Exclusive Tours: 5 Hidden Gems to Visit in Israel

Exclusive Tours: 5 Hidden Gems to Visit in Israel

For a country that’s so small, Israel is filled with hidden gems. The history of Israel is multilayered, mysterious, and sometimes hidden underground or underwater. 

Knowing where to go is key to getting to know the holy land inside and out. That’s why I’ve compiled my favorite hidden gems in Israel below. 

Explore beneath the city in the Pool of Arches

Go to the Pool of Arches in Ramla to row a boat inside a 12,000-year-old underground pool.

It was built as an underground reservoir in 789. You just go down a steep flight of stairs and from there, sit in the rowboats and take the oars!

There’s nothing like gliding past the 15 huge stone pillars and beneath the elegant arches of the high ceiling in this place, one of the most unique places in Israel, also called the pool of St. Helena. 

At the end of your experience below, you can visit a small exhibit about the history of the reservoir.

Important to know: The pool is open Sunday through Thursday, 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. and Friday from 8 A.M. to 2 P.M. To book a reservation, call 08-921-6873

Scuba through history at the Caesarea Underwater Old Port

Some of the hidden gems in Israel are underwater.

This diving spot is good for all levels but attracts divers from all over the world. It’s a unique underwater archaeological park and is one of the best places to scuba dive in Israel.

Caesarea was built 2000 years ago by King Herod, but the old port of Caesarea sank into the sea over time and integrated with the rest of the reed. 

The area is divided into four trails and on a tour, each diver gets a waterproof map to explore. 

Once you’re underwater, you can see the entrance gate of the port, the towers, the walls, shipwrecks, and even a lighthouse. Wave breakers meet to protect ships surrounding the port. The whole area of the sunken port is 50 acres. You can see Octopuses and Nudibranchs, but the most exciting part is to see the submerged port beneath the waves. 

The dives are led by professional instructors. If you’re an experienced diver, you can do extra activities like a night dive. If you’re a beginner or with your family, you can go snorkeling around the port with a guide. 

The Austrian Hospice

Jerusalem is a city brimming with energy, but sometimes you need a moment to take a step back, breathe deep, and find calm. 

That’s where a place like the Austrian hospice comes in. It’s a 19th-century guesthouse that used to cater to Austrian and German visitors to Jerusalem. 

The inside of the building is charming and calm. There’s a Viennese-style cafe with burgundy upholstered chairs, a chandelier, and classic Viennese cafe menu items like iced coffee and apfelstrudel.  

The roof has one of the best views of the Old City. You can see the Dome of the Rock, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Church of Our Lady of the Spasm. 

Even though you can see the city from this Israeli hidden gem, you’re far enough removed to sit back, relax, and rest.

Learn about Circassian people at the village of Kfar Kama

There are many different peoples that make up the country of Israel. 

One of the lesser known is the Circassian people, who lived in the Caucasus Mountains for thousands of years. They now live in Kfar Kama, which has been named one of the best tourism villages by the World Tourism Organization. 

Many Circassians were banished from their home in the 19th century, and settled in the Ottoman empire, including the north of Israel. 

Kfar Kama is home to 3,000 Circassians. They’ve built a museum and cultural center there in honor of their heritage, and the village has typical Circassian streets and homes. There are also restaurants with Caucasian dishes. 

You can take a digital self-guided tour via an app on your phone to learn about historical sites in the village, or come during the annual Almond Festival to celebrate the Almond blossom.

While you’re there you can check out Elbrus, a dairy that produces Circassian cheeses; a horse ranch, where you can schedule a carriage ride around the village; and Ein Kazan, a spring 2 km west of Kfar Kama with an underground pool.

Take your family to the Sataf forest for an outing 

Head to the western outskirts of Jerusalem close to the town of Har Eitan and escape to the Sataf Forest, one of the most beautiful places in Israel. 

This forest had a Moshav in 1949, but the settlement quickly ended due to crumbling infrastructure and landslides. 

In the 90s, however, the forest was rehabilitated due to its special ancient terraced farming structures.

If you like hiking, there are plenty of options, especially for families. 

The main trail is an 8km loop, but there are many other trails for all levels of activity. The Sataf Springs hike, for example, is only 3.5 km long and goes through olive groves as well as the terraced farming lots built into the side of the mountain that Sataf is famous for. For kids, the end of the hike at Sataf Spring has a dark tunnel in knee-deep water they can walk through. There’s a pool there for swimming, and nearby you can walk around the ruins of Sataf village. 

There are several hidden treasures within the Sataf forest, like the secret cave of Ein Hendek, the water springs of Ein Sataf and Ein Bichora, and the natural pools of Hendek and Tayasim. 

To get there, it’s a ten-minute drive through the Jerusalem hills. South from the main road to Jerusalem at the Harel Interchange, and from there south through Ma’oz Tzion in the direction of Kibbutz Tzuba. 

Sataf has free entrance and is open during daylight hours. 

If you’re interested in other outdoor sites in Israel, check out the Israeli National Trail


There are so many unique things to do in Israel that you could spend a lifetime exploring the country. They’re not all visible at first glance, but once you start to explore, Israel’s hidden gems open up to you. If you are interested in planning a trip to Israel check out Gil Travel for exclusive and highly customized tours.

Author Bio

Iris Hami is President of Gil Travel Group, the largest travel management firm sending people to Israel. She has over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, and uses that knowledge to craft unique Jewish journeys around the world. Her company has won multiple awards, including one from State of Israel Bonds for Extraordinary Achievements Promoting the State of Israel. They send over 40,000 travelers to Israel and other international locations each year and their clients include well-known Jewish organizations such as Birthright, Maccabi USA, Israel Bonds and many more.