Israel is a country filled with ancient cities and dramatic canyons. This is part of what makes it such a special, varied country - but it also means that some of the most impressive spots are reserved for those able to traipse up and downhill in steep city streets, or hike trails and climb ladders to waterfalls.
Just because you might not be up for extreme hiking doesn’t mean you need to miss out! Here are ten awesome and accessible sites that you can visit across Israel, whether with a wheelchair, a stroller, or just when you're not in the mood to run yourself ragged in the hot summer sun.
The Big Juba
In the northern Golan Heights, near the town of Odem, there is an easy circular path leading to the viewpoint of the ‘Big Juba’, a massive crater formed by the sudden release of volcanic gasses which collapsed the volcano that once stood there. You can see a lovely array of Golan vegetation, and if you’re lucky you might glimpse a Persian Fallow Deer, as this is one of the rare places in Israel they can be seen.
Tel Dan Nature Reserve
In the upper Hula Valley there is a site of exceptional natural beauty and impressive historical significance, the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. The reserve has a whole section that is wheelchair accessible including the first portion of the hiking trail that reaches a wading pool, and the path to ‘Abraham’s Gate’, a significant archaeological discovery that may be the oldest standing archway in the entire world.
Gamla National Park
The southern Golan Heights is home to some of the best views in Israel, and Gamla National Park is no exception. From a smooth, circular path on the edge of the canyon, you can enjoy dramatic views of the ancient Jewish settlement below, and see and hear explanations of how it was conquered by the Roman forces 2,000 years ago. As a bonus, you can continue to the Vulture Lookout, where you can see the magnificent Griffon Vulture soaring high above and in the valley below.
Ma’arat Keshet (Rainbow Cave) in the Western Upper Galil is one of the best kept secrets in Israel. Once a cave in the side of a cliff, part of the roof of the cave collapsed, leaving a solitary arch wide enough to walk across. A ramp comes down from Park Adamit right up to the arch, and you can look down through the arch and see the tree-covered slopes of the Galil below.
Bahai Gardens, Akko Many people know about the steep stepped and terraced Baha'i Gardens cutting through the middle of Haifa, but there is actually a whole other garden enclosure a few minutes north, near the city of Akko (Acre). This flat site makes a much easier job of navigating these pristine gardens, taking in the symmetry and colours that is sure to be enjoyed by the whole family. However, many of the paths are gravel, so depending on the wheels you are riding on, it can be a little more challenging than some other sites on this list.
Ein Afek Nature Reserve
One of my favourite spots on this list is the Ein Afek Nature Reserve near Haifa. It is a large circular route that passes ancient buildings and cuts through wetlands where you will see lots of fish swimming, a variety of birds and even a herd of water buffalo. Then you can cross a long wooden bridge that skirts just above the water that surrounds you on all sides. Like the Bahai'i Gardens in Akko, it isn't the easiest for wheelchairs, and it definitely helps to have a stroller that can go over bumps - but for little kids, it's a great experience.
What was once a well-kept secret, is now a favourite stop off point for families travelling north. Behind the old moshav of Yokneam is a year-round river surrounded by forests, with lots of different trails for different levels of hiking. An accessible path runs down to a couple of shaded mini-waterfalls, and one of the pools is even wheelchair accessible where the wooden deck slopes seamlessly into the shallow water.
Apollonia National Park
If you live in Israel’s center and are just looking for a short trip, then Apollonia is the perfect place. Just north of Herzliya, you can easily travel on the smooth path towards the crusader fortress, and enjoy the beautiful views of the cliff and the sea. With the new opening hours on weekdays until 10.00pm (!!!) you can admire the sunset over the Mediteranean and enjoy the cooler evening breeze. Sometimes concerts and performances are held at night inside the park!
Qumran National Park
For the history buffs out there, no trip in Israel is complete without getting into some serious archaeology, and nowhere is more accessible than Qumran, the ancient Jewish settlement at the foot of the cliffs on the shore of the Dead Sea. In the small museum and movie you can hear all about the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and then take the circular route that passes the different rooms and caves that make this small site so special.
Ben Gurion’s Tomb National Park
On the way down south, there is an impressive spot that has it all - history, nature, and a spectacular view. Stop off at Midreshet Ben Gurion near Sde Boker and walk along the path, made to look like a desert canyon with Negev flora surrounding you. If you go early or late in the day, you are guaranteed to see lots of wildlife - ibexes and gazelles love this shady spot. As you reach Ben Gurion’s desert tomb, you will begin to understand just why he wanted to be buried here - the view down over the Tsin riverbed is one of the best in Israel.
This list is by no means exhaustive - a full guide to accessible sites under the Israel Parks Authority is available here. Have you been on another easy walk in Israel? Comment below so other people can enjoy them too!
My name is Jonny Finkel, and I am a licensed tour guide and professional photographer here in Israel. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions and I will be in touch with you very soon!