Over the years, many people have asked me what my favorite place in Israel is.
This is a difficult question simple because I love touring through the entire country. I will say though, I think the Golan Heights is one of the most beautiful spots in the winter.
If we look at a map of Israel, the Golan Heights is in the upper right hand corner, to the right, or east of the Sea of Galilee up through the Hula valley ending at the top near Tel Dan.
In this small area we have, starting from the south: an observation point called the Peace Vista or in Hebrew Mitzpe L’Shalom which overlooks the Sea of Galilee, and from which we can view Mt. Tabor – the site of the transfiguration of Jesus, the city of Tiberias as well as the city of Tzfat (or Safed) and part of the lower Galilee.
The Golan Heights also has numerous hiking trails, waterfalls that flow during the winter and spring, water hikes, rafting on the Jordan River, and many historical sites. We can visit a reconstructed village from the Talmudic period, Katzrin (8th century CE) extinct volcanoes, nature reserves such as the Yehudiya and Gamla, and biblical sites like Tel Dan, and sites from the New Testaments such as the Banias nature reserve where Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter.
The Golan Heights is also a wonderful venue from which one can learn about the geopolitical situation of the region by visiting a former IDF bunker at Har Bental as well as monuments from the Yom Kipper War of October 1973 and a Archaeology museum.
If your interest is in wine, culinary or in agriculture we have a number of excellent wineries, a brewery, and even a chocolate factory as well as places to buy and enjoy shwarma (baked meat usually served in a pita bread with humas and salads) falafel, pizza, or a nice bowl of soup and a sandwich. You can go bird watching while visiting the ancient synagague remains located at Gamla, mentioned by Josephus Flavius in his history of Rome’s war against the Jews and at the same time view nesting vultures. Israel also hosts a ski slope on the foot of Mount Hermon.
After a day playing in the snow one can travel to the southern Golan Heights and warm up at Hamat Gader Hot Springs or in Tiberias (in the Galilee) in the evening to swim in naturally heated hot water (about 98′ F). There are few places that offer such a diverse assortment of historical, geographical and nature-oriented activities with such a close proximity to each other. I guess this is why, I would have to say the Golan Heights is one of my favorite places in Israel during the winter.
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Moshe Friedman is a licensed tour guide since 1996 and lives near Katzrin in the Golan Heights. He is a certified EMT and lectures on the history of Israel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.