Akko (Acre) is a small city in northern Israel with an incredible heritage and a myriad of attractions. Worth more than an afternoon tour, here is a guide to the best things to do in Akko, Israel.
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Welcome to Akko: The Last Crusader Stronghold
Akko, or “Acre,” or “Aqqa,” – the name is a bit confusing, which is why we’ll stick to Akko, the most common local name – has thousands of years of history.
The area has been inhabited since 3000 BC, and it was occupied by the Persians, Romans, and Umayyad Caliphate.
In the 12th century, it became a stronghold of the Crusaders, and many buildings from that era are still visible today. Akko was the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land until the Muslims reconquered the city in 1291.
After that, it became part of the Ottoman Empire and later the British Mandate of Palestine before the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Today, about one-third of Akko’s population is Arab, and over 90% of the Old City. The rest are majority Jewish, but there are also significant Christian, Druze, and Bahai minorities.
Akko is undoubtedly worth visiting because it has lots of tourist attractions packed into a small and picturesque Old Town. On this basis, here are the top sights and best things to do in Akko, Israel.
The Best Things to do in Akko
Most of the top things to do in Acre are located in and around the Old City. Start your visit at the Knights Hall, and the rest will be within walking distance.
There is a combined ticket for five attractions (Templar Tunnel, Ramchal Synagogue, Knights Hall, Turkish Bath, and Ukshi Museum) in Akko. It costs 49 ILS (around 13 USD) and is undoubtedly worth the money.
Knights Hall (Akko Citadel)
The Knights Hall is the crown jewel of Akko tourist attractions.
The UNESCO World Heritage was built in the 12th by the Order of the Hospital – and it was the primary crusader fortress, catering to warriors and pilgrims.
There are several well-preserved rooms within the complex, and you can easily spend two hours here.
Turkish Bath House
The original Turkish hammam is undoubtedly also among the best places to visit in Akko.
Built in the 18th century, it is today an interactive museum that showcases how the Ottomans performed traditional hammam rituals.
The Templars were one of the leading crusader knights orders and their tunnel is a stunning example of medieval military architecture.
With a length of 150m (492 ft), it connects the main Templar palace with the port of Akko.
Akko’s vibrant markets are scattered all around the Old City. You can buy handicrafts, food, and various items symbolizing Akko’s diverse heritage here. Get lost in the busy streets and try some Falafel or Shawarma.
Coastal Promenade, Lighthouse, and Marina
Completed in 1912 (current structure), Akko Lighthouse, or Acre Light is one of the city’s primary landmarks. Next to it, you can walk along the city walls on the coast.
The marina area also has several bars and restaurants, making it the perfect spot for a cozy dinner.
Ramchal Synagogue is located inside an Ottoman building and its visitor center tells the story of Akko’s Jewish heritage.
What most people don’t know is that even during the Crusades, Akko had a vibrant Jewish community.
Al Jazzar Mosque
The best things to do in Akko also include the city’s most prominent Ottoman structure, Al Jazzar Mosque.
Completed in 1781, the mosque was named after Ahmad Pasha al Jazzar, who was simultaneously the Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Sidalet (which included Akko), and the Damascus province.
Ukshi Modern Art Museum
If you want to see something different in Akko, the Ukshi Museum features Israeli art. The museum’s primary collection comprises the works of Avshalom Ukshi, who lived in Akko in the 20th century.
Where to Stay in Akko
You’ll find lots of Akko hotels on the outskirts of the Old City, but I suggest staying right in the maze of medieval alleys. That way, you’ll be right next to the action and all the major Acre tourist attractions will be within walking distance.
I stayed at a guest house called Chateau Akko. It was small and located above a family home, but it was clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced for Israeli standards. It also had a nice rooftop terrace – so I can warmly recommend the place.
Find more places to stay in Akko here.
Things to do in Akko: Know Before You Go
To complete our guide to the top things to do in Acre, here are some essential things to know.
How to Get to Akko
The easiest way to get to Akko is by train from Tel Aviv. You can get direct trains from Tel Aviv Savidor Train station. The journey from Tel Aviv takes about two hours.
As such, if you’re landing at Ben Gurion Airport, you can take the train to the center and then simply switch trains at Savidor.
From Akko train station, you can get bus n°13 to the Old City which runs every 20 minutes or so.
Alternatively, you can get a bus from Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.
Visiting Akko on a Day Tour
From Tel Aviv, you can easily visit Akko on a day trip if you don’t want to deal with transportation or prefer having a local guide.
I recommend this tour which also includes the city of Haifa and the Roman ruins of Caesarae.
By going on a guided tour, you’ll see more in a day (including two UNESCO World Heritage sites) even though you won’t have a lot of time in Akko itself.
Is Akko Safe?
I felt very safe in Akko, even walking around alone at night. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the city depends on tourism, so small-time crime shouldn’t be an issue.
The macro-safety situation is always tricky in Israel, so follow local guidelines. I talked a lot more about safety in the region in my Digital Nomad Israel Guide, so I recommend you check that one out.
The Best Time to Visit Akko
Akko, Israel has a great climate overall, with relatively mild weather in winter and warm summers. Precipitation is low throughout the year.
I visited in mid-May, and the timing was perfect. It was nice and warm, and the bulk of summer tourists hadn’t arrived yet. July and August are the busiest months in this regard. As such, April, May, September, and October are arguably the best months.
Bottom line: Is Akko, Israel Worth Visiting?
Yes. Akko has a fascinating history and offers a diverse range of attractions tucked away between typical Middle Eastern alleyways. One day is probably enough, but you could easily spend two days here if you like to take things slowly.