The Golan Heights, a lush, rocky region on the Syria-Israel border, has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, and is a site of political and territorial conflict. It is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its desirable wine region, Israel’s only ski resort, nature areas with abundant wildlife and outdoor activities, and more.
Although still a controversial place with ongoing tension over territory, the Golan Heights has fertile land for growing fruits and vegetables and cultivating wine. Visitors enjoy wine tasting here as well as various activities on Mt. Hermon, home to the only ski resort in Israel. You can explore many other scenic natural areas, including the Gamla Nature Reserve and Hamat Gader hot springs, as well as ancient synagogues, Talmudic villages, and a large Byzantine monastery.
Day trips and overnight tours of the Golan Heights, which depart from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, usually include multiple top sights. Some also visit Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Golan Heights is a popular destination for visitors to Israel and locals alike, especially those with an interest in history and heritage, or anyone wanting to get out into nature.
- Hiking is one of the major draws to this area. If you plan on hitting the trails, be sure to bring adequate shoes, gear for varying weather, and plenty of water.
- If traveling independently in the Golan Heights, be vigilant. The region shares contested borders with Israel and Syria, plus civil-war fighting in Syria has reached the Golan as recently as 2018.
- There are land mines and Israeli military training sites in some areas. Pay close attention to signs and stay on main roads.
The Golan Heights is about a 2.5-hour drive north from Tel Aviv and a bit longer from Jerusalem. The region is best reached by car or as part of a tour. While you can take a 4-hour bus ride from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to the Golan, the area is not well serviced internally by public transportation.When to Get There
To see the Golan at its greenest, and with smaller crowds, visit in the spring. The region can be very hot and dry in the summer months, with large numbers of tourists. Winters are quite chilly and can be foggy and rainy, however you’ll have fewer crowds to contend with and can hike without the heat of summer.Gamla Nature Reserve
The Gamla Nature Reserve is known for its incredible bird populations. Eagles and huge vultures make their nests in the high cliffs here. There is an 1,800-foot (550-meter) vulture trail with a bird-watching spot nestled in the cliffside from which you can see the magnificent birds, some with a wingspan of 10 feet (3 meters). The nature reserve also has hiking trails on Mt. Gamla, lovely waterfalls, and views of the Sea of Galilee.