Getting Oriented

The undulating hills of Western Galilee push upward into sharp limestone and basalt formations, bordered on the north by Lebanon and on the east by the volcanic, mountainous Golan Heights, beyond which lies Syria. The major cities—Tzfat in the rugged Galilee mountains and Katzrin in the Golan Heights—are a study in contrasts. The former is immersed in Jewish mysticism, and the latter is the result of a hardheaded determination to secure Israel's border with Syria by establishing a modern town in what was once a battlefield.

  • Tzfat (Safed) and Environs. At 3,000 feet above sea level, Tzfat is Israel's highest city, known for being the center of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. This city north of the Sea of Galilee has a spiritual dimension found nowhere else in the country. Its ancient twisting passageways caught the attention of artists, who make this one of the country's most unique destinations every spring and summer.
  • Upper Hula Valley. Situated between the Golan Heights, Naftali Ridge, and the Beqaa Valley, the Upper Hula Valley is best known for the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Spread out over 800 acres, it's a prime spot for hiking, cycling, or picnicking. Kiryat Shmona and sleepy Metulla are the region's largest communities.
  • Golan Heights. This region's main geographic feature is the Sea of Galilee, the country's primary water reservoir. This is the northernmost part of the country, and from Mount Hermon you can gaze out over Lebanon and Syria. The Golan Heights draws visitors to its relaxing countryside, inventive restaurants, and leading wineries.

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