August 12th 2012
Located at the northeastern tip of Israel, the scenic Golan Heights offers opportunities for outdoor recreation, archeological discovery, historical encounters, wine tasting, relaxing, and more. It’s the perfect place to escape during your tour to Israel, whether for a few hours or many days. Head to the Golan Heights to cool off in the summer or ski in the winter – what you find may surprise you!
There are plenty of archeological and biblical sites in the Golan, but Kursi should be at the top of your list. Now a national park, it contains the remains of a Byzantine Christian monastery where Jesus is said to have healed two men who were possessed by demons. A watchtower, harbor, and pretty courtyard with mosaic floor and painted pillars remain.
Nature lovers will not want to miss Banias Falls, at the base of Mount Hermon.
Featuring ancient temples dedicated to the Greek god Pan and many other ruins from various eras, the area has a rich history dating back to the Hellenistic period. Today visitors come to enjoy a beautiful nature hike through historical ruins and gorgeous waterfalls.
The remains of the nearby Nimrod Fortress in the Hermon Nature Reserve is a must see. Situated 2,600 feet above sea level, this medieval fortress offers spectacular views of the Golan Heights and surroundings. Built in 1229 by Saladin’s son, the structure served over the centuries as a fortress and, later, an Ottoman prison, before being ruined in an 18th century earthquake.
With peaks at 7,336 feet, Mount Hermon is the highest point in Israel. Also in the Hermon Nature Reserve, Mount Hermon is gorgeous any time of year, but the site provides a particularly unconventional activity for Israel in the winter: skiing! The Mount Hermon Ski Resort, which opened in 1981, has a number of ski and sledding trails and slopes for several skill levels.
You can also check out the beautiful Hula Nature Reserve. This impressive nature reserve project began in 1951, and continues to provide an important resting place for migrating birds such as the cranes, pelicans, storks, egrets and cormorants.
When you get thirsty, head to one of the region’s top wineries for a tour and tasting. The aptly named Golan Heights Winery (which also produces wines under the Gamla and Yarden labels) is probably the most famous in the area. Pelter and Chateu Golan are worth checking out as well.
Finally, after an exhausting day of touring and tasting, pamper yourself at the Hamat Gader Hot Springs near the Sea of Galilee. Soak in the naturally heated mineral springs just like the ancient Romans, who flocked to these very waters for their believed healing powers. Kids will enjoy the crocodile farm on the premises too!