The weather in the valleys is particularly suitable for winter trips and warming activities such as hot baths, a wine bar and a culinary festival. Here are some ideas for a perfect trip for a warm winter in the Sea of Galilee and the northern valleys.
Ohalo Manor Hotel
We chose to stay at the Ohalo Manor Hotel, a kibbutz-style accommodation with plenty of green spaces, tranquility and a view of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. The hotel has been renovated and combines classic, upgraded and spacious guest rooms for couples and families, some with garden balconies and a view of the sea. The rooms are spacious (24 sq.m.) and pleasant. The most recommended are the deluxe garden rooms, in which we stayed. These are rooms on the ground floor, suitable for couples, and they have access to a balcony and private garden, and some have an amazing view of the sea. We enjoyed going out into the open spaces here; even when it is cloudy, the sea has its own charm.
Beyond the manicured lawns, the hotel has a direct footpath to the Sea of Galilee walkway and an elevated balcony with a breathtaking view of the sea. The dining room also overlooks this view. Rich kibbutz-style meals are served, with all the treats such as eggs prepared upon request, espressos and cappuccinos and yeast cakes. Dinner is also very good – we liked the rich selection of dishes and the mild seasoning.
Ohalo is especially suitable for holding conferences and events. It has seven halls of different sizes and configurations, and on the lovely balcony you can hold small and elegant events. Although the hotel does not have its own private beach, it has an arrangement with the nearby Yarden Kinneret camping sites, where there are also activities for the entire family, and camping, for those who prefer.
The location of the hotel is excellent for trips. Right next to it is the Yardenit baptism site, the Kinneret cemetery, Hamat Gader and several viewpoints. Kinneret Land Experiences offers trips such as a visit to the historic train station in Zemach, a guided lantern trip, a 4x4 trip, canoe cruise at Rob Roy and the famous Tnuvat Kinneret dates and natural shop.
Ohalo Manor Hotel, https://ohalo.com/
Hamat Gader Spa Village
Hamat Gader springs are the ultimate treat for winter, as the spring water reaches 42° year-round. Plenty of water jets and waterfall massages are scattered around. But if you’re into pampering yourself, there is an entry option to spend a day at the Spa Village – and that’s a real treat! For an extra fee, a golf cart took us directly from the entrance to the village where we received robes, towels, slippers and a key to a locker. Inside, upgraded showers awaited us, a coffee and tea corner, and two calm pools with sunbeds for adults only. For more info: https://hamat-gader.com/
Tzel Tamar in Ashdod Ya’akov
One of the best restaurants in the Sea of Galilee is Tzel Tamar. In the summer, people sit here in the garden, and there is also a playground for children. In winter, we enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere and warm soups. One of the must-order dishes is the hot antipasti, which is served on a long tray, meant to be shared. It includes beets, eggplants, sweet potatoes, roast cabbage and fried cauliflower. Among the dishes we ate, I would mention the thick hummus, which is impressively served with roast vegetables, a hamburger made to order and a salmon steak in a velvety cream sauce. Everything was delicious, and the portions were large and the prices reasonable. Instagram: @tzeltamar
Saint Urban Wine Bar in the Scots Hotel
The elegant St. Urban wine bar in the Scots Hotel provides an opportunity to taste a variety of Israeli wines (which can be ordered for home delivery, also abroad) accompanied by fine cuisine. The atmosphere here is romantic, with the ancient building, soft lighting, white tablecloths and a particularly extensive selection of wines. Occasionally, they hold events, concept evenings and winemakers’ evenings. We attended a night with winemaker Mika from Mika Winery and had the privilege of tasting the young and promising winery’s products. We also had a light meal, and especially enjoyed the roast kohlrabi plate. Instagram: @sturban_winebar_kinneret
Festival of Flavors
From February 1-11, the culinary winter festival will be held. The festival will include a variety of activities and tourist attractions for free and at a great discount, and special menus at the restaurants participating in the festival. The opening event will take place in Kibbutz Yifat. For more info: https://hafaka-ivrit.co.il/festival-of-flavors. Here are some of the places participating in the festival that I recommend going to.
The Tzipori River has been rehabilitated and restored and offers a lovely long boardwalk with beautiful scenery and plenty of flora and fauna (we spotted there sea turtles, water birds, nutrias and more). It is possible to go on foot, cycle or take 4x4 trips off road. The 4x4 trip is comfortable and fun, covering longer distances and reaching other viewpoints. We took a trip with Razor Nahal Zippori to the Ein Sus spring and the Monks’ Mill. Both are beautiful! At the festival, a special NIS 100 discount per person will be offered for the trip! Instagram: @razor.nahal.zippori
During the walk along the river promenade, open your eyes and you will spot mosaic artwork. This is the community project in which Jews and Arabs created environmental decorations under the guidance of Dalia Grossman. As part of the festival, artisan workshops will be held, including an introduction to creating mosaics. In addition, there will also be lantern tours guided by Irit Gurion from Shevet Ahim, which offers unique accommodation in the village of Tabash, which is an example of Jewish-Arab coexistence.
Makom Hashraa – Alonei Abba
One of the unique places we visited is Makom Hashraa – “place of inspiration.” It is a gallery and a café situated in the Templer house at Alonei Abba. The building is so beautiful, that a scene from the movie Exodus with Paul Newman was shot here. The old cistern at the bottom of the house has been renovated and was turned into a romantic café with an art shop. It serves fine dairy and vegan delicacies and hot chai! On the upper floors, there are artisan workshops and galleries, most of which are open to the public. You can tour, admire the creative artisans and purchase works of art for the home and gifts. After the visit, set aside a few minutes for the adjacent old Templer church. It is not possible to go inside, but it is beautiful from the outside and its surroundings are well groomed. https://www.makomhashraa.co.il/
Temerlin restaurant at Nahalal
Temerlin restaurant recently opened right at the entrance to the air force base in Ramat David. Temerlin is a meat restaurant of local veteran meat breeders, and specializes in finely aged Israeli meat. Here you will find souvlaki, empanadas, asado, fillet steak and more. No dish is similar to another; each one has its own special wealth of flavors. The restaurant has an amazing view of the valley fields, and its store sells local produce. A special menu will be served at the festival. Instagram: @temerlin_nahalal
Barake food cart
To the left of the entrance to Kibbutz Hazorea there will be a line – this is the Barake meat food cart, where they serve fast meat meals. But its speed does not come at the expense of quality! There is asado, bean stew with rice and falafel and schnitzel in a pita, and if you come on the right day you will find a variety of warm kibbeh soups. Instagram: @barake__food_truck
The writer was a guest of the local businesses mentioned in the article.