Christmas in Nazareth: where to eat, sleep, and celebrate this holiday season
Are you missing the traditional Christmas spirit? Do you want to see a city of lights, filled with holiday cheer? Then you will find it all here in the city of Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus, just a couple hours from Tel Aviv. Christmas is in full force with holiday songs, candle lightings, decorations everywhere, and chocolate Santas to be found on every corner.
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me: authentic Arab hospitality
At the heart of everything is the Ramada Olivia Nazareth, a 5-star hotel that redefines authentic Arab hospitality. You’ll feel like you are abroad as you experience a whirlwind of culture from henna tattoos, a tea ceremony upon your entrance, and incredible Arab food from kibbe (stuffed croquettes) to roast lamb, and every kind of salad and mezze you can imagine from tabouli and grape leaves to silky, tahini-covered eggplant. What’s unique about this place is that unlike other upscale hotel in Israel, here you can really experience the Arab culture and you will feel like you are abroad with this rich cultural experience including seafood and other delicacies that are hard to find at hotels. You can also come in for the excellent food at the dining room or cafe.
Experience Christmas with a huge, colorfully decorated tree, marching bands playing Christmas carols with bagpipes and traditional dance shows. Pamper yourself in the roomy gym with a TRX room, or the incredible sea-blue heated swimming pool that can’t be found anywhere else; this truly is luxury at its best. Take part in knafe-making workshops, where you can taste this delicate cheese pastry soaked in syrup, and coffee workshops, wine tastings, or just leave it in the hands of the hotel and they will organize a guided tour of Nazareth. What a way to experience the holiday season!
Search for Santa at the market
The Christmas Market is a great way to spend the day. Browse through stands filled with Santa hats, lit up reindeers, Christmas pajamas, and knick-knacks to take home. All this while you step into any of the eateries and stop at the stunning churches for a rich cultural experience.
Go big or go home at the “Big” Fashion Mall
The mall is full of activities for Christmas, but you will be star struck at the entrance when you find the most beautiful Christmas shop in Israel. Before you will be rows and rows of lit up toys, candy canes, plush reindeers, Santas, snow globes, and endless gifts! Catch up on the festivities in the huge Christmas dome, filled with circus shows, live music, activities for kids, lights, and Christmas songs. This will be your children's dream come true (and secretly yours too)!
Lunch it at any of the authentic spots
Walk around the city and munch on authentic Arab food or enjoy a sit-down lunch where you'll find falafel, eggplants in yogurt, fattoush salad, and local delicacies everywhere. Stop by for falafel and hummus at Abu Samir or go into Melach VePipel for a long list of salads and the hummus topped with meat and spices, creamy labaneh, or the decadent falafel-filled shrimp.
For complete culinary tours, Gil Lahav is known for his 4-hour culinary tour showcasing stellar street food, authentic local produce, and taking you behind-the-scenes into the best restaurants and kitchens as well as tahini and confectionary workshops. His tour known as “the quest for the perfect bite” is one that is not only shaping Nazareth’s food scene, but Israel’s food scene as well (http://www.gil-lahav.co.il/english/).
Storytelling at Ghada’s Corner
While strolling around this beautiful city, stop into Ghada’s Corner to discover the most adorable gift shop that showcases all the local artisans in the area.. Ghada Boulos has adults and kids alike mesmerized by her stories of Nazareth. She’ll show you the trick to making the perfect tahini snack, bsisa, and how to craft wooden pieces just like the olden times. Her store is a little boutique shop that showcases local artists with toys handmade by special needs kids. You’ll find many wooden gems here and even hand-knitted Christmas ornaments. Her store is a gem, but her storytelling is pure magic. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet her.
Visit an Ancient Bathhouse
This bathhouse was discovered in 1993 by Elias and Martina while they were thinking of building a shop. They discovered a bathhouse with water from Mary’s Well – and the rest is history. Discover amazing artifacts from ancient Roman times, and visit the caldarium (hot room), hypocaust (heating tunnels), and praefurnium (furnace).
Find a complete list of activities HERE.