There's plenty to do in the North of Israel, it can sometimes be confusing to decide where to go! So I'm outlining a nice day trip to the North with 3 stops: Meggido, Beit She'an and Gan HaShlosha. Coming from the center of the country (ie Tel Aviv), you can comfortably fit these all into one day (if you start early!) It's easiest and most relaxing to rent a car, but you can take public transit as well. Just head to Binyamina train station and then grab a bus from there!
The first stop is Meggido, which is a World Heritage site about 54 miles North East of Tel Aviv. This site has supposedly had more battles than any other place in the world...so if you are interested in history or archaeology, this is definitely the place for you! This is also where Christians believe that Armageddon will occur...the final battle to end all battles. So, even today, this site has a huge amount of symbolism and meaning. You can wander around the ancient ruins and also go to the museum to see replications of the full settlements. (It costs 28 shekels to enter)
About 40 minutes from Meggido, is Beit She'an. This is a truly hidden gem...I'd never heard of it until I went this past weekend and it's not very well known. In fact, when we went, we were the only people there...but it is one of the most stunning sites I have ever seen (in Israel and elsewhere in the world!) Historically, the site was settled about 6000 years ago and is known to be the place where King Saul and his sons were impaled. The ruins that have been uncovered are some of the most impressive I've seen. The site includes an amphitheater, a bathhouse, mosaics, and rows of beautifully detailed columns. It's a fairly large site that you can spend quite a while walking through and learning about. You can also climb the large hill found at the back of the site, but beware it gets extremely hot in this area in the summer! (It costs 28 shekels to enter)
If you want to stop for lunch, I highly recommend Artichoke! It's just 10 minutes from Beit She'an and very close to Gan HaShlosha. Although not vegan, it is stamped with the Vegan Friendly signage (and they also have gluten free options!) It looks fairly unassuming, sitting behind a gas station, but the food is actually really delicious! It's all extremely fresh and locally sourced. The views outside overlook beautiful rolling fields and you can sit and eat out on the patio. There's also an organic shop with different things you can buy from local Israeli farmers (and my favorite vegan ice cream, Ilo!) You can either eat and relax there or buy some items to go and eat at Gan HaShlosha for a picnic!
Traveler Tip: Please be aware, this restaurant doesnt have English menus so be sure to download the Hebrew dictionary in your Google Translate!
Just a few minutes away is Gan HaShlosha. Gan HaShlosha is known as the real life Garden of Eden, due to its stunning natural beauty. It has beautiful bright blue pools with waterfalls and surrounded by palm trees. The pools are fed by a natural spring, so the water is warm all year round. It's a fantastic place to relax and enjoy the true beauty of Israel. You can lay out on the soft grass or hop into the pools for a dip. The park is actually quite large...most people tend to gather around the waterfall (Israelis love to sit underneath it and let it give them a natural massage!) but the pool continues on much past the waterfall, so you can relax in peace and relative privacy if you find the right spot! There are changing rooms in the bathrooms (which are actually very clean!) where you can put on your swimsuit. They close at 5pm so watch your timing throughout the day! (It costs 39 shekels to enter)
Traveler Tip: Gan HaShlosha is not a hidden gem...it is extremely well known and extremely well visited. I HIGHLY suggest going to Gan HaShlosha on a weekday. Even on weekdays, you will not be alone but it is a totally different experience than on the weekends.
I loved doing this as a day trip and highly recommend it to everyone! This day is a mixture of educational, historical, awe-inspiring, and relaxing. Enjoy the Northern adventuring friends!
Traveler Tip: All three of these sites are part of Israel's National Parks. So it may be worth it to buy a pass! If you are traveling in Israel short term, you can buy a two-week pass. There is a two-week pass option for just three sites that will cost you 78 shekels. Without it, these three sites above will cost you 95 shekels, so totally worth it! You can also pay more to get a pass for any 6 sites (110 shekels) or unlimited (150 shekels)! If you are traveling in Israel long term, you can buy an annual pass (known as Matmon).
Also: if you want to learn about some more hidden gems, check out my guest blog post for Magnificent World!