Best attractions in the charming hidden-gem of Akko (Acre) – on a budget
About an hour and a half’s drive from Tel Aviv, you’ll reach 4,000 years old, UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Acre. A fascinating urban destination in Israel, that you probably haven’t yet visited.
Combining rich ancient history (hello Templar Knights, Fortresses and Tunnels), it boasts bustling markets both modern and traditional, deep blue sea, and delicious food.
I wanted to visit Acre for a while. And it is no secret that during the days of COVID budgets can be a little tighter.
So I was happy to find a budget-friendly way to stay a night and day, and enjoy the major top attractions Acre has to offer. All this for under 120 USD all inclusive!
So how did I spend time in Acre with for a ridiculous cost, and what are the best things to see and do in it?
1. Accommodation – Check in at the HI Akko
Do not let the the name “Youth Hostel” mislead you.
The Acre Israeli Youth Hostel which is part of the National Hostel Organization, is a modern hotel equivalent for all means. The new and luxurious hostel is located in the heart of the Old City, within walking distance to all attractions.
Original ancient artifacts, such as the Aqueduct are integrated into the architecture, in a way that respects their integrity. The rooftop has a stunning panoramic view of the city. On clear days you can see Haifa, Mount Carmel, and the Galilee mountains from it too.
I found a great deal for a solo traveler, sleeping in a brand new family room for only 269 NIS (about USD 78) including breakfast, which is very cheap for a private room in Israel! The room can accommodate up to four guests. Making the cost per guest 67 NIS (USD 6) per guest for a family stay.
The service is courteous and professional. There is a breakfast buffet offered for about 21 NIS (USD 6) only.
Another accommodation option: lovely villa near the sea, for up to 8 guests from 560 NIS per night for the whole place. The villa is located a 5 minute walk from one of the top historical attractions of the Old City – the Knights’ Halls. It can be booked here on Airbnb.
If you have not yet joined Airbnb you can get a discount of 120 NIS for your first order, by using this Airbnb link.
2. A cup of coffee and a walk along the sea front
Start your morning with a cup of Joe, sitting at deck perched over the sea waves, at the one of the branches of the local bistro chain Café Netto (Adress: Ha-Hagana St 1, Acre).
Listen to the pleasant music, and take in the view of the impressive Acre Ottoman City Walls. Continue walking along the walls until you reach the Gate of the Old City.
Cost: 13 NIS for a cup of cappuccino. Ample parking on the street. The views are for free 🙂
3. Crusader Fortress (Knights’ Halls) and Tunnel
The Hospitaller Fortress (Knights’ Halls)
Dating back to the 12th Century, The Knights’ Halls are impressive and grand in scale. They will make you feel as if they are keeping deep secrets you wish you could reveal. To my mind the Fortress and the Escape Tunnel from the Halls to the port, are definitely the highlights of a visit to Acre.
I am proud to share that my uncle, General Amir Drori, who founded and directed the Israeli Antiquities Authority, is the one who initiated the investment of resources in excavation and reconstruction of the Old City. He put special emphasis on the Templar structures of the Crusader knights.
The result evokes the imagination, while bringing to life what took place in these incredible architectural constructions.
Entrance fees: A combined all-inclusive ticket for a variety of attractions costs about 65 NIS ( USD19) per person.
As for July 2020, prices for the Summer have been updated.
Check out the Akko Tourism website for further details.
4. Acre market
Walk in the alleys of the old town and enjoy the colorful murals and arched doors.
The Acre Market is essentially made up of three different markets. The Turkish Bazaar, the White Market and the “Popular Market”.
The Turkish Bazaar is a reconstruction of the ancient market that existed at that location. It has restaurants, shops and cafés. You can find funky specialty shops like all ducks gifts Duck You or artsy galleries selling products by local artists.
The White Market was first established in the 17th century, and is white in color as its’ name notes.
The “Popular Market” sells unique spices, vegetables and has restaurants with popular dishes like hummus and Middle Eastern Knafeh (yumm).
5. A lunch break: fresh fish at Uri Buri
For lunch, I stopped at the Uri Buri restaurant, which was established in Acre over 20 years ago. The restaurant is located in a Crusader building with pleasant sea views. It serves fresh fish, seafood, and even one of my personal favorites: coconut fish soup. Prices are reasonable for the quality of the food served.
Cost: a meal comprised of a soup starter, main fish course and desert will cost about 130 NIS (USD 38) per person.
Address: HaHagana, Lighthouse Plaza.
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5. The Bahai Gardens in Acre
The well-manicured gardens in Acre are yet another gem not many Israelis know about. The gardens are the place where the leader of the Bahá’í Faith is buried, and the most sacred Bahai site in the world.
Unfortunately, during my stay the gardens were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
I suggest you call +972-4-831-3131 to ensure in advance that the gardens are open for visitors on the dates of your visit.
Did you love the gardens in Acre? The Bahai Gardens in Haifa, in my opinion, are even more impressive. If you plan on passing through Haifa on your way to or from Acre, you just have to visit the hanging Bahai Gardens of Haifa!
There is a lot more to see and do in the Old City of Acre. There is the picturesque Tunisian Synagogue of the Ramchal and 18th Century Al-Jazzar Mosque.
You can take boat rides from the Acre Marina to the gorgeous Rosh Hanikra Grottoes near the border, and more.
However, this post focuses on a relatively relaxed itinerary to follow during a 24 hour city break.
The total estimated cost per person for this Acre itinerary is approximately 398 NIS (116 USD). Food, admission fees, accommodation and high spirits are all included!
So why not go for an Akko city break without breaking the bank?
I highly recommend that you make use of any opportunity you get to visit and enjoy this special city, before it becomes overrun with tourists and loses its’ authentic charm.
*prices stipulated are applicable for July, 2020. Please note that as for this date onward, there may be entrance restrictions to Israel due to COVID-19.