Tour Israel: A Nazareth getaway

One of the best parts of staying overnight in Nazareth is that you are close to a large number of tourist spots within the city, as well as historical and heritage sites throughout the region. 

 GALIL VIEWS. (photo credit: ADI ADAR)
(photo credit: ADI ADAR)

Even though it’s been months since Christmas has come and gone, we decided to make our way back to Nazareth to check out the charm of Israel’s largest Christian city in the spring. So, in case you thought that vacationing in Nazareth was just for wintertime, you should know it’s a great place to visit all year long.

Although most of the people visiting are foreign tourists, in recent years Nazareth has become much more popular among Israeli tourists as well, especially for a quick 24-hour getaway. The prices of hotels are quite competitive compared with other locations around the country, and as a result of this increased tourism, the number of culinary options has increased as well. Tourists have become more aware in recent years of the numerous nature reserves, hikes and holiday activities available nearby in the Galilee and the Jezreel Valley.

There is a saying that people in the Galilee know how to pamper visitors more than anywhere else. To check this out, we decided to visit the Ramada Olivie, a boutique hotel in Nazareth that goes to great lengths to prove the veracity of this statement. Moreover, the Ramada Olivie offers the highest-quality meals, featuring authentic local cuisine that derives a large percentage of its raw ingredients from local sources. 

Staying overnight in Nazareth

One of the best parts of staying overnight in Nazareth is that you are close to a large number of tourist spots within the city, as well as historical and heritage sites throughout the region. 

The Ramada Olivie has 200 guest rooms, five of which are large family suites. All the rooms are spacious and are tastefully designed, with delicate Middle Eastern accents and a balcony overlooking the lovely surroundings. The hotel has a pool and a hot tub, both of which are indoor and heated all year round. 

 AT THE Ramada Olivie.  (credit: SAGI MORAN) AT THE Ramada Olivie. (credit: SAGI MORAN)

Next to the pool, you’ll find the Jasmine Spa, which has treatment rooms, a sauna, a hot tub and a relaxation room where you can hang out and just chill for a while. At the spa, you can book a Swedish or Magic Carpet massage with hot oil. The Jasmine Spa’s massage therapists are professional and extremely talented. And make sure to check if the hotel’s authentic Turkish bath has opened when you book your stay.

The Ramada Olivie offers classic dishes at Safran, its main restaurant. If you prefer something a little more laid back, you can also eat at the hotel’s new bar. The array of food available at breakfast, which is definitely one of the best in the country, includes savory pastries from Galilean Arab cuisine such as sambusak and kata’if, as well as hummus with ful (fava beans), an omelet station, and an array of salads and cheeses. 

The best place to enjoy a cup of piping hot Turkish coffee is in the Sultana Bar, situated on the hotel’s rooftop, from which you have a stunning view of the city. You can order colorful cocktails that look like they’ve come straight out of the 1990s, as well as classic beers and wines. To complement the beverages, you can also order from an assortment of appetizing food options.

Once you’ve been pampered enough at the hotel, set out to explore the city. Every Shabbat there is a free walking tour of Nazareth that hotel guests are welcome to join. The tour will take you through the narrow alleyways of the Old City, where you can taste local desserts and enjoy a cup of strong Turkish coffee. Alternatively, you can go on your own to just wander around and enjoy the vibe. 

The Old City is a 10-minute downhill walk from the Ramada Olivie. Even if you don’t usually check out churches, in this case I definitely think it’s worth visiting the impressive Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in art museums, there are a number of galleries in the Old City, as well as quaint cafés. In my opinion, the most exciting place to visit in Nazareth is the open-air shuk, where you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at decent prices. 

Hotel prices for March: NIS 700 per couple, weekday including breakfast. NIS 1,030 for half-boardPassover prices (not kosher): NIS 3,123 per couple for two nights, April 5-7, half-boardLocation: 29 Derech Hazionit, Nazareth

Translated by Hannah Hochner.