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Guide to Akko Israel

Akko lighthouse, Israel

Visiting Akko? Here is a comprehensive guide to Akko Israel with everything you need to know. Read on for attractions, transport, the history and FAQs to make the most of your visit!

Guide to Akko, Israel

Akko (or Acre) is an ancient city on the northern coastline of Israel most well known for its preserved hospital buildings from the Crusader period. Once upon a time Akko was an ancient port that was the first port-of-call for pilgrims making their journey to Jerusalem. Arriving by boat, they would often take the time to stop and refresh in Akko before continuing on their journey. If any were to weak to continue to Jerusalem, they would often be left in Akko to be cared for.

One of the main attractions of Akko is its Crusader city history. The fortress of the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John (the Hospitallers) dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries before Muslims conquered the city in 1291. Later in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Ottoman Turks reconstructed it into a Citadel and palace for governors in Akko.

Hospitaller cafeteria, Akko Hospitaller preservations

Getting There: We day tripped out to Akko while staying in Haifa. From Haifa Center (HaShmona Station), it is about a 20 minute train trip to Akko. Once you arrive you will need to walk (or catch a taxi) about a km to the town on the coast.

The old city walls can still be seen as you enter the historic part of the town via Weizman St. Once you enter, there will be a car park and the Visitors Center and ticket office on the right. Here at the Visitors Center you can buy all your tickets to see the old crusader city (Hospitaller fortress), museums, tunnels and more. They have package deals that even include Rosh Hanikra if you plan to visit the grottoes also. You can wander the streets of Akko without buying any entry tickets, but the real attraction of this town is the history of the Hospitaller Fortress, which is partly preserved underground and gives a great overview of Akko.

Hospitaller, Knights Halls Akko
The Hospitaller Fortress

View of the city walls, Akko (Acre)
Inside Akko’s city walls

Start your visit at the Hospitaller Fortress (aka Knights Halls, Crusader City, Citadel), which will give you an in-depth story of the history of Akko. Here you will see the ancient part of the city, which is preserved partly underground in many different rooms. You can choose whether to get a free audio guide with your ticket but you need ID such as a drivers’ license to access it. We didn’t use an audio guide, but there is so much information written on boards as you walk through, we didn’t really need one. The rooms in the Hospitaller Fortress are quite large and airy. There are a couple of places you can choose to go through tunnels, which are a little cramped and skinny.

Akko street Akko street arch
Walking through the streets of the old city of Akko

Akko museum sign
The Treasures in the Wall museum, in the city wall

Old lamp market coffee beans
Inside the museum and coffee beans in the market

Akko's lighthouse Enchanted Gardens, Akko
Akko’s lighthouse and the enchanted gardens in the Visitors Center

Akko market produce

Akko market products
Goods and produce from the markets

Frequently Asked Questions for Visiting Akko (Acre)

How to get there: The easiest way is via train. From Haifa Akko is only about a 20 minute train ride away. You can also train from Tel Aviv. View the train timetables, routes and prices here. You can also catch buses. See timetable here.

Where to eat: At the beginning of the city, just past the entry to the tourist information is a row of restaurants. While still decently priced, there are other places to eat in Akko that may be cheaper as they are not so tourist-focused. There are many little stalls that sell things like fresh juices. Down near the marina there are also some restaurants along the water.

Getting Around the Town: Once you arrive in Akko you will not need any other transport apart from walking! The town is small enough to walk around and most of the paths are not build for cars. You will need a map from the Old Acre Visitors’ Center as the town’s pathways are a maze of alleys going in all directions. The buildings are close together and you can’t really see what’s around you until you find an open area.

Can I visit in a day: Yes! Akko is a great day trip from Haifa and depending on how much you want to do/see, you can easily accomplish the town in a day. If you are wanting to also see Rosh Hanikra, you may need to schedule another day (depending also on your transport), but it is possible to see them both.

Where to get tickets: All the historic sites of Akko can be accessed by purchasing tickets at the Old Acre Visitors Centre at the entrance of the old city. Once you pass through the old city walls on Weizman St, keep an eye out immediately on the right for a car park. At the end of the car park you will enter through a gate/doorway into an enchanted garden area with the ticket office being in the middle. There are also bathrooms available here, which are free if you have already purchased tickets (so hold on to your receipt!). The entrance to the Hospitaller Fortress is also in here.

How to dress: Although the historic city of Akko isn’t a holy site, the city itself is predominantly Muslim and therefore its best to dress modestly, especially when walking through the town and marketplaces.

Sites to see: Hospitaller’s Fortress, the Lighthouse, Marketplaces (Turkish bazaar, White market and market Street), the city walls, the Templars Tunnel, Turkish bath houses and Rosh Hanikra (nearby).

For more information on Akko, view the visitors information site here.

Akko shoreline

 

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