Old Akko City Walk

Old Akko is full of surprises. Historical landmarks, Hidden alleys, fantastic sea views, underground tunnels, markets, and street food. Our Self-Guided walking tour will take you on a magical journey between all of them

Walk Metrics
Walk Description
Distance4 Km
Duration4 - 6 Hours
Start PointVisitor Center
End PointSame

 

Old Akko
Of all the cities along the Syrian shore – from Antioch to Gaza – there is no city whose chronicles are as eventful as those of Acre, and there is no other city whose direct impact on the fate of the entire country was so greatLaurence Oliphant, 1882

 

Main Landmarks on the Tour:

WALKING TUOR MAP

Self-Guided Walking Tour Map of Akko
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Navigate with GPS

SPICE UP YOUR WALKING TOUR WITH A BITE CARD
food tour Tour

  • Taste authentic local food in the market stalls along your walking tour:
  • Fresh local Hummus.
  • Fish Tapas.
  • And many more tasty bites

LOGISTICS

The tour is circular. It starts and ends in the Old Akko information center. There are several parking lots nearby (Paid), and excellent public transportation. If you are arriving by train, take bus #3 from the train station. If you are coming for a day-trip from Haifa, you can also use the boat service and start/end the tour at the port. Some minor streets do not appear on GoogleMaps. For smooth navigation, follow the track on Viewranger, or use our map. If you plan to enter several of the landmarks along the walk, consider purchasing a combination ticket.

OVERVIEW

The Old City of Acre has a unique atmosphere. The natural bay that protected it from the storms has made Acre the central port city in the land of Israel for thousands of years and attracted many rulers over the centuries. Akko is one of the oldest cities in the country. It was founded about 4,000 years ago, but until the Crusader period, it remained a small fishing town.

During the Crusaders era, the city grew substantially, thanks to the Europeans, who exploited its enormous potential as a port city. The Third Crusade (Lead by Richard Lionheart) made the city the capital of the kingdom after they failed to conquer Jerusalem. When the Crusader kingdom collapsed, Acre was destroyed, and only about 200 years later, during the Ottoman period, it was rebuilt and flourished again. The fortifications we see today were built around 1750 by Sheikh Dahar al-Omar, a local Bedouin who was granted by the Ottomans with the title ” Sheikh of Acre, Amir of Nazareth, Tiberias, Safed, and Sheikh of all Galilee”. In 1799 following his successful campaign in Egypt, Napoleon marched north into the land of Israel. His journey north was smooth until he encountered the massive fortifications of Akko. Following a failed siege to take over Akko, Napoleon withdrew, leaving many dead and wounded.

Acre is an ancient port city, full of fascinating archeological finds and important historical sites. But On the other hand, Acre is also a modern city, blessed with lovely beaches and a colorful oriental market with a variety of goods: seafood, fruits, vegetables, fabrics, clothes, and various souvenirs.

HISTORY Of AKKO

OLD CITY SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR

Treasures in the Walls, Ethnographic Museum, Acre, Israel
Courtesy Yuval Y. / Wikimedia
Treasures in the Wall museum
Admission: 15 NIS.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00-17:00. Fridays 10:00-15:00
Location: Southeastern walls.
Direction: Go to the main street (Weizman), turn left, and look for a stairway on your right climbing on the city walls. Go up the stairs and along the walls until the entrance to the museum.

“Treasures in the Walls” is a small and charming Ethnographic Museum displaying objects and lifestyles from the 19th & 20th centuries in the Galilee Region. Items on display include furniture, kitchenware, tools, and clocks, as well as reconstruction of old market stores and craft workshops typical to the region. Everything is beautifully displayed in a historic fort built inside the old city walls. A must visit!

View of ol Acre from the eastern city wallsEastern Walls
Admission: Free.
Opening Hours: 24/7
Location: Southeastern walls.
Direction: Exit the Museum and Walk south along the wall.

The city walls you are walking on were built around 1750 by Daher al Omar on earlier crusader walls. These are the walls that Napoleon could not pass during the siege of 1799. Walking on the walls rewards you with fantastic views of old Akko and the Mediterranean Sea. The most scenic spot is the southern tip. There is no way down from the tip, and you will need to retrace your steps a hundred meters to the wide staircase that descends from the wall.

Akko White MarketWhite Market
Admission: Free.
Opening: Daily 10:00-18:00
Location: Salah ad-Din St.
Direction: Retrace your steps until the wide stone staircase. Go down the steps and turn left. At the T-Junction, turn right and after a few minutes, you will see the entrance to the market.

The white market was established during the 18th century. It was built on foundations of an earlier market that was destroyed by fire in 1816. The large market then numbered 64 stores and was the largest shopping center in the area. It is named “White Market” because of its white painted walls and the large windows that enable the sunlight to penetrate inside. During the British mandate, it’s importance declined, and the building remained as a remnant of the glorious history of the Ottoman Empire. The building stayed in ruins until it was renovated several years ago and became a compound of small cafés and restaurants.

El Jazzar Mosque, Akko, IsraelEl Jazar Mosque
Admission: 10 NIS.
Opening: Only with coordination by phone, usually open. (+97249913039)
Location: El Jazar St.
Direction: From the exit of the White market, turn right and immediately right to El Jazar Street. The mosque will be on your left.

El Jazar Mosque is one of the most famous buildings in Old Akko. It dominates the city’s skyline, and Its green dome is seen from afar. It is the largest mosque in the country outside of Jerusalem. The mosque was built in 1781 by Al-Jazar, who was the ruler of Acre and northern Israel. It is considered one of the most magnificent buildings that were built in the Land of Israel during the Ottoman period. The mosque is active and holds five daily prayers. It also provides religious classes and other activities.

At the entrance to the mosque stands a magnificent circular fountain built from marble and covered with a beautiful dome. The courtyard has a lovely garden with a marble stone clock.

Tours inside the mosque compound can be prearranged by phone +97249913039.

Hamam El Basha, Acre, IsraelHammam el Basha (Turkish Hamam)
Admission: 21 NIS.
Opening: Daily 09:00-17:00 (Summer 18:00). Fridays 09:00-16:00
Location: Richard Lev Ari St.
Direction: From the exit of the mosque, turn left and, after a few meters, turn again left.

El Jazar built the Hammam in 1795 in a traditional oriental style typical to the Turkish Empire in the 18th-19th centuries. The entrance to the Hammam serves as a dressing room, the center of which is a marble fountain. This room leads to a row of warm halls. The biggest and fanciest one is octagon-shaped, and the ceiling is a marble dome standing on marble pillars. The bathhouse structure is magnificent and decorated with marble floors and ceramic tiles. It is recommended to watch the spectacular audiovisual show.

Turkish Bazar in Akko
Courtcy Maya-Anaïs Yataghène

The Turkish Bazar
Admission: Free.
Opening: Daily 10:00-18:00
Location: Richard Lev Ari St.
Direction: From the Hamam, turn left and after a few meters, the entrance will be on your left.

The Turkish bazaar of Acre was built in the late 18th century on top of a crusader period compound. During this period, quite a few public buildings were built, and, among other things, the Bazar was established. The purpose of the market was to provide a workplace for various craftsmen who worked in small shops along the small streets. The market was abandoned in 1948 when the IDF conquered Acre. It reopened In 2012, following a restoration project. It is now a vibrant compound filled with Small souvenir shops, art galleries, cafes, and gourmet restaurants.

Humus Said restaurant in old akko, IsraelHumus Said and the market street
Admission: Free.
Opening: Daily 05:00-14:30
Location:Binyamin Metudela St.
Direction: From the exit of the Bazar, turn right, and after a few meters, you arrive at the market street.

The main market street of Akko is a delight for street shopping. Fresh products such as fish, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional Arab street food like Falafel, Baklawa, and Humus. And other small shops of all kinds. One of the most famous spots in the street is Hummus Said, who is rated by many as the best Hummus in Israel. Traditionally, Hummus is a breakfast dish that the hard-working class used to eat before heading out to work. This tradition is well reflected by the unique opening hours of this restaurant, 05:00 AM – 2:30 PM. People from the area arrive very early in the morning to buy fresh Hummus. (The fresher, the better!), and it is not uncommon to find a long line of people outside the restaurant’s door.

The “Khans” (Caravanserais)
Admission: Free.
Opening: 24/7
Location: Khan el Faraj
Direction: Continue on the market street and take the first left. You will reach a Plaza and a mosque. To your left is Khan el Faraj and to your right Khan el Omdan.

What is a Khan?
A “Kahn”, usually called in English Caravanserai (derived from the Turkish word Kervansaray) were roadside inns that served as a night shelter for Merchants traveling along the trade routes. A typical Inn was square-shaped with a large central courtyard surrounded from all sides by two a story building with small rooms. The animals would be stored on the ground floor and the men on the first floor. The central courtyard was used for gathering and dining. There are dozens of “Khans” across Israel, five of them in Akko.

Khan el Faraj, Old Akko IsraelKhan El Faraj
Khan Al Faraj (The “French Khan”) is an old guesthouse located in the center of Acre Market. This Khan is the earliest one that still stands in its entirety. The northern part of the Khan now serves as the Franciscan Terra Santa School. The school building was erected on top of the original building and added two new floors and a red tile roof.
The Khan, built in the 16th century in the center of the Venetian Quarter, was formerly called the Venetian Hostel. In the middle of the 16th century, it became a residence for French merchants who controlled the cotton trade in the area. At the end of the 18th century, the Ottomans expelled the French merchants and overtook the Khan and the cotton trade.
Today the buildings serve as an elementary school. You can visit the courtyard freely and enjoy the site of the historic building.

Khan El Umdan, Old Akko, IsraelKhan El Omdan
The Al Umdan Caravansarai is adjacent to the Clock Tower and the port. It is the largest Khan in Israel and the most preserved of them. The Caravansarai was established in 1784, during the reign of Ahmad al-Ghazar, the great ruler that built many of Acre’s public buildings during the Ottoman period.
The name was given to the Khan thanks to 40 granite columns that were brought here from Caesarea. (Umdan in Arabic means Pillars)
Merchants from all over Israel and from neighboring countries came to the Khan to trade various goods. The fact that it was located near the port of Acre made it very popular. In the 19th century, its importance declined following the opening of the new port of Haifa.
The place is now closed to the public. You can look at the building and the clocktower from outside and peek at the courtyard through the gate. The building was sold a few years ago to a luxury hotel chain that will restore the building and turn it into a boutique hotel.

Acre Port (Harbor)The New Port
Admission: Free.
Opening: 24/7
Location: Leopold Hasheni St.
Direction: After looking at Khan al Umdan, walks towards the water, turn right and walk along the port.

The main reason to visit the port is the fantastic view it gives towards the city. The best spot is at the very end of the breakwater.

Ancient port of AkkoThe Pisani (old) Port.
Admission: Free.
Opening: 24/7
Location: Salah & Bazri St.
Direction: Retrace your step along the breakwater and take a left turn to a small alley just after Abu Cristo restaurant. Turn left again and walk until you see the entrance to the Pisani port restaurant on your left.

What you see here, are remnants of the Crusader period port from 800 years ago. (Further Reading)

The Templar Tunnel in old Acre IsraelTemplar Tunnel
Admission: 21 NIS.
Opening: Daily 09:00-17:00 (Summer 18:00). Fridays 09:00-16:00
Location: Hahagana St
Direction: Return to Salah & Bazri St, turn left, and then right to a small alley (Ramban St.). At the end of the aisle, turn left and walk until you reach the entrance to the tunnel. (Near Uri Buri Restaurant).

The Templars were a military religious order nominated by the Pope. Their task was to help pilgrims who came from Europe to visit the holy places. They first resided in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, hence their name. Following the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, the Templars established their seat in Acre and began to build their district in the southwestern part of the city. Here, at the western end of the tunnel, stood their central citadel (Now sunk underwater).

In 1994, construction workers accidentally discovered the tunnel. The 350-meter tunnel probably served as a strategic underground passageway between the citadel and the town. After extensive excavations, the tunnel was opened to the public in 1999. The bottom is hewn in natural rock, while the upper part is built from stones creating an arched ceiling. The walk in the tunnel is a great experience.


END THE WALKING TOUR HERE OR CONTINUE?

The exit from the tunnel is at the backside of Han Al Umdan, near the port and the market street. You can end your tour here and continue to ramble in the market and the port. Or continue with the walking tour.

Until now, we moved between the famous landmarks of old Akko, along the main streets and with very short walking distances. The 2nd half of the tour has a different character. It involves more walking and takes you into the less touristic parts of the old town. You will walk in narrow stone arched alleys and visits smaller and lesser-known landmarks.

St George Church Acre IsraelSt. Georg Church
Admission: Free.
Opening: Only if prearranged ahead of time by phone: +97249910563. (Or arrive during the Sunday mass)
Location: Zalman Hazoref St.
Direction: Upon exiting the tunnel, turn right and immediately left to Shevet Asher Street. Take the first right to Beit Lusinian Street, and after about 100 meters, you will see the church on your left.

The Greek Orthodox Church is very modest and can be missed easily. It is considered the first Christian place of worship established in Akko, during the Ottoman period. The church was built in 1545 and has since served as a gathering place for Greek-Orthodox Christian residents and tourists. In 1631, the monk Eugene Roja, who visited the city of Acre, wrote about the Greek Orthodox Church, which is why it is believed to be one of the oldest churches in the town.

Abud (Bahai) house in Akko
Curtacy Zairon / Wikimedia

Bahai House
Admission: Free.
Opening: The house is under preservation work and can be seen only from outside.
Location: Zalman Hazoref St.
Direction: Continue on the same street for a few meters until you arrive at a large plaza. Just after the plaza, the house will be on your right.

Acre and the Bahai religion

Acre is very important in the Baha’i religion tradition; Bahá?u’lláh, the founder of the Bahai, was imprisoned in Akko and spent years in house arrest after his release from prison. He finally died in Akko and was buried near the city. The most important site around the city is Al-Bahja (Recommended visit), where his estate and tomb stand, but several other buildings in and around the city had been associated with his life.

Allah lived for seven years in a room in this building after he was released from the Acre prison. Here he wrote the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the central book of the Bahá?í Faith) in 1873, and his son’s wedding was held in this building. The building is now (2020) going through and extensive preservation project. Hopefully, it will be open to visitors in the future.

Zawayal el SchaeliaEl Shazliya Mosque (Zawayia)
Admission: Free.
Opening: Can be seen only from outside.
Location: Nur a-din El Yashruti
Direction: Return to the Plaza, turn left, and walk on Louis HaTshi’ street until the intersection with Nur a-din El Yashruti street.

Nur a-Din El Yashruti, established the Sufi order (Islamic mystic sect) in Akko. He arrived at the city from Tunis in 1849 and established here their word center. In 1862 he opened up the El Shazliya as a Zawayia (A type of Islamic school). It is not possible to visit inside, but you should come here for the delightful sight of the Blue dome of the Zawayia with the White dome of Hamam el Basha peaking behind it.

Underground Prisoners MuseumUnderground prisoners Museum
Admission: 15 NIS.
Opening: Sunday – Thursday Daily 08:30-16:30
Location: Near Hahagana St
Direction: Walk west towards the sea until the Hagana Street. Turn right, walk north, and take the first right turn.

The Acre Fort was built during the Ottoman period on the foundations of a 12th century Crusader fortress. It served as the governer’s office, and later also as a prison. During the British Mandate, the fortress served as the central prison in northern Israel. Several Jewish resistance organizations struggled the Mandatory government to establish a Jewish state in the land of Israel. The first prisoner was Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the Jewish Defense Commander in Jerusalem. He was arrested in 1920, together with nineteen members of the city’s protectors. Until 1948 hundreds of resistance fighters were imprisoned here, and 9 were executed by hanging. On May 4th, 1947, a group of resistance fighters broke through the prison walls and freed 27 prisoners. Read more about it here.

Visiting the museum is an excellent opportunity to learn more about this period in history.

Akko undergound crusader halls by Zapi81
Curtesy Zapi81 / Wikimedia

Knight’s Hall underground complex
Admission: 21 NIS.
Opening: Daily 08:30-17:00
Location: Old Akko information center
Direction: Walk east past the museum until you reach a wide stone staircase on your right. Go down the stairs and arrive at the visitor center (Where the walk started)

Under the area of the fortress (Now the underground prisoners’ museum), The remains of a Crusader Hospitaller Citadel are found and archaeologists had gradually unearthed the citadel for decades. Visiting the huge halls takes you to the stories of Akko during the Crusader period. It is One of the most impressive sites in the city.

Written by Erez Speiser

I am Erez Speiser. I live in the Galilee region in Israel. By education, I am a mechanical engineer. In 2018 I founded "Israel by Foot" to promote hiking tourism in Israel. Learn more in the About me Video. Do you want me to help you plan your hikes in Israel? Check out here. Or contact me [email protected]