In this post, we will go over different attractions at and near Bethlehem Of Galilee. We will start at Bethlehem Of Galilee and then join activities at nearby locations. For example, olives picking At Galili Olive Oil, self-picking at Ktofoti, shopping at Derech Hatavlinim and hiking at Alonei Abba Nature Reserve. Let’s begin!
Map of the area:
Bethlehem Of Galilee
Bethlehem of Galilee is a moshav in northern Israel. Located in the Galilee near Kiryat Tivon, around 10 kilometers north-west of Nazareth and 30 kilometers east of Haifa, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council. In 2016 it had a population of 788.
The modern moshav is located at the site of the ancient Israelite settlement known as Bethlehem of Zebulun or Bethlehem Zoria. The town existed as Christian settlement in the classic era and was populated during the Middle Ages. It was reestablished as a Templer Bet Lam colony in the 19th century and turned into Jewish moshav in 1948.
Much of the original Templer architecture survives and is similar in style to the homes built by the Templars in other parts of the country, such as Sarona in Tel Aviv and the German colonies of Haifa and Jerusalem.
In recent years, tourism has replaced agriculture as the main economic branch. A dairy, a herb farm, restaurants, and country-style accommodation are among the tourist-oriented businesses in the village today.
Bethlehem of Galilee is a small moshav. We drove along the main road (you continue straight from the entrance) till we saw a prominent parking place. We left the car there and started walking.
All Templer buildings were converted to residential houses. All except this one:
And here are some other buildings:
We walked along the street till the end, and there is a turn left (to the north). We continued walking along that road and reached “The Milky Way Trail”.
I have not visited The Milky Way Trail yet. But I was at Olives Picking At Galili Olive Oil, which is located in front of the Milky Way. And this is what I am going to show next.
Regarding Bethlehem Of Galilee, the moshav is quite small, and I cannot say it is a touristic spot. There is only one explanation sign and almost all houses are residential. So, if you are already there, then you can do a short stroll.
Olives Picking At Galili Olive Oil
Back in 2016, we visited Galili Olive Oil (official site). The Galili family is a boutique producer from Bethlehem of Galilee. They have an olives grove, an oil press, and a small store. They also have a visitor’s center and offer tours. We joined one of these tours.
You have to subscribe for the tour in advance. I ordered placeholders via phone. The cost was 35 NIS per person, and the tour’s duration was about 75 minutes.
Arriving at Galili olive Oil farm:
We started the tour by looking at several different olive species:
Did you know there are around 300 different olive species? But when scientists checked them, they found out that the origin of all species is the Syrian olive species (modern Syria and Lebanon area).
Then we went to the olives grove:
We got explanations about the grove.
It turns out that the size of the olive is directly related to the amount of water the tree received.
Galili olive Oil is an organic farm. Their method of green pest control is these yellow insect smell repel.
The females of olive flies do not like the smell, and this help to keep olives safe.
Olives Picking Methods
Then we talked about different olive picking techniques.
Manual picking methods:
- The simplest way is manual, one by one picking.
For the Next two manual picking methods, in most cases, people first lay nets down under the olive trees and then collect the olives from the nets.
- Another manual picking method is using a little rake and ‘comb’ the olives of the branches (you can see the yellow rake on the third image in this post). ‘Combing’ was the primary method that Galili used up until several years ago.
As I understood, this method is popular in Italy and Greece.
- Another technique is hitting branches using sticks. When olive branches get knocked, the olive falls on the net and later collected by people. This technique is quite popular in Israel, and I saw it multiple times in Arab villages.
- Two semi-automatic ways operate similarly. They create vibrations, and the olives fall on the net. The difference is the source of vibration. There is a vibrating stick that used on each branch separately and there is small machinery that vibrates the whole tree. Galili olive Oil started to use these methods in recent years.
If you squeeze on oil and get such color, this means that the oil will be okay.
After the explanations, we started accumulating the olives.
Ticket price includes a small plastic tank (about 330 ccs). And each of us had to fill it up to ~85%. Why not full? Olives can’t be eaten straight from the tree. They can, but they are not very tasty. Thus you need to use some recipe to make them eatable. And this additional space is left for the extra ingredients (that are added later).
After filling the tanks, on our way back to the visitor center we fed the goats with olive branches.
At The Visitor Center
Back at the visitor center, we saw a short film about the process of creating olive oil.
In the background of the photo above, you can see the olive press. But since it was Saturday and the oil has to be kosher, they did not start up the machine.
Here you can see the two recipes for creating marinated olives:
The guide mentioned the method on the right at this the one we used later at home.
The recipe is quite simple. Leave the olives in water for four days (each day change the water). Then fill with salty water (1 tablespoon per 1 liter), a slice of lemon, two cloves of garlic, bay leaves, pepper and seal with a layer of olive oil. Then wait for at least for a month.
Some of the produce in the store/visitors center:
And this one of our plastic tanks:
How does it taste? I have put a reminder, and in four months we will open one of the tanks and let you know.
Six Month Later
After half a year we opened the cans with olives. They were eatable but not tasty. They were bitter. But, this was our fault. My wife decided to add several additional spices, including rosemary, to the recipe mentioned above. And rosemary became bitter. Thus, if it is your first time, better stick to the formula.
Olives Picking At Galili Olive Oil – Summary
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience where both adults and children learned new things. If you have not been there, then check them out.
Note: You can find similar posts under Agrotourism category.
Ktofoti – Self-Picking In Bethlehem Of Galilee
We visited Ktofoti (official site) in Bethlehem Of Galilee several times, and now I want to share my experience.
Ktofoti is a self-picking in Bethlehem Of Galilee. And before visiting Ktofoti, I would recommend checking their website. Beyond opening hours (which can vary on holidays) you can find the list of fruits and vegetables that are currently available on the farm. These are the fruits and vegetables you will be picking.
Entrance costs are 40 NIS per person (above the age of 2), 25 NIS per family basket and 10 NIS for a small basket. We also received a little box for picking strawberries and several knives.
We arrived early and started with strawberries. And I would recommend coming early (and do not forget sunscreen) since you will be in the open fields.
When we finished filling the strawberries box, we continued to one of the greenhouses, and there we found cherry tomatoes:
Lettuce in the field:
Here is our half-full family basket:
And by this point, we understood that we made a mistake. When picking fruits and vegetables start with the firm ones. Start with potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower and only then pick up more delicate (soft) things like tomatoes and cherries. And green leaves, like lettuce and various spices, should be left to the very end. Since they will start going bad quickly under the blazing sun.
And these tall flowers (about 1.7m tall) are Artichokes:
Earlier on, a tractor passed there, so there was no need to dig out the potatoes. We merely walked and collected them.
One more thing worth mentioning is that there are guides in the fields. If you have any questions or need help, they are there. For example, when we reached regular carrots, it was tough to pull them by hand. There was a guide with tools that helped us.
You can eat them straight from the bush:
Cauliflower is hiding between those giant leaves:
Can you guess what this plant is?
That is broccoli, and this is how it looks in the beginning. Over time it becomes denser till it is the broccoli that we see in grocery stores.
After about 2.5 hours of picking we filled our family basket:
There were also some flowers you could pick, but my daughter preferred feeding goats with lettuce. Thus, we left the flowers.
On the entrance, which is also the exit, you can find empty plastic bags. You fill them with whatever you picked up.
Ktofoti – Summary
While I was there, I heard that some families complain about the price. And indeed, for a big family, it is not cheap. But, if you do it smart, you can return more than half of the cost via the vegetables and fruits you pick. There is also a coupon on the official site that will save you a few pennies.
After considering this, the price might be not that scary, and overall we loved it. It is a fun experience for the whole family. And I want my kids to know that vegetables and fruits are not growing in the supermarket.
Derech Hatavlinim at Beit Lehem Haglilit
Derech Hatavlinim is located near Beit Lehem Haglilit (official site). The owners, Zithershpieler family, has been growing herbs and spices for more than 50 years.
Today near the fields you can find a big store. The store has a big assortment of herbs, spices, and teas. There are also some cookware and knives. And recently a small eating place was opened on site.
The farm grows, dries and blends spices and herbs, and also, allows the general public to buy products in its substantial open market. The farm’s owner, Avi Zitherspieler has worked in herb/spice agriculture since childhood. Both Avi and his family, have been accumulating knowledge and experience for many years, making the quest for a new way of life a family mission. Avi, an herbalist, strives to share his knowledge with the public and personally conducts lectures and workshops.
Groups visiting the farm can enjoy a lecture regarding the numerous uses of spices, and an endless supply of ideas designed to change their lives using spices.
Derech Hatavlinim offers over 1000 different products including dried spices, herbs, herb and spice blends and mixtures for cooking, natural dried fruit, and healthy blends and infusions, which are all displayed and sold in the market in which you can enjoy their enticing aroma and taste.
Source: all quotes unless stated otherwise were taken from relevant official sites.
At The Farm
Whenever we in the area, my wife drags me there. But what can I say, I love their smoked sweet paprika. It combines well with meat.
When you enter Derech Hatavlinim store, you take a basket, a marker and a stack of plastic boxes. The boxes come in two sizes: the bigger ones (about 500 ml) and smaller ones (about 250 ml). When you find the spice you like, you fill one of the plastic boxes and using the marker write the name of the spice (and maybe preparation instructions for yourself).
Black sesame seeds:
A row of different spice combinations to be added to rice:
This is the row of various green teas:
That is quite a new machine (have not seen it on our previous visit). It makes tahini. The image below consists of five different photos describing the process. In the beginning, they are filling the upper tank with sesame seeds. Then the machine is turned on, and it starts grinding the seeds (by the rotating top wheel). The result is poured slowly into a container.
There are one time spoons, and you can taste the result. I did, and as expected it was sour and “heavy.” That is what Israeli call: “raw tahini.” You never eat it as is (well rarely, probably beside some health fanatics) but always add something to it. When preparing halva, for example, they are adding other ingredients like sugar/honey and nuts.
Different green teas mixes:
Most of the year there is only the store, but sometimes on holidays, they offer additional activities (mostly tours), as the annual paprika festival.
We joined several times short tours. Usually, they take you out into the fields and tell about different spices and their usage and healing capabilities. Nice free half-hour tours. Here is Lavender that I shot during one of the journeys.
And this is a Mandarin orange tree in front of the store.
Derech Hatavlinim – Summary
If you love spices, herbs or teas then this is the place for you. They have a wide variety of products (with recipes) in one place. Otherwise, wait for holidays (there are usually tours and activities on holidays) or combine it with nearby attractions.
Hike At Alonei Abba Nature Reserve
Alonei Abba Nature Reserve is located next to Alonei Abba (which means Abba’s Oaks in Hebrew). It is a small village near Bethlehem Of Galilee.
We visited Alonei Abba Nature Reserve during February, which is the perfect time to see the blooming flowers.
Adjacent to the Nature Reserve there is free parking, and when we started the hike we saw this sign:
The Nature Reserve and the village are called Abba’s Oaks. Who was Abba?
Abba Berdichev was one of the seven paratroopers that were captured and executed by the Germans during the Second World War.
In 1994, a 950-dunam nature reserve was declared close by, to the north. The reserve is home to Valonia oak trees (Quercus macrolepis) and Palestine Oak (Quercus calliprinos). Other flora in the forest includes Pistacia palaestina, Styrax officinalis, Carob, Rhamnus palaestinus, and Judas trees. Most of the reserve is open for experimental grazing by cattle from the moshav.
From what I read in the net, Alonei Abba Nature Reserve is remains of a big forest (from Nazareth mountains till Caesarea). Most of the trees were cut down by the Ottoman forces during the First World War. The trees were used as fuel for trains. This little forest remained only due to the Templar’s (from Bethlehem of Galilee) objections.
From what I heard there are two trails. One is about 2-3 round one and the second is a straight one. Meaning you go till you reach Basmat Tab’un (Bedouin town) and then turn back. As it turned out, we did the second route.
That is how the trail looks:
Several photos of Anemones:
Oaks and the sky:
We started walking at around 10 am, and when we approached the starting point (around noon), we saw plenty of people having picnics:
And only when we reached parking we saw cows:
Hike At Alonei Abba Nature Reserve – Summary
Overall, it is a beautiful and short trail. Since the path is not long and light (you can probably make it with a stroller) it is beloved by families with young children. You can probably visit all year round, but Spring is the best season for a tour. And as I always say, come early. You will both enjoy the colder weather and will be able to find nearby parking (around noon there was no parking in the parking lot and people parked along the road, #7513).
As you saw, there many Agrotourism related attraction at Bethlehem Of Galilee area. Most of the attractions are not vast and several hours will be enough to cover them. Thus, you can combine several for a half day tour.
What are your favorite attractions at Bethlehem Of Galilee area? Tell us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!