The only problem with Safed being up in the mountains is that there isn't a beach! However, the sea isn't that far away, so if you are vacationing in Safed why not take a daytrip to the seaside? The lovely town of Nahariya is on the Mediterranean Sea and is less than a 40km (23-mile) drive away. The modern town is built on a grid pattern so it's almost impossible to get lost. The main street, Ga'aton Boulevard, which leads straight to the beach, is lined with cafes and restaurants.

Getting There

If you are travelling by public transport the Nateev Express bus company has regular buses (#367) from the bus station. The first bus to Nahariya is at 8.15am and the last bus back from the beach is at 21.05pm. If the times aren't convenient, another way to get there or back is to travel via Acre on the Egged #361 and catch a local bus or sherut (local shared taxi) between Acre and Nahariya.

By car you drive out of Safed and travel west towards the sea on Highway 89. Nahariya is also the last stop on the Israel Railways line from the center of the country, making access to Ben Gurion Airport extremely easy. As Safed doesn't have a local car hire office, you can pick up a car in Nahariya, as an alternative to going to Tiberius.

What To See On The Way

Apart from admiring the wonderful countryside along the way, you can stop off at Meron to visit the grave of Shimon Bar Yochai. The town of Ma'alot is about half way between Safed and Nahariya and the park which surrounds the Montfort boating lake makes a great place for a picnic.

If you are looking for historical ruins, there are the remains of two Crusader castles to see. The Montfort castle built by the French in 12th century and the Yehi'am Castle built in the 13th century.

Nahariya Itself

Nahariya was founded by German Jews in the early 1930's and has a café society much loved by central Europeans. There are plenty of eating places along the main street, but why not enjoy your coffee and cake, or even a beer and a burger, at one of the many places along the beach while you watch the children playing in the sand.

If you want a bit of a work out, there are several open-air exercise parks with gym-style equipment along the Promenade and these are great fun to use. Just strolling, roller blading or cycling down the Promenade is also very enjoyable and when you feel like a rest, you can just stop and rent a deck chair or lounger and relax on the beach.

History Or Sport?

For the historically minded, there is a museum as well as the remains of a Byzantine Church with a mosaic floor. If you prefer your culture more up-to-date there is the Eden Art Gallery. Of course you can always do everyone's favorite activity, shopping! If you are more into sports you can play tennis, swim, enjoy sailing or other water sports like paragliding or windsurfing.

The kids will enjoy playing in the children's playground or taking a ride on the miniature railway. If you have time why not take them to the botanical and zoological gardens. And for old fashioned romantics - don't miss out on a horse-drawn carriage ride along the Promenade or around the town.

Where to Stay in Nahariya

There are numerous bed and breakfasts and small hotels in Nahariya -- the small-town, picturesque town lends itself to intimate accommodations rather than large hotels. Some of the most popular accomodation sites in Nahariya are the Madison, Frank and Carlton hotels as well as the penthouse Beit Yosef Beachfront suite.

Touring the Coast

Israel has close to 200 kilometers of exquisite Mediterranean coastline. Starting in the north, there are the beaches of Rosh Hanikra with its grottoes and coves. Once a year, sea turtles come here to lay eggs in the sand. It is one of nature's wonders to see the baby turtles hatch and scramble back to the surf.

Further south is the beachfront city of Haifa and then Acco, both historic and fascinating to tour. The verdant Carmel Mountains are close to the coast as you travel south past remote beaches and villages, scattered kibbutzim and moshavim. Look out for the Roman aqueducts along the highway; this is a sign that you are coming close to Caesarea. Caesarea Maritima National Park is definitely worth a visit, plus the nearby beaches have soft white sand aside ancient Roman ruins.

Just 30 kms south and you are at upscale Herzliya Pituach. Here are some of the best stretches of beach, hotels, bars and restaurants in the country. Herzliya beach vacation rentals are a great choice for visitors to enjoy a beautiful beach holiday plus be in the center of many popular tour sites.

Tel Aviv is very close to Herzliya and offers lovely beaches plus a vibrant nightlife. Tel Aviv never sleeps. It is a buzzing metropolis and is known as the Miami of the Middle East.

So pack you bathing suit and head to Israel's beaches.