(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)
When it comes to visiting Israel, there are plenty of biblical sites to explore. We hired a car (which I would highly recommend!)so it was really easy visit lots of sites across Israel in a short period of time.
One of the places that we stopped off at was Mount Tabor, which I would recommend. Here’s a complete guide to use when planning a trip to the fascinating Mount Tabor.
Where is Mount Tabor?
The dome-shaped mountain is located in Lower Galilee. At the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, it offers 360 degree views of Northern Israel. On a clear day, visitors can see the valley as well as Mount Gilboa, the Samarian mountains, the Golan Heights, Mount Carmel, Afula, Gilead, both Lower and Upper Galilee and even Mount Hermon, at the Lebanese border- wow!
How to get to Mount Tabor
The closest international airport is Ben Gurion. You can get flights to here from various major cities worldwide: London, Munich, NYC, Paris. From here there are various ways to get to Mount Tabor and, of course, the nearby areas where you can stay.
Car hire is available at Ben Gurion Airport, and most tourists (myself included!) claim that driving is the easiest way to travel around Israel. We used Europcar, which was great value for money, quick and simple.
Whilst we didn’t drive directly from the airport to Mount Tabor, you can do if you wish. The drive to the Mount Tabor area is around 1.5 hours.
The nearest village is Kfar Tavor. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to get here by public transport. The 50 train will take you to Tel Aviv-Hashalom, where the 825 bus from Azrieli Mall will take you to the centre of Afula. From here, you can get the 442 bus for the 20 minute journey to Kfar Tavor.
Nazareth is also close to Mount Tabor. Getting here also takes 2.5 hours, but might be slightly less complicated. It again involves the 50 train from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv, then you’ll get the 826 bus from Azrieli Mall directly to Hapikud Junction in Nazareth.
From either of these towns, you can drive to Mount Tabor. You can also walk via the Israel National Trail. This will take a few hours but if you’re a keen walker, it might be worth doing! Once you get to the peak, there is a car park area from which you can continue driving to the summit. Again, you can hike to the summit instead or hop on a minibus.
If driving or hiking isn’t your thing, guided tours and day trips to Mount Tabor and the surrounding area are also available.
Things to do at Mount Tabor
There is an entire church complex at Mount Tabor. Known as the Church of the Transfiguration, it is a Franciscan church believed to be the site where the Transfiguration of Christ happened. The current church was built in the 1920s on the ruins of an ancient Byzantine church and a 12th-century Crusader Kingdom church.
The Church of Transfiguration contains three grottoes. These belonged to the Crusader church and are said to represent the three huts that Peter wanted to build, for Jesus, Moses and Elias/Elijah. The Grotto of Christ is in the eastern part of the church, and there are two chapels – one for Moses and one for Elijah.
There is also a gold mosaic within the church. On August 6th each year, the sun strikes a glass plate which illuminates the mosaic. This date is considered to be the day of the Transfiguration.
The church is surrounded by the ruins of a Benedictine monastery. It’s interesting to walk around and soak up the architecture, even if you’re not particularly interested in biblical sites.
TIP: the church is open from 8-11.45am and then again from 2-5pm, and modest clothing is required for entry.
If you’re a keen walker, hiking up Mount Tabor is an incredible way to spend a day. At 575m high, the mountain is not particularly high – so you don’t need too much hiking experience. There are three different hiking trails:
- The Long Trail: beginning at the Bedouin village or Shibli, at the foot of Mount Tabor, this trail is 5km long.
- The Short Trail: this is a 2.5km nature trail at the summit.
- The Israel National Trail: this much lounger route encompasses Mount Tabor.
Read also: Visiting Haifa: A complete guide
There are also plenty of beautiful walking trails in the woodlands surrounding the mountain itself. You can also do jeep tours that encompass Mount Tabor! If you’re feeling really daring, you can actually paraglide at Mount Tabor if the wind conditions are right for it.
Where to stay when visiting Mount Tabor
As mentioned above, there are two places you can stay that are close to Mount Tabor. These are Nazareth and Kfar Tavor. There are plenty of options depending on what you’re after…
Kfar Tavor and nearby
At 1.8 miles from Mount Tabor, the Pearl of the Valley Hotel is bright, modern and spacious. It has free WiFi and free parking, as well as a bar, a garden and terrace, a chapel and a 24h front desk. There is a petrol station nearby, which is ideal if you are driving around Israel, and the location is ideal for hiking.
Just outside of Kfar Tavor and approximately 4 miles from the mountain itself, you can book a beautiful 6-capacity villa. With a city view, functional kitchen, modern decor and plenty of outdoor space, this accommodation is ideal for larger families. The kitchen means you are free to eat whenever you want! There is free WiFi, and pets are allowed too. There’s even a jacuzzi…
2.5 miles from Mount Tabor lies a beautiful country house. It has rooms that sleep up to 4, all with private bathrooms and air-conditioning. There’s free WiFi, an outdoor dining area, wellness facilities and the opportunity to arrange airport drop offs.
The Al Mutran Guest House, in the old city of Nazareth, is a 200 year old Arab mansion that has been converted into a hotel. There are a variety of room types, from economy rooms to family rooms – all are non-smoking. The guest house has free WiFi, private parking, traditional decor and stunning rooms. Mount Tabor is around 5 miles away.
The eConci Apartments in the Latin Quarter sleep up to 5 people. It’s one apartment, with two bedrooms and a sofa bed – there’s a balcony and fantastic views, airport transport can be arranged and the kitchen provides the freedom to eat whenever you want. Mount Tabor is 5.2 miles from this apartment.
There’s your complete guide to visiting Mount Tabor – enjoy your trip!