Akko (Hebrew: עכו), also known historically to Arabs as عكّا ('Akka) and Westerners as Acre, lies on the northern edge of the Bay of Acre in northern Israel and receives many Baha'i pilgrims. On its present site, Akko possesses a long history of various cultures: Israelites, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Arabs. Akko is a holy city in the Bahá'í Faith and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a site of extraordinary significance to the world's cultural heritage.
Getting to Akko is very simple, as it is on the Mediterranean Coast directly to the north of Haifa and on the main Israeli railway track.
- 1 Acre railway station. Israel Railways trains run to Akko every 30 minutes or less during the day, and hourly all night. Some trains go only until Haifa, while others travel southbound to Tel Aviv and even many to Ben Gurion Airport. ₪39 from Tel Aviv, ₪15.50 from Haifa.
1 Nateev Express has a slow (especially at rush hour) connection to Akko for ₪11.7 from Haifa and from Carmiel. Take lines 271/361/500 from Haifa (Merkazit Hamifratz - the eastern bus station in Haifa Bay), 361 from Safed, and 500 from Kiryat Shmona. There are also some less frequent routes you can take, so whenever an intercity bus comes, ask if it goes where you need.
Note, buses from Haifa to Akko start outside of Haifa at the Merkazit Hamifratz (Bay Central) bus station. To get there, you have to take a local bus for ₪5.90. Considering this, it is mostly always better to take the train directly.
Between Akko and Nazareth take bus 353, going about every hour but ending early in the afternoon. Bus 343 also travels this route, but it's extremely slow, visiting each of the small villages along the way. If bus 353 is not available, take a bus/train to Haifa and then another bus to Nazareth.
- A "service taxi" (Hebrew: מונית שרות; moNEET sheROOT) is an interurban van carrying 10 passengers. These travel frequently from the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa to Akko. They cost about the same as the bus. Look for a Hebrew-only sign saying "Akko Nahariya" or "Akko Karmiel" in the front windshield of the service taxi. If you don't know Hebrew, go to Herzl Street in Haifa, point an index finger at a 45 degree angle with the ground (the Israeli hitchhiking signal) when a service taxi drives by, and ask where it's going. They pick up and offload passengers at bus stops. Unlike public transportation (bus and train) which cease service during the Jewish Sabbath, this line runs up to midnight on Fridays and during the day on Saturday.
- Private taxis are available but are very costly. This is an option if you're traveling in a group of up to 4 passengers and/or have a lot of luggage.
A foot-passenger ferry plies between Haifa and Akko on four days a week. It sails M Tu W from Akko at 10:00 and 15:00, returning from Haifa at 11:00 and 16:00. Saturday it sails from Akko at 09:30, 12:30 and 16:30, returning at 11:00, 13:30 and 17:30. This means a day trip is possible in either direction. It's only a small boat so sailings are cancelled in bad weather. The departure point from Akko is the new terminal within the Old Port. Fares are ₪30 one way and ₪55 round trip. Online booking is only possible in Hebrew, otherwise call 04-9913890 or just go to the terminal ticket office.
Akko has a marina but is not a port of entry into Israel. Vessels from abroad must first head for Haifa port where there are 24 hour facilities for immigration and customs clearance.
The Old City is very small, and easily walked across. It is also within walking distance of the train and bus stations. For the Bahai holy site, though, you will likely want to take a taxi or bus (271 as it continues north of Akko toward Nahariah).
Many historic sites require an entrance fee. There is a combined (adult) ticket for all sights (mostly Citadel, Knights Hall and Templar Tunnel) for ₪62 including the Turkish bath and ₪40 without it available. Students, disabled people or children pay between 20-40% less.
- 1 The city wall. The wall is picturesque and fun to walk along, especially the part bordering the sea. In 1750, Daher El-Omar, the ruler of Acre, utilized the remnants of the Crusader walls as a foundation for his walls. Two gates were set in the wall, the "land gate" in the eastern wall, and the "sea gate" in the southern wall. In 1912 the Acre lighthouse was built on the south-western corner of the walls.
- 2 Hall of the Crusader Knights. Under the citadel and prison of Acre, archaeological excavations revealed a complex of halls, which was built and used by the Hospitallers Knights. This complex was a part of the Hospitallers' citadel, which was combined in the northern wall of Acre. The complex includes six semi-joined halls, one large hall, a dungeon, a dining room and remains of an ancient Gothic church. Medieval European remains include the Church of Saint George and adjacent houses at the Genovese Square . There were also residential quarters and marketplaces run by merchants from Pisa and Amalfi in Crusader and medieval Acre. ₪37.
- 3 Tunnel of the Templars. An underground tunnel carved in stone by the Templar Crusaders to connect their fortress on the west side of Akko to the port on the east side. Discovered in 1994, it has been restored and you can walk through it. The location shown on the map here is the western entrance. ₪15.
- 4 The Pisan Port. No longer active, you can see the remains of a port here. The adjacent area was populated by Pisans during the Crusader area. The remains are not too exciting, but you'll see them as part of a walk along the city wall.
- 5 Khan el Umdan. Old Akko has several large khans (an inn enclosing a courtyard, used by caravans for accommodation) which once served the camel caravans bringing in grain from the hinterland. The grandest is the Khan al-Umdan. Its name means 'Inn of the Pillars', and it was built by Al-Jazzar in 1785. The pillars that give the khan its name were looted from the Caesarea ruins. It is a two-story structure and the ground floor would have housed the animals, while their merchant owners would have slept upstairs.
- 6 Hammam al-Basha. Built in 1795 by Jezzar Pasha, Acre's hammam has a series of hot rooms and a hexagonal steam room with a marble fountain. It was used by the Irgun as a bridge to break into the citadel's prison. The bathhouse kept functioning until 1950. Now it is a museum with a humorous retelling of Akko's history and the bathhouse experience. ₪25.
- 7 Tel Akko (Napoleon's Hill). Site of the ancient city of Akko, until the Hellenistic period. Later on, Napoleon used the hill as a lookout point while besieging Akko. Now, there are walking trails around the hill, and it has a nice view in all directions.
- 8 The Shrine of Baha'u'llah. The holiest place for the Baha'is; they face towards here for their daily prayers and are buried with their feet pointing here. The Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh is composed of a central room that has a small garden at its centre, which has trees growing in it and there are layers of carpets around the walls. In the right hand corner of the central room there is a small room where Bahá'u'lláh's remains are laid to rest.
- 9 Ramchal synagogue. A synagogue used by the Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, a 1700s kabbalist)
- 10 Or Torah, ☏ . A Tunisian synagogue, a meticulously handcrafted spectacle of stained glass and tile mosaic entirely unique to Akko.
- 11 Great Mosque of al-Jezzar. Built in 1781, it is one of the largest mosques in Israel. Jezzar Pasha and his successor Suleiman Pasha are buried in a small graveyard adjacent to the mosque. In a shrine on the second level of the mosque, a single hair from the prophet Mohammed's beard is kept and shown on special ceremonial occasions.
- 12 Akko port. Interesting to walk around here for a few minutes, see the boats, and maybe take one.
- 13 The market. An urban market, best known as place to buy fish. The market spreads along Marco Polo, Binyamin Metudela, and Fakhr-al-Din streets.
- 14 Oukashi Art Museum. Around the corner from the Hamman al-Pasha is a gallery devoted to the works of Avshalom Okashi (1916-80), an influential Israeli painter and a resident of Akko for the last half of his life.
- 15 Akko botanical garden. Su-Th 15:00-21:00, F 14:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-20:00, closed when raining.
- Take a boat ride around the walls of the old city.
- Relax on the beach north of the old city.
You can find delicious hummus throughout Akko, and baklava in the old bazaar. One of the best hummus you can eat in Israel is at "Hummus Sa'id" in the Old City, but don't be too late - as soon as the hummus is finished the restaurant closes, usually at about 13:00-14:00. This underscores the fact that in the regional Arab cuisine, hummus is served warm and eaten in the morning.
Akko is famous for its fish restaurants serving regional (Middle Eastern and Mediterranean) side dishes. Some of the best are located in the port area, Donyana and Abu Khristo are popular for those seeking a great meal in a great location overlooking the sea. Farther north is a local branch of the renowned Arab restaurant El-Babur, spacious and elegant (for its moderate prices) with an up-close view of the sea.
The restaurants along the beach area are fabulous. Some may be expensive, but the food is superb. Eat everywhere, in Salah ad Din Street there is a small bakery with classic Arab sweet pastries featuring honey and nuts. Foods like this are hard to find elsewhere in the country. Experiment and enjoy the experience.
If you are looking for an upscale menu, just north of the lighthouse on the coast promenade (Hahagana Street) is Uri-Buri, named for its chef and rated one of Israel's Top Ten seafood restaurants. Next to it with a similar menu is Beit Maha that is also a great coffee bar.
A little far away from the crowds of the Old City is the locals favorite Gallery Simaan restaurant, located on Ben Ami street (no. 63).
Decent and at the same time inexpensive accommodation options are sparse in Akko.
- 1 Akko Gate Hostel (Walid's Gate Hostel), ☏ . Dodgy hostel and owner indeed, but the experience is worthwhile, and very affordable. Backpackers roughing it up will enjoy a roof over their heads for such a low price. Accommodation is provided in a large dorm room with bunk and normal beds. The owner will not give you the price quoted on his website and will pretend the price of US$20 (as of Jan 2017) is actually not written there. Instead he will try to make you believe the higher price on Booking is the valid one. Make sure to agree on a price beforehand or just leave this place again. Dorm bed from ₪76.
- 2 The Acco Guest House of Zippi, 10 Bilu St, ☏ . In Bilu street, is a warm, family-owned, budget hostel, situated in a walking distance from the Old City of Akko. Suitable for a short vacation or for a long stay for independent travelers, backpackers and families traveling in Akko, Safed and the Galilee.
- 3 Akkotel, Salahudin St. (Enter Old City on Weizman, continue to the left on Salah ad Din), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A refurbished boutique hotel along the eastern wall of the old city. Uniquely designed rooms with high ceilings and hand made furniture, and eager-to-please innkeepers make it a great upscale option in Akko. ₪600 per night.
- 4 Palm Beach Hotel (on the beach close to the town). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Situated on the coastal stretch of Israel. The Palm Beach is a unique combination of 127 modern rooms and suites with a health and sports club, a spa and superb conference facilities. The panoramic views of Haifa Bay and Akko are spectacular. Akko station is about 1 km from the hotel.
- Haifa – The second-holiest city in the Bahai faith, including its great garden down the northern slope of the city.
- Nazareth – The largest Arab city in Israel and best known as the boyhood home of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Tiberias – A large Israeli town in the east and great starting point for the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights.
- Nahariyya – A beach town founded in 1934 by German Jews fleeing Nazi oppression.
|Routes through Akko|
|Nahariyya ←||N S||→ Haifa|
|Nahariyya ←||N S||→ Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion International Airport|