Nestled on Israel’s northern coast, the ancient port city of Acre (or as the locals call it, Akko) is fast becoming a popular travel destination — and one of many historic rest stops along Israel’s azure Mediterranean coast.
Situated just about an hour north of Tel Aviv, this 4,500-year-old-city enchants visitors with its rich multicultural history, breathtaking sights, and first-class dining and hospitality.
One of the oldest cities in the world, and certainly one of the most heavily fortified, Akko is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and is steeped in medieval Crusader history. The Old City is surrounded by imposing walls that are easily Akko’s most distinctive feature. If you’re bold, climb onto the ramparts for an unforgettable panoramic view.
Akko’s tumultuous history has been shaped by centuries of occupation. Aside from its fame as the one-time capital of the Crusader empire, the Romans, Ottomans, Mameluks, Byzantines, and even the British helped to lay the foundations of what is today home to a peaceful co-existence of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim community members.
Akko has been extensively excavated and carefully conserved over the past decade- and-a-half. A real visit to Akko cannot be done in just one day; there’s so much to see! Here are just a few (of many) suggestions for your visit:
Wander back in time through the fortress which played a vital role in the defense of Akko during the 11th century. With its enormous stone rooms and vaulted ceilings, the Hospitaller Fortress boasts a spectacular dining hall and a large open courtyard where you can almost hear knights practicing their swordplay.
At the end of the 12th century, the Knights Templar built a 1,150-foot long subterranean passage leading from the fortress to the city harbor, providing a secret escape route in case of attack. The tunnel is a built-in echo chamber—as you walk through it, you can see and hear the sea above and around you.
Old Town Shuk
Akko’s shuk (or souk), is located in the heart of the Old City, and is a vibrant and active trading center. If you’re looking for the best of Israeli street food, spices, and souvenirs, this is a must see.
As you reach the sea front, take a walk through the docks of colorful fishing boats in Akko’s marina. For a small fee, you can take boat tours around the walls of the city and watch fishermen bringing in the day’s catch, which is likely to end up in one of Akko’s most prominent restaurants.
Hailed as Akko’s (and arguably, Israel’s) most-famous seafood restaurant, Uri Buri opened in 1989 by legendary chef and owner Uri Jeremias. Set in a 400-year-old Ottoman stone house, Uri Buri’s creative and unique menus are guaranteed to make visitors return for seconds, and even thirds!
When you come to Akko, there’s no shortage of inspiration to be found in the beautiful Mediterranean scenery and ancient walls of this city, considered by many to be one of the greatest hidden gems on the coast.