ISRAEL – Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Sea view walls church - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

An old Akko day trip (or Acre / Acco) from Tel Aviv or Haifa is a day tour to be included on any Israel itinerary. If you follow the below Akko itinerary, you’ll be able to see all the highlights in a day. As a bonus, I’ll throw in the best restaurant in town to have lunch. You’ll for sure agree with me that a day trip to Akko is worth it.

Akko’s history dates to the Phoenician Empire but most remains are from the Crusader and Ottoman period. These remains are well preserved on two levels above and below ground. UNESCO designated the complete old center of Akko an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now let’s have a closer look at Acre’s highlights and put them in a chronological order so you get the most out of your Akko day trip.

Akko walls - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Akko day trip: How to get to Akko

I planned my Israel road trip itinerary in such a way that I stayed in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv. Travelling by car has always been my preference and driving up and down an hour isn’t a big problem for me. I always base myself somewhere and for northern Israel that was in Haifa. From Haifa the drive up to Akko is just under an hour but do go early so you have enough time for a memorable Akko day trip.

I parked my car just passed the old city wall (see photo above) within the old city. The entrance to the underground Hospitaller Fortress is just next to the parking lot. I highly recommend starting your Akko tour there.

There are various other ways of getting to Akko. Trains and busses go from Tel Aviv and Haifa taking respectively 90 minutes or 60 minutes. Count on 90 minutes by car as well from Tel Aviv. If you plan to stay overnight in Akko then have a look at the Akko Tourism website for more information.

Hospitallers knights compound coutyard - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

The Hospitaller Fortress

The Knights Hospitaller (the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem) arose at the beginning of the 11th century in Jerusalem. They managed hospitals in Jerusalem and later in Akko. After Jerusalem was conquered during the first Crusade in 1099 the Knights Hospitallers were given land in both Jerusalem and Akko. It was however during the second Crusader Kingdom that Acre became the capital. The Knights Hospitaller quickly build up the Hospitaller fortress which, as we know it today, was finished in mid-12th century Acre.

Visiting the Knights Hospitaller complex is the highlight of an Akko city trip. Start your Akko day trip at the Enchanted Garden in front of the complex and buy your entrance tickets. You’ll start at the central court with well and from there you can follow the signs through the complex. The various sections include the northern hall, sugar bowl hall, gates, towers, and sewage. Most impressive are the column hall (dining room), the hall of pillars and the old streets. Throughout the complex are signs explaining what you’re looking at. It’s a very interesting tour and quite extensive too. Expect to explore about 90 minutes before getting out at the back where you can then visit the Hamam al-Basha Turkish bath.  

Hospitallers knights hall - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Hamam al-Basha Turkish bath

The Hamam al-Basha is the next point of interest on this Akko itinerary. It dates to the 18th century Ottoman period when the Governor of Akko constructed it, Jazzar Pasha. A visit starts with a presentation of the “The Story of the Last Bath Attendant”. Characters from the Ottoman period take you back in time when the Hamam al-Basha was in use.

After the presentation there is time to explore the dressing room where people would change clothes before entering the intermediary rooms and the hot room. The hot room is the heart of the hamam which has smaller niches for private treatments surrounding it. The intermediary rooms served for various treatments. A visit takes about 45 minutes and it should be around 11:30 if you planned your Akko day trip timing well. Before lunch explore some of the narrow streets and visit mosques and churches.

Hammam al Basha story room - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Acre day trip: narrow streets & lunch

It’s time to wander the old narrow streets before lunch. From the Turkish bathhouse first visit the Al Jazzar Mosque before heading to the El-Zetuna mosque, St. George’s Church and towards the coast where you can see the (outside) of the Baha’i House called Abud House. Now walk south along the coast and if you still have some time before you’re hungry check the St. John’s Church and sea wall promenade. Have lunch at Uri Buri restaurant. They serve the best seafood in town (see my Israel restaurant guide). After lunch continue the Akko day trip at  the Templar Tunnel and follow more narrow streets to the city city wall and finally the prisoner’s museum.

El Jassar Mosque Exterior - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Templar Tunnel, more narrow streets and city wall & moat

The entrance of the Templar Tunnel is just next to the Uri Buri restaurant. It’s the western end where it was connected to a Crusader fort which remains are now in the sea. Similar to the Crusader fort of Saida in Lebanon which I visited on my Lebanon road trip. The tunnel runs east towards the port. A section of about 150 meters is restored and ends (now) at the Khan el Omdan. It was a strategic tunnel for the Templars as they could get from the fort to the port underground. The ceiling is made from bricks, but the lower part is carved in natural stone. This tunnel is one of the highlights of this Akko day trip so don’t miss it.

Once you exit the tunnel follow the narrow streets towards the city wall and moat. You’ll pass the clock tower, the Ramhal Synagogue (in a small side street), Khan al-Franj, the Merchants Inn and you’ll end in the south-eastern corner at the tower gate. Explore the wall and moat and head to the Ethnology & Folklore museum located inside the wall (Treasures in the wall museum). Keep an eye on the time though (latest 4PM head further) as it isn’t the end of the Acre day trip yet.

Templar tunnel - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Underground Prisonors Museum

The last stop of this Akko day trip is the Underground Prisoners museum which is behind the Hospitallers Complex and should be where you parked your car. Make sure to bring your passport to visit this museum as it’s still in use by the military. The building started as a government building during the Ottoman period but later transformed into a military building with prison.

It was during the British mandate the prison was the main prison in northern Israel. The museum displays the hectic history of the area and is a must visit if you want to understand Israel’s history. There is one place off-limits and that’s the Baha’i prison cell. You can see the door however which is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site together with other buildings of the Baha’i religion. A visit to the museum finishes the Acre day trip but Akko has more to offer.

Prisoners museum exterior - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

Other places of interst in Akko

There are a few other places of interest in Akko worth visiting. This only works if you go early to make the city trip and don’t waste time walking around. One place is the The Or Torah – “Jariva” – (Tunisian) Synagogue. You do need to make an appointment to visit. Tell Akko is worth hiking up (always open) where you’ll find a statue of Napoleon. Another place of interest (probably the most interesting) are the Baha’i gardens just outside of Akko. Do visit those early morning as otherwise the tomb is closed.

To summarize: Visit the Baha’i gardens when they open, visit all places in Old Akko then possible the synagogue and last Tell Akko. It IS possible in a day, but you’ll have to be very efficient.

Shrine of Baha u Ilah - ISRAEL - Akko day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa; what to do and see

I hope this Akko travel guide helps you plan your day trip to Akko. I’m sure you will love it so make sure to add it to your Israel itinerary. Akko has the best examples of Ottoman and Crusader period remains in northern Israel. Add the best sea food at Uri Buri and you’ll have a memorable day trip.

Make sure to ready my Israel itinerary for more Israel inspiration. If you want to add other countries in the region (you probably can’t fly direct though) then check my Jordan itinerary, Lebanon itinerary, Egypt itinerary or maybe go all the way and follow my Tunisia itinerary. Each country shares thousands of years of history and are a perfect destination for a road trip.

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Did you visit Akko too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery Akko day trip

Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.