Day Tour At The Coastal Cities of Central & Northern Israel
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Tel Aviv might be the most well-known coastal city, but there’s so much to see outside of the Israel’s biggest metropolis.
Even just ten minutes north of Tel Aviv is a stunning Crusader’s fortress of Apollonia, perched on the edge of seaside cliffs in the modern city of Herziliya. Apollonia was one of the most important fortresses and ports during the Crusader period, around 13th Century CE. The remains of an ancient castle and impressive moat system are still visible today, watching over a pristine and quiet beach.
Farther north, beyond some of the most beautiful beaches Israel has to offer at Beit Yanai and Mikhmoret, we will arrive at the ancient city of Caesarea, with its huge Roman amphitheater and well-preserved bathhouses, fortresses, and port. More than a thousand years ago, gladiators battled for their lives and horse-drawn chariots raced through the Roman Hippodrome. Caesarea has the best-preserved remains of the complicated Roman-Byzantine water system, which piped water from an inland spring to the city of Caesarea, located 10 kilometers away. A new visitor’s center located in the ancient stables brings the region’s history to life with technology and video renditions of what the ruins looked like at their heyday.
From Caesarea, we'll drive north to the industrial city of Haifa, passing by a village with white and blue houses called Jisr al Zarka (the Blue Bridge). This traditional fishing village is home to a sect of Arab Muslims known as Arab El Rawarna, a tribe that originated in the Jordan Valley area.
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As we continue driving north, there is another well-preserved coastal Crusader’s fortress (Wait, what? Three Crusader fortresses in just three minutes of reading? Welcome to Israel!). But we can’t reveal the location because it is inside a secret military facility, so you’ll have to join the tour if you want to hear more about this hidden fortress.
Our next stop is Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, a diverse and picturesque city where many religions coexist. The most noticeable one is the Baha’i religion, with their prominent and perfectly landscaped garden terraces built into the city’s cliffs. We will drive to the top of the impressive Baha’i Gardens to see the panorama of the port and the city, stretching out towards the Carmel mountains. We will learn a little bit about the Baha’i, their connection to Iran, and why so many other religious groups find the Holy Land so, well, holy.
Just half an hour north of Haifa is the city of Acre (Akko) founded on a natural bay. This was the capital of the Crusaders during their second period in the Holy Land, before it was conquered and destroyed by the Mamelukes at the end of the 13th century. The great French warlord Napoleon Bonaparte tried and failed to conquer this city, stymied by its high stone walls.
Today, Acre (Akko) is a vibrant city, known both for its history as well as its reputation for having what some people believe is the best hummus in all of Israel.
If time permits, we can continue northward as far as possible, to the Israeli-Lebanese border, home of the beautiful seaside grottos called “Rosh HaNikra” (The Grotto’s Head). A steep cable car can deliver us down to the bowels of the grotto, to see how the waves of the sea carved out a system of intricate caves.
Rosh HaNikra is just a stone’s throw away from Lebanon, inviting us to delve into some of the geopolitical realities of the region, including a recent war and what the future may hold.