June 30th 2015
A one-day tour of these two northern cities of Israel gives you a taste of the region’s history, holiness, art, and scenic vistas. There’s enough here to keep your group engrossed for several days, but for many travelers to Israel, because of the realities of scheduling constraints, that simply isn’t an option. If you only have one day to cover these locales, here’s what we recommend.
From Safed to Tiberias, you are essentially traversing the Galilee from north to south, treating yourself to two of the four traditional holy cities (the others being Hebron and Jerusalem).
Safed is a quaint and eccentric mix of ancient and modern. The cemetery here speaks to the centuries of Kabbalistic scholars who lived in the city, and the decorated synagogues offer a glimpse at the intricate culture of practice. Consider the two synagogues that bear the name of the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria, and the synagogue of Rabbi Isaac Aboab (alternatively spelled Abuhav), a structure that is said to have arrived mystically from Spain in the 15th century.
You also won’t want to miss the extensive Artists Quarter, where galleries punctuate the narrow, cobblestoned
streets. In the summer months, art and music festivals abound. Take note of the prominence of the number of buildings either painted a light color blue or decorated with the same, a shade said to protect against the “evil eye.”
Once you get to Tiberias, you will want to take advantage of the only city on the Sea of Galilee, the hub of the region.
Rising up a steep hillside on the banks, as it were, of the lake, the resort town can get hot in the summer. Much of the city center itself is not particularly picturesque, but it looks out on some of the most spectacular views that Israel has to offer. It is also here that you will find all means of water sports, including pedal boating, and water skiing. Tiberias is also the final resting place of the medieval Jewish sage, Maimonides.