Wherever I travel to I tend to seek out at least one location for a bit of self-care, spa time, “Me” time. When I was in the Northern reaches of Israel early in November of 2014, I looked for a natural hot springs that is easily accessible from Tiberias.
Tiberias is a city on the Sea of Galilee. Minutes from Tiberias is the Tiberias Hot Spring which is accessible on foot or by taking the local bus. It is located at the just South of the Hamat Tiberias National Park. I found out about it when I saw it from the bus en route to my day hike in the Yehudiya National Park.
However, when I consulted with the hotel owner, he said “Don’t waste your money there, if you want to visit a proper hot spring, go to Hamat Gader!”
As I did not travel with a travel guide book, I did a quick Google search. The hot, mineral spring water at Hamat Gader has been cherished for the past 2000 years. The Romans have been flocking to this location when they ruled over the land. If you’re interested, you can gain a glimpse of the old Roman baths at Hamat Gader, though it is fenced off for safety reasons.
As my hotel owner knew I was traveling on the public bus system, he found out the bus number and time of departure for me.
There is only ONE bus per day that take all hot spring lovers to Hamat Gader. It is the #24 bus which can be found at the main Tiberias bus station. It departs from the bus station at 9:15am. It returns from Hamat Gader to Tiberias at 2pm. Cost of bus ride is 12 NIS (New Israeli Shekel), each direction. The journey takes about 30 minutes.
Cost of entrance to the spa which include use of all facilities and visit to the crocodile farm, is 79 NIS during the week and 89 NIS on the weekend (correct as of Nov, 2014).
Once inside the spa, lockers can be rented for cost of 15 NIS with a refundable deposit of 25 NIS from the mini market. There are cafes and restaurants along with a boutique hotel named aptly The Spa Village hotel and spa treatments can be had on the premises.
The water temperature is naturally at 42C and surges up from an artisan well with a depth of 2000 meters or more, at a rate of 600 cubic meters per hour. However, on the day of my visit, there was a cool breeze under the 30C sun which made the water in the outdoor pool feel cooler than expected. I was suggested by the handsome life guard to visit the Woman only cabana, as it is an enclosed space. Inside the cabana, the water felt a LOT more hotter, the bottom of the pool is covered in medium size pebbles so it made walking around – extra interesting!
What to bring!?
- Definitely do NOT bring your favorite swimsuit or bathers!!!! ( You have been WARNED!) To this day I cannot wash out the smell of the Sulfur! No matter how much baking soda or vinegar solution I have tried.
- Sunscreen for your face (waterproof is preferred)
- Reusable water bottle (Save the world! Stay hydrated!!)
- Cash for renting locker
- Your enthusiasm
- Bring your stress and sore muscles and leave them behind at Hamat Gader!!
When you get bored at the hot spring, there is a crocodile farm with a parrot show and small petting zoo. Oh I was surprised alright! I would not have thought to see all these offerings together along with a hot spring.