Tour Israel: Refreshing time in the Golan Heights

This is one of the greatest areas in Israel to vacation, and there is no shortage of places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and trails to hike.

 PUT EVERYDAY life on pause at Afik. (photo credit: Arnold Barr)
PUT EVERYDAY life on pause at Afik.
(photo credit: Arnold Barr)

When people think of the Golan Heights, they often think of the early spring when the hills are covered with green and colorful blossoms, and the streams are full of gushing cold water. This is one of the greatest areas to vacation, and there is no shortage of places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and trails to hike.

Afik Country Lodging

High up in the southern Golan Heights, above the Kinneret and the Jordan Valley, lies Afik Country Lodging. This holiday village, located at the edge of Kibbutz Afik, is surrounded by lawns and trees, and it overlooks the Pik Spring. 

The Afik Country Lodging offers 45 guest rooms, a spa complex with treatment rooms, a Turkish bath, sauna and jacuzzi, as well as a swimming pool that has opened for the season. There is also a lively café that transforms into a bar in the evening; a lawn area with barbecue grills; a dining hall; and a well-equipped children’s playground.

The accommodation options include 30 premium rooms that can sleep up to two adults and two children. These rooms are equipped with a double bed, two pull-out beds, a spacious bathroom, a fully equipped kitchenette, and indoor and outdoor seating areas. 

Additionally, there are 15 suites that can accommodate up to two adults and three children. These suites feature a large jacuzzi in the bedroom, a fully equipped kitchenette, a spacious living room with sofa beds, a dining area, and a private balcony.

 SUMPTUOUS BUFFET at El Soltan. (credit: Tal Paz Media)
SUMPTUOUS BUFFET at El Soltan. (credit: Tal Paz Media)

The rooms are modern and spacious, with an abundance of natural light. The kitchenettes are equipped to prepare light meals.

Guests at the holiday village are welcome to enjoy the kibbutz’s semi-Olympic-size swimming pool, which is just a few steps away from the rooms. The pool is surrounded by lawns, trees, and plenty of shaded areas. There is also a children’s pool and a snack bar.

From the holiday village, there are two hiking trails that both lead to Ein Pik, one shorter and one longer. If you don’t feel like exerting yourself, you can always drive your car there or just relax at the kibbutz and enjoy a picnic with salads and pastries purchased from the café. I highly recommend trying their excellent lasagna with a glass of cold draft beer. 

In the afternoon, the café offers a 1+1 happy hour. Overall, it’s a great place for a long weekend getaway or as a base for day trips in the area. You can enjoy the best of both worlds here: enjoy a relaxing vacation at a relaxed kibbutz atmosphere with luxurious rooms, with the option of exploring a number of attractions that are all within a 30-minute drive.

Location: Afik Country Lodging, Enachta Kibbutz Afik Prices: Start at NIS 700 for a couple, including breakfast in the middle of the week; NIS 900 per couple, including breakfast on weekendsDetails: 073-759-4550


Ein Pik

Within a five-minute drive from the kibbutz, you will find Ein Pik, a hidden spring that is extremely popular among local residents. The water flows out from within a cave and cascades down 1.8 meters into a shaded pool beneath fig trees. The climb down to the pool is a bit steep but is still suitable for families with kids.

Along the way, you will see remnants of Pik, the Syrian village that was located there. There is also a very view of the ancient city of Susita from that spot. Next to the waterfall there is a wooden bench where you can sit, as well as many shaded spots where you can relax. 

If you climb up toward the source of the waterfall, you can enter the cave from the area where the water emerges – especially exciting for youngsters. 

Ein Salukia

A 20-minute drive from Afik, you’ll find Ein Salukia (aka Ma’ayanot Eden). The easy trail to the springs, which begins in the parking area, is suitable for families (but not strollers). Dipping into its refreshing pools on a hot day is a little taste of paradise. 

The water flows out of the spring in little cascades into the shaded pools. Along the path to Ein Salukia, you’ll find numerous shaded spots where visitors can picnic.


El Soltan

One of the best aspects of traveling is discovering new places to eat. I love tasting new flavors, especially in restaurants we discover in unexpected locations. Near Tiberias, in the Big Poriya shopping center, you’ll find El Soltan, one of the best Arab restaurants in the region.

El Soltan specializes in authentic Arab cuisine and offers one of the most impressive buffets I’ve seen in a long time. As soon as you sit down, servers bring out an incredible variety of fresh salads, tahini and hummus dips, as well as hot pita straight out of the oven. 

Main dishes include grilled meats, fresh fish and seafood, as well as more authentic dishes like stuffed lamb neck. And, of course, the meal would not be complete without a dessert such as baklava, chocolate mousse, along with a cup of hot coffee.

Location: El Soltan, Big Poriya shopping center, TiberiasHours: All week long, 10 a.m. to midnightDetails: (04) 673-3488

Mifgash HaDayagim

It would be a shame to vacation near the Kinneret and not dine at an authentic fish restaurant. One of the most renowned restaurants in the area is Mifgash HaDayagim, located in Kibbutz Ein Gev. It is run by chef Menor Zituni, who is known for his menu of fresh fish that are caught from the Kinneret just hours before being served. 

Mifgash HaDayagim is located in a building that was used by kibbutz fishermen to clean the fish they’d caught and prepare them for dinner. Inside, you will see photographs on the walls depicting the history of the local fishing industry. If you eat dinner at Mifgash HaDayagim around sunset, sit at a table outside so you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the sun setting over the lake as you dine. 

The menu includes fried tilapia, or mullet; grilled fillet steaks; sea bream baked in garlic confit and herb seasoning; handmade burekas with dips; homemade hummus; salads; children’s meals; and desserts.

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Details: (04) 665-8835

Translated by Hannah Hochner.