Best things to do in Akko
Find out more about those top places in Akko
Akko, historically known as Acre, is one of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most historic cities. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Akko is entombed in vast Crusader-era city walls while the colonnaded Knight’s Hall offers a glimpse into the history of the Hospitallers and their crusades in the Holy Land. Akko has changed little since the Middle Ages and in many ways its warren of ramshackle streets, bazaars and coffee houses appear just as they would have done when Marco Polo passed through the city on his way to China some 800 years ago. The city is undoubtedly one of the Levant’s hidden gems, which is all too often bypassed by travelers touring Israel’s main attractions further to the south.
Akko’s gigantic city walls are only rivaled by that of Dubrovnik in the Mediterranean world and are rightly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built by Muslims, refortified by crusaders and strengthened by the Ottoman Empire, they have a storied history that is best explored on walking tours of their circumference.
Besides the city’s imposing city walls, Akko’s premier attraction is the Knight’s Halls, which were built nearly 1000 years ago as the living quarters for the Hospitallers, a monastic military order. The cavernous chambers give you an unrivaled insight into the day-to-day lives of the men who traveled all the way from Europe to conquer the Holy Land and also include 13th century tombs that are a popular point for pilgrimages.
Constructed in the classical Ottoman style in the 18th century, the Al Jazzar Mosque is one of Israel’s most important Muslim places of worship. Its striking minaret towers over Akko’s old town while the interior is bedecked in ornate Islamic calligraphy and has been impeccably restored in recent years with the minbar and mihrab of particular note. Make sure to dress modestly to gain entry.
Best explored as part of a guided walking tour, the Souq Al Abiad is Akko’s original Ottoman era marketplace. Teeming with stalls selling fragrant spices and traditional street food, such as kanafeh (a syrupy cake made of noodles or semolina), the souq is an unforgettable experience.
Discovered accidentally in the 1990s, the Templar Tunnel is today one of Akko’s biggest draws. Running from what once would have been the Knights Templar’s imposing fortress to the harbor, the tunnel was built during the era of the Crusades. Today, you can explore it as part of a guided tour that will reveal the area’s turbulent history and the tunnel’s crucial role.
For visitors interested in Akko’s rich Ottoman era history look no further than the Hammam Al Pasha, a former Turkish bathhouse that has been transformed into an excellently curated museum. Detailing the day-to-day goings-on of the bathhouse, which played an important social function in the Ottoman Empire, the museum is one of Akko’s most rewarding experiences.
Akko’s harrowing Underground Prisoners Museum details the Jewish resistance fighters who fought against British rule during the early 20th century. Housed in an imposing Ottoman era prison that was subsequently utilized by the British, the museum tells the life stories of individual fighters. Beyond this, the museum is also home to a cell once occupied by Baha’ullah, the founder of the Baha’i religion.
Dating from the 1600s, Sinan Pasha Mosque is thought to be the oldest in Akko. While it is closed to casual visitors, it is worth admiring from the outside, as its turquoise dome and picture-perfect seaside location are one of the most iconic images of the city.