The Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) is a magnificent geographical marvel surrounded by pretty rural agricultural settlements. Famous because of its prominence among New Testament writings (as is the whole of the Galilee as the place Jesus lived), the Sea of Galilee is one of the earliest settled areas in the Land of Israel and boasts archaeological ruins sitting alongside some of the first pioneering settlements in Israel, as well as religious sites, modern cities, and endless outdoor pursuits.
Places to visit at the Sea of Galilee
Net Fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of James Emery via Flickr
Whilst Tiberias, the largest city around the Sea of Galilee, and a holy city in Judaism, is nothing special in itself, it is here that you can visit the Tiberias Hot Springs, ancient pools filled with water from 17 natural springs, for some pampering. The springs also have massage and mud treatments and Turkish Baths. From Tiberias, and elsewhere on the lake, it is possible to rent a bike and cycle around the Sea of Galilee. The region also has loads of hiking trails, including Sea of Galilee Trail which encircles the lake (and can be biked along), and the Jesus Trail which runs from Nazareth to the ancient, and Biblically important site of Capernaum, on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The coolest place we know around the Sea of Galilee is Rob Roy’s Canoes. Near Kibbutz Kinneret, and on the banks of the Jordan River south of the lake, this oasis is a relaxing spot. Canoes can be hired for the lake, or you can just sit on a bedouin rug, with Bob Marley music playing in the background, under the shade of a tent, and watch the water flow through a river which is so steeped in and important in the history of the world. Nearby, Kibbutz Degania, the earliest kibbutz in Israel, is an interesting place to visit.
Jesus Boat on the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of Allan Lee via Flickr
For an extreme view of the Sea of Galilee, above the Eastern shores of the lake, Switzerland is a forest and driving trail. Suitable for all cars, this tarmacked road affords fantastic views of the lake. And for a more unique way of exploring the lake itself, take a Jesus Boat, which is a wooden boat in the style of the time of Jesus for a ride on the lake and get a unique perspective of the geography and scenery, in surroundings which are out of the Bible.
About 5 miles east of the Sea of Galilee is Hamat Gader – Hot Springs one of Israel’s most popular attractions. With mineral springs of up to 50 degrees, there have been ancient baths here for almost 2000 years. There is also an alligator and exotic bird reserve!
There are lots of open access points to the beaches surrounding the Sea of Galilee, although these are unserviced. If you dont require facilities, the best beach is Tsemach Beach on the eastern shore, where you can also rent basic facilities for a small fee.