholars and saints are buried here, among them Maimonides (Rambam; 1138-1204), who died in Egypt and asked to be buried in Tiberias, Akiva Ben Yosef (Rabbi Akiva), the greatest Tanna, and Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes (the Miracle Worker). For more on the Jewish history of the city, visit Casa Dona Gracia, a unique hotel and living museum built around the personality of the 16th century Jewish leader, and her relentless work on behalf of her people.
• It's not all history and ancient sites on the Sea of Galilee. You can go biking, kayaking, tubing and more, and if you're looking for something a little tamer, why not take a cruise on the lake? Jordan Sailing Boats has authentic wooden boats, plying the waters of the Kinneret day and night (some tours include a meal).
• Tiberias is also known for its hot springs, where you can spend a few hours or more indulging in various activities and treatments. There is a mineral water pool, fresh water pool, toddler pool, state-of-the-art gym, dry sauna and private beach. And if that's not enough, just 23 km (14 mi) southeast of the city, you can visit the Hamat Gader resort, one of the most unique places in the north. The main attraction is obviously the thermal springs, but the resort holds many surprises, including the only crocodile farm in the Middle East.
• Dramatically rising out of the landscape, Mount Arbel affords spectacular views of the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon and many nearby villages. Dotted with rare plants hiding in rock crevices and sprinkled with lovely blossoms on its
Yardenit is the place where the Jordan River flows from the Sea of Galilee, to the south of Tiberias. This is the baptismal site for pilgrims from around the world. The spot is serene and beautiful, with eucalyptus trees that shade the river banks.
You can sit at the café and enjoy the view. When a group of pilgrims arrives, it is a special spiritual experience as well.
The Yigal Alon Center is located in Kibbutz Ginosar, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The onsite museum holds various exhibits on man and landscape, the Talmudic period, the Arab village, settlement, history, nature and culture in the area. The most unique and exciting exhibit is the Galilee Boat (also known as the Jesus Boat), built about 2000 years ago and lifted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee in 1986. The boat underwent meticulous preservation, and draws many visitors who want to see an authentic exhibit from the time of Jesus.
The Church of the Mount of Beatitudes is the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, making it one of the most sacred places in Christianity. The church is perched on a mountaintop, rising 125 meters above the Sea of Galilee, and boasts a wonderful view of the area.
Little Tiberias is a quality chef-restaurant, featuring gourmet French Mediterranean cuisine. The location itself is quite spectacular, in a building that forms part of the ancient city wall and dates back to Roman times. Add to that an exclusive European-style atmosphere, and you'll see why this place is so popular.
Torrance, at the Scots Hotel, is an intimate restaurant set in a beautiful building. The combination of Israeli cuisine with Galilean cooking traditions and influences from
Scotland create a flavor-rich culinary experience, turning every meal into an unforgettable gourmet journey .
The Lido Beach harbors several well-known restaurants, like the Pagoda a kosher Chinese restaurant.
The House, Chinese and Thai food; and Decks, grilled fish and meat dishes.There are also many pizza parlors, fish restaurants, cafés and fast food joints around town.
Every Friday morning, there's an arts and crafts fair, offering a wide range of collectibles, antiques and local art (sculpture, paintings, metalwork, woodwork and jewelry). The fair takes place at Hayarkon Street, the city's pedestrian mall.
For more artwork, visit the gallery at the Scots Hotel, where you can view and purchase original works of Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists, mainly from the Galilee region, including jewelry by Israel's finest goldsmiths, as well as games, objects d'art, books and more.
The Yaskil Art Studio, set in a renovated old house, is located in the newly renovated Dona Gracia Street and is a great place to buy the artwork of local painter Amos Yaskil, who specializes in the landscapes of the area.
Tips and trips
• Shvil Sovev Kinneret is a hiking trail that goes around the Sea of Galilee. It is marked by the colors white-purple-white, but is yet to be completed. One of the recommended sections of the trail, especially for biking, starts at Kibbutz HaOn and continues to Ma’agan, the Dgania Dam and Kibbutz Kinneret.
• If you can help it, don't visit the Tiberias area in July and August, when temperatures reach 40C and the air is extremely humid and oppressive.