The Lower Galilee (Galil Ha'tachton in Hebrew) is an area of low mountains divided by valleys. It runs north to south from the Beit Hakerem Valley to the Jezreel Valley. And east to west from the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) to the Zvulun Valley.
I've also included in this section, the Gilboa Mountains. Although geographically this is really the northern part of the Shomron Mountain range (Samaria Mountains), it's so close to Beit Shean and the Jezreel Valley that you really shouldn't miss it if you're in the area.
Here are some cool things to see and do in the area:
The Gilboa is an 18 km long mountain range which overlooks the Jezreel Valley and the Beit Shean Valley. There's a scenic route which takes you along the top of the ridge. Stop at one of the picnic areas along the way and enjoy the view over Lower Galilee or follow one of the marked nature trails. If you're a nature lover, you don't want to miss the the purple Gilboa Iris which you can see at the Gilboa Iris Nature Reserve in early Spring (February - April).
Where? Route 667 (the scenic route) from Yizreel Junction.
When? All year round - but especially beautiful in the Spring.
This artificial ski slope is a unique attraction that has opened recently at the foot of Mouht Gilboa. It is part of a $20 million project which includes shops, restaurants, mountain bike trails, mini jeep trips and other activities. Read more ...
Where? Take route 675 from Hasargel Junction and turn right at Ma'ale Gilboa Junction. Then take the first turning on your left (look out for the "Ski Gilboa"sign)
When? All year round.
Tel Megiddo is a well-known tourist attraction, overlooking the Jezreel Valley. It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its unique historical and biblical significance. Join the dig or read an account of a day trip to this interesting archeological park. Read more ...
Where? Heading north on route 65 in the direction of Afula, take a left onto route 66 at Megiddo junction and follow the signs to the archeological park. Not to be confused with nearby Kibbutz Megiddo.
When? All year round.
This is arguably the prettiest natural park in the Galilee and one of my personal favourites. Wade through the Amal stream, get a free "massage" under the waterfall or swim in the pool fed by spring water which stays at 28 degrees centigrade all year round!
We usually take a picnic and eat at one of the wooden picnic tables but there is a restaurant there. There's also an archeological museum at the site. The park is cared for by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority so there's a small entrance fee but you can get a reduction if you've got an Israeli ID card.
TIP! Best to go off-season or on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds.
Where? On route 71 heading south-east out of Afula, take a right at Hashita Junction onto route 669 in the directon of Beit She'an.
When? All year round.
This is the only Australian animal zoo in the Galilee and, so far as I know, in Israel! You can find here among other lesser known animals and reptiles, kangaroos (hence the name), wallabies, koala bears and emus. Fun for the kids! Entrance fee: 39 shekels (at time of writing). Phone: 04-648-8060.
Where? Kibbutz Nir David on route 669 (next to Gan Hashlosha).
When? All year round (open 7 days a week).
Touch the Sky Hot Air Balloon Company offer trips over the Jezreel Valley at sunrise followed by Champagne and breakfast. Quite an experience! One of Karin and Dan's wedding presents was a trip in a hot air balloon. Read more about their trip ...
Where? Somewhere near Afula (depending on the wind direction).
When? All year round (weather permitting).
Beit She'an (also spelled Bet She'an or Beth She'an) was once a thriving city in the Roman-Byzantine era. Merchants passed through here along the trade routes to the East and the lush fertile valley with plentiful spring water was a good place to grow crops. After years of excavations, you can now visit the partially reconstructed city and see the remains of temples, an amphitheatre, floor mosaics and majestic pillars along the main street, and an enormous bath house which was like a gigantic spa.
TIP! Don't miss the sound-and-light show (She'an Nights) which runs a few evenings a week. It includes a short presentation (also in English). Then walk through the illuminated city as characters tell their story and get a feeling of how it must have been thousands of years ago. It's very impressive .... and much cooler at night! Phone: 04-6481122 for times and advance booking.
Where? Take route 71 to Beit Shean and follow the signs to the park.
When? All year round. In the summer, it's unbearably hot in the middle of the day, so best to visit early morning or late afternoon / evening.
Mount Tabor (also spelled Mount Tavor) sticks out like the proverbial “sore thumb” above the Jezreel Valley – you can’t miss it as you drive along route 65 heading north.
The mountain is traditionally believed by Christians to be the place of the Transfiguration of Jesus and today you can visit the Church of the Transfiguration on it's summit.
It is also a great place for sport, especially hiking, cycling and hang-gliding. Read more ...
Where? Heading north from Afula on route 65, look out for the sign to Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam on your left.
When? All year round although Spring and Autumn are the best times for enjoying the flowers and blossoms.
Other cool places to visit in Northern Israel can be found at:
Golan Heights (Ramat Hagolan)
Galilee Panhandle (Etzba HaGalil)
Upper Galilee (HaGalil HaElyon)
Western Galilee (Galil HaMa'aravi)
Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret)
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