Self Drive Tour of Christian Galilee regions help needed
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Apr 10, 2012 7:40 AM Last Post By: sandyfoot
Apr 9, 2012 2:07 AM
Self Drive Tour of Christian Galilee regions help neededHello, I have rented a car from jerusalem on the morning of Sunday June 3rd and have two nights at the Berger Hotel in Tiberias. I have already planned 3 days in Jerusalem prior to renting the car including a day to Jericho & Bethlehem. So I have from the morning of the 3rd of June to when we fly out at 5am on the 7th to explore outside Jerusalem specifically the areas around Galilee and dead sea, qumran, etc.
I am a bit overwhelmed with all the options though and where to go so would appreciate help in pointing me to the best resources to find the places. I have seen the 10 day tour programs that I like their galilee layout a lot, I just hate forced tour groups, so would basically like to do all of it on my own.
Main things I want to hit in 3 days/2 nights are:
Caesarea, Muhraqa, Mt. Carmel, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha , Mt. of Beatitudes, Cana, Mt. Tabor, Nazareth.
my plan is to do all that, stay, in jerusalem and then spend my last day driving out to dead sea/masada before flying out.
I know I can get there, I have bought 4 different guide books which describe places, etc, but how easy is it to do it by ourself for the christian sites? Is there a recommended map or guide book or site, where I could easily plan out the trip to show where in Capernaum to go? Where in Cana to go? etc? How difficult is it to have a good self-guided tour. I am a well travelled (more than 40 countries) seminary professor myself so I know all about the significance of the places, but have never been there before.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Apr 9, 2012 6:17 AM
1"Do it yourself" will not be difficult.
I would plan the itinerary as follows:
June 3 - drive to Dead Sea :Massada in the morning, swim at Ein Gedi beach, Qumran, if time permits. Overnight Tiberius (you should drive through the Jordan Valley in daylight).
June 4 - Galilee
June 5 - Galilee
June 6 - Acre, Muhraka, Caesarea (if time permits). Dinner in Caesarea or Jaffa. Drive to airport and return car at 1AM. (If your flight leaves at 5 AM you have to be at the terminal at 2 AM).
Apr 9, 2012 1:36 PM
2Thanks for the response. Do you have any recommendations on how to find all the places? I have never been there before. If I go to "Cana" is it easy to find the main places to go? If I drive to Nazarareth, is their clear signage, etc? Seems like many of the main sites are in kind of random places with a church over them. Any suggestions in this regard?
Apr 9, 2012 9:58 PM
3How to find the places ? You have four guidebooks !!!! You can also use the internet: search in Google for each of the sites that you want to visit and I am sure you will find maps on the web pages. Also use Google Maps. For example - Cana, which is located just north of Nazareth:
When you get to Israel, buy a good map at any bookstore ("Carta" publishes excellent maps in English) or rent a GPS with your car.
The highways in Israel are modern, numbered and all road signs are in English.
Apr 10, 2012 2:00 AM
4Mbgg has given you good advice. Let me elaborate a bit.
Three days in Jerusalem is so little time if you've included a full day at Bethlehem and Jericho within that timeframe. With such limited time, I'd suggest a half-day excursion to Bethlehem and skip Jericho.
In Galilee, I would have recommended using a kibbutz guesthouse as your base, such as Nof Ginosar or Kibbutz Lavi, rather than staying in the city of Tiberias.
On June 3, you should leave Jerusalem for the Judean Desert as early as possible - ideally by 07:30 or latest 08:00. If it needs to be later than 08:00 because of the rental car, consider renting the car the day before in order to get an early start. First visit Masada and have lunch in the visitors center cafeteria. Then head to "Mineral Beach" and not Ein Gedi for your Dead Sea bathing experience. End with Qumran National Park if there's time, but make sure you leave early enough on Hwy 90 going north to ensure you arrive in Tiberias area before nightfall.
On June 4 start touring at Mt of Beatitudes. Then head to the Church of the Primacy of Peter at Tabgha where you can actually walk down to the lake. Next visit the synagogue and House of Peter at Capernaum. Continue driving along the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee and stop for a traditional St Peter's fish lunch at the Ein Gev restaurant. Continue south along the eastern shores of the lake as it wraps around the southern shores. End your visit in the area at the Yardenit baptismal site before you head back to Tiberias.
On June 5 head first to Mt Tabor for the Church of the Transfiguration. Then to the Franciscan Wedding Church in Cana and finally to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Another fantastic site you might consider touring this day is Zippori National Park - don't miss the "Mona Lisa of Galilee" there.
On June 6, I agree with mbgg. Head west to Old Akko in the morning. On the way to Caearea National Park stop at Mukhraqa - but make sure to double check the opening hours there. At Mukhraqa, don't miss the view from the rooftop! Have dinner in Tel Aviv before your flight. A great restaurant in a beautiful historic area (with parking in a nearby lot) is Beliini in the Suzanne Delal Center in Neve Tzedek.
Apr 10, 2012 2:26 AM
5Wow Dave, that is such an incredibly helpful post. THANK YOU. That is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I think I could follow that route. Thank you especially for the extra details on suggestions especially. Extremely helpful.
If you had the time I'd love to ask a few follow ups.
1) You said 3 days for Jerusalem is not enough. We arrive at 10am on the 30th of May and are staying at Abraham Hostel for 4 nights currently, though everything is able to be canceled of all our plans. We are on a budget so need accomodation that is under 100/night. I thought two and a half days was enough for most of the major sites in jerusalem. that would leave a day for seeing Bethlehem & jericho. If you had the time any suggestions on how you would spend that time for a first timer interested in the Biblical sites?
2) staying in Galilee you mentioned two places that were better than Tiberias what is the reason for that? location? I ask, just because I tried to find a place that was under 100USD/night and those places are significantly more.
3) why is it important to get into Tiberias before dark?
Thank you so much for your help. The value of these forums have blown me away.
Apr 10, 2012 2:42 AM
6In Jerusalem, I would say that the City of David is a MUST if you see remains from the origins of the city under King David from 3,000 years ago. This site in and of itself is worth a half-day, especially if you decide to wade through water in Hezekiah's Tunnel. You're likely going to see some posters telling you that the City of David is not worth your time, I strongly disagree. Some are put off by the political reality of that site today, but it does merit tremendous historical significance.
In the New City of Jerusalem, you should consider a "MUST" an experience at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial - even if you are more interested in the biblical sites than the modern Jewish State. I would also say that the Israel Museum nearby is a MUST.
Your journey north on Hwy 90 from the Dead Sea to Tiberias technically passes through the West Bank, though the road is completely in the hands of Israel and the IDF and you are safe to drive it. It just makes sense to drive the portion that passes between the Jericho region and Beit Shean during daylight hours. Expect a delay at the military checkpoint just south of Beit Shean and have your passports handy.
In terms of lodging in Galilee, I'm not fond of Tiberias itself. The rural accommodations in Galilee are much nicer, but if you're budget doesn't allow for that, I"m sure your arrangements are fine.
Apr 10, 2012 3:09 AM
7If you are looking for cheaper lodging, you should consider the youth hostels. They have high standards, are open to everyone and have private rooms. The one at "Karei Deshe" north of Tiberius is in a good location and has its own private beach on the Sea of Galilee.
You can search for rural accommodation at http://www.zimmeril.com/
Unfortunately June 3 is a Sunday, which means that you cannot rent a car on Saturday evening in Jerusalem (all the agencies are closed on the Sabbath). So you will not get the very early start on Sunday and you may not have time for Qumran in the afternoon.
At the beginning of June it won't be totally dark until about 8PM. You shouldn't have any problem driving up the Jordan Valley in daylight because Qumran park is open only until 5 PM.
Apr 10, 2012 4:38 AM
8I'd strongly advise you to plan half a day + a night in Akko / Saint Jean d'Acre, it's one of the most beautiful places in Israel. I'd also advise you to have dinner at restaurant Uri Buri inside the Old City if you can spare some money.
If you can find the time go and visit the Kabbalist city of Safed / Tzfat, it's really beautiful and special.
As usual I will disagree with Dave and advise you to not to spend your hard-earned money in the City of David, which has more in common with Disneyland. If you're over 10 year old, I encourage you to visit instead the famous, beautiful underground tunnels under the Western Wall. You will need to book in advance as it's very popular, very atmospheric and extremely interesting from an archaeological point of view:
Apr 10, 2012 7:40 AM
9#5 If you are on the ''Abraham Hostel budget'', (a hostel which IMO is highly commended). Allow me to suggest for your consideration, as an alternative to #7's suggestion http://www.hostels-israel.com/Sea-of-Galilee/AvivHotel/ in Tiberius. The Aviv also has parking (but no breakfast), ask for a balcony room if available, the Arab guy who runs the Aviv Hotel is a local from Kfar Cana, and very friendly. While in Tiberius, take in the free sound and light show at the quay, every evening at dusk, except Fridays and religious holidays.
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