As the only city on the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, with a population of 40,000, has become the region's hub. The city spreads up a steep hillside, from 700 feet below sea level at the lake, to about 80 feet above sea level in its highest neighborhoods—a differential big enough to create significant variations in comfort levels during midsummer.

The splendid panoramic views of both the lake and the Golan Heights on the far shore deserved a better sort of development. Tiberias has little beauty and less charm, and although almost 2,000 years old, it still has the atmosphere of a place neglected for decades, if not centuries. It’s at once brash and sleepy, with a reputation as a resort town based more on its location than its attractions. Travelers tend to see little of the town itself, sticking to the restaurants and hotels along the lake, and the boardwalk, which comes alive at night with vendors hawking clothes, jewelry, and knickknacks. Those traveling by car often skip the town altogether, opting for the numerous bed-and-breakfasts that dot the region.

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Fodor's Essential Israel: with the West Bank and Petra

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