Beth Shean Valley
The Beth Shean Valley is an area in the Jordan Valley of northern Israel.
BY BUS: To get in from most cities by bus you will probably have to go to Afula first.
From Jerusalem: 961(egged) bus from the central bus station. 41 shekel. About 2 hours.
Hitchhiking is common in this part of Israel and considered safer than in other parts of Israel. If you want to go somewhere just up the road (going to or from the kibbutzim to Beit Shean)or close by make a pointing action towards the gowned with your index finger.
- Beit Alfa Synagogue National Park. Located on Kibbutz Hefzibah, some 20 mins to the west of Beth Shean on Route 669 (watch for the signs), open April–September 8AM-5PM, October–March 8AM-4PM, tel (06) 653-2004, admission adults NIS 18, children NIS 8, groups: adults NIS 15, children NIS 7 - the site of an excavated 5th century synagogue with a remarkable mosaic floor, Beit Alfa was the scene of the first native Israeli archaeological excavation, conducted even before Independence. An Aramaic inscription states that the mosaic was laid at the time of the emperor Justin (ruled 518-527); the Greek inscription is in memory of the artists who made the mosaic, Marianus and his son Hanina. The highlight of the site is the mosaic floor in the central room of the synagogue, easily one of the most important mosaics discovered in Israel. Each of its three panels depicts a scene - the Holy Ark, the Zodiac (with the names of the 12 signs in Hebrew and a central image of the sun-god Helios - a most unusual addition to a synagogue!), and the story of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. The four women in the corners of the mosaic represent the four seasons. A film about life in the ancient village and the making of the mosaic floor is available to view in Hebrew, English and German.
- Beth Shean - Israel's largest Roman city and a tel atop a hill overlooking the town
- The Sakhne - a water pool surrounded by greenery. It also features a Wall and Tower reconstruction site.
- Belvoir Castle
There are several Kibbutzim or communal villages in the Bet She'an valley. Many of them have natural springs that are relatively warm even in the winter and have nice hikes. It is also interesting just to walk around a kibbutz to see how they farm and go about there lives. The kibbutzim are private property so you might have to ask permission before you visit (depending on the kibbutz and what you want to do there).
- Kibbutz Nir David
- Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu
Has a natural spring and a mini zoo.
- Kibbutz Ein Ha-Natsiv
Has a great natural spring with clean water, a diving-board and a Tarzan swing. Hold you feet very still and you can feel the tiny fish biting your toes. You might meet other people and maybe get some free food from someone making a bbq. Mostly young people with their friends or soldiers visit the natural spring.
- Kibbutz Tirat Tsvi
- Kibbutz Shluhot
Most of the Beth Shean Valley is situated below Sea Level and extremely hot and humid in summer. However, the valley has a lot of natural springs and flowing rivers, and it is one of the wettest regions in Israel. For that reason, Beth Shean valley is green and beautiful and many Israelis travel there to relax in the springs or during hot summer days. The valley was even nicknamed the "gateway to heaven" in Jewish sources.
Though considered by many to be an extension of the neighboring Jezreel Valley region, the Beth Shean Valley really does possess its own unique geography and character.
For night life you'll have to look outside Beit She'an(town). Some of the non-religious Kibbutzim have bars.
Jordan is only 10 min. away by car, passing through the nearby border crossing.