Acre (Akko) – Full Guide – Map, Top Attractions, Walking Routes


Hospitaller Fortress (Knights' Halls) in Old Acre

Acre (Akko) guide starts with basics (directions, map), then we tour top attractions (Hospitaller Fortress, Templar Tunnel, port), and much more. Let’s begin!

Note: I visited Acre many times, but each time I visited only several attractions. In this post, I am combining the most popular attractions. And visiting them together will make a lovely half to a full day trip. At the end of this post, you can find route suggestions according to available time.

Basic Info

Acre is a historic city in Northern Israel. It is located on the edge of Haifa Bay (on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea). Both land routes and sea paths (Acre has a natural harbor) made Acre a commercial standpoint. And it is one of the oldest cities in the world, continuously inhabited since the Middle Bronze Age (around 4,000 years ago).

Acre Or Akko?

Acre, Akko, Ace, Ptolemais, Antioch, Germanicia in Ptolemais, Colonia Ptolemais – all these names refer to the same city. But today Akko and Acre are the ones that commonly used.

Locals use the name Akko. Moreover, most road signs (except touristic ones) will say Akko. I guess this name is used since it was used in the Bible. Judges 1:31:

Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob.

After the Crusaders’ conquest in 1104, the city was renamed to St. John of Acre (or shortly Acre), after the Knights Hospitaller who had their headquarters there.

During this post, I will refer to the city both as Acre and Akko.

What Does Akko Mean?

The short answer is that we do not know. And here is the elaborated answer:

The source of its name is unknown, however presumably, it is not Semitic. The Egyptians were using it as long ago as the second millennium BCE. But since hieroglyphics only have two consonants, the name was written as CK, and there is no way of knowing how it was pronounced (the last syllable in particular).

In the letters of El-Amrana, which were written in Acadian, the letter H is used to signify the guttural Hebrew letters alef-hey-chet-ayin; accordingly, the name of the city could be written either as Haca or Aca. Had the name not been preserved, we would not have been able to associate it with the name appearing in the hieroglyphics clearly.

The AKK spelling was preserved in the Assyrian language.

Ancient Hebrew legend has it that the Mediterranean Sea flooded the world, and when it reached the shore of Akko, it stopped short. As written in the Book of Job (38:11), “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.” In the legend, the Hebrew words “Ad Po” [hitherto] become “Ad ko” – hence, Akko [Akko].

Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.

Acre And Napoleon

In many places around the city, you will see references to Napoleon Bonaparte. And for example, at the movie in Turkish Bath – Hamam al-Basha, one of the characters mentions how they defeated Napoleon. And indeed, Acre is one of the fewer cities that withstood Napoleon’s siege.

After the siege and capture of Jaffa in 1799, Napoleon attacked Acre.

The Siege of Acre of 1799 was an unsuccessful French siege of the Ottoman-defended, walled city of Acre and was the turning point of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and Syria. It was Napoleon’s first strategic defeat as three years previously he had been tactically defeated at the Second Battle of Bassano.

Source: Wikipedia

UNESCO World Heritage List

The Old City of Acre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List under the following criteria:

  • Acre is an exceptional historic town in that it preserves the substantial remains of its medieval Crusader buildings beneath the existing Moslem fortified town dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The remains of the Crusader town of Acre, both above and below the present-day street level, provide an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
  • Present-day Acre is an important example of an Ottoman walled town. It has typical urban components such as the citadel, mosques, khans, and baths well preserved, partly built on top of the underlying Crusader structures.

Source: UNESCO

Tours

Before starting with the visit, I just wanted to mention that Acre is a touristic city. And many firms offer tours either only to the city or combined with other nearby attractions, like Haifa and Rosh HaNikra Grottoes. Therefore, if you love joining tours, consider this option.

Old Acre Development Company

Most touristic sites in the city belong to Old Acre Development Company (official site). That allows them to sell combined tickets to various attractions in the city and outside.

The sites that under their management are: Hospitaller Fortress, Okashi Art Museum, Turkish Bath, Templar Tunnel, Visitors Center, Treasures in the Walls Museum, and Ramchal Synagogue.

Opening Hours

Sites that are managed by Old Acre Development Company are open seven days a week, and their normal opening hours are from 9 am to 5 pm. The actual hours change a little depending on the site, day of the week and the season. For the exact list check out the official site.

Entrance Fee

The basic combined ticket includes Hospitaller Fortress, The Okashi Museum, The Templar Tunnel, and Treasures in the Walls Museum. It costs 47 NIS for an adult and 40 NIS for a child. On top of the basic combination, you can add additional sites like the Turkish Bath, Rosh Hanikra, Haypark zoo, and others. So there is a variety of combo tickets.

Note: opening hours and ticket prices were updated in August 2019. In any case, recheck the official site before your visit. You can find the full entrance fee list here.

Old Akko price list
Old Akko price list

Coupons

I revisited Akko in August 2019, and for that visit, I used this coupon. It allows purchasing the basic combined ticket with and without the Turkish bath at 15% and 18% discount, respectively. I purchased it through their site and received both an SMS and an email with an order number. Then I told this number to the cashier at Hospitaller Fortress and received the tickets. Moreover, since coupon processing was fast, you can probably purchase through it while on-site (but keep in mind there is a delay risk).

Map

Old Acre is the old part of the modern city of Acre. Furthermore, most of the tourist attractions are located within Old Acre. And most of this post will be dedicated to this small part of the city, where most attractions can be reached within a 5-minute walk.

Map of the area:

Acre Map
Acre Map
Akko - Old City Map
Akko – Old City Map

Notes:

  • The first map shows the whole city (you can see the Old City in the bottom left corner). And the second map shows a closeup of the Old City of Acre.
  • As you can see from the first map’s scale, the Old City is about 700 on 600 meters in size.
  • You can click on the maps to enlarge them.
  • You can also find a useful map here.

Directions

Most attractions are located within the Old City. Thus the directions mentioned below are suited for those reaching the Old City of Akko.

Public Transport

Reaching Akko can be done in several ways. You can take the train to Akko station and walk from there. You can sail from Haifa (see Sails section below) or take a bus. Here is a link to Moovit with directions from Tel Aviv to Acre. You can change the starting point and get the updated directions.

Parking

You can also reach the city by car. I always park outside of Old Acre, i.e., in the new part of Acre. And I do not recommend entering the old city by car. The closer you get to the main attractions, the fewer parking spots there will be (including paid parking). And since I do not mind a 5 min walk, this is not a problem for me. But if you want a closer parking lot, you can continue driving to the Land Gate, and just before the gate to the right, there is a paid parking lot.

I usually park not far from the Tunisian Synagogue (Eliezer Kaplan street 20, Acre) and walk toward the Land Gate. Before entering the gate, you will see the sea to your left. And if you continue in that direction for twenty meters, then you will see Acre Port and walls.

Old Acre
Old Acre
Old Acre Land Gate
The Land Gate (number #2 on the old city map above)

Things To Do In Old City

We will start by going through the attractions in the old city. And then check what is located further away.

The White Market

About 200m meters after you pass through the Land Gate, you can see The White Market on the right side:

The White Market in Old Acre

The market’s walls and its sixty-four shops were whitewashed at the time they were built, hence the market’s name. The White Market is also filled with light, and perhaps that is why the attribute is often used by Acre’s inhabitants to this very day.

Unfortunately today The White Market is not that attractive. There are some restaurants, shops and storage rooms. So, it entirely lost its original charm, and the only thing worth looking at is the roof, which I showed above.

From the white market, we will head to our first stop, which is the Hospitaller Fortress.

Hospitaller Fortress (Knights’ Halls)

The Crusader's dining room in Hospitaller Fortress, Old Acre
The Crusader’s dining room in Hospitaller Fortress

If you are reaching Akko, then you probably want to visit this site. Moreover, Hospitaller Fortress (Knights’ Halls) is one of the reasons Acre made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Therefore, I would consider it as a must stop.

Note: Hospitaller Fortress (Knights’ Halls) is marked as #21 and #48 on the old city map.

Al-Jazzar Mosque

After a short walk from the Hospitaller Fortress, you can reach the Al-Jazzar Mosque, AKA the White Mosque.

Al-Jazzar Mosque
Al-Jazzar Mosque

It is the largest mosque in Israel outside of Jerusalem. And it also contains an interesting relic. You can find additional information at Al-Jazzar Mosque.

And since we were at Al-Jazzar Mosque, I want to mention two nearby places, which are Okashi Art Museum and Hamam al-Basha.

Note: Al-Jazzar Mosque is marked as #31 on the Akko old city map.

Okashi Art Museum

The entrance to Okashi Art Museum is located about 20 meters from the entry to the Al-Jazzar Mosque. Okashi Art Museum is a small gallery, and due to its size, it can show works of only several artists. I visited it twice, and on both occasions, it showed modern style paintings.

If the entrance to Okashi Art Museum was not included in the combined ticket, I probably would not visit it, but since the display is changing, it is hard to know what to expect in advance.

Hamam al-Basha – Turkish Bath

Also not far from the Al-Jazzar Mosque you can find the Turkish Bath.

Note: Hamam al-Basha is marked as #20 on the Acre old city map.

“Hamam al-Basha” was built at the end of the 18th century by Governor of Acre, Jazzar Pasha. At first, it was called “Hama al-Jadid” (the new Hamam), but its name was subsequently changed to Hamam al-Basha (the Pasha’s Hamam), in honor of el-Jazzar. The Turkish bath’s construction was part of the transformation of Acre during the Ottoman Period from a small fishing village (primarily at the hands of al-Jazzar Pasha) into a teeming port city and a significant construction and trade center. During his reign, el-Jazzar strove to further the town in many and varied ways. Among his accomplishments is the aqueduct, which led the well water to the city. And the breakwater for safe docking at the port. Plus major buildings such as the Khan el-Umdan – Acre’s largest mosque – his luxurious palace and, of course, the Turkish bath.

The Turkish Bath compound consists of only several halls. There is the summer dressing room, four intermediary rooms, and a hot room. In those chambers, you will learn about the history of this place, the people that lived here, and you will also see a short movie. The whole visit will take about an hour.

Note: I visited it only once several years ago, and for some reason, I can not find the photos. I guess I will have to visit again 😉

Old Acre

And now through the alleys of Old Acre, let’s head to The Templar Tunnel.

Here we are passing next to El-Zeituna Mosque:

El-Zeituna Mosque
El-Zeituna Mosque

Templar Tunnel

A 350-meter long tunnel used to connect the Templars fortress and the Acre Port. And today you can walk there. See additional info at Templar Tunnel.

The Templars Tunnel in Old Acre
The Templars Tunnel in Old Acre

Lighthouse

One of the exits from the tunnel is next to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is where Templars’ fortress used to stand. Here is the lighthouse during windy weather.

Note: the lighthouse is marked as #41 on the old city map.

Acre lighthouse
The lighthouse

Not far from the tower, there is usually this picturesque juice stand.

Old Acre
Acre lighthouse
Acre lighthouse

Saint John’s Church

A short walk along the old city Acre wall will lead us to Saint John Church.

Note: Saint John’s Church is marked as #26 on the Acre’s old city map.

Saint John's Church, Acre
Saint John’s Church, Acre

Saint John’s Church, which currently stands next to Acre’s lighthouse, belongs to the Latin community (the Franciscans).

It is unclear as to when the church was built, although several years ago, the year 1737 was found engraved in the northern wall of the building. The church was renovated in 1947 and now serves as the only church of Acre’s Latin-Catholic community.

Source: official website

On the warmer days, teenagers jump from the Old Acre walls into the sea:

Old Acre Walls
Old Acre Walls

Their favorite spot is next to Saint John Church since there are stairs on the outer side of the barrier there:

Old Acre

Khan al-Umdan – Khan of the Pillars

We almost returned to the point where we entered the Templar Tunnel. And near it, you can find Khan al-Umdan, AKA Khan of the Pillars.

Khan al-Umdan is the largest and best-preserved khan in Israel. And if you take a look at the clock tower, then you can see that the clock was restored. But they did more than repair it. Now each side depicts numbers differently. Beyond the regular clock, you can also see Arabic numerals (on the following photograph), and there are also Hebrew numbers.

Khan al-Umdan in Old Acre
Khan al-Umdan in Old Acre

Khan al-Umdan is a large merchant’s inn adjacent to the port, which was used for international trade. Merchants who arrived at the port unloaded their goods in the inn’s storerooms on the first floor and slept in the rooms on the second floor, which constituted a unique hotel.

The khan was built in the late 18th century by Ahmed al-Jazzar, and it rests on a row of granite pillars brought from various sites in the area.
The khan’s courtyard is open to visitors all day long.

We wanted to visit Khan of the Pillars, but, unfortunately, it was closed. For years it was abandoned. And there were some lawsuits regarding converting it to a hotel. Maybe now they closed it for restoration or for building a hotel inside it.

Here is a photo of Khan al-Umdan’s interior I took back in 2014.

Khan al-Umdan in Akko
Khan al-Umdan in Old Acre

Note: Khan al-Umdan is marked as #10 on the Acre’s old city map.

Acre Port

And since we already mentioned the port let’s head there.

Acre Port and Khan al-Umdan
Acre Port and Khan al-Umdan

Note: Acre Port is marked as #45 on the old city map that appears at the beginning of this guide.

At Acre Port guide we will talk about history, sails, and Haifa – Akko ferry. So head on there for additional info.

Akko Market

The market is located in the old city, close to Acre Port and Al-Jazzar Mosque. You can walk towards Benjamin of Tudela street, and you will see it.

It is not a big market, and you can pass it within 10 – 15 minutes. Though I love markets, and there is a variety of good markets in Israel, for me, the Acre market lost its authenticity. The main reason is that many stands offer cheap Chinese goods. One of the only original things that remain is food.

You can find fresh fish and traditional sweets. And if you are hungry, you can check out Hummus Said. It is a small, hummus place that looks like a simple dining room and offers simple yet tasty dishes. It is located in the marketplace, and the opening hours are Sunday to Friday from 6 am till they run out of hummus, which is typically 2:30 pm.

And now, from the market, let’s headed back toward the land gate (the gate we entered Old Acre through).

Not far from the gate, you will see this inclined road which allows you to climb to the top of Old Acre wall:

Old Acre walls
Old Acre walls

We climbed to the top of the wall since we wanted to visit the last attraction from the combo ticket:

Treasures In The Walls Museum

When you walk on top of Old Acre wall, you will see the museum’s sign:

Treasures In The Walls Museum

The museum is located on the north-eastern walls of old Acre. The walls were initially built by the Ottoman ruler of the area Ahmed Al-Jazzar Pasha after Napoleon’s attempt to conquer the city in-1779. The commander’s tower “Burge-el-commander” is divided into arched halls which were used to hold the Ottomans garrison and now hold a beautiful and rare collection which gives an insight into the fabric of life in the Galilee during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre
Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre

Treasures in the Walls Museum holds several rooms with antique furniture like this:

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre

There are also many antique items and decorated kitchenware.

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre, Old Acre

More furniture:

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Akko

That is quite an impressive clock. I have seen watches with Hebrew letters instead of numbers, but this one also has the signs of the twelve tribes of Israel:

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Akko

Not sure I can even call this as furniture, it is art:

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre

You can also find different craftsmen corners. In these corners, you can see the tools and other items these craftsmen used. That is the hat maker corner:

Treasures In The Walls Museum, Old Acre

Photo at locksmith corner:

Old Acre

Sandals maker:

Old Acre

The pre-washing machine era:

Old Acre
Old Acre

Treasures in the Walls Museum is a lovely small place, and you can cover it within 60-90 minutes.

It was getting late, so we decided to take a short stroll in the alleys of Old Acre on our way back to the car.

Street graffiti:

Old Acre

Things To Do in Akko

So far we covered the Old City. And now let’s look at additional site outside of Old Acre.

Napoleon Hill – Tel Akko

On another occasion, we visited Napoleon Hill AKA Tel Akko. Tel Akko is located on a hill in the eastern part of the city near road #85. The height of the Tel is thirty meters, and it is quite small, 600 meters on 350 meters at the widest part.

At Napoleon Hill in Acre, Israel
Napoleon Hill – Tel Akko

During the spring the hill has many flowers at it makes the walk enjoyable.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

Here is a view from the hill towards the city center. On the left, you can see part of a soccer stadium with parking nearby (there are two trucks there). We parked our car there and used the stairs on the right to climb the hill.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

In 2009, the touristic project of Tel Akko was introduced. In that project, paved roads for pedestrians and cyclists were created. And watchpoints, like the following one, were installed.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

I was particularly interested in Tel Akko from a photography standpoint. Besides the regular walk, it was also a scouting mission. And this is how Old Acre looks like from Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

I took that shot with a 70mm lens on a full-frame body. And as it turns out, the Tel is not a good point for photographers.

View to the East:

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

Napoleon At Acre

This Tel is also called Napoleon Hill with a big statue was installed at the top. It perpetuates Napoleon’s quest in 1799. During that quest, he tried to conquer old Acre. And despite a long siege, the city has not fallen.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

Near the statue, you can see an archeological site. That is a Tel. And you might think that the city of Acre was always in the same spot. But, it started at this location. The town was at the same site till the beginning of the Hellenistic period, when it moved to the west, closer to the sea.

Napoleon Hill - Tel Acre

There are several routes around and near this Tel. We took the round one along the circumference of the top. The circular walk, with its several stops, took us about an hour.

Overall, the routes at the Tel are nice and short, but I would not consider them as top attractions in Acre.

Bahai Gardens in Akko

Bahaullah, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahai faith, resided during the final years at a mansion in Akko. His remains were laid to rest at a shrine, and today there is a big garden surrounding the area.

You can find my full guide at Bahai Gardens in Acre (Akko).

Bahai Gardens in Akko
Bahai Gardens in Akko

Both Bahai Gardens in Haifa and Bahai Gardens in Acre (Akko) are stunning. But most people visit the ones in Haifa. You can check both of my guides and decide for yourself.

Akko Beach

In the southern part of Akko, you can find a short a lovely beach strip. You can easily spend half a day at these sandy beaches, which provides a nice view of old Acre. For additional information check out Akko Beach (Argaman Beach).

Where To Stay

The place of your stay depends on your route and where you decide to make your base. You can either stay at Acre (check prices and availability of both apartments and hotels on booking.com). Or you can stay at Haifa (Haifa district on booking.com) and reach the city by public transport. Another alternative would be staying somewhere in the area and reach Akko by car for a day visit (North district on booking.com).

Walking Routes

What sites should you visit depends on several factors that include your interests and how much time do you have. I will answer this question using common interests, i.e., what most people do.

Things to do according to available time:

  • 2 – 3 hours: I would suggest visiting the Hospitaller Fortress. It will take most (if not all) of your time. And if in the end you will have some time then walk in the old city. Visit the alleys, Acre Port, and the market.
  • 3 – 4 hours: in addition to the mentioned POI above, visit Al-Jazzar Mosque or The Templar Tunnel. You probably will not have enough time to visit both.
  • 5 – 7 hours: this is probably the optimal duration. And it will allow you to visit the Hospitaller Fortress, Al-Jazzar Mosque, The Templar Tunnel, walk in the old city, and even grab something to eat.
  • full day: to the places mentioned above you can add the Turkish Bath and the lovely Treasures In The Walls Museum.

Common Questions

What is Akko?

Akko is an ancient port city in northern Israel. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, continuously inhabited since the Middle Bronze Age. And today, it is a popular travel destination.

How old is Akko Israel?

Akko is mentioned in Egyptian writings from the 15th century BCE. But archeological findings at Tel Akko show there was a small settlement at the Early Bronze Age (around 3000 BCE).

Why is Akko called Acre?

After the Crusaders’ conquest, the city was renamed to St. John of Acre (or shortly Acre), after the Knights Hospitaller who had their headquarters there.

What is Acre famous for?

The Old City of Acre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It got there for its medieval Crusader buildings both under and above the ground. Moreover, Acre is an important example of an Ottoman walled town. It has typical urban elements such as the citadel, mosques, khans, and baths.

Is Akko worth visiting?

Akko is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history. Most of the historical structures belong either to medieval Crusaders or 18 – 19 century Muslims. Thus if you love history and archeology from those periods, Akko is worth visiting. And you can find a full list of POI in this guide.

Summary

Old Acre offers many attractions, and you can easily spend the whole day there. Moreover, keep in mind that I did not cover all touristic attractions. But, we did go over all the main ones, and it is more than most people visit. Hence, after reading this post, you might ask which of the mentioned attractions above should you visit. Check out the suggested walking routes above. Moreover, you can visit POI near the city.

Attractions Near Acre

If you are thinking about making Acre about your base, then you can easily spend several nights there. One day for exploring Acre, and another day exploring Haifa. Moreover, you can use the new sailing route I mentioned above, and one or several days exploring other attractions in this area. Here are several examples: Yehiam Fortress National Park and Rosh HaNikra grottoes. You can use the map at the beginning of this post to find additional POI.

What is your favorite place in Akko? Tell us in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

For additional attractions nearby see Things To Do In Haifa.

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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