Traveling to Israel and wondering whether Akko should be in your trip itinerary? We've been to Akko (aka Acre) many times and I can assure you it should be. Let me walk you through this amazing ancient city and show you all the fantastic things there are to see and do in Akko.
In this post, I'll tell you a bit about the history of Akko, and then walk you through the nine main attractions this city has to offer. By the time we'll finish the list, I promise you that you'll want to incorporate this unique travel destination in your itinerary.
So, what is Akko anyway?
Akko is a city along the shores of the Mediterranean, home to about 55,000 residents. This is one of the few cities in Israel with a mixed population of Arabs and Jews. According to the city's website (in Hebrew), 72% of the population is Jewish and 28% Arab. However, you'll be visiting the Old City of Akko where almost all of the residents are Arab.
The Old City of Akko is a UNESCO World Heritage site and for good reason: The city is over four thousand years old! Archeologists keep discovering more and more of the awesomeness of that history - and you get to see it all when visiting.
Akko offers a thrilling mix of archeology, authentic Middle Eastern markets, the blue mediterranean sea, and some delicious ethnic food. It's a lot like the Old City of Jerusalem, only with a view to the sea. Let's start exploring what there is to do in Akko.
Is it Acre or Akko?
In English, it's known as Acre. Why? As far as my research shows, no one really knows. I can tell you that the name in Hebrew is Akko and in Arabic Akka. Some suggest that Acre is some version derived from the Canaanite word Adco which apparently means "border", possibly because this area was the northern border of the Canaanite territory.
But that was literally millennia ago. These days, you'll still see the name "Acre" in travel books and in signs in the city itself, so the word is certainly in use. However, if you're traveling via public transportation and need to ask a local about your destination, you should really use "Akko" (or "Akka" if asking a native speaker of Arabic).
9 Awesome Things to Do in Akko, Israel
If you're looking to create an itinerary, let's kick off the list of things to do. Make sure you read through for more tips that will help you plan the best possible visit to Akko.
1. Walk through the Halls of the Knights
A thousand years ago the crusaders invaded the Holy Land to conquer Jerusalem back from the hands of "the Saracens" - the term used at the time to describe the local muslim population. This was an age of romance and chivalry, when a knight in shining armour was a very real thing.
These knights built their own small town in Akko, complete with lively streets, thriving markets and a majestic fortress. They lived in Akko for a couple of centuries until the Saracens - lead by Sallah A Din - sent them back to Europe. Their cherished settlement was then covered in dirt and remained hidden from sight for centuries. It was only in 1990 that archeologists began to excavate the ancient town and bring it back to light. This ever-continuing extensive excavation and preservation project allows us to experience the amazing medieval town of the crusaders in a truly thrilling way.
Armed with an audio guide and a map, you are free to roam the excavated streets and alleys. Sounds and colorful moving images bring the streets back to life all around you for a unique multimedia experience.
One of the tour highlights is seeing the great Dining Halls of the knights. You can actually have a wedding here these days, hence the huge tables and benches, medieval style. The original stone pillars and the colorful banners of the knights that surround you make it easy to imagine you've traveled back in time. Kids and grownups alike love these halls!
2. Visit the Medieval Market
Your visit to the Crusaders' Fortress will take you to a beautiful reconstructed market area where artisans engage in medieval crafts and arts. You can buy their art or just spend some time looking at them work. You are within the excavated city so the location couldn't be more perfect.
They even have game boards (rather than board games!) for the complete medieval market experience!
3. Follow the underground Templar tunnel
Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code!
Have you heard about the secret order of the Templars? They too were here during the crusades and true to their secretive heritage they left their mark in the form of an underground tunnel connecting the fortress with the beach.
The tunnel was discovered in the 1990's and has since been fully excavated and made safe for visiting. There is sea water in the tunnel but fortunately they put in a wooden deck so you don't have to get your feet wet. You enter one end near the fortress and walk along the tunnel -
Coming out to this view -
Which brings me to the next recommendation -
4. Breath in the sea air on the city walls
Akko was a historic port city of strategic importance. During the 18th and 19th century, its Ottoman rulers fortified the city with a strong stone wall built around it. Today you can walk along the wall for amazing views of the Mediterranean. It's not always very clean but the breeze and views are worth it.
Make sure you stop in one of the many observation points along the wall. Originally made for soldiers to shoot through, they now provide perfect photo opportunities. Try this suggested route along the Walls of Akko.
5. Taste the local food in the market
Akko is famous for its Old City bazaar. It's absolutely worth a visit in its own right, so make sure to immerse yourself in the colors, sounds, and scents of this fishing port's market.
Sa'id's Hummus place is famous across the country and offers delicious fresh hummus with extras served with warm homemade pita bread. Yum! This is a popular lunch joint that can get crowded but that's part of the charm of this local experience. Don't be too late. Once they run out of hummus, they close for the day.
If you have a sweet tooth, you're in for a treat! Street vendors offer a variety of homemade authentic candy. These will preserve quite well so you can get a few pieces as gifts for your friends back home.
For a healthier option, try the variety of caramelized nut-based sweets. Every type of nut and seed is available, all baked in delicious caramel!
6. Visit the Hammam
The beautifully reconstructed Hammam is one of Akko's historic gems. Hammam means Turkish bath and this one was a center of local social life for centuries -
Yup, today the only ones enjoying a traditional back rub are these statues. The Hammam was turned into an interactive museum. A virtual guide takes you from one room to another telling you all about this establishment and the people who have operated it through the centuries.
7. Enjoy a break next to the fountain
Need a break from all the walking? Looking for a place where you can sit down in the shade and nibble on the sweets you got at the market? Try the magical garden right by the visitors center (near the entrance to the Crusaders' Halls).
This is where your tour of Akko will likely begin and end. Sit by the small fountain under the canopy of old trees and just relax. There's a small cafeteria, vending machines and bathrooms nearby too.
8. Climb the Ottoman cannons
Across the road from the visitor's center, you'll see another piece of the Old Wall. This one has real cannons too! Kids love climbing on these authentic cannons that date back to Napoleon's time. These metal weapons actually saved Akko from being taken over by the French emperor!
9. See a museum
Akko has several art museums and galleries that are well worth a visit. If you want to stick to the historic perspective, the Treasures In The Wall museum is your best bet. These rich collections of crafts and objects from various periods are on display literally within the old wall (hence the name of this museum). For modern art, try the Okashi Museum.
10. Enjoy the Akko Festival
Yes, I know, this post is supposed to offer you nine awesome things to do in Akko. Here's a bonus tenth item! This one is very seasonal, so maybe it should be numbered "nine and a half"?
Getting to the point, Akko is home to the Israeli Festival of Fringe Theatre. Every year during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the city turns into a local Edinburgh. The shows themselves are usually in Hebrew but there are many street performances outside too. The exact dates change each year according to the Jewish holiday calendar but if you're planning on visiting Israel during September or October find out if you can catch this very special festival.
When to visit Akko
If you have some flexibility with your dates, try to pick a weekday for your visit to avoid the crowds. Remember that in Israel, Sunday is a weekday but Friday isn't. So anytime Sunday-Thursday is good.
Summertime can be hot but not unmanageable. Indoor attractions are fully air-conditioned and there's almost always good breeze once you get on the walls.
How to get to and around Akko
I hope you're convinced by now that you should add Akko to your itinerary! It's really easy to get here and to get around town.
Traveling by car?
Akko is a short half an hour drive from Haifa or an hour and a half from Tel Aviv. There's ample parking by the visitors center where your visit begins at a reasonable fee of $5 a day. There's some free parking in the area but you could find yourself driving in the alleys of the Old City - a slow and nerve wracking experience you probably want to avoid. The address for your GPS is: 1, Weizman street, Acre.
Using Public Transportation?
If you don't have a car, you'll find that Akko is one of the easiest places to get to using public transportation. Not only are there frequent busses coming in from Haifa, there's even a train station. You can easily board a train in Tel Aviv in the morning and be in Akko at around 10AM to start your fun filled day and return back to Tel Aviv in the late evening. The train station in Akko is about a mile away from the Old City. Easy enough to walk but you can also get bus or a taxi if you prefer.
And now, you can even take the ferry to Akko! The ferry can take you from Haifa to Akko and back. It goes out twice a day in each direction. At only 55 shekels (around $14) each way, it's a great way to sail the mediterranean too.
Getting around while in Akko
Once in the Old City, just use your legs! Distances are short and with so much to see and do on the way, there's no point in getting any transportation. Most visitors choose a round route, getting to the walls by the sea via Templar Tunnel and returning through the busy colorful bazaar. Start at the visitor's center where they'll give you a map and help you with instructions. Don't worry about getting lost a little, it's part of the fun!
What to wear in Akko
Basically, whatever you want. You'll be walking in an area that's a bit more conservative than others in Israel but no one expect you to dress as a local. It can be hot during summertime so short sleeves and shorts are perfectly fine.
The one exception would be if you visit one of the mosques. Old Akko has several of them, the most famous one being the Al Jazzar mosque. These are working houses or prayer so if you're thinking of visiting, you'll have to find the right time slot (it changes daily). Your best bet would be to just get to Al Jazzar in the morning and ask about visiting hours for that day. Then walk around and return in time for your visit.
I'm mentioning all of this here because if you wish to visit a mosque, you need to dress accordingly. Long pants or skirt (covering the knees) and a long sleeve shirt or a shawl. No need for head covers, just to make sure your knees and elbows are covered.
And if you're still worried about dress codes, check out my 9 tips on what to wear while visiting Israel.
Where to stay in Akko
Your first question is whether or not to stay in Akko. It's a great day trip destination from Haifa and even from Tel Aviv. It can also be worked into any itinerary of the Western Galilee. That said, it's entirely possible to spend two or three days in the city to really soak up the atmosphere and add more museums and other attractions to your Akko trip.
If you decide to stay in Akko, there are many options to choose from. Backpackers and low-budget travelers should check out the Akko youth hostel that's perfectly located right by the visitors center. It's clean, spacious and comes highly recommended. If you can't find a room there, try the Akko Gate Hostel as another affordable option.
For families or couples, look into getting a vacation rental. They're a whole lot cheaper than what you might think and many are now available through Booking.com. I prefer working with Booking, as it allows me to keep my reservations in one place and work directly with a reputable company.
Here are some fantastic vacation rental options in Akko. Click through to see images, reviews, and prices for your dates. Or just search Booking on your own.
Sweet Little House - Located less than half a mile away from the Old City, yet in a quiet residential neighborhood, this small vacation rental gets excellent reviews.
Acre Two Wells Zimmer - A romantic place for couples within the Old City, right by the walls and the seaside. Modern amenities along with a fully renovated authentic interior - complete with two wells!
Four Hearts - Acre's Sea Side Suite - A magnificent rooftop apartment with a luxurious interior complemented by amazing views of the Mediterranean.
Suggested itinerary for one day in Akko (and a map)
So, how to visit Akko in a day? I added the places mentioned in this blog to a map, so you can see what it looks like. I tried to create a full walking path but that wasn't easy. Google Maps doesn't seem to take you through the Templar Tunnel or the Walls. If you zoom in here, you should be able to see the Walls right along the shore. Don't worry, it's easy to find everything once you're there and locals will be happy to help you find anything you need (most speak English).
Here's a textual description of your day in Akko. I'm going to assume arrival at around 9AM. If you think that's too early, I would suggest arriving the day before and spending the night there. Of you could just start your day later and adjust the itinerary accordingly.
9 AM Arrive at the Visitor Center (there's parking nearby if you're coming with a car). Get a map and buy your ticket for visiting the various locations. They offer a discounted rate if you buy everything in advance. There's a short introductory film at the Visitors Center that's worth watching. You can get a coffee while waiting for the film to start and sip it next the old fountain.
10 AM-Noon Visit the Halls and the Medieval market (plenty to see there)
Noon-1 PM Visit the Hammam and watch the show there
1 PM-3 PM Stroll in the market streets. This is a great time to grab lunch and I marked Hummus Said for you in the map if that's what you feel like eating. Plenty of other places to buy snacks, falafel or sit down for lunch.
3 PM Enter the Templar Tunnel from the market entrance. It's open until 6:30 so you have plenty of time (just note that if you didn't get your ticket in advance, you can get your ticket here until 5:30. Follow in the footsteps of the knights and cross the tunnel to the other side. You'll emerge right in front of the beautiful blue mediterranean sea.
3:30-4:30 Stroll along the walls. As you leave the tunnel, turn left and you'll see the steps that take you up the walls. Walk on the wall for fantastic views of the sea and city.
17:00 Visit the cannons. From the walls, you can choose to walk through the market area again, or just outside it (plenty of stalls everywhere, don't worry), to the old cannons on the hill.
If you happened to be super fast, you may get to the cannons at around 4 PM, leaving you with just enough time to visit the nearby Treasures in the Walls Museum which closes at 5.
You're not back where you started. If you've had enough, you can start heading back. Otherwise, keep exploring and enjoy the Old City of Akko at night. I would suggest an early dinner in one of the restaurants overlooking the sea for a great sunset!
There's a lot to see and do in Akko and even more around it. If you have any questions I'd love to try and help - leave me a comment here. Or just let me know what you think of Akko if you would like to visit someday or have visited and have your own tips to share!
And here are a few more images for you to use if you want to pin this article. Follow me on Pinterest for more great pins!
Curious but is there a place in Akko to sample and see the production of the famous Akawi cheese that supposedly originated in Akko/Akka? Maybe an artisanal cheese factory that produces it, if the ancient one that gave it fame is no longer there (I wonder what it is now)?
To be honest, this is my first time hearing about Akkawi cheese. There are several artisanal cheese factories here with tours, but I can’t find any that mentions Akkawi cheese. Sorry!
My husband and i will be visiting Israel in early March as part of a trip that does not include a visit to Haifa. We will be arriving a day early so were thinking of visiting Haifa on our own, and are now considering trying to see Akko. We arrive in Ben Gurion airport at 9 am on Sunday, and need to be back at the airport to meet up with our group by ~ 1 pm on Monday. Is this enough time to see both Akko and Haifa? Or is that just too much to do? If we were to try would you recommend renting a car? Or public transportation?
Fortunately, Akko and Haifa are both very accessible via train. I normally am all for renting a car here but for these two cities, I actually think public transportation should be enough. The only question would be your luggage. If you’re traveling light and don’t mind taking a carry-on with you, then you can get a train from the airport all the way to Akko or Haifa on Sunday. Keep in mind that travel time is going to be 2-3 hours. You should be able to make it by noon. If you rent a car, it’s going to take you a couple of hours as well but will likely be more stressful, driving in a new country right after a flight.
In theory, you should be able to tour Akko on Sunday from noon till evening time, then either board a train to Haifa or stay the night in Akko. Then in the morning, you could take a train to Haifa, do some sightseeing for a couple of hours and then take the train back to the airport.
I’m using “in theory” here because I’m not sure where you’re coming from but if it happens to be from the US, then I’m not sure such a hectic couple of days are a good idea right after a transatlantic flight. For ourselves, we usually take the first day very slowly, just to get used to a place. You’ll probably be jet-lagged too. Just something to keep in mind. If I were you, I’d avoid driving these during these two days and focus on either Haifa or Akko but not try to squeeze both into the same 24 hours. Of the two, my vote would go to Akko, simply because it’s smaller and the area to tour is all walkable. With Haifa, you’ll need to plan your itinerary in the city and it might not be limited to a specific point (it’s also hilly if that’s a consideration).
I hope this helps! Enjoy your time in Israel!
Hello Thanks for your help
I want to visit Akko with a group this June 2020 bh
A few years we went and there is some fast boats in Akko
Do you know any way to contact those fast boats to make a reservation ? Thanks
Hi Joyce, I Googled this in Hebrew and found these two operators –
The second site is only in Hebrew but they have this email address there – [email protected] and you can also try contacting them via their Facebook page. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
Anne I apreciatenir very very much
Thank you for the great info on Akko. I’d been to Israel years ago on a tour in the Jerusalem area. I’m thinking of going back but not on a tour. I’d like to make Akko a destination. I have one question. I’ve seen video on someone that was visiting Akko and I noticed in the background there were locals fishing from shore. Is that something that a visitor would be able to do ? I haven’t been able to find any information online.
Great question. There’s no need for a license to fish from the shore (I just checked that on the official website. The page is in Hebrew but I think Google Translate can help with that). I guess the only question is where can you rent fishing equipment. You could buy your own or bring it (I’ve never done any fishing so no idea about the quality needed). I found this fishing store in Akko with what seems to be an active Facebook page. If you’re interested, maybe you could ask them. Enjoy your visit!
Thank you very much for the info. I had tried to find some info but couldn’t so thanks for taking the time to research that. Yeah I’ll try Google translate. Thanks again and have a good day.
Great site! We are visiting Israel for 3 weeks in March 2020 and will be staying in Akko in an apartment overlooking the sea. Your information on the Old City is wonderful and the pictures are so beautiful. Thank you for the instructions! We look forward to visiting your beautiful city!
So glad this helped! I hope you have a great trip, Marilyn!
You have a great site and we are planning ahead for our Feb trip. Would you recommend a guide for a day trip to Akko coming from Haifa? If not, are there English headsets we can rent for a self guided trip on the site you mention? Do you know of any guides who would do a day trip to Safed from Haifa? Thank you.
No need to take a local guide, as there are indeed headsets you can rent (I don’t think there’s an extra fee but I’m not 100% sure on that). They do have them in English as well. Having said that, if you wanted to, a private tour guide is an option as well.
I’m sure there are many guides who can pick you up in Haifa and take you to the Galilee, including a tour of Safed. There’s so much to see in the region, it actually makes sense to do that if you prefer not to drive yourselves. I don’t have any specific recommendations but I found these links for you –
If it’s Safed itself that you want to see – and no other places around it, then you could take a bus there from Haifa and then spend the day walking in the old town. I hope this helps and enjoy your trip!
We are planning a trip April 2019: April 1 – 10 Egypt, April 11-18 Israel, April 19-22 Jordan. My questions to you – 1. Israel is the week before Passover/Easter. Will we encounter crowds? Would it be better to reschedule the Israel portion PRIOR to Egypt?
2. The Department of Homeland Security USA is saying NO to travel in Egypt & Israel, (especially in light of the recent attacks the last few days) but Jordan is safe. I realize Gaza and the West Bank is dangerous – should this deter our plans? Why or why not?
3. We have 3 separate tour companies, one for each country. In one country we will pay $162/day for the guide. We are not confident enough to drive ourselves (although we have driven France, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Germany, and New Zealand.) I do think we can handle a day in Haifa, Akko, Jerusalem, on our own. We would surely glean much from a guide, but is there a different and cheaper way to secure one? We have relied on the “i” in most of Europe.
4. Where in Israel would we benefit from the 3 religious viewpoints via a guide (Jewish, Muslim, Christian) besides Jerusalem?
5. If you were going to be in Israel for 6 days, where would you suggest we choose accommodation? (We will NOT be going to Dead Sea or Masada).
Your blog has great information….wish I had found it 4 months ago when I started my planning!
So glad you enjoy the blog. Sorry about the delayed response here 🙂 Let’s see if I can help you out with your questions.
1. The Passover holiday this year is between April 11th and the 27th. The crowds really begin to be a problem after the holiday itself begins which is on the 20th. The first week of the school holiday, most adults still work or they’re busy spring cleaning. If you’re traveling with kids and plan on including “children attractions”, I would definitely try to switch between Egypt and Israel. Otherwise, there’s a small benefit to switching but it’s not a huge deal.
2. I don’t think you should avoid visiting Israel. As far as I can tell, they’re concerned about a sudden flare-up with Gaza but unless you’re near that area, even that should not affect your plans. Read my recent post on this very topic here: Is it safe to visit Israel.
3. This is really a matter of personal choice. I would say driving here is more challenging than driving in the US or France. Less challenging than driving in Romania. As challenging as driving in some parts of Italy. That’s based on my own personal experience. And we recently managed driving in Romania just fine 🙂
Personally, I don’t like tour groups. If you can afford to hire a guide just for yourself, that’s definitely going to help but like you said, it’s not cheap. However, if it includes the price of the car (and having someone else drive for you), it may be worth it. You’re definitely get to see and do more if you’re with a car and not public transportation. If you feel comfortable driving and it’s significantly cheaper, you should be able to swing it on your own. Sounds to me like you’re already working on a great itinerary, so I’m sure you’re reading up on the places etc.
4. Hmmm good question. Probably anywhere where the three religions “meet”. I would say places like Haifa, Jaffa and Nazareth would all be interesting in that respect.
5. Six days is not a lot. Now, if you have a car, I would do three days in the Galilee, possibly hopping over to the Golan Heights too in one of them (if current Middle East politics interest you and you want to see Syria for yourselves). Jerusalem for another two days probably (no need for a car there) and I think the sixth day, possibly Tel Aviv. There’s a whole lot more to see and do, of course. If you could afford to spend 2-3 more days in Israel, I would add the Western Galilee including Akko, Haifa and the Karmel Mountain area.
To clarify, that’s how I would divide it in terms of accommodation as well. Stay in the Galilee for 3 nights, 2 nights in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv.
I hope this helps! I’m sure you’ll have a great time, wherever you go!
This was such useful information. Helped me a lot. Thanks.?
I just followed the list and was perfect to know Akko.
Thanks for this great resource- You’ve basically planned my day in Akko for me! One question- I’ll be traveling from Tel Aviv en route to my next destination, so I’ll have my big backpack with me. Do you happen to know if the train or bus station has lockers or any left -luggage service?
Hi Megan, I’m glad I could help! I never noticed any lockers so I called the Akko information center for you (tel. 1-700-708-020 in Israel if you want to ask them too). They said there are no lockers and travelers just go around with their backpacks 🙁 I did check the train station website as well and there was no mention of lockers on their website either. Sorry!
Wow- thank you for checking! That was so nice of you! I appreciate it!
Hi planning a trip to Akko in pesach.
Are there restaurants kosher for pesach?
Any kosher restaurant in Israel will be kosher for Pesach. Most Arab restaurants won’t be but then, they’re not kosher anyway. I ran a quick Google search and these come highly recommended:
Roots at Weizman St 1, Akko. Phone: 04-884-8040
YR Kibbutz fish (Degei Hakibbutzim) at 22, Gdud st. Phone: 04-999-6262
I hope this helps!
Do you have an Akko tour?
Hi Alexis, I’m not a tour guide but I’m sure many guides and companies do offer such tours. If you’re looking for a free self-guided alternative, the City of Akko has a few options listed here –
I’m a mountains girl, but your picture of the Mediterranean is breathtaking.