Israel can be a great location for an active vacation with a family. There’s camping in Israel, mountain biking, rafting, rappelling, and rock climbing, but one of the most accessible ways to explore the active outdoorsy side of the country is by hiking.
Hiking in Israel is a great activity to do with family. Some of the best hikes in Israel are easily accessible and close to the cities, and there’s such a wide variety of Israeli hiking trails that people of all levels and ages can enjoy them.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite Israeli hiking trails below. But before we set you free to the natural Israeli world we also have some tips that will make your Israeli hiking experience even better.
Hiking Tips For Israel:
- Get to know the route before you leave for your hike. There are plenty of hikes for families in Israel, but to protect everyone you should download an offline map onto your phone or bring a paper trail map to make sure hiking in Israel is safe and you don’t get lost.
- All of the trails in Israel are marked with color markings along the trails. Make sure to follow these markings to stay on course and be safe along your hike, as in some cases going off the trail during a hike may end up on the verge of a cliff.
- Let someone know you’re going on a hike and send them your route. Give them your estimated time of return and let them know that if you haven’t returned by that time, they should call you and seek help.
- Bring water. Israeli hiking can get hot, and you want to stay hydrated. A general rule of thumb is to take a half liter for every hour of hiking, but adjust if you’re going uphill for a while or it’s going to be hot.
- Start early in the day to avoid crowds, have some wiggle room for getting home, and to enjoy cooler temperatures.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat. It’s not just about sunburn–it’ll keep you cool to be protected from the heat with some portable shade.
- Bring a phone and a portable phone charger. It’s always good to have the option to charge if you get lost and need to call for help.
- Bring snacks! Especially if you’re hiking with family, it’s always a good idea to bring granola or GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, but can include chocolate chips, dried fruits, and other nuts)
When is the best time to hike in Israel?
There are benefits to most seasons for hiking in Israel, so you need to know what you want. Israel has a dry season and a rainy season, and they both have pros and cons for hiking.
The rainy season is from November through April. While “rainy” doesn’t bring to mind long days on the trail, it’s actually a great time for hiking. The temperatures are mild and the terrain is green. The flowers are beautiful and the rain is normally only a light drizzly.
If you bring the right boots and a rain jacket, you’ll be prepared for Israeli hiking during the winter season.
The dry season is May through October and is a better time for hiking at some of the best hikes in Israel near bodies of water. The days are longer so longer hikes are possible, but the land is dried out and there isn’t much vegetation. More important, in April and May, many of the hikes are too hot, especially in the desert.
Where to go hiking in Israel?
If you love green forest areas with lots of water streams consider hiking in the north of Israel. The south of Israel, however, is the opposite and is a desert land with many unique topography features.
Now Israel also has a cost line that makes the hikes around this area mainly flat, while moving east into the country will be accompanied by gaining altitude as the Israeli mountains raise.
So when considering where to hike in Israel the question is what type of land you wish to hike in. There are also iconic Israeli hikes, like the Israel National Train or the Golan Trail.
Even if you don’t have time to complete an entire through-hike, it’s great to hike small portions of those hikes to get a taste of them.
Is it safe to hike in Israel?
Israeli hiking is safe, and as long as you stay within the boundaries of the country, you are going to be safe.
It’s very important, however, to pay attention to temperature and weather, and to prepare. Bring enough water and food, and always bring a headlamp in case your hike takes longer than you intended and you’re returning home in the dark.
Always tell someone where you’re going hiking and when you expect to be home so that if you’re not home on time someone is accountable for you.
Now that you have a general idea about hiking in Israel and feel comfortable taking your family on a hike or two in Israel let’s get into some recommended hikes you might wish to consider. We’ve compiled a list of a few of the best hikes in Israel here:
Arugot Stream Hike
This easy Israel hiking trail, one of the best hikes in Israel, a great family-friendly walking trail in Israel, is 5.6 kilometers long, a perfect and relaxing family-friendly walking trail in Israel.
The hike which is in the eastern part of Israel, in Ein Gedi in the Judean Desert offers unique views and a special desert environment like no other place. The trailhead is easy to find, near the southern parking lot of the Ein Gedi reserve.
It’s great because you’ll get to walk along the Arugot Stream which is both beautiful and comfortable with some cover from the sun. This is one of the best hikes for families in Israel for a hot day. Wear water shoes and bring a bathing suit so you and the kids can enjoy the refreshing streams!
You sometimes have to wade in shallow water on this hike and there’s a 33-foot waterfall that flows into a deep pool where you can swim. When you’re in the desert long enough, you should take any opportunity to swim.
Lastly, consider spending a night in the area and enjoying a day in the dead sea and its surrounding area.
Short Banias Nature Reserve Hike
This hike, one of the nicest Israeli hiking trails, is considered to be an easy hike in Israel and is around 2.5 kilometers long.
It is located in the northern part of Israel in the Upper Golan between the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon and starts at the upper entrance to the Banias reserve and ends at the lower entrance to the reserve.
The Pan Temple has its own interesting history that you can play up if you’re hiking with the whole family–a local legend says that the Greek God Pan wandered the area, sending all of the forest fairies and animals into a panic. The Greek Hellenists eventually settled in the area and named the city Panias after the god. When Muslims came a thousand years later, they changed the name to Banias. The cliff at the Pan Temple is the second-century BCE site of a temple built by the Greeks in honor of Pan.
Tip: Bring a picnic! There are great spots all over the hike for picnicking near the water.
Timna Arches and Mines Hike
This hike, one of the more popular Israeli family hiking trails is located almost at the southwest point of Israel in the Arava Desert, a unique place in Israel which has a different climate than just a desert.
This hike is only 3 kilometers long and is highly recommended If you have older kids. They’ll find the rock climbing, metal ladders, and spectacular view exciting.
One of the coolest parts of this hike is the “Plate Field,” bright dents in the ground that are actually the remains of ancient mining shafts! There’s also a great view of the Timna Valley and a cave to walk through directly.
Mount Timna and the Solomon Pillars Hile
Another great hike for families in Israel, this is one of the few parts of Timna Park, about 17 miles north of Eilat, where you can actually find some quiet away from the crowds.
It’s a longer hike, 12 kilometers, so best to go with older kids, and you need to climb 400 meters. It’s a challenge for the whole family.
This hike also has some great views of the Timna Valley and Timna mountain, as well as the Arava Valley and the Edom mountains in Jordan, some of the most spectacular views on an Israel travel vacation.
You’ll also get a peek at the Solomon Pillars, 40-meter pillars made of red sandstone. Their shape resembles a temple and the ancient Egyptians even built a temple to the goddess of Hathor at the foot of the pillars.
There’s a point where you get to hike on the Israel National Trail, one of the most famous through-hikes in the country.
Red Canyon Hike
This easy hike is around 3 kilometers and is located in the Eilat Mountains in Israel. It’s close to the city, easy for families, and absolutely beautiful.
The Eilat Mountains in general have great hikes, especially if you’re looking for desert hiking options.
One of the coolest parts of the hike is that you’ll walk around red sandstone and get to observe colors change between different shades of red and black.
The Hadassa Trail in Jerusalem
Not exactly in the woods, but a great walk with the family if you need to stay close to Jerusalem.
This walk actually surrounds the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital and is about 6 kilometers in total. The trail marker is red-green.
While it’s relatively short, you pass the Jerusalem Trail, Israel National Trail, and the Springs Trail while you’re on it.
There’s so much to see on this hike. You’ll go down Wadi Yusuf to Erin Khandak and then pass by ancient agricultural facilities, as well as the “Little Western Wall” complex from the Herodian period.
You’ll also get to see a Roman-Byzantine road and the Gurni Monastery.
Reed Dug Hike
This easy 4-kilometer hike is also a round trip, so you don’t need to plan complicated logistics to get home.
It starts in Kibbutz Horesh in the Sharon Region and heads toward the Hefer Reservoir.
You’ll pass rich vegetation, birds, animals, observation points, and a tiny island!
These are some great options for hiking, but you can also take guided hiking tours in Israel. Consider adding a guide who knows her way around the country, you’ll discover some of Israel’s best hiking trails. Find one through our Israel travel agency.
If you’re looking for a couples trip in nature, why not try the Dead Sea? There’s nothing like being in nature with your loved ones.