Tiberias was founded as a Roman city sometime between 20 CE and 44 CE, and named for the emperor Tiberius. It became an important regional center, so much so that the Sea of Galilee was sometimes called the "Sea of Tiberias". During the 3rd century it became the center of Jewish scholarship in Israel, and the "Jerusalem Talmud" was in fact composed in Tiberias. From the 8th to 10th century, Tiberias was home to the Jewish Masoretes who recorded the definitive text, vowels, and pronunciation of the Bible which are used to this day. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Tiberias became an important center for Torah study again, and was regarded as one of the Jewish Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed.
Tiberias is now a small city focused on tourism. What most characterizes Tiberias is the lake, which presents its blue expanse from great viewpoints in the hills.
There are intercity and local buses from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, and other cities, which depart from and arrive at the 1 Central Bus Station. They usually make additional stops at certain points in the city too, ask your accommodation. Local buses, e.g. to Nazareth, are cheaper but take slightly longer.
From Jenin (and consequently Nablus and Ramallah) you can take a shared taxi (sherut/serviis) or hitch-hike to the border north (₪5-15 depending on the start) and cross on foot. Afterwards a taxi to Afula is ₪40-50. Alternatively, you can take bus 52 from the roundabout after the border into Afula (₪7.40). And from Afula take another regular bus (30, 442, 541, 991) to Tiberias (≈₪10).
Most of Tiberias' attractions are easily walkable. For most of the others, you can take a bus (from the central station) north or south along the Sea of Galilee coast.
Bus line 5 stops at most tourist attractions, most hotels, and Big Fashion Danilof Mall.
- 1 The Khan. This used to be Tiberias' central square, with a mosque at its centre.
- 2 Tiberias Castle/Fortress (The Citadel). The Turkish citadel was the highest point in the old town. It now houses an art gallery.
- 3 St Peter's Church. Hidden along the northern promenade, it is worth looking out for the lovely Franciscan church built by 12th-century Crusaders. The Muslims converted it into a mosque, and you can make out an area of uneven stone on the southern wall filling in the hole where a mihrab (prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca) was carved. Later, the Turks used the building as a caravanserai before it was rebuilt as a church in 1870.
- 4 The Scottish Compound. This was a small Scottish colony during the 19th century. It now houses a boutique hotel and a church.
- 5 Al-Amari Mosque. As out of place as a pin-stripe suited gent at a teenage rave, the dignified little mosque looks threatened and lost squeezed between some gaudy shops and a brusque concrete supermarket. Built by Daher al-Omar in the mid-18th century, the mosque is one of the very few buildings in Tiberias that predates 1948. It is generally held that its construction was partly paid for by the town's Jewish community, presumably grateful to the sheikh for being permitted to return.
- 6 Tomb of Rabbi Akiva. In the hilly upper neighborhood of Tiberias. It's about a 2-km uphill walk from the city center, so you may prefer to take local bus 6 instead, which runs every 20 minutes.
- 7 Old Cemetery. With Jewish and Muslim sections.
- 8 Tomb of Rachel (close to the old cemetery). Not the Biblical Rachel. This Rachel is the wife of Rabbi Akiva, who is buried in a different part of town.
- 9 Tomb of the Rambam (Maimonides). This revered rabbi, who died in 1204, was one of 12th-century Egypt's most highly regarded sages, while working as a doctor in the court of the Muslim ruler Saladin. Legend has it that before his death in Cairo, he instructed followers to load his remains onto a camel and bury him wherever the camel expired. The camel was apparently drawn to Tiberias. Next to the grave is the Maimonides Heritage Center museum. Also buried here is Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai, the leading rabbi at the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Ben Zakkai is said to have faked his own death, escaping the city hidden in a coffin, and then prophesizing that the Roman general Vespasian would become the new Caesar. When the prophecy came true, Ben Zakkai was granted one wish by the new leader; a Jewish learning centre for him and students.
- 10 Roman theater (Khirbet Qasra Atabraa) (far south of the city). Contains ruins from the Roman (1st century) and Arab (11th century) periods, as well as a playground for kids.
- 11 Berko Archaeological Park (far south of the city). Contains ruins from the Roman (1st century) and Arab (11th century) periods, as well as a playground for kids.
- 12 Tomb of Meir Ba'al Hanes. This 2nd-century rabbi, who helped to compile the Mishnah, is buried here. The tomb is marked by two synagogues: Sephardic (on the left with the white dome) and Ashkenazic (with the blue dome). In the courtyard of the Sephardic synagogue is a pillar topped by a large bowl, and four days before the Lag B'Omer holiday a bonfire is lit here on the Pesah Sheni (second Passover) holiday. Crowds of religious Jews visit throughout the year to pray, and it is a belief that God will answer the prayers of pilgrims with personal problems.
- 13 Hamath Tiberias National Park. 8:00-16:00 (closes earlier in holidays). Israel's spa craze actually has a 2000-year-old history which started at the hot springs of Hammat Tiberias when, during Roman times, they were the focus, if not raison d'être, of a community of 40,000 fervent bathers. Check out the history of the site at the Hammat Tiberias National Park, which features a small museum in what was part of a Turkish bathhouse. The main highlight is a synagogue dating from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, which has a beautiful zodiac mosaic floor. Much has been made of the mosaic's curious mix of Jewish and pagan symbols, but somehow this seems quite apt in Tiberias, a town that, historically, seems to have been able to reconcile the spiritual with the more earthly. The fame of Hammat Tiberias was such that in AD 110 the Emperor Trajan had a coin struck dedicated to the springs - with the image of Hygeia, the goddess of health, shown sitting on a rock, enjoying the water. The springs were also mentioned by Al-Idris, an Arab writer who lived during the Crusades, and were recommended by the Jewish sage Rambam to his patients. ₪14/12/7 Adult/Student/Child.
- 14 Sea of Galilee fountain-statue. Showing water level and shape of the Sea of Galilee.
- The Antiquities Museum. Housed in the Fishermen's Mosque, now under renovation.
- The Jewish Court. The site of three 19th-century synagogues at the heart of the old town.
- [formerly dead link] Amdur Fine Gallery. A contemporary art gallery featuring the works of several local artists.
- 15 [dead link] Dona Gracia Museum, HaPrachim 3, ☎ . Dona Gracia Nasi was a wealthy 16th-century Jewish woman. In 1558, the Ottoman Empire granted her control of the Tiberias region in exchange for an increase in tax revenue. She began to rebuild the abandoned villages in the area, hoping that Jewish refugees would be able to settle there. However, she died not too long afterwards in 1569. She is seen as an early predecessor of the Zionist movement, and all the more notable because female leaders were rare at the time. This museum is dedicated to her story. There is also a hotel located next to the museum, if you need a place to stay.
- Stroll along the promenade and catch a northern breeze
- Visit the City Spa, located within City limits and featuring thermal and sulfur pools
- Take a swim in the lake.
- Hire a bicycle and go cycling around the Kinneret lake (requires a whole day to complete the approximately 55-km circuit)
- There is no regular ferry service from Tiberias to Ein Gev on the other side of the sea, but you may be able to charter a boat as part of a large group. The "Kinneret Sailing Company" 04-665-8008 runs the boats.
- 1 Aqua Kef (Ganim beach). A water park which floats on the Sea of Galilee. Check that it is open before coming (probably closed in winter).
- Private Hot Springs Tour. Tiberias Hostel offers private spa tours to the hot springs south of the lake. The trip goes to some unofficial springs, not the public ones with entry fee. This tour includes beer and goes when there are at least three people. ₪50 pP.
- 1 Fish market.
- 2 The promenade.
- 3 Big Fashion Danilof Mall, 1 Yehuda HaLevi street. The only mall in Tiberias.
- 1 Shawarma & Falafel (Right at the corner, 70 m northwest of Tiberias Hostel). Great little restaurant. They also have inexpensive shawarma and falafel in pita bread. ₪25 for a big plate with Falafel, Hummus and endless Salad.
- 2 Avi's Restaurant, Ha kishon street (in front of Leonardo Club Hotel). 11:00-23:00. A very well known and famous restaurant in Tiberias. The place known for its delicious meats and its fresh fish from the Sea of Galilee.
- 3 Old Tveria restaurant (in the center). This is really a gourmet institution with reasonable prices (much cheaper than comparable restaurants in Tel Aviv). Try their filet mignon or Beef Strogonoff! An old British pub ambiance with outdoor terrace.
Many cheap hotels can be found along the shore and on the main street. If you do not have a booked reservation, consult any taxi driver (if you want to be ripped off).
- 1 Tiberias Hostel, Rabin Square - Hayarden Street (from the Central Bus Station, go 2 blocks east, downhill toward the Sea of Galilee; the hostel is in Rabin Square, on the left above the Bank, across from a large fountain). Check-out: 10:00. A wonderful owner, breakfast included in the price, five-minute walk to the sea and boardwalk, clean. Great price for all that you get. Two computers available for use with internet and video chat capabilities: no charge for usage; TV with cable, bathrooms in each dorm of four beds. Member of ILH. Dorm bed ₪70-85 (5% discount if you book with them directly).
- 2 Aviv Hostel, Hagalil Street 66, ☎ . Very poor hostel, many complaints on various websites. You will not want to stay here, but just in case Tiberias Hostel is full. ₪90.
- 3 David Hostel, Rachel Street, Tiberias, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Not really a hostel. A homely atmosphere, the hostel includes 10 rooms, each one with a bathroom, shower, TV & air conditioner. There are also 2 guest kitchens, a large lounge, a balcony, WiFi & laundry service. The hostel provides an authentic residential experience with exposure to the local living characteristics and a multicultural, pluralistic outlook. In addition, David, the owner, will happily offer you guidance and suggestions for great tours in the area over a steaming cup of herbal tea or a cool glass of water. The hostel is near public transportation routes and a local supermarket. David, the hostel's owner is always there for you with a smile and a sincere desire to assist in any way he can. The neighborhood is quiet and peaceful, allowing for complete and total relaxation. ₪240.
- 4 Scottish House hotel (1 Gdud Barak). An upscale boutique hotel, right at the center and steps from the water. Restored British decor and fancy tea time tradition.
- Prima Hotel (Prima Tiberias Hotel), 1 Elhadif Street, ☎ , fax: .
- 5 Royal Plaza Hotel, Ganei Menorah Blvd. content 2 km south of central Tiberias, on the main road. There is a free public beach adjacent to the hotel and the Young Tiberias Spa is in walking distance.
- 6 Rimonim Galei Kinnereth, 1 Eliezer Kaplan St, ☎ . Luxury hotel with spa and private beach.
- 7 Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Habanim St., Tiberias 14103, ☎ , fax: . Luxury hotel.
- The Sea of Galilee offers interesting destinations, easily reachable from Tiberias, including the famous and beautiful churches about 12 km northeast, and Arbel mountain northwest.
- Golan Heights is just across the lake.
- Nazareth – The largest Arab city in Israel and best known as the home of Joseph and Mary.
- Jenin – Its name means The spring of gardens. Read above on how to accomplish the trip there.
- Jericho – One of the oldest settlements in the world and the Middle East, and a great starting point for nearby Kalya Beach at the Dead Sea. Going south, stop at Belvoir Castle for a great view across the fertile Jordan valley.
- Jerusalem – Besides the Dead Sea, a central focus for most people coming to this region.
|Routes through Tiberias|
|Eilat ← Belvoir Castle ←||S N||→ Qiryat Shemona → Metula|