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With sacred sites and churches around every corner, Nazareth in Israel has its fair share of religious history. Named as Jesus' hometown in the New Testament, it's now peppered with intriguing biblical spots, such as Mary's serene grotto in the Church of the Annunciation, or Joseph's old carpentry workshop-turned-church just over the road. Once a small Jewish village on a hilltop, Nazareth is now a bustling city with vibrant shop-lined streets where Ottoman mansions rub shoulders with new eateries.
Stay in a Nazareth hostel housed in a 200-year-old Arab mansion with high ceilings and old stone courtyards and terraces. Here you can relax outdoors in cosy hammocks, or wander inside to your welcoming dorm or quiet private suite. There are also hostels in Nazareth with lush gardens filled with lemon trees and palms, where you can enjoy your free breakfast each morning. To be in the heart of the city, book a hostel around the old market, with views over the colourful streets.
Days can be spent exploring Nazareth's Latin Quarter – this is the old town where you'll find sacred sites as well as restaurants and cafés. In the evening, stroll to Mary's Well Square to find buzzing bars or seek out The Ancient Bathhouse. This neighbourhood also has a bustling market at its centre, selling spices, food and fabrics. No visit would be complete without an enjoyable hike up Mount Precipice, where you'll be able to see Nazareth as described in the Gospel of Luke.
Any trip to Nazareth should include a few of the city's iconic churches. There are two churches of the Annunciation: one is an enormous Roman Catholic basilica, the other a 17th-century Greek Orthodox church with a gold-domed roof and frescoes. Just across from the basilica lies St Joseph's Church, and Israel's oldest mosque, the White Mosque is also just around the corner. For a day-trip out of the city, head to the Zippori National Park, where you can explore the unique remains of a Crusader town and its ancient Roman origins.
As most international flights land in Tel Aviv, you'll need to get an Egged bus service to Nazareth, which takes just under 3 hours. There isn't a central station in Nazareth, so the bus should stop somewhere in the old town between Mary's Well and the Basilica of Annunciation. The old town is easy to explore on foot, but if you want to venture further afield, catch one of the easy-to-use city buses.