Planning a Trip
By Bus -- There is direct service from all major cities.
By Car -- From Jerusalem via the Jordan Valley, it's a 2 1/2-hour drive; from Haifa, 1 hour and 20 minutes. Four main roads lead to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee: from Safed, from the Jordan Valley, via Mount Tabor, and from Nazareth.
The area code is 04. The Tiberias Tourist Information Office is in the archaeological park in front of the Sheraton Moriah Hotel (tel. 04/672-5666; open Sun-Thurs 9am-4pm, Fri 9am-12:30pm). If Katherine is on duty, you'll get great information. There are often extended hours in July and August. The office gives out free maps and information and can direct you to lists of bed-and-breakfast accommodations. A free walking tour of Tiberias is offered Saturday at 10:30am starting in front of the Sheraton hotel.
The Ein Gev Music Festival takes place at Kibbutz Ein Gev in spring during Passover week. Israeli folk dance and song festivals are organized along the waterfront in summer; ask the Tiberias Tourist Information Office for details. The Succot Swimathon is across the Kinneret (4.8km/3 miles). Everyone is welcome to join, but bring a medical certificate stating that you are in good health. For information, contact the Tiberias Tourism Information Office, Ha-Banim Street, Tiberias (tel. 04/672-5666).
Tiberias (pop. 45,000) spreads out along the Kinneret shore and climbs the hillside to the west. The very center of Tiberias is Kikar Ha-Atzma'ut, or Independence Square, in the Old City. Surrounding Ha-Atzma'ut Square is what little is left of historic Tiberias.
The Central Bus Station (tel. 04/672-9222), on Ha-Yarden Street, is 2 blocks inland from Ha-Atzma'ut Square. Tiberias's main street changes names as it winds through the city. As it descends from the mountains to the lake it's called Ha-Nitzahon Road; in the residential district of Kiryat Shmuel up on the hillside it becomes Yehuda Ha-Nassi Street, and as it descends to approach the Old City its name changes to Elhadeff (or El-Hadeff or Alhadif) Street. After passing Ha-Atzma'ut Square, it becomes Ha-Banim Street, and this name serves it all the way to the southern limits of the city.
Northwest of the Old City, up on the hill that overlooks downtown, is the large residential district of Kiryat Shmuel, which has many moderately priced hotels, but is a rather dull, out-of-the-way area to stay in. South of the Old City about 1.5km (1 mile) is the section called Hammat, or Tiberias Hot Springs. Ruins of an ancient synagogue and town, a national park, a museum, and the Tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness are located near the springs.
North of the Old City, Gdud Barak Road skirts past several beaches on its way to Magdala (where Mary Magdalene came from), Tabgha (where the miracle of the loaves and fishes took place), the Mount of Beatitudes (where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount), and Capernaum (Kefar Nahum), a fishing community that was the hometown of Peter and a center for Jesus' ministry.
You can rent a bicycle at Hotel Aviv (tel. 04/672-0007 or 672-3510), at the southern end of Ha Galil Street, starting at NIS 40 ($10/£5) for standard bikes and NIS 50 ($13/£6.25) for mountain bikes for a full day, with hourly and half-day rates available. It's open daily. For an additional fee, you can have pickup service at points around the lake if you don't feel up to biking back to Tiberias. You can rent a car at any of five different major rent-a-car companies with offices in Tiberias, many of them found in the block of Elhadeff Street north of Ha-Yarden Street. They include Avis (tel. 04/672-2766), Budget (tel. 04/672-0864), Eldan (tel. 04/679-1822), Hertz (tel. 04/672-1804), and Reliable/Sixt (tel. 04/672-4112).