The Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), Israel’s national lake, is also a national treasure. Encompassing stunning nature, great water activities and history galore, it’s got something for everyone.
And while it’s a wonderful vacation or day-trip destination all year round, now is probably a great time to explore it. If you need convincing, read our top six reasons to check out the Kinneret without delay.
- It’s nearly full
As any Israeli child can tell you, the Kinneret’s water level is a matter of grave importance, not to mention slight obsession, here in the Holy Land.
This winter’s unusually heavy storms and rainy weather meant that the Kinneret’s water level rose rapidly and substantially, inching away from the dreaded “black line” at its bottom and giving the lake a fuller, healthier glow.
As of mid-April, the water line stood at -211.5 meters below sea level, just above the “lower red line,” another marker of a dangerously emptying situation. A full Kinneret would require the water reaching -208.8 meters below sea level, but these few measly meters are quite the feat to achieve.
To appreciate all this newfound water, try sailing across the freshwater reservoir to take in its beauty.
- The summer heat hasn’t yet arrived
Quite a few Israelis will never, ever set foot in the Kinneret in the summertime, leaving it to poor tourists to sweat it out in the stifling heat, high humidity and super-warm lake water. Instead, they much prefer visiting in the spring, when the temperatures are a much more friendly 70-85 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the humidity far more bearable.
A word of advice: April still sees the odd rain shower and gray day, so check the forecast before deciding to camp out for the night or going for a swim. Still, better to bring a jacket than suffer from tropical jungle-type weather.
- Nature is in full bloom
Springtime is perfect in the Kinneret region, not only temperature-wise but also scenery-wise, with wildflowers in full bloom and greenery at its greenest. What better way to admire it than by foot?
One top option for a spring nature hike is the Jesus Trail, a 40-mile trek from Nazareth to Capernaum on Lake Kinneret’s shores. Rather than schlepping the whole trail, you can focus on its lakeside parts.
The path takes you through stunning scenery on Mount Tabor, the beautiful Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, peaceful greenery on Mount of the Beatitudes and the ancient village of Capernaum, which served as Jesus’ home base in northern Israel.
Whatever parts of of the trail you end up hiking, you’re guaranteed to enjoy some of Israel’s most breathtaking natural beauty spots and views, all at their freshest, colorful best.
- It’s not crowded in springtime
Being one of the country’s prettiest spots comes at a price, in this case summer’s horrible lake-round traffic jams and packs of overcrowded tour buses. So if you fancy checking out the area’s fascinating history without feeling like a squashed sardine, now’s your chance.
A top pick for history buffs no doubt includes the aforementioned Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, where Jesus is believed to have fed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. The church was originally built in the fourth century CE and was expanded one century later, when gorgeous mosaics that are on view today were added.
In lakeside Tiberias, you can check out the tombs of sages such as Maimonides or visit the Dona Gracia Museum.
- Enjoy a good, old-fashioned bath
After hiking, taking in the scenery and studying up on history, we’re sure you could do with a nice bath. Enter the Hamei Tveria (Tiberias Hot Springs) compound.
Already renowned in ancient times by the Talmud and the ruling Romans, it boasts 17 natural springs (most of them out of sight, unfortunately) where you can enjoy some downtime in mineral-rich pools, saunas and spa.
We’re feeling all fresh and relaxed just thinking about it.
- Chocolate, anyone?
To end your visit on a sweet note, head to Galita, the chocolate farm and store in Kibbutz Degania Bet.
Delve into a world of all things chocolate by participating in one of the chocolate-making workshops on site, including the aptly named “A Celebration of Spring” workshop where you’ll get to make spring-themed chocolate lollipops and petit-fours. Yum.
You can sit back and enjoy a sweet bite and a drink against the backdrop of one of Israel’s most landmark kibbutzim. If only spring would last forever.