Gan HaShlosha © Shutterstock

When nature calls: the best gardens & parks in Israel

When nature calls, we answer. Go green at these Israel-wide gardens & parks

Written by
Jennifer Greenberg
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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. So from the many things to do in Israel, 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

  • Attractions
  • Wildlife centers
  • Park  HaYarkon

New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and Tel Aviv has it’s very own Hayarkon Park. The popular green lung (also known as Ganei Yehoshua Park) is nestled in the north of the city with the Yarkon River running through it. Swathes of joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and young mothers taking a stroll, pack the park every day, making it come alive with its own unique personality. Pitch a spot on the grass and spend the day basking in the sun while watching the beautiful people of Tel Aviv go by – something we definitely recommend. But if you’re up for something a little more adventurous, this urban park has plenty on offer for nature lovers right through to extreme sports enthusiasts. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Hadar-Carmel‏

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.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Golan Hights

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.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
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.
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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Mount Carmel

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.   

  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Herzliya

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

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Judaean Mountains
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! 
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
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.
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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Dead Sea

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. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

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.  

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  • Attractions
  • Wildlife centers

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.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Negev
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.
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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Yemin Moshe

Teddy Park tells the story of Jerusalem’s development during Teddy Kollek’s tenure as Mayor of Jerusalem. The special featured attraction, the Hassenfeld Family Fountain, has computerized water performances set to light and specially composed music. The fountain’s performances integrate 256 water hoses, 1,500 light bulbs and original music created by the New Jerusalem Orchestra.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Governmental Campus
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!
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  • Attractions
  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Sea of Galilee
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.
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Ein Gedi
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.
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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Jerusalem
Here, you can travel from Europe to North America and from Asia to the Mediterranean without stepping on a single plane. Climb aboard the flower train or wander along enchanting, leafy paths, enjoying the garden's bloom. 
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Park  HaYarkon
Enter the fanciful world of the Tropical Gardens at Park Hayarkon and prepare to be transported to another realm. Although just in Tel Aviv, the creators of this space have managed to bring in hundreds of plant species that aren’t native to Israel, ultimately turning this garden into a plant museum. Perfect for all ages and fitness abilities, take a stroll down the elegant wooden walkways shaded by palm trees and eventually realize you're walking in a completely environmentally stable community of rainforest plants. Park Hayarkon is filled with a massive variety of attractions, and the Tropical Gardens give visitors another opportunity for exploration.  
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