The Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: Yam Kinneret) is the largest freshwater lake of Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is a picturesque lake located in the east of the Galilee region (the Golan Heights are on the other side of the lake). The area is best known for its Gospel associations with the life and ministry of Jesus. As such, it forms a natural destination for pilgrimage among all varieties of Christians. Its beaches are also a prime recreational spot for Israelis and foreigners alike.
- 1 Tiberias. Largest city in the region and convenient staring point for trips to the Sea of Galilee and the Golan heights, with its various archaeological remains.
The following sites are listed roughly from north to south.
- 1 Korazim. A Talmudic town overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It features the remains of a lovely basalt synagogue.
- Churches (To get there, take bus 59 north from Tiberias (₪10), get off at Cafarnaum junction, and from there walk east towards the lake. Or get off one stop afterwards for Mount Beatitude and walk down the hill to the other churches.). Sometimes considers as the top three Christian sites; Capernaum, Tabgha and Mount of Beatitudes can be found about 12 km north of Tiberias and close to each other.
- 2 Capharnaum (Capernaum, The Town of Jesus). The house of Peter as well as a marvelous ancient Roman synagogue. ₪5.
- 3 Church & Monastery of the Apostles. A Greek Orthodox complex on the site of a Byzantine monastery that was destroyed by the Persians in the 7th century. Since then the complex has been rebuilt and destroyed numerous times; the buildings standing today date from the late 19th century but have been restored as recently as 1975. Three monks live here and they'll usually admit visitors who ring the bell. There are four chapels beyond the pleasant, walled courtyard. One chapel is dedicated to St Peter, one to the disciples, and one to Mary Magdalene; the one in the ancient round tower is dedicated to St Nicholas.
- 4 The Beatitude Monastery & Mountain. ₪5 for 2.
- 5 Eremos Cave. Great view of the lake. And a good place for an evening drink-out and BBQ in a small group.
- 6 Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha (Benedictine Monastery of Tabgha). Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM, Sat 9AM-3PM. The Primacy Church and a church retelling the Gospel account of the miracle of Jesus Feeding the Multitude.
- 7 Peter's Primacy Church.
- Tel Kinnarot. Ancient tel
- 8 Hurvat Minnim (Khirbat al-Minya). Remains of a palace from the Umayyad period (8th century). North of Genossar.
- 9 Genossar. Site of Jesus Boat Museum
- 10 Arbel mountain. A magnificent viewpoint over the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding areas. A steep trail leads from the peak to the Sea of Galilee. A castle dating to the Roman period is nestled in the cliff, partway down the trail. Beautiful, but not for those scared of heights.
- 11 Horns of Hittin (Karnei Hittin). Where the crucial battle over the Holy Land took place between the Mameluks and the Crusaders. Now it is just a barren hill though.
- 12 Kinneret Cemetery. Overlooking the See of Galilee. A number of early Zionist leaders and pioneers are buried here, including Berl Katznelson.
- 13 Tel Beit Yerah (Khirbet Kerak). Ancient tel
- 14 Degania. The first Kibbutz. It houses Gordon House which is a regional museum of nature and prehistory.
- 15 Museum of Yarmukan Culture. A small museum documenting the Levant's most prominent Neolithic culture. Located in Kibbutz Sha`ar Hagolan.
- 16 Hamat Gader (Gadara hot springs). The hot springs here have been a tourist magnet since Roman times. Current attractions include Israel's largest spa complex, Roman ruins, a large crocodile and alligator farm, and a water park. Hamat Gader very close to the Jordan border (but is perfectly safe). The Roman city of Gadara is located in Jordan (see Irbid), in the hills above Hamat Gader; there is currently no access between the two. As a mnemonic, Hamat Gader is where you can see 'gators.
- Jordan River Baptismal Site. Christian site not to be missed. It is to be remembered, though, that the baptismal site described in the Gospels is situated a few miles away in Jordan. Bring swim wear and a robe if you plan on having a baptism in the river. An excellent restaurant is on premises: "Tmarim" fuses French cooking techniques with local Canaanite ingredients.
- 17 Belvoir Castle (Hebrew: Kokhav haYarden meaning 'Star of the Jordan') (20 km south of the Sea of Galilee shoreline and about 500 m above the floor of the Jordan Valley. From Route 90, travelling between Beth Shean and Tiberias, turn left onto route 717 (signposted) about 15 km north of Beth Shean. From the highway you can also walk up the hill directly, right after passing the mine - you just have to get over or through the tiny cattle fences.), ☎ . Currently closed and under reconstruction, but the surrounding area and mountain is still accessible. The fortress at Belvoir was originally a part of the feudal estate of a French nobleman named Velos who lived in Tiberias. Sold it to the Order of the Hospitallers in 1168, under their ownership Belvoir was built in a virtually impregnable fortress - a castle built in concentric design and strategically located on a number of primary trade and access routes. Belvoir served its primary purpose as an obstacle to the Muslim goal of invading the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem from the east, withsatnding the attack of Muslim forces in 1180.
Following the victory of the Muslim army under Salah al-Din (Saladin) over the Crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hattin, Belvoir was besieged, the siege lasting 18 months, until the defenders surrendered on 5 January 1189. Belvoir's fortification were dismantled in 1217-18 by the Muslim rulers who feared the reconquest of the fortress by the Crusaders. In 1240 Belvoir was ceded to the Crusaders by agreement, however lack of funds did not permit them to restore the fortifications and it eventually returned to Muslim control.
If you are lucky, you can see some Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) along the trail leading down from the eastern viewing point outside the castle. ₪18 adults, ₪8 children.
Many local bus lines start and terminate in Tiberias. Local buses are generally cheaper than Egged buses.
The Sea of Galilee itself is an interesting destination for water activities - leisure cruises, Christian holy site cruises, water sports, kayaking, SUP (standup paddleboarding), and more. Companies offering these attractions include Ein Gev Kinneret Sailing Company, Sail on the Sea of Galilee, and Halom Olami.
- Rob Roy - Jordan river kayaking (Down the road from the Baptismal site). Kayaking and other water activities on the Jordan River
Tiberias has many accommodation options listed.
- 1 Genghis Khan, Giv'at Yo'av (having a good map, you can hike up from the road along the lake), ☎ . Staying in a outdoor yurt. Grumpy owner and sheets are extra. But seems to be a good (family) experience staying. Dorm bed ₪100 plus sheets.
- 2 Ein Gev Holiday Resort (Ein Gev, on the shores of the lake), ☎ . One of the largest resorts in the area with 166 rooms. ₪560.
See also Tiberias for convenient destinations out of the Sea of Galilee region (by bus).
- Golan Heights (north) – A flat plateau made out of volcanic basalt, with streams cutting through the plateau, forming deep valleys and occasional waterfalls. Looks and feels much different from the rest of Israel.
- Jezreel Valley (southwest) – Famous for Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park and Mount Gilboa overlooking it.
- Beth Shean Valley (south)