Karmiel is a modern, residential town but there are plans to turn it into a tourist spot! It has a great central position,
bordering on the Beit Hakerem Valley which divides the Upper Galilee from the Lower Galilee, and is just a short drive from Tsfat (Safed) in the north, Akko (Acre) in the west and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in the east.
I never thought of Karmiel as a tourist spot, so I was surprised when they recently opened a tourist office in the main shopping center. They have also built a nice tourism website - click on the U.S. flag for the English version.
The big tourism event for which the town is well-known, is the annual Dance Festival, which takes place in July. This event started in 1988 as an Israeli folk dancing festival but has grown into an enormous colorful celebration with professional dance troupes from Israel and around the world. For three days, the streets are full of tourists almost all around the clock.
One of the nice things you can do all year round is cycling - there are several marked cycling trails of different lengths and levels of difficulty in the area.
But you don't have to go out of the town to enjoy one of the nice walks. One is the Kalanit trail - Kalanit means poppy in English - one of the national protected flowers which grow wild in Israel in late Winter and early Spring. You can follow the trail through the streets of the city, passing various points of cultural and historical interest while enjoying the views across the surrounding hills and countryside.
The other trail is really a section of the Partnership 2000 (P2K) bicycle trail - a 6 km path around the outskirts of the city, starting at the Pittsburg-Baltimore promenade in the Givat Ram neighborhood in the west (Karmiel Ma'arav) and ending in the south of the city, at the Baruch Venger Park. Click here to see a map of the trail (marked in blue).
This trail has the most amazing views along the way over the Hilazon Stream in the valley below, the hills of the lower Galilee to the south and the coastal area of the Haifa Bay to the west. There are seating areas along the way where you can rest and take in the views.
The main problem with promoting Karmiel to tourists, whether from Israel or abroad, is that there is presently only one small hotel, which I can't recommend. There are, however, no end of zimmers (guest rooms) in the area. Click here for some of my recommendations - including our own zimmer which is just a 10-15 minute drive away!
During the Dance Festival, many local residents rent out rooms in their houses for the three nights of the festival as all the zimmers in the area become fully-booked.
If you're traveling around Upper Galilee, it's a good idea to take a break at the BIG shopping complex and the adjacent mall "Kenyon Chotzot Karmiel" on route 85 on the outskirts of the city. There's ample parking and a choice of excellent coffee shops and restaurants - including a sushi bar, of course, and Italian restaurant and several coffee shops from the well-known chains!
My family's personal favourite is Art deCoco which you will see on your left as you drive in, which has a varied menu at reasonable prices, home-made chocolates, and their cakes and desserts are to die for!
The city was founded in 1964, and since then several different neighborhoods have been added, which sprawl over the mountains - some consisting of private houses and others blocks of flats, but town planning is good and it doesn't feel overcrowded, as many places in the centre of the country do.
The fresh, mountain air and spectacular views make this a popular destination for new immigrants and Israelis looking for a change of lifestyle. If you're from N. America or the UK, you can find out all you need to know about moving to Karmiel on the Nefesh b'Nefesh GoNorth website.
Today, there are almost 50,000 residents and there are more apartment blocks going up all the time to cater for the growing population.
For the city center: If you're traveling west to east on route 85, take a right at the traffic lights at the
For the BIG shopping center: Continue a few minutes further along route 85 and take the next turn off to the right.
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