Forever entwined with the story of Jesus Christ, who carried out much of his ministry work in the area, the Sea of Galilee region is a beautiful place to visit, full of things to do and tourist attractions, from ancient archaeological remnants to drop-dead gorgeous scenery.
For Christians, of course, the best places to visit are the collection of churches around Tabgha, built over the sites where Jesus carried out his miracles. For other visitors, the placid lakeside scenery, hot pools, and hiking options in the surrounding hills provide enough reasons to spend some time here.
Find out what there is to do in the region with our list of the top tourist attractions in the Sea of Galilee Region.
Sitting on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias is the perfect base to explore this region.
The waterside street, Yigal Alon Promenade, is home to most of the town's tourist attractions and is a great place for a lakeside stroll. Along this road, you'll find the 19th-century Church of St. Peter, built over the remains of a Crusader castle. There's a beautiful cloister inside, and the apse of the church is projected like the bow of a ship - a reference to Peter's fishing boat.
Just around the corner on HaYarden Street is the sculpture park known as the Open-Air Museum.
If you walk south along the promenade, you come to the Greek Orthodox Monastery, erected in 1862. If you head inland from the sea, Tiberias is home to a number of important Jewish tombs.
About 300 meters from the northern end of HaGalil Street is the tomb of the great philosopher and physician Maimonides (Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, also known as Rambam).
Born in Córdoba in 1135, Maimonides left Spain because of religious persecution and went to Cairo to become Saladin's personal physician. While there, he also became the spiritual leader of the Jews in Egypt. As well as the tomb there is an excellent museum here dedicated to his life and work.
The tomb of Yohanan Ben Zakkai - who, after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, founded a Jewish school in Yavne and transferred the seat of the Sanhedrin to that town - is also near here.
Tiberias Map - Attractions (Historical).
2. Hamat-Tiberias Hot Springs
Tiberias has been famed as a spa center since the Roman period, and its hot springs, two kilometers south from town, are as popular now as they were then.
Soaking in the various hot pools here, fed from the natural springs, are the perfect relaxing antidote to time spent on the road traveling.
After you've had your dip, the Hamat-Tiberias hot springs area is also home to its own major tourist attraction. One of the best preserved ancient synagogue mosaic floors in the country was excavated here.
The synagogue dates from the 4th century, and the mosaic floor showcases the influence of both Hellenistic and Roman cultures on the local artists of this period, even when decorating religious buildings. In particular, note the central section of the mosaic, which depicts the sun god Helios surrounded by the signs of the zodiac.
Address: Hamat-Tiberias National Park
3. Bet Yerah
The archaeological site of Bet Yerah ("house of the moon," also known as Khirbet Kerak) is not mentioned in either Biblical or Egyptian records, but excavations here have uncovered evidence of a settlement dating from the Bronze Age right through to the period of Arab rule.
The site, 10 kilometers south of the Hamat-Tiberias hot springs, includes a jumble of remains dating from various eras. The best preserved remnants include a bath complex dating from the 4th or 5th century and a 3rd century Roman fort. There is also a Byzantine church and a three-aisled synagogue dating from the 5th century.
4. Arbel National Park
Arbel National Park is a wonderful place to put your hiking shoes on and hit the trail.
The major attraction here is the walk up to the Horns of Hittim - the scene of a decisive battle during the Crusader period. On July 4th, 1187, Saladin inflicted an annihilating defeat on the Crusaders here. The Latin kingdom founded 88 years before now lost its capital,Jerusalem, and much of its territory, and for the remaining 104 years of its existence, it was confined to a narrow coastal strip with its capital at Acre (Akko).
It is a half-hour walk to the top of the hill on a footpath running up from the main road. From the summit, where there are Bronze Age remains, are fine views of Eastern Galilee and the Sea of Galilee.
Location: 10 kilometers west of Tiberias
5. Kibbutz Ginosar
The principal attraction of this little kibbutz is the ancient fishing boat, now known as the Sea of Galilee Boat, displayed here in the Beit Yigal Allon Museum.
Discovered in 1986, buried in mud near the edge of the lake, the boat has been dated to between 70 BC and AD 90, meaning that it could have been in use during the time of Jesus.
The boat is 8.27 meters long and 2.3 meters wide and is made out of cedar wood.
Although there is absolutely no proof that the boat could have been used by Jesus or one of his disciples, many people have nicknamed it the Jesus Boat. Historically, the boat is extremely important for providing archaeologists with an example of 1st-century-AD boat design.
Location: 9.5 kilometers north of Tiberias
6. Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes
The Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes is built over the site where tradition states Christ stood during the miracle when he fed the 5,000 people.
Built in 1982, designed by the Cologne architects Anton Goergen and Fritz Baumann, it stands over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era church and has preserved original elements of the older church within the interior.
The Byzantine period mosaics on the flooring are the church's most distinctive feature, depicting a variety of birds and floral designs. The most interesting mosaics are in the transepts.
The artist was evidently familiar with the Nile Delta and has depicted the flora and fauna of that region with flamingos, snakes, herons, ducks, lotus flowers, and reeds. The south transept also shows a Nilometer (a device used for measuring the level of the river).
The altar in the sanctuary is built over the stone on which Christ is said to have stood when the miracle was performed.
In front is the church's most famous mosaic, depicting a basket containing loaves and flanked by two fish.
7. Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
Just 200 meters farther along the road to Capernaum from the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, a footpath runs down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter.
A chapel built here in the 4th century was destroyed in 1263, and the black basalt present-day church was built by the Franciscans in 1933.
The church commemorates the appearance of the risen Christ to his disciples on the shores of the lake, when he gave Peter primacy over the church.
The rock at the east end of the church is supposed to be the table at which Christ dined with his disciples.
On the south side of the church are rock-cut steps leading down to the lake that were described by the pilgrim Aetheria in about AD 400 as "the steps on which the Lord stood."
8. Mount of Beatitudes
The Mount of Beatitudes is a major point of interest for all Christian visitors. Tradition states that it was here that Jesus delivered his famous Sermon on the Mount.
The Roman Catholic Church here (built in the 1930s) holds mass hourly between 8am and 3pm for the pilgrims who travel here.
The immaculately kept gardens are a wonderfully tranquil spot to take in the views over the Sea of Galilee, while inside the church itself is a lovely stained glass window depicting the Beatitudes.
This archaeological site is believed to be the fishing village of Capernaum mentioned in the New Testament where Jesus lived, preached, and gathered the first of his disciples.
The beautiful remains of a fourth-century synagogue are the most prominent ruins here, while the modern church on the site is built over the remnants of a Byzantine church and the ruins of the House of St. Peter.
Archaeological work here has established that the site dates back to the 2nd century BC and was finally abandoned during the 11th century.
Location: 3 kilometers from Tabgha
Capernaum Map (Historical)
10. Greek Orthodox Church of the 12 Apostles
Well worth a visit, this beautiful and rather striking red-domed church is a major landmark along the Sea of Galilee.
It was built on the shore in 1925 by the Greek Orthodox Church and is well worth a visit for its interior of beautiful Byzantine-style frescoes painted in the late 1990s.
In particular, don't miss the vivid fresco depicting the Last Judgement that covers the church's back wall. The garden here is a shady spot to escape the heat of the midday sun.