The most isolated of the Nabataean towns, Shivta was founded during the early Roman period (1st century BCE). Its ruins date from the Byzantine period (4th to 7th centuries CE), when it was an important stop on the caravan route between Egypt and Anatolia. They include churches, houses, tiled streets and an impressive irrigation system.
Much easier to reach than Shivta, Mamshit National Park is the ancient city also known as Memphis or Kurnub. It is the smallest but best-preserved Nabataean city in the Negev. Overlooking Wadi Mamshit, the settlement dates from the 1st century CE; it was later used by the Romans.
Rishon LeZion (First to Zion), just 20km south of Tel Aviv, makes for a pleasant half-day trip. Founded in 1882 by European Jewish immigrants, its Old City is based on Rothschild St and includes the Great Synagogue, built in 1885 and registered as a warehouse because the Turkish authorities wouldn’t allow the Jews a place of worship.
Prepare for Armageddon! If you're driving northeast along Rte 65, it will be on your left just off Rte 66. Known in Hebrew as Tel Megiddo, this is where it's said that St John predicted the last great battle on earth would take place (Revelation 16:14 and 16:16). It is now part of Megiddo National Park.
This isolated hilltop hamlet off Rte 98 (and on the Golan Trail), with its staggering views and winter snows, is a great place to bliss out. The total population is only six families. Rama bus 58 linking Kiryat Shmona with Majdal Shams stops at Nimrod Junction, on Rte 989 2km below Nimrod. Accommodation owners are happy to pick you up, or you can walk.
The smallest and quietest of the Golan’s Druze villages is in a valley just up the hill from Nimrod Fortress, 2km south of Rte 989. The four doubles and two spacious apartments of Snabl Druze Hospitality – the name, which means 'ear of wheat' in Arabic, is pronounced snah-bel – afford fine views of Nimrod Fortress and the Hula Valley.
Eilat is surrounded by jagged, red-rock mountains created by the tectonic movements of the Great Rift Valley (Syrian-African Rift). The desert environment, blazing with glorious colours (especially at sunrise and sunset), is home to a huge variety of wildlife, flora and fauna. Hikers will want to head for the Eilat Mountains.
Sandwiched between Rte 2 (the Tel Aviv–Haifa expressway) and the Mediterranean, Jisr az-Zarka (population 13,500) is Israel's only remaining seaside Arab village. It is named for a stone bridge over adjacent Al-Wadi Az-Zarka (the Blue River), constructed for the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898.
Ani'am Artists Village
This quiet moshav, 9km southeast of Katzrin (and about 1km off Rte 808), is home to eight attractive ateliers and galleries arrayed along a brick-paved pedestrian street. The artists – including two ceramicists and a New York–born goldsmith, Joel Friedman of Golan Gold, who makes exquisite braided gold jewellery – are happy to tell visitors about their crafts.
Founded by German-Jewish refugees in 1935, Nahariya still feels a bit like a Central European beach resort of the interwar era. The town's focal point is 1km-long HaGa'aton Blvd, lined with cafes, ice-cream joints, flower shops and places to eat, which runs along both banks of the eucalyptus-shaded Ga'aton River (actually a concrete canal).