Planning your trip in the Upper Galilee
The Galilee is the mountainous area in the north of Israel extending from the Mount Carmel- Mount Gilboa range in the south up to Israel’s northern border (although officially up to the east-west section of the Litani River within Lebanon), and from Israel’s coastal plain in the west to the Jordan Rift Valley in the east (including Lake Kinneret and the Hulah Valley).
Traditionally, the Galilee is divided into the northern Upper Galilee and the southern Lower Galilee, with the dividing line being the Beit Hakerem Valley. The city of Karmiel is in the Beit Hakerem Valley. The Lower Galilee has low mountain ranges less than 2,000 feet with shallow expanses between them, while the mountains in the Upper Galilee reach up to more than 3,000 feet and have sharper valleys.
This website does not cover the coastal plain. The “Upper Galilee” (in brown in this website) and “Lower Galilee” (in green) are covered separately. All sites north of Lake Kinneret, including those close to the northern shore, are described in the section “Eastern Upper Galilee” (in purple). I did this because all places in the Rift Valley north of Lake Kinneret group naturally together as a tourist area. All other sites on Lake Kinneret are described in the section “Lake Kinneret and Jordan Valley” (in light blue). For the same reason, because they are a convenient tourist area, sites in the Harod Valley and Eastern Jezreel Valley are also described in the section “Lake Kinneret and Jordan Valley” although technically they could be considered part of the Lower Galilee. Megiddo in the western part of the Jezreel Valley is covered in the “Lower Galilee” section.
Copyright: Dolní_Galilea.svg: Daniel Baránekderivative work: TheCuriousGnome, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
More about the Jews in the Galilee
The Lower Galilee experienced a large increase in its Jewish population after the Bar Kochba Revolt when Judea was depopulated and its Jewish population murdered, sold into slavery, died from starvation or was forced to immigrate. A sizable proportion moved to the Lower Galilee, including the rabbinic leadership. Thus, Usha, Zippori and finally Tiberius became the seat of the Sanhedrin. This despite Zippori being a pagan and subsequently Christian-run city. During the Byzantine period and with further Christianization of the country, many Jews moved further north to the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights into totally Jewish towns.
What is there to do in the Upper Galilee? First head for Safed for the day. There is much to see there. Consider also half a day in Pekin. It’s a delightful place and there are nearby places to visit. Four hikes are also described and all are worthwhile. Nahal Amud and Nahal Betzet are not difficult and both are suitable for a family hike. Nahal Tsalmon is very easy, but shorter than these two other hikes. Nahal Kziv is spectacular, but the return stretch of the circular hike I describe is slightly difficult and not suitable for smaller children. For a more relaxing trip, visit the synagogue of Baram.