If birthright taught you anything, it’s that Israel has its fair share of unbelievable views. The amount of scenic hikes, panoramic lookouts, and brilliantly green national parks visited in just ten days is is impressive. You’ve scaled the country from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea and while you probably got a taste of the top gardens and national parks in Israel (and of Tel Aviv nightlife, but you struck that from your memory), you definitely didn’t have time to savor every bit of nature. Whether you’re a first time enthusiast or a grass-loving hippie (as in the kind that grows in parks, but no judgment), it’s time to embrace all that is green with our guide to the most stunning national parks in Israel.
National parks in Israel worth visiting
Visiting Gamla National Park gives visitors the chance to either view the antiquities from a distance or get up close and personal by hiking up the steep trail through the ancient ruins. The park also creates a place for visitors to view the many vultures that call this national park home. After viewing the vultures and antiquities, take a hike to view Mount Gamla and the beautiful Gamla Waterfall.
The Qumran National Park is famous for being the site where the oldest Biblical manuscripts, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were found by a Bedouin shepherd. Even though the manuscripts have since been moved to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, there’s still plenty to see at Qumran. Antiquities and ancient ruins point to a hermit Jewish sect, known as the Essenes, that once resided in the area, cutting themselves off from worldly pursuits and engaging in a life of reflection and celibacy. Some theorize that it was the Essenes themselves who owned the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Beit Guvrin was the home of a settlement of people thousands of years ago. Left behind is a testimony to their lives, including a Roman amphitheatre, ruins of a fortress and church from the Crusader period and caves used for a variety of purposes. The national park has sparse woodlands and Mediterranean scrub, rich with a sampling of flora and fauna. Like many places in Israel, Beit Guvrin is an impressive place to see remains from ancient times, reminding us of where humans have been. Keep your eyes open, you might spot a Palestine Mountain Gazelle, golden jackal, striped hyena or red fox!
Walking along Apollonia beach grants visitors the opportunity to look up at ancient ruins and out at the Mediterranean's crystal clear waters. With upgraded walking paths and stunning coastal cliff views, this beach is a perfect escape just minutes from Tel Aviv. For a family fun day or a romantic sunset stroll, Apollonia National Park is guaranteed to get you living like the kings and queens that used to reign over this ancient gem of a beach
Affording spectacular panoramic views of the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, Mount Hermon and nearby villages, Arbel also has the added archaeological bonus of an ancient synagogue with enormous Corinthian capitals and an abandoned fortress. The hike to the Carob lookout is an easy 30-minute stroll from the parking lot, and from there you can head on to the nearby Sea of Galilee lookout.
A 25 acre park, Korazim is one of the most well preserved ancient cities dating back to the Second Temple era. Korazim is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three cities cursed by Jesus (along with Bethsaida and Capernaum). Antiquities are a dime a dozen here, and the stones are stained black having been hewed from the volcanic basalt rock. Check out the basaltic fourth century synagogue and ancient ritual bath, or mikve.
Pine trees and hundreds of plant species abound in this mountain range. Its evergreen character is consistent all year round, making it appear oddly disparate with the rest of Israel. In December of 2010, one of Israel’s worst natural disasters occurred when forest fires spread through 6,500 acres of the wooded mountain range. Still, a major rehabilitation project has been underway since, and Mount Carmel has managed to restore much of its former glory.
Gan HaShlosha, otherwise known as Sachne, is one of the most beautiful places in Israel. Located in the Lower Galilee, it is believed by some to be the location of the Garden of Eden. Warm spring water flows into landscaped pools, with a year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Take a dip or bask in the shade of a palm tree on soft grass. The park hosts an archaeology museum, tower and stockade. It is a restoration of the settlement Tel Amal, established by Jewish pioneers in 1936. Gan HaShlosha is the perfect spot for those looking to get away for a relaxing day of swimming and sun.
Not to be confused with a crater, Ein Ovdat is a canyon in the Negev desert, just south of Kibbutz Sde Boker. According to archaeological evidence, the area was once inhabited by Nabateans and Catholic monks. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a great hiking destination. Start your day off at the bottom of the Ein Ovdat Visitor's Center then take a brief 50 minute stroll over to the foot of the canyon for a casual walk along the Tsin Wadi (one of the largest wadis in the Negev). After taking in the incredible sights, including waterfalls, unique lime and flint formations, and herds of ibex and other animals, you’ll scale the canyon for a panoramic view of Ein Ovdat.
With artifacts dating back to the second millennium BCE, visitors to Achziv Beach will be greeted with soft sand and rich history. As a dedicated national park, this protected area provides the perfect opportunity to relax on the beach while also exploring some historical ruins