Spring has sprung, the rain has gone (hopefully for good), and it’s time to soak up some rays. While the beaches in Tel Aviv are a decent option, not everyone is a fan of the sand. Alternatively, from up north and the Golan Heights to down south in the Negev and just outside Eilat, Israel boasts some of the most beautiful green spaces. Whether you’re looking for a green escape in the White City (Park HaYarkon is a must) or determined to venture further into the peacefulness of nature, you’re sure to find the perfect park or garden on our list. Put down that cellphone, breathe in the fresh air and embrace the (Holy) land.
The top gardens and parks in Israel
Kibbutz Ein Gedi is the only botanical garden in the world that people live in. Over 1,000 varieties of flora from around the world grow wild here, in addition to 1,000 types of cacti. Take a walk on one of the gentle hiking trails, admire the wildlife, or enjoy the waterfall. For those looking for a weekend getaway, there is a hostel on-site. A nursery sells seedlings for those looking to build their own gardens, while a petting zoo makes Ein Gedi the perfect destination for families.
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.
In the center of Israel lies the Utopia Orchid Park, an enclosed and air-conditioned site with the sounds and smells of a tropical rain forest. The park is surrounded by big green hills, each with a different activity, including a two-level labyrinth, a French classical maze, and an herb path with seven biblical species. Within the garden itself there are thousands of beautiful and exotic orchids as well as other tropical plants, including carnivorous ones. There are also animals throughout the park, a reservoir and a performing water fountain.
The Baha’i gardens are built on 19 terraces, beginning at the foot of the mountain and ascending towards its summit. The main axis points towards Acre, a historically and religiously important city to the Baha'i. At the center of the exceptionally beautiful and meticulously maintained gardens stands the Shrine of the Bab, the burial place of the religion's founder, whose golden dome illuminates the grounds. Various sections of the gardens are separated by gravel paths, trimmed hedges and flower beds, which are carefully tended to by a dedicated gardening team. The gardens offer splendid views of the Haifa Bay, the Galilee and the Mediterranean. It's possible to tour independently, but for an enlightening experience, join the free guided tours (every day but Wednesday). Reservations are not necessary. As the Baha'i Gardens are a Holy place, visitors are asked to dress modestly, keep the place clean and respect its special character.
Park Herzliya stretches over 180 acres, offering expansive lawns, a barbeque area, a stage and natural amphitheater, a lake and natural winter pond. Emphasis has been placed on preserving and boosting the natural environment, along with recreation and popular sports. There are walking paths, a 1,200 meter bike path that connects with other biking paths in the area, a mountain bike track, and a dedicated 1 km path for runners. The play facilities, suited to toddlers and older children, represent an architectural design and planning feat that is unique to all of Israel. Attractions include an 8 meter slide, rope bridges, and more.
Opposite the Knesset lies a magical garden with over 400 varieties of roses. In addition to some 15,000 rose bushes, the park features expansive lawns and an ornamental pond with aquatic plants. It’s a celebration of colors and smells and the perfect backdrop for selfie-lovers!
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.
Located just north of Eilat, Timna Park covers around 15,000 acres. At its center lies Mount Timna, approximately 1500 feet above sea level. The site has a range of attractions, including ancient rock formations like The Mushroom, The Arches, Solomon’s Pillars, The Valley of Rock Drawings, and offers activities like rappelling, zip-line, and bike tours. For those who want a total desert experience, overnight camping is available.
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.