Have you been wanting to visit the Sea of Galilee but is unsure where to stay? We recommend Tiberias on its western shores. It dates back to 20 CE and is widely considered as one of Israel’s Holy Cities, of equal footing to Safed, Jerusalem, and Hebron. Due to its rich (and when we say rich, we mean it spans thousands of years) and great location, there is no better place to experience the Sea of Galilee than Tiberias.
So what awaits you in the city? Apart from amazing accommodations, such as Airbnb vacation rentals, there is also an impressive lineup of public and private beaches, water parks right on the lake, local restaurants, pilgrimage sites, and unexpected places where art, culture, and history collide. Continue reading to find the best things to do in Tiberias, Israel.
Hotel & Museum Doña Gracia is high up on our list of unique accommodations in Tiberias. As soon as you enter, you’ll be transported back to the 16th century with its Sephardic style and ambiance. Despite being furnished and designed this way, this kosher hotel in Tiberias still feels surprisingly modern. Maybe it’s the free wireless internet! The Sea of Galilee is just a short walk away, and the entertainment area is located nearby as well. This isn’t just a hotel museum—it’s also one heck of a conveniently located accommodation.
Kinneret, Lake Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee—this biblical body of water is the most major point of interest if you visit Tiberias (or any of the towns located along its shoreline). This freshwater lake is not only known for its importance in Christianity, but it’s also the lowest lake of its kind in the world and, after the Dead Sea (which is all saltwater), the second lowest lake ever. From above, the Sea of Galilee slightly resembles the shape of a violin, hence its name in Hebrew (Kinneret). There are plenty of activities to do here, swimming being the most popular. You can also go boating and try out water sports, such as wakeboarding, wind and kite surfing, kayaking, and sailing, especially on windy days. Cruising is another option, with cruise boats docked in Tiberias.
Duration: 8 hours
3. Admire the ancient mosaics at Hamat Tiberias National Park
Hamat Tiberias National Park has one of the finest and best-preserved samples of ancient mosaics depicting Israel’s oldest synagogues. But that’s not all there is to see in this national park in Israel. You can soak at the hot springs, check out the antiques display hall, and visit Severus’s synagogue, which has been around since 230 CE.
Hamat Tiberias National Park
Address: Tiberias, Israel
Website: Hamat Tiberias National Park
Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 8am - 5pm; Fri: 8am - 4pm
Price: 2 - 4 USD
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4. Finish the water course at Aqua Kef
Only opened in 2016, Aqua Kef is the first floating water park in Israel, right on the Sea of Galilee. There’s a dedicated park for small children, and the main aqua park is open to kids ages six and up. This latter part of Aqua Kef is divided into three sections. Start easy at the family level, move on to the challenge level once you have the confidence, and compete with your friends or other groups at the Olympic area.
Address: Hof Ganim, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Aqua Kef
Opening hours: Sun - Thur: 9:30am - 3pm; Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat)
Price: From 10 USD
5. Kick back and relax at Gai Beach Water Park
If you’re not up to camp at Aqua Kef, you have the option to stay at nearby Gai Beach Hotel and Water Park. Here, you can extend your holiday by the Sea of Galilee and make the most out of the pleasant Mediterranean weather. Take your pick among the seven water slides, or just lie back at the poolside. There are kid-friendly facilities and just enough features to keep guests of all ages entertained.
Gai Beach Water Park
Address: Eli'ezer Kaplan Blvd, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Gai Beach Water Park
Opening hours: 9:30am - 5pm (daily)
Price: From 20 USD
6. Pamper yourself at Tiberias Hot Springs
Soak in Tiberias Hot Springs’ mineral thermal baths. You can opt to relax in the indoor bath during the winter, then come out to play during better weather. Both the indoor and outdoor mineral baths have pool jets to help you loosen those knots even more. If you want to do some laps, check out the semi-Olympic freshwater pool, which is open every summer. Other facilities on-site include saunas, a spa, a fitness club, and two dining options.
Tiberias Hot Springs
Address: Eliezer Kaplan Boulevard, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Tiberias Hot Springs
Opening hours: Varies
7. Pay your respects at the Tomb of Maimonides
Maimonides, also known as Rambam, is widely regarded as one of the most important Jewish philosophers ever to grace this earth. He died in Egypt in 1204 and was interred in Tiberias. Since then, the Tomb of Maimonides has become a pilgrimage site of utmost importance. It was recently renovated, with a roof added to keep visitors and pilgrims under the shade and protected from the sun.
Tomb of Maimonides
Address: Ben Zakkai St, Tiberias, Israel
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. Explore the Crusader Castle of Tiberias
Not long ago, archaeologists discovered the remains of a crusader fortress that dates back to the 12th century. Located in the Jewish Quarter of the city, the now-called Crusader Castle of Tiberias is believed to be where Princess Eschiva—the wife of Galilee’s leader Raymond III—and a bunch of Crusader knights were staying before Saladin and his forces made the march to capture the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Fortunately, they were allowed to leave for Tripoli unscathed. Not much of the fortress remains. You can view its ruins in the Old City.
Crusader Castle of Tiberias
Address: Jewish Quarter, Tiberias, Israel
9. Enjoy sea views for free at Yigal Allon Promenade
Don’t fancy spending a ton of your travel budget just to admire the Sea of Galilee? Take a stroll along Yigal Allon Promenade instead of blowing your bucks at a cafe, restaurant, or resort. Find a nice spot and watch the sunset or see the promenade come alive at night. You can also make a picnic out of this—bring snacks or some drinks, and enjoy some me-time at the boardwalk.
Yigal Allon Promenade
Address: Yigal Allon Promenade, Tiberias, Israel
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
10. Indulge in some retail therapy at Big Tiberias
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Check out the local retail offerings at Big Tiberias, where you can also see international brands such as H&M and more. Restock on essentials, refresh your wardrobe, or simply go window-shopping—the choice is all yours. Like any mall, Big Tiberias is a one-stop shop, so you can check out restaurants and services here as well.
Address: Ha-Mavreg St 1, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Big Tiberias
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9:30am - 9:30pm; Fri: 9am - 2:30pm (closed on Sat)
11. Visit another pilgrimage site: the Tomb of Rabbi Meir
An important religious leader, Rabbi Meir, is entombed in this complex. Known as the Mishnah or master of miracles during his lifetime (he lived in the second century), Rabbi Meir is considered one of the great Tannaim or Rabbinic sages of the fourth generation, if not the greatest. In this complex, you can also find a lively market selling souvenirs, amulets, and other tokens to remember your visit.
Tomb of Rabbi Meir
Address: 90 Rd, Tiberias, Israel
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 6am - 10pm; Fri: 6am - 4pm (closed on Sat)
12. Visit The Great Mosque
Also known as Al-Omari Mosque, The Great Mosque counts as one of the oldest buildings ever built in Tiberias. It was erected in 1743 by Daher Al Omar and served as a major place of worship for the city’s Muslim inhabitants. However, it hasn’t been used since the Arab minority left Tiberias in 1948. In its present condition, The Great Mosque is in various states of disrepair. It definitely stands out in the commercial complex that surrounds it. You can still admire its black basalt walls and striped minaret—both striking architectural features that survive to this day despite the lack of rehabilitation or preservation.
The Great Mosque
Address: HaBanim St, Tiberias, Israel
13. Sample the wine at Berenice Winery
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate the region enjoys, Tiberias produces quite a batch of delicious wines. You can find some of the best at Berenice Winery, a local boutique winery located not far from the Sea of Galilee. Each year, the company produces about 4,000 bottles of wine, made from grapes grown in the area. Aged in oak barrels, these grapes are transformed into award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, which serves as the establishment’s base wine. You can sample Berenice’s offerings, including their fruity wines and Chardonnay at the house-turned-winery.
Address: 20 Yo'hanan Ben Zakai St, Tiberias 1424219, Israel
Website: Berenice Winery
Opening hours: Thu: 11am - 6pm; Fri: 9am - 6pm (closed on Sat - Wed)
14. Go on a picnic at HaTchelet Beach
Also known as Light Blue Beach, HaTchelet Beach is definitely Tiberias’s prettiest and cleanest beach. It’s great for kids, family recreation, and simple picnics with views of the Sea of Galilee. Feel free to park your rental car free of charge, and rest easy if you’re bringing the children—the lifeguards will make sure they’re safe. Facilities on-site include showers and toilets. There’s a restaurant as well, where you can order an array of snacks, drinks, and more. It’s usually open from May to October, so do quick research beforehand if you plan to check this one out.
Address: Gdud Barak St 17, Tiberias, Israel
Website: HaTchelet Beach
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (May - Oct)
Price: 14 - 17 USD
15. Immerse in contemporary art at Amdur Fine Gallery
The first art gallery of its kind in Tiberias, Amdur Fine Gallery is a space devoted to contemporary works by some of Israel’s established and emerging artists. Several areas of the gallery exhibit creations of “house artists,” their art spanning different disciplines such as painting and sculpting. If you’re a fan of impressionist art, you’re guaranteed to have a good time here.
Amdur Fine Gallery
Address: 10 Hakishon St, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Amdur Fine Gallery
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 1pm - 10pm; Fri: 10am - 3pm (closed on Sat; also by appointment)
16. Find inner peace at St. Peter's Church
Whether you’re religious or otherwise, it’s undeniable that St. Peter’s Church is one of the most peaceful spots in Tiberias. Built in the 12th century, it’s a crusader church with a rich history. When Tiberias fell under Muslim control, the church was used as a mosque. It was only in the 18th century when it was claimed once again as a Catholic site of worship. Outside, you can enjoy the breeze at the courtyard, where grapevines crawl all around. Inside, pray or admire the paintings that depict Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. From here, take note of the church’s ceiling that’s reminiscent of a boat. It’s a nod to St. Peter’s background as a fisherman.
St. Peter's Church
Address: Tiberias, Israel
Website: St. Peter's Church
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 8:30am - 12:30pm, 2:30pm - 5:30pm (Mass on Sun)
17. Go hiking in Switzerland Forest
Take a break away from the city streets and enjoy the breeze as you walk through the woods in Switzerland Forest. Its highest point is up at Poriah Heights, steeply sloping down into the Sea of Galilee. The reason why it’s called Switzerland Forest is that the said country made a contribution to the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL - JNF), which then proceeded to plant the mountainside with trees. Today, you can walk among giants like cypresses, acacias, and a number of indigenous woodland species such as Persian turpentine, carob, and Christ’s thorn jujube. There are three observation points along the trail where you can rest and take pictures, as well as a bicycle path if you want the added challenge. For those who want to completely experience the forest, camping is allowed at certain sites.
Address: Poriah Heights, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Switzerland Forest
18. Observe local beach traditions at Separate Beach
If you want a truly local experience, consider visiting a “separate” beach, where men and women stay in different areas in accordance with the religious customs of the place. It’s great for conservative folks or travelers who want to spend the day at the beach but don’t feel particularly comfortable lounging around in their swimming attire with members of the opposite sex around. Needless to say, visiting the separate beach offers a look at Tiberias’s local customs and religious background. Furthermore, you’ll get to enjoy the refreshingly cool waters of the Sea of Galilee here.
Address: Tiberias, Israel
Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat)
19. Enjoy French Mediterranean cuisine at Little Tiberias Restaurant
Family-owned Little Tiberias Restaurant is widely known as one of the best places to eat in the city. Here, you can treat yourself to an incredible array of French Mediterranean fares, such as beef stroganoff, entrecote beef steak, and shrimp martini. These dishes (and more) pair well with Little Tiberias Restaurant’s collection of wine, not to mention must-try desserts. The restaurant’s location on the city wall of Tiberias adds a historic and old-world ambiance to the dining experience.
Little Tiberias Restaurant
Address: HaKishon St, Tiberias, Israel
Website: Little Tiberias Restaurant
Opening hours: 12pm - 10:30pm (daily)
20. Grab a beer at Big Ben Pub
What’s a good way to end a day exploring Tiberias? With a glass or bottle of cold beer! Head to Big Ben Pub for refreshments. Your selection includes a lineup of Israeli and international craft beer. Start with a nice 5 percent, then try out the stronger stuff, such as Duvel at 8.5 percent and La Chouffe at 8 percent. You’re also going to have a field day at Big Ben Pub if you’re a whiskey lover—options range from Johnnie Walker to Macallan. The drinks menu contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and cocktail offerings too. And of course, if you’re feeling peckish, try out the house-recommended dishes: Fisherman’s Surprise, Plate of the Lake, shrimp in butter and garlic, and entrecote skewers.
Big Ben Pub
Address: Tiberias, Israel
Website: Big Ben Pub
Opening hours: 9am - 12am (daily)
Make Tiberias your starting point to experience the wonders around the Sea of Galilee
Tiberias has everything, from religious pilgrimage sites to family-owned restaurants you definitely need to try. There are amazing hotels in Tiberias as well. From here, you can slowly make your way through other notable cities and towns in the area to complete the Sea of Galilee experience.
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