The Sea of Galilee
(Lake Kinneret)

The Sea of Galilee is known as the Kinneret in Israel, but it has a variety of other names. In the New Testament it's called the Sea of Tiberias and in the Hebrew Bible, the Sea of Chinnereth (or Kinnereth). Other names are: Lake Tiberias, Sea / Lake of Gennesaret, Ginnosar, Lake of Gennesar and Sea of Chinneroth.

Whatever you call it, there is no doubt that this is a very special place and always has been. Anyone visiting for the first time can't fail to be impressed by its beauty. 


The Sea of Galilee is an important centre for tourism and is the spiritual centre for pilgrims who come to see the many Christian sites in the area. As well as being a popular holiday resort for Israelis, it attracts millions of tourists every year from all over the world because of the many historical and holy sites in the area.

There's a large choice of accommodations around the Sea of Galilee, from deluxe hotels to zimmers (B&Bs) or hostels and camping sites for the backpackers. 

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The lake is surrounded by beaches - not all of them sandy - and many of them offer watersports and activities for all the family. There are three water parks for the children - Luna Gal, Zemach Beach and Gai (pronounced Guy) Beach.

If you have time between sighteeing, take time out to relax in the natural hot springs in Tiberias or Hamat Gader.

TIP! The boat trips across the Sea of Galilee are highly recommended. You can hire them in Tiberias for individuals or groups. Better still, book in advance through your hotel or tour guide if you're coming from abroad.

The best time to visit is in the spring and autumn (fall) because in July and August it's extremely hot and humid, as well as being the most crowded time of the year. I love the view across the lake from the western shore at sunset, when the mountains turn different shades of purples and pinks. But it's also beautiful on a bright, sunny winter day.

Water Shortage

The Sea of Galilee supplies the National Water Carrier with about 30% of its drinking water. However, after years of below-average rainfall, there is much less water in the lake than there was 30 years ago. To try to encourage the population to use less water, Israelis now have to pay dearly for their water. So if you're just visiting, here's a polite request ... please don't waste water! Read more ...

St. Peter's Fish

In recent years, there has been a decline in the number of fish in the Sea of Galilee. Fishing has been an occupation here for hundreds of years and the lake is famous for its St Peter's fish. You can enjoy a fish meal at various restaurants along the lakeside, particularly in Tiberias and Ein Gev.

Global warming and pollution have affected the amount of fish in the lake, but some experts say that it's mainly caused by overfishing in recent years. For this reason, the Israeli government threatened to impose a two-year fishing ban in 2010. Because of strong opposition from local fishermen who claimed that they would be put out of business, it was decided to ban fishing for four months during the spawning season from April to August.

Interesting Facts

Did You Know ...?

  • The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel and serves as the main reservoir for drinking water in the country.
  • Its maximum depth is 43 metres (141 feet) and it measures 166 square kilometres (64 square miles).
  • It is the lowest fresh water lake in the world - 207 metres (680 feet) below sea level and the second lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea, which is salt water.
  • It's fed mainly by the Jordan River which runs from the Hula Valley in the north and continues south to the Dead Sea.
  • The land surrounding the lake has been inhabited since the stone age. It was once an important area for fishing and there were many thriving towns and settlements on its banks including Tiberias, which still exists today.
  • At the beginning of the 20th century, jewish settlers chose this location to start the kibbutz movement (cooperative farming villages) and Deganya Aleph, the first Israeli kibbutz, is located on its shore.

How far is the Sea of Galilee from ...?

Jerusalem: 155.35 kilometres (96.53 miles)
Tel Aviv: 111.06 kilometres (69.01 miles)
Haifa: 61.14 kilometres (37.99 miles)
Bethlehem: 130.77 km (81.22 miles)
Capernaum (Kfar Nahum): 5.39 kilometres (3.35 miles)

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