(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)
The Sea of Galilee, whilst not technically a sea, is one of the most important biblical landmarks in the world. It is where Jesus is said to have walked on water. Every year tourists flock to visit – so here’s everything you need to know about making a trip to Sea of Galilee.
Where is the Sea of Galilee?
The Sea of Galilee is in the northeast of Israel. It is located in the Jordan Rift Valley, between the Golan Heights and the Galilee region. This valley was caused by the separation of the African and Arabian plates – so earthquakes are common.
Confusingly, the Sea of Galilee is actually a lake. It is the lowest freshwater lake on the planet, at levels of between 215m (705ft) and 209m (686ft) below sea level!
Other names of the Sea of Galilee
There are various other names for the lake itself. This can get confusing: street signs or information boards might not say what you’re expecting them to say. Other names include:
- Lake Tiberias
- Buhayrat Tabariya
- Yam Kinneret
Fun fact: Kinneret is Hebrew for ‘violin’ – this is said to be the shape the lake most closely resembles.
Getting to the Sea of Galilee
The closest city to the Sea of Galilee is Tiberias. To get to Tiberias, you can fly to Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv. Flights arrive here from various cities around the world such as London, Paris, Madrid, Los Angeles and more.
The airport is 130km from Tiberias. Whether you choose the 1.5 hour drive (you can hire a car or use a local taxi company) or the 3 hour train and bus journey, there are plenty of ways to get to the city.
Tiberias is on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. You will have fantastic views of the lake from the city, and especially from the newly renovated Tiberias Promenade.
Read also: Visiting Mount Tabor: A complete guide
You can also incorporate a visit to the area on a day trip from other Israeli cities. A lot of tourists choose to stay in either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and there are a variety of organised tours that take you to see the Sea of Galilee amongst other fascinating places.
Beaches at the Sea of Galilee
There are plenty of beaches around the lake. Depending on what you’re after, there is bound to be the perfect beach for you. Tsemach Beach is one of the best: for a small fee you can enjoy all the amenities it has to offer. These include chairs, umbrellas, dining facilities, lifeguards and an on-site water park!
Gofra Beach is another popular beach around the Sea of Galilee – especially with campers. Open all week, it is lined with Eucalyptus trees making it perfectly shaded for pitching tents. Upgrade your pitch to include a picnic table, lighting, a fridge and more.
Another tourist haven in the area is Bora Bora Beach. Privately owned, it has everything you might need. From sofas to grassy areas, shower and restrooms, various seating levels and long opening hours – the beach has it all. Perfect for families, couples and party-goers alike, Bora Bora Beach is a favourite among visitors to the area around the lake.
Things to do at the Sea of Galilee
Other than relaxing on the beach, the area has so much to see and do. You can go kayaking or canoeing in the lake itself, marvel at the stunning Church of the Beatitudes or hike along the 35km trail known as Shvil Sovev Kinneret.
Tiberias promenade offers a light show in the evening, there is a spa built around the hot springs of the area and the Hamat Tiberias National Park offers fantastic archaeological sites.
Of course, given the biblical importance of the Sea of Galilee, there are a lot of religious things to see and do. The Jesus Boat Museum houses a 2000-year-old boat as well as other historic artefacts, and you can see the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Capernaum National Park (sometimes called the town of Jesus) is there, as well as Tabgha – the garden where Jesus fed the 5,000. There are so many Christian sites in and around the area, so if it’s something you’re interested in you’re bound to have a fruitful visit.
Read also: Visiting Haifa: A complete guide
Where to stay at the Sea of Galilee
There are so many options when it comes to finding somewhere to stay at or near the Sea of Galilee. Whether you’re after a hotel, apartment, chalet or something different, here are some ideas…
Tiberias Vacation Apartments offer modern decor, a varied continental breakfast and stunning sea views. There’s free WiFi, a sun terrace, free private parking and pets are allowed, too. In the centre of Tiberias, the apartments are well located and look out over the Sea of Galilee.
Cnaan Village Boutique Hotel & Spa is excellently located with panoramic views of the Sea of Galilee. As you might expect, it has a boutique vibe: a spa and wellness centre, slippers and bathrobes in the rooms, free Wifi and parking, air conditioning and much more. The rooms have flat-screen TVs, and guests are welcomed with complimentary wine, soft drinks, chocolate, fruit and more. It’s perfect for something a bit special!
The White Chalet View, as the name suggests, offers a great view of the Sea of Galilee. Pets are allowed, there’s a pool and free WiFi, a private bathroom for each chalet, BBQ facilities and more. The pool area has a jacuzzi and plenty of loungers, and the class are perfect for couples and families alike.
Trust Inn is an apartment that sleeps 8. With four bedrooms, a kitchen, a pool and plenty of living space, it makes the perfect option for group trips. Located in Tiberias it is central for accessing the lake itself, and there is free parking as well as free WiFi available.
For a full list of what’s available on your chosen travel dates use the map below.
So there you have it – everything you need to know about visiting the Sea of Galilee in Israel.