1. What airport should I fly into to hike the Jesus Trail?
2. How do I get to Nazareth?
3. Am I fit enough to hike the Jesus Trail?
4. When is the best time to hike the trail?
5. Are water sources available and how much should I carry?
6. Where can I sleep at night?
7. Footwear and clothing
8. Maps and books
9. Trail Markers and GPS
11. Which direction should I hike?
12. How long is the trail and how much time do I need to hike it?
Safety in Israel
13. Is it safe to hike the trail and travel in Israel?
14. How much does it cost to travel in Israel? What should I budget for the trail?
15. I’ve walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain and other long-distance pilgrimage routes; How does the Jesus Trail compare?
Fly into Tel Aviv-Yafo (TLV), the only major airport in Israel. If you’re arriving from elsewhere in the Middle East, you can travel overland from Jordan or Egypt.
You can check transport schedules under transportation.
From Tel Aviv airport: The best way to get to Nazareth is to take a combination of train and bus. After you get your bags, you will exit into a large lobby. You can get cash from an ATM and, if you wish, purchase a cellular SIM card.To get to the train, exit the lobby straight ahead and turn left following signs for the train. There are several machines for purchasing tickets, either with cash or credit card. Buy a ticket to Haifa. You can view train schedules here: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/
You will get off at Haifa HaShmona station, a ride of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. In the parking lot outside of the station, you will see a small bus office and a bus stop with a sign for bus #331 to Nazareth. Take this bus and get off at the Basilica of the Annunciation, just ask the bus driver to let you off at the church. If you are staying at the Fauzi Azar Inn, walk up the street from the church and enter the souk (market) through an arched doorway. Keep following uphill until you see green Inn signs, or ask any shopkeeper to direct you. If you’re staying at other accommodations, see their web site for specific directions.
From Jerusalem: There are direct buses from Jerusalem to Nazareth every day (except Saturday) at 4pm and 6pm, which leave from the central bus station. On Friday, direct buses to Nazareth leave Jerusalem at 12:30 and 14:00. If you need to reach Nazareth earlier in the day, you can take an indirect route by taking a bus to Afula from Jerusalem and then taking a local bus to Nazareth from Afula.
Schedules for direct buses to Nazareth from Haifa, Akko, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, and Amman can be found under transportation.
Remember that there are no Israeli buses from early afternoon on Friday until an hour after dark on Saturday. Plan your transportation accordingly. Cars can be rented at reasonable rates in any major city, including Nazareth.
Many people ask whether they are fit enough to walk the entire Jesus Trail. Physical fitness is very personal and varies greatly from person to person. There is no one standard of who is “fit enough” but here are a few questions that can help you determine for yourself:
Can you walk 16 km (10 miles) in one day? The best way to find this out is to pack a day pack and head to a hiking area near where you live. Choose an easy to intermediate trail of about 10 miles and see how you feel as you walk. You may wish to build up to 10 miles over time, by starting with shorter walks.
Do you have any joint problems that could prevent you from walking for four days in a row? Walking and carrying weight can be hard on joints. If you have arthritis, or have had any surgery on your knee, hip or ankle joints, consult a physician before walking the trail.
Do you have any other ailments that could affect your ability to walk long distances?
For example, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, back pain, and many other ailments could prove painful and dangerous on a distance hiking trail.
When in doubt, schedule a checkup with your physician.
Fall and Spring are the optimal season – October to November and February to mid-May. Spring is preferable as the landscape will be green and lush, flowers will be in bloom, and creeks and rivers will have more water. In the fall the landscape can be quite dry. In both seasons you can expect some rain, so plan to pack a tent or tarp and rain gear. December and January are the rainy months and not the preferable time to walk the trail. June to September are prohibitively hot and humid, posing a serious health risk of dehydration.
Water is readily available every few hours for most of the trail. On the return section from the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee to Mt. Tabor there is a longer stretch without water. Contact us and we can see if we can help you. Five liters per person per day should be enough for drinking and cooking. If you want to take ‘bottled shower’ or you want to wet wash your dishes you would need some extra.
Accommodations: There are accommodations available for each day of the trail, and we are working to develop new options for every budget. See the suggested itinerary and accommodations for more detailed information. You can expect to pay about 100 shekels ($25US) for dorm accommodations with breakfast.
Camping: There are several designated pay camping areas along the trail, including Rish Lakish in Moshav Zippori, Yarok Az Ecolodge, Golani Junction (JNF free camp area), Arbel village and many sites along the Sea of Galilee. It is illegal to camp in National Parks and Nature Reserves, and we do not recommend camping in other undesignated areas.
If you do choose to camp, make sure you have adequate gear. You will at least need a lightweight tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Check temperature ratings on your gear and average temperatures for the season you will be camping to make sure you will be warm enough. If you are not camping near a water source, remember to bring extra water for the night. Because of negative environmental impact, we encourage you not to build campfires, but rather to carry a camping stove if you wish to cook along the trail.
Remember that whatever you pack you will be carrying on your back, so lightweight options are best!
The most important thing in planning your trek is to bring comfortable, worn-in footwear. We recommend sturdy hiking shoes or boots as the trail involves some sections of rough terrain, although most is on dirt 4×4 tracks. We do not recommend wearing sandals.
Modest clothing is also recommended for passing through villages and entering holy sites, as many churches do not allow visitors in if they are wearing shorts. It’s a good idea to layer clothing for changing weather. During the rainy season bring rain gear. Don’t forget sunscreen and sun-protective clothes, especially in summer.
Hiking the Jesus Trail and Other Biblical Walks in the Galilee is available for purchase at www.jesustrailguide.com, on Amazon.com and in select bookstores in Israel. This book is the best source of detailed maps in English, written descriptions, diagrams, historical information, planning, transportation, and basically everything you need to know to hike the Jesus Trail. Order your copy today for your complete planning guide!
The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel produces detailed 1:50,000 topographical maps with all marked trails. At the Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth, we sell this map for the region in Hebrew, and have added the English town and site names for non-Hebrew speakers (100 shekels).
Even though the trail is marked, it’s always a good idea to hike with a detailed map and know how to use it for navigation. The maps have water sources marked, but they’re not reliable.
There are no recommendations on restaurants, places to stay or good campsite markers on the map, but you can find them on our website at: Accommodations.
A free brochure including a sketch map is available for download or contact us to mail you a print copy.
Check out the maps on this website, including the full route on one map and the entire trail divided into shorter sections.
As of May 2009, the main trail from Nazareth to Capernaum is marked with white and orange painted blazes. Most of the return loop from Arbel to Mt. Tabor is part of the Israel National Trail and is marked with an orange, blue and white blaze. Be aware that these blazes are sometimes lost or destroyed, so you may wish to also carry a map. Click here for in depth information on using the a GPS device with the Jesus Trail.
The Jesus Trail is marked with paint blazes in the same style as other Israeli hiking trails—three stripes of color indicating the direction of the path. The Jesus Trail blaze colors are white/orange/white (fig. 1). The stripes will bend at a right angle to the left or right to indicate right or left turns (fig. 2) Sometimes the trail follows along other marked trails. In this case, the Jesus Trail blazes will either alternate with the blaze of the other trail, or an orange dot will be indicated above the other trail blaze (fig.3). Example of trail intersection (fig. 4).
From each blaze, the next one should be visible. Train your eyes to look for these symbols on rocks, trees, walls, curbs and fences. Be aware that occasionally paint blazes are altered or destroyed by weather, animals or local graffiti artists. SPNI does their best to make sure the trail and its blazes are well-maintained, so please inform them if you find a section with missing or damaged blazes (email@example.com).
The trail passes near towns and places where you can buy food and resupply often. You shouldn’t need to carry more than two day’s worth of food. Every village, town, and kibbutz usually has a grocery store, though often have reduced hours in smaller communities (for example they may close at 2:00pm).
Nazareth is higher in elevation than the Sea of Galilee, so hiking the one way route to Capernaum is basically downhill. If you choose to hike the return route, you will climb out of the Rift Valley to your starting elevation in Nazareth. If hiking the entire loop, we recommend going clockwise (Nazareth-Golani Junction-Arbel-Mount of Beatitudes-Tiberias-Mount Tabor-Nazareth).
The trail is about 60 km (40 miles) to Capernaum. For the average hiker it should take from 3 to 5 days. The average hiker walks 3-4 km. per hour, so 15 km. per day is usually manageable and leaves time to explore the sites. If you are a fast and experienced walker, you may wish to complete the trail in 3 days. If you want plenty of time to explore and contemplate each of the sites, you may wish to schedule in 5 days on the trail.The return route looping to the south adds an additional 3-5 days, and is more difficult if hiking from the Sea of Galilee back to Nazareth.
Safety in Israel
Many people walk the trail alone and have found this to be safe. We have always found local people to be exceptionally helpful and honored to have foreigners respectfully walking through their towns and villages. The Galilee region is quite stable. There is always some risk associated with hiking and camping alone in any part of the world, but the risk in the Galilee region is very minimal.
It is always safer to hike in a group of two or more persons, particularly for women, and modest dress is strongly encouraged. Female hikers have occasionally reported unwanted attention from some young men in towns. This attention can be annoying, but is usually not dangerous and best ignored. If the problem persists, walk into a shop or other area with people and enlist their help. Older locals are often frustrated and embarrassed by any mistreatment of visitors and can take care of the problem. If serious harassment occurs, call the police by dialing 100.
We recommend staying in local guesthouses rather than camping for maximum safety and positive impact on local economic development. If you do choose to camp, we recommend camping in designated camping areas.
Wildlife in the Galilee is not particularly dangerous. Especially during warm weather, be on the lookout for the occasional snake or scorpion. It is best to hike during daylight hours and plan your days so you will arrive before nightfall for optimal visibility and safety.
While the media often portrays Israel and Palestine as perpetual hotspots of violence, the tourist areas of the region are generally very safe with a high level of security. Tourists have not ordinarily been targets of violence in the region, and politically motivated violence in Israel has been low for the past two years.
Crime and violence levels in major cities are much lower in Israel than in major American cities. Murder, rape and theft rates in Israel are similar to rates in Germany, which has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.
Many prices in Israel are somewhat on par with prices in the United States, and slightly less expensive than Western Europe. Transportation and hostel accommodations are reasonable, but not dirt cheap. Food prices can be quite expensive, but are cheaper in Jerusalem and Nazareth, and most expensive in Tel Aviv. On the trail, your budget will depend on what type of accommodations you use, whether you eat from grocery stores or restaurants, and whether you use buses or private taxis for transportation.
If you stay in dorm B&Bs or homestays and eat 1 or 2 meals in restaurants, your daily budget will be more like $50-100 (€30-70) p/p per day. If you stay in private hotels and eat all your meals out, you should budget $100-$150 (€70-110) p/p per day.
There are no fees to walk the trail. There are 2 national parks along the trail—Zippori (optional but highly recommended) and Arbel (the trail passes through this national park) that have a small entrance fee. Make a donation for trail maintenance if you wish to support the project voluntarily.
Exchange Rate (approximate)
• $1 = 3.7 NIS (New Israeli Shekel)
• €1 = 5.0 NIS (New Israeli Shekel)
• train ticket from Tel Aviv airport to Haifa: 35NIS ($9.50, €6.30)
• city bus: 5-6NIS ($1.30-1.50; €.90-1.10)
• car rental per day: 200-325NIS ($50-90; €30-60)
• gasoline/petrol per liter: 6NIS ($6.15/gallon; €1.10/liter)
• double private hotel room:250-500+NIS ($65.00-130.00+; €45.00-90.00+)
• single bed in dorm accommodations: 60-130NIS ($16-35; €12-26)—as low as 30NIS ($8/€5)in Jerusalem
• pay camp site with showers per person: 30NIS ($8/€5)
• felafel sandwich: 12NIS ($3.20, €2.20)
• sit down meal in a restaurant: 50-80NIS per person ($13.50-21.50; €9.00-14.50)
• 20 oz. bottle of soda in a convenience store: 8NIS ($2.15, €1.50)
• jar of peanut butter at a grocery store: 20NIS ($5.40, €3.60)
• dehydrated rice or pasta dinner from grocery store: 12NIS ($3.20, €2.20)
The Jesus Trail has a lot in common with the Camino as well as some key differences. Both are great trails with their own unique character and ambiance, and their own advantages and challenges for walkers.
Similarities: Both routes have a “village to village” feel, with the path passing through populated areas. Both are marked with paint blazes. Accommodations, food and water are readily available on both. Both connect sites of spiritual and religious importance. Food and transport prices are similar on both trails. Both paths are fairly flat and neither require technical skill, exceptional fitness, or a guide.
Differences: The Camino is a lot longer than the Jesus Trail (800k compared to 65k). The Camino is so popular, with over 100,000 walkers per year, that a walker is guaranteed to meet many other travelers on the path, while so far Jesus Trail walkers are more of a slow trickle (over 1000 walkers in 09). The Camino has a system of municipal dorm accommodations that are very inexpensive (€3-10, $4.50-15); The Jesus Trail so far has privately-owned accommodations that are slightly more expensive than the Camino (about €16, $25 with breakfast).
The sites along the Camino are mainly medieval and Christian and relate to historical pilgrimage and the local folk history of St. James. The main sites along the Jesus Trail come from the New Testament, with other sites from many periods of history that relate to Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions.
Updated: August 3, 2011