If you’re feeling the urge to escape the city and find respite in nature full of mountains and waterfalls and streams, then the Golan Heights in Israel is the place for you. Whether you are looking for a peaceful walk enjoying the scenery, adventurous trips in nature, or fascinating pieces of history, the Golan has it all.
The Golan Heights
The Golan Heights is the northernmost part of Israel. Bordering Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan this portion of land has a tumultuous past as it was fought over for years. Despite its rocky history, the Golan has managed to become one of the most beautiful areas in Israel. Although it is most famous for its beloved and vast array of waterfalls, the area also has an incredible history dating back to prehistoric times (and everything in between). No matter what kind of trip you’re looking for, the Golan certainly has something that will appeal to you.
13 Things to Do in the Golan Heights
The options of things to do in the Golan Heights are just about as diverse as the people living there (a mix of Arab, Jewish, and Druze citizens)! From waterfalls to fortresses to adventure sports, the choices are endless.
1. Banias Waterfall and Nature Reserve
Perhaps the most famous waterfall in Israel, Banias has every reason to hold that title. It is the largest waterfall in all of Israel and one of the most beautiful. Streaming down from the base of Mount Hermon, this waterfall is stunning. Don’t forget to enjoy the springs at the nature reserve and to explore the ancient city of Dan which contains ruins and even a cave named after the Greek god Pan.
2. Ayun Stream Nature Reserve – 4 Waterfalls
If you’re looking for the perfect hike with a view, Ayun Stream is the place for you. With a whopping view of four waterfalls along the hiking route, this is not to be missed! If you want a nice, lengthier hike you can climb the steep path to the top to view all four waterfalls and then walk back down to the entrance (recommended). But if you’re looking for a more leisurely adventure, start at the upper entrance of the park and walk down.
3. Saar Falls and Druze Market
Who wouldn’t want to see an incredibly beautiful double waterfall hidden in the mountains of the Golan? Saar Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Israel. And the best part of visiting here is the authentic Druze market that is set up at the entrance of the park. You can shop for locally produced goodies and eat tasty treats after enjoying the waterfall views.
4. Nimrod’s Fortress
One of Israel’s most underrated locations, Nimrod’s Fortress is impressive in every sense of the word. One of the largest fortresses in the Middle East, it was originally built in 1227 and has been fought over and conquered by the Mamluks, Mongols, Crusaders, and more. The fortress has extensive and intact secret passageways, pools, moats, towers, fountains and more. And once you see the incredible view, you will understand why it was fought over by so many different civilizations throughout history!
5. Hexagon Pool – Meshushim Stream Nature Reserve
A short, picturesque hike in the nature leads you to an incredibly beautiful pool of water enveloped in uniquely shaped rock formations. The meaning behind the name of the pool – Hexagon Pool is obvious after seeing the hexagon shaped rocks that encompass the water. Millions of years ago the Golan was covered in active volcanos. When the hot lava touched the cold pool of water it created this distinct hexagon shape.
6. Nahal Jilaboun – Stunning Waterfall Hike
Beautiful nature, rushing waterfalls, hiking on the rocks between the pools of water. Nahal Jilaboun is perhaps one of the most beautiful hikes in Israel leaving you feeling like you’re walking through a tropical jungle. Hidden by the foliage and protected from the sun, you will see at least two waterfalls depending on which version of the hike you do. If you visit in the spring you will not only be lucky enough to have beautiful weather, but also see the hills painted with countless colors of stunning wildflowers.
7. Mount Hermon – The Tallest Mountain in Israel
Did you know that there is snow in Israel? And even a ski resort… Mount Hermon is Israel’s tallest mountain (measuring 2,236 meters high). It is a very popular attraction in the wintertime and a lovely place to visit with incredible views.
8. Adventure Sports – Horseback Riding, ATVing, Waterfall Rappelling, Via Ferrata
If you are looking for something fun and different to do, the Golan is the place for you. Whether you want to go horseback riding, ATVing, rappelling down a waterfall, or doing a Via Ferrata style rock climbing hike, the options are endless.
9. The Golan Trail – Shvil HaGolan
The Golan Trail (שביל הגולן) is a beautiful and challenging hike that takes you all through the Golan Heights. 125 kilometers in total it starts at Mount Hermon and continues throughout the entire Golan, usually taking about 7-9 days to fully complete.
10. Eli Cohen Trail – Incredible History
One of Israel’s most famous spies and national heroes- Eli Cohen was primarily stationed in the Golan Heights when it was under Syrian control. On the Eli Cohen trail you can follow his footsteps and learn about this legendary spy and see all the places made famous by his story.
11. Mount Bental – Amazing Lookout of the Region
Mount Bental is an all time favorite for tourists and locals alike. With a stunning, panoramic views of the region, it’s hard not to fall in love. You can see Lebanon, Syria, and Israel from this mountaintop. There are even remains of bunkers and tanks that were left from the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
12. Cherry Picking – In the Spring/Summer
Who doesn’t love to pick some fresh fruits? And cherries? No one can resist. In the spring (around May/June) the Golan is covered with pick your own cherry farms. You can enter the farms, wander through the cherry trees, pick as much fruit as you want, and take home buckets of fresh and delicious cherries.
13. Hamat Gader – Natural Hot Springs
Israel’s largest and oldest spa, Hamat Gader is built around the naturally occurring hot springs and thermal waters of the area. In use as a spa since the 8th century BCE, Israel is continuing the tradition until this day with mineral rich thermal baths at this spa.
Where to Eat in the Golan Heights
Don’t think that just because it is far away from the metropolitan centers of the country that there are no good places to eat in the Golan. On the contrary, the Golan is full of culinary delights and some of the best restaurants in the country!
1. Dag Al HaDan
Perhaps one of the loveliest culinary experiences I have ever had, Dag Al HaDan is a household name for years. It’s prime location, built right on top of the flowing river makes for the most amazing and peaceful experience while you enjoy locally sourced fish right from the river nearby. Delicious food and the most amazing atmosphere, it cannot be missed!
Seasonal, local cuisine that specializes in farm to table delicacies? You cannot miss this incredible Moshbutz restaurant featuring incredible dishes, organic grass-fed meat, and vegetables straight from the garden.
3. Oz Patisserie – Café on the River
If you liked the idea of Dag Al HaDan, you’ll love Oz Patisserie. Located right next to the famous fish restaurant, you will find a delicious café. Enjoy your breakfast or lunch to the sound of bubbling water and covered by beautiful green trees. And this isn’t just a beautiful location, the food is delicious as well.
4. Majdal Shams – Traditional Druze Cuisine
No trip to the Golan is complete without trying some of the incredibly delicious Druze cuisine in the town of Majdal Shams. There you can find some of the freshest and most impressive falafel I have ever tasted and a delicious range of sweet treats like baklava.
5. Little Bakery Café – לחמק’ה
If you’re looking for a cute café for a casual brunch with friends, Little Bakery (לחמק’ה in Hebrew) is a wonderful option. With yummy pastries and lots of fresh menu items, it’s a cute little bakery in a great location.
6. Habokrim Restaurant
If you’re a meat lover, you simply cannot miss the renowned Habokrim Restaurant. Overlooking a horse farm and Mount Bental, this place will not disappoint!
Where to Stay in the Golan Heights
The Golan Heights is full of incredible places to stay with gorgeous views. Your best bet is to check out some of the beautiful options on Airbnb like unique caravan on a lavender field, this beautiful place with a view of the Sea of Galilee, and this beautiful wood cabin. There are also many beautiful bed and breakfasts in the town of Metula, offering incredible views and a great location. Kiryat Shmona and Katzrin are the larger cities if you are looking for a place that has common conveniences like super markets and shopping malls.
If you are looking for a more rustic and authentic experience, camping in the Golan is incredibly beautiful and there are many campsites set up throughout the area.
Tips for Visiting the Golan Heights
- Getting There – The Golan Heights are a bit far from the rest of the country and unfortunately it’s not that easy to get there. Although there is a pretty reliable bus system, you will most likely be stuck on a bus for hours and hours just to get anywhere. It is highly recommended to only attempt to travel in the Golan by car. It is nearly impossible to reach the nature and historical sites without your own car.
- Weather – Since the Golan Heights is the northernmost part of Israel, and it is full of mountains it is oftentimes the coldest part of the country and one of the only places that has snow!
- Wildlife – Without too many big cities to get in the way of wildlife, the Golan is a bit like uncharted territory. Be careful of the wild boars, they can be extremely large and aggressive, especially if there are baby boars involved!
- Land Mines – Due to its complicated past of many conflicts, in some areas of the Golan Heights there is a risk of land mines still buried under the ground, untouched from previous conflicts. Israel has done a great job in marking the potentially risky areas, so do not ignore the signs warning of potential land mines and don’t wander too far off the main paths…it is no joke!
Don’t forget your travel essentials!
Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a water bottle, hat and sunscreen! Here are some of our favorite essentials that we bring on every trip:
Every Day Bucket Hat – Everyone needs to bring along a hat while traveling…. it’s perfect to offer protection from the sun and also to hide bad hair days! Our favorite bucket hat also comes in tons of different colors.
Amazing Everyday Water Bottle – We literally don’t go anywhere without this water bottle. Perfect for hikes and also everyday! We can’t even describe how delightful it is to take a sip of water from this perfectly made bottle. Also available in multiple different sizes.
Timeless Vintage Backpack – What could be better than lots of different pockets to store all the little goodies that you bring along with you on your journeys? This backpack is comfortable, convenient, and a classic. A stylish backpack perfect for every environment.
Mini Tripod – Who doesn’t want to get the perfect photo while traveling? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a personal photographer with them at all times to capture the special moments, so that is where this portable tripod comes in handy. Adjustable, with a selfie stick handle, and a wireless control make it the perfect combo.
Rogue Fishing Co. The Protector Phone Tether – Adventurous journeys call for a little more caution when it comes to our electronics. This phone tether has saved us more than once on kayaking trips, rappelling, and hiking. The compact leash is small enough to stay out of your way, but stretches enough to help you get the perfect picture.
Looking for more fun day trips throughout the country? Check out this post here: 25 IDEAS FOR AMAZING DAY TRIPS FROM TEL AVIV | ESCAPE THE CITY
Or maybe you are looking for more beautiful waterfall experiences? Check out: WATERFALL OF THE GODS – NGARE NDARE FOREST | KENYA TRAVEL
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters