Northern Israel is a blend of spectacular landscapes, ancient history, ethnic diversity, thriving cities and enchanting towns. While Tel Aviv and Jerusalem may steal most of the attention, the northern regions also deserve to be explored. Here are a few of the best places to get you started.
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Acre (Akko) is a jewel of the Israeli north. Situated on the Mediterranean coastline just 90 minutes by train from Tel Aviv, it’s home to the ancient and enchanting Old City, which attracts locals and tourists throughout the year. There are also well-preserved Crusader walls (which were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2001), a vibrant Arab shuk, charming cobbled streets and fascinating historical sites that reflect a long and tumultuous past. It is also a foodie paradise, with an array of fabulous restaurants, from hummus joints (Hummus Said is a must) to gourmet seafood (such as Uri Buri).
The Golan Heights are a large mountainous region that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and has kept ever since. It’s characterised by spectacular views and natural landscapes, as well as superb hiking trails, outdoor adventures and a plethora of wineries. Not to be missed is Mount Hermon, home to the only ski resort in Israel. It also has the awesome Nimrod Fortress (the largest Crusader fortress in the country), Hamat Gader (the therapeutic natural hot springs that have been used for over two millennia) and Banias Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Israel. If you want a beverage, visit the Golan Heights Winery, the most established winery in the region.
It’s easy to fall in love with this picturesque town in the Carmel Mountain range. Founded in 1882 by Romanian Zionist pioneers and developed thereafter by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Zichron Ya’akov is today home to quaint streets, wineries, boutique hotels and stunning views over the Mediterranean. The First Aliyah Museum is a must if you’re interested in the story of the Romanian pioneers, as is the Aaronsohn House; it tells the fascinating and tragic story of the Jewish spy ring, NILI, which provided intelligence to the British during World War I.