Take a trip to Acre, the most inviting city in Israel

Acre has developed a lot in recent years and has become a leading travel location with many museums and attractions.

 A view of an art gallery in Acre (photo credit: COURTESY OF ACRE MUNICIPALITY)
A view of an art gallery in Acre

Acre was named the most inviting city in Israel in Booking.com’s Traveller Review Awards – it isn’t surprising. 

Acre has developed a lot in recent years and has become a leading travel location with many museums and attractions. Acre has it all – an ancient port city with a wall, magical narrow alleys, galleries, museums and more. In the Knights’ Halls, one of the main attractions in the city, an exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci is permanently open to the public.

The culinary scene has also developed with a food market, chef restaurants and lively bars. And beyond the Old City – there is the beach, the ornate Tunisian synagogue, the Holy Gems visitor center and more.

Wandering through the alleys of Acre is a different experience than what I remembered from many years ago – the alleys are pleasant and clean and there are many new shops and art galleries. The port is undergoing renovations with a total investment of about NIS 30 million.

This includes renovating the Fishermen’s Square, Khan al-Umdan, the Lighthouse Square, the promenade surrounding the port, the breakwater, the fishermen’s storage area and the vendor stands . The renovated port will allow combining fishing and commercial activities side by side. 

 THE AKOTIKA has expanded to 20 rooms and suites.  (credit: COURTESY OF ACRE MUNICIPALITY) THE AKOTIKA has expanded to 20 rooms and suites. (credit: COURTESY OF ACRE MUNICIPALITY)

The ancient khans are also undergoing accelerated development processes. Khan al-Umdan is already in the process of becoming a luxury hotel with 80 rooms. The construction will preserve its history and the new designs will be integrated into the local landscape. The opening is expected in two and a half years.

There is also a proliferation of small boutique hotels such as Arabesque, Akotika, Daya and others. There are also vacation rentals, an example being Daya by Housestory, a beautiful romantic suite with a balcony overlooking Acre’s alleys. Here are some of the developments:


Akotika has expanded to 20 rooms and suites. Owner Meir Davidson purchased apartments and houses in the nearby alley and converted them into luxurious rooms of various types. Akotika has a gorgeous view of the sea, and on the rooftop they serve a rich Acre-Galilee style breakfast with authentic pastries. This meal is also open to the general public.


Jozefin is an accommodation complex in an ancient building that has been carefully renovated and preserved, providing an authentic atmosphere. Around the courtyard full of light, four magical units have been renovated in buildings preserved from Ottoman times, with high ceilings with wooden beams.

One room has vaults from the Crusader era. There is an outdoor kitchen in the courtyard and you can also hold events there. The complex is on the ground floor and has an accessible suite.


Another boutique hotel in the Old City that was designed as a riad is Melisende. The place is named after Melisende, one of the prominent queens in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. At the time, the kingdom also ruled over Acre. In its center is an oasis with a Jacuzzi.

The owner says, “I wanted to create a place with the feeling of a retreat.” The rooms are decorated in a style that blends old and new. The ancient and impressive stone arches create a connection with the place and history while the cleanliness of the modern design creates an interesting contrast to the ancient stone.

In the Acre culinary scene, lively new restaurants and bars are flourishing and the old ones are being renewed.

Uri Buri

It seems that the well-known restaurant of Uri Jeremias is already part of the city’s landscape. And it’s only getting better with time. The restaurant underwent a renovation after the May 2021 riots while preserving its core quality. The prices are reasonable – even cheaper than some of the other restaurants – and the value for money is excellent!

 URI BURI, the famous Acre landmark.  (credit: TALY SHARON) URI BURI, the famous Acre landmark. (credit: TALY SHARON)

The design is clean and relaxing, the walls are mainly white, the large windows directly overlook the blue sea, there is no background music, the tablecloths are white and the plates are simple, and all this induces calmness. Uri uses fresh quality ingredients – up to eight ingredients in a dish, he explains. The spices are added sparingly so that they do not take over. Innovative culinary techniques are used without giving up the classic dishes that the guests come back for.

The best way to experience Uri Buri is by taking a personalized tasting meal. The waiter learns the preferences of the diners so as to prepare a suitable series of dishes. First, there is a selection of starters, and then there is the option to order half-sized portions of the main dishes.

Among the dishes we received were mushroom soup with truffle oil in an espresso cup, bruschetta with eggplant cream and smoked sea fish. The appetizers were “gargir” salad and baby St. Peters fish in caramel on beets. In each of the dishes, even the butter has a subtle seasoning that takes the taste buds to new heights. So are the main dishes such as the barramundi in lemon-sage butter and the trout in a cauldron with cream sauce.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is unique. Uri is often present at the restaurant. He walks around signing copies of his books (translated into English and German), giving and receiving attention from diners to whom he hands out treats such as black pepper or cardamom ice cream balls. The ice cream is neither sweet nor spicy and goes great with hot fish dishes – like ice cream on a hot cake. His ice cream parlor is not far away, and is worth a separate visit!


Roots is a kosher restaurant with Levantine-Acre cuisine situated in the garden of the Knights’ Halls complex. The restaurant is built of exposed stone walls decorated with large arches and chandeliers inspired by the location.

It is a partnership between Arabs and Israelis and thus offers a selection of local dishes such as mashan, Ottoman kebab, shishbarak and whole meat portions. For a first course, it is recommended to take the meze platter, which includes hummus, eggplant cream, pesto tahini and more.

Sama Rooftop 

Sama, “sky” in Arabic, is a restaurant-bar located on the roof of a central building in the Old City and has a magical panoramic view of the rooftops of Acre and the sea.

Sama has chef’s dishes boasting Acre fusion cuisine, under chef Hmodi Okala. The bar has a modern décor, and at night turns into a lively place with a DJ and first-class cocktails such as “Wonder Woman,” based on white wine, and “Putin,” based on vodka. The menu combines a lot of fish and seafood, but also offers salads and meat in a selection of meticulous dishes with an Acre-Mediterranean fusion. 

Or Torah Synagogue 

The Tunisian Or Torah Synagogue is one of the most beautiful and special in Acre and perhaps in Israel. It was established about 60 years ago, and over the years it has been decorated with dozens of spectacular mosaic works on Judaism and the Land of Israel.

These are combined with impressive vitrage windows and beautiful art and Judaica items. The synagogue is a short walk from the Old City. It can be visited during weekdays, RSVP recommended.

Holy Gems

Back in 1988, the Lubavitcher Rebbe claimed that Israel had good stones and even indicated where – in the Haifa Valley. Only at the end of the 1990s did the late Avraham Taub establish a company to search for precious stones, and after about 20 years of research and development this happened, the company received a discovery certificate and the dream became a reality. Today the company mines gems in the Kishon Valley, and the stones are used for jewelry that is designed here.

The visitors center at the factory in the Acre industrial area is open to the public, where you can learn about the process of mining, screening and producing jewelry. You can also purchase here jewelry designed from the traceable gems of the Holy Land.

You should know: Acre is an ancient city. Many of its buildings were built in the Ottoman period, and it has structural accessibility challenges. Most of the buildings are old and are set for preservation, therefore there are no elevators or ramps and there are many stairs, some of which are not up to today’s construction standards.

Though many efforts are being made to make them as accessible as possible, consult the local hosts or the city’s tourism office, where needed. Regarding kosher food, there is the kosher Roots restaurant and some other places have private kosher certificates.

For more information, visit: https://www.akko.org.il/en/

The author was a guest of the Old Acre & Nazareth Development Company and the sites mentioned in the article.