Nazareth Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

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Nazareth is best known as the home of Joseph and Mary and hence also Jesus. A number of holy places in Nazareth are associated with the Annunciation. As the place where Jesus may have lived most of his life, Nazareth has for two thousand years been closely identified with Christianity and has attracted hundreds of millions of pilgrims from around the world.

Nazareth is also Israel’s largest Arab city and as such serves as a major cultural center. The combination of this history, culture and architecture assures the Old City of Nazareth a place among the most beautiful historical destinations in the world. Nazareth is a great base for touring major sites of the Galilee.


Fauzi Azar Inn

The Fauzi Azar Inn is a 200-year-old Arab mansion in the heart of Nazareth with a warm atmosphere where guests and staff can meet, share travel stories and tips, and make new and lasting friendships. Both dorm and private rooms are available and each private room is equipped with its own bathroom and air conditioning. Like a lot of the best hostels in Israel,  a hearty, traditional Arabic breakfast is included and a large kitchen, fully equipped, is open for the guests to keep and prepare their own food.

Simsim Guesthouse

There are mixed dorms as well as a female dorm option in this authentic early 20th century house, renovated in a modern and colourful way. The house is located inside the market in the middle of the old city of Nazareth. Extremely clean, good cooking facilities, nice lounge area and associated café. Right in the middle of the old city so a great location.

Sights and Highlights

Basilica of the Annunciation

The church was established at the site where, according to Roman Catholic tradition, the Annunciation took place. Tradition holds that this event occurred while Mary was drawing water from a local spring. The first shrine was built sometime in the 4th century. The Church of the Annunciation was founded around the same time as the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The current basilica was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, and built during the years 1960-69. It is the largest Christian sanctuary in the Middle East. The opening hours for the Lower Basilica are 5:45 am - 9:00 pm and the Upper Basilica is open 8:00 am - 6:00 pm.

Nazareth_Basilica of the Annunciation_3_Mordagan_IMOT

Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, likely first built in the Byzantine-era, was rebuilt during the time of the Crusades and again in the 18th century under. The church is located over an underground spring, which according to Eastern Orthodox belief is where the Virgin Mary was drawing water at the time of the Annunciation. Water from the spring still runs inside the apse of the church and fed the adjacent site of Mary's Well, located 140m away.

Nazareth_St Gabriel Church_1_Mordagan_IMOT

Mary’s Well

Mary’s Well is reputed to be located at the site where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God - an event known as the Annunciation. Found just below the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the well was positioned over an underground spring that served for centuries as a local watering hole for the Arab villagers. Renovated twice, once in 1967 and once in 2000, the current structure is a symbolic representation of the structure that was once in use.

To Eat

Imad Humus Restaurant

Great hummus place with a variety of food and really good shawarma. Great service. If you have a craving for hummus you have to pay a visit. It is located on the main entrance to the city, about 150m  from the main tourist area.


Great falafel, hummus, shawarma and salads. It is a great place that the locals like to eat at. Friendly fast service, right at the tip of the old city centre, cheap prices and large meals.



Bus routes 331 and 332 and travel between Haifa and Nazareth. Route 332 is a slightly more direct route but there the difference not a lot. This bus will arrive in Haifa at the Merkazit Inter-city platforms. You catch both of these buses from this stop in Nazareth.

Tel Aviv

From Tel Aviv, routes 823 or 826 from the New Central Bus Station go directly to Nazareth (does not run on Sabbath or Jewish holidays). The journey takes about 2 hours. Alternatively it is probably quicker to catch the train from Tel Aviv to Haifa and then follow the directions above to get from Haifa to Nazareth.

(Header image Nazareth by Neil Ward under CC BY 2.0)

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