Why Hiking in Israel Should Be on Top of Your Bucket List

Israel National Trail | © Hedva Sanderovitz/Wikimedia Commons
Israel National Trail | © Hedva Sanderovitz/Wikimedia Commons

Israel may have a reputation for deserts, beaches and heat, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. Few places in the world can offer keen hikers such varied views, and even fewer allow you to see such variety in a very short time. Israel is packed with amazing and historic heritage sites, stunning green nature and awe-inspiring desert scenery. Hiking in the country is an experience no one should miss and here’s why.

The Desert Trails

Israel’s south offers plentiful hiking options with an emphasis on desert views and spectacular walking routes. Starting with the breathtaking Eilat Mountains and the Red Canyon, through the Judean desert and Masada, to the unique geological formations near the Ramon Crater, the south of Israel provides an empowering experience that only a desert can give. The region is full of walking trails ranging from extremely difficult to those appropriate for the whole family, all seasoned with a variety of attractions such as rock climbing, abseiling, and swimming in refreshing springs and streams.

The south of Israel is brimming with wildlife in its natural habitat. Ibexes, gerbils, snakes, foxes and much more roam the land and bring it to life. Sleeping under the stars in the Negev or the Judean desert makes the sky seem to be blanketing the Earth. And for those wary of braving Israel’s nature at night, a stay at a Bedouin campsite is a fantastic choice to experience first-hand, the traditional way of life in the region.

The Eilat Mountains | © Dafna Tal

The Lush Green North

Israel’s north, by contrast, is characterised by an entirely different kind of sights. Lush green hilly terrain, natural waterfalls, flowing streams and frequent campsites make this the more popular area to hike. Whether exploring the Galilee region, the Golan Heights or the Valleys, the experience is like nothing else in Israel. Up north it’s possible to experience all the different settlement types in the country, from towns, to kibbutzim, to agricultural villages, to centuries-old Arab communities. This is in addition to a variety of attractions such as rafting, cliff-face climbing, and exploring the wine-making process in one of the many vineyards in the area. Visitors can also learn about traditional olive picking and olive oil making, and relax on the beaches of the Sea of Galilee.

Sea of Galilee | © Amira A

Israel National Trail

The crown jewel of hiking in Israel, however, is undeniably the Israel National Trail. Voted one of the 20 best hiking trails in the world by National Geographic, this 1,040-kilometre route takes travellers from the southernmost point of the country to the very northern. It’s so popular it’s even possible to explore the trail on Google’s StreetView, just to get a feel for it in advance. Walking the whole distance takes an average of 30 to 60 days, with most hikers doing the journey during the cooler late spring and early autumn months.

The Israel National Trail offers spectacular biblical views and an incredible passage through every variety of nature in the country. For first-time hikers on the trail, it is recommended to join one of the many groups doing the distance together, or even taking it easy and only walking down a few of its parts. Either way, the Israel National Trail should be at the top of any serious hiker’s bucket list.

Ashalim stream | © Yuval R

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