For Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is considered the cradle of organised religion. For thousands of years the major holy site has been the Tomb of the Patriarchs – the collective tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with their wives (except Rachel).
The largest Druze settlement in Israel, Daliyat al-Karmel is a sprawling town on top of Mt Carmel, about 16km south of Haifa (11km south of Haifa University). Years of growth have sent Daliya washing over the neighbouring hills and have nearly fused it with the smaller Druze village of Isfiya (Usfiyeh), just to the north.
Founded sometime in the 5th millennium BCE, Beit She’an – strategically situated at the intersection of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley – has the most extensive Roman-era ruins in Israel. It was levelled in the massive earthquake of 749 CE. The struggling modern town (population 17,200) has little to offer the visitor.
The hillside Arab town of Abu Ghosh, 13km west of Jerusalem off the main highway to Tel Aviv, makes for a pleasant half-day trip from Jerusalem. It’s known in the Bible as Kiryat Ya’arim (Town of Forests), where the Ark of the Covenant was said to have been located for 20 years until David moved it to Jerusalem (I Chronicles 13:5-8).
Founded in 1958 by pioneers of the Israeli vegetarian movement, Amirim (elevation 600m) is still 100% veggie – no one here cooks, eats or serves meat, fowl or fish. Set on the southeastern slopes of the Mt Meron massif, the moshav is known for its clean air (no chicken coops or cow sheds), excellent organic food and rustic guesthouses – a beautiful place to bliss out.
As you cross Arik Bridge on Rte 87 and continue northeast, the highway moves away from the Kinneret coast and runs around the edge of the verdant Bethsaida Valley, Israel’s largest natural wetlands. Moshav Ramot is 3km up the hill from Rte 92. Like Giv'at Yoav, 13km southeast of Kursi Junction, it’s on the western edge of the Golan.
The self-titled 'Israeli Riviera' offers 12km of the finest sandy beaches in Israel, while the town itself exudes a rather strange, time-warp feeling, almost like an out-of-season French seaside resort. It’s popular with families, who flock to the spacious promenade with its parks, flower beds and water features.
You don’t have to be a Christian pilgrim to enjoy the beauty of Mt Tabor, the biblical site of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28–36), in which ‘his face became as dazzling as the sun; his clothes as radiant as light’ and he spoke with the prophets Moses and Elijah.