Not only is Jerusalem a beautiful and interesting city, but the desert and mountains around the city are also worth exploring for their unique beauty and history. One of the best ways to explore the landscape outside of the city is to go for a hike or walk on one of the many trails, or visit a national park. A morning, afternoon, or entire day outside the city can be relaxing and refreshing, and is an excellent activity for couples–or for anyone.

Adventures in Nahal Og

For those looking for an adventure that is slightly challenging, a hike through the desert canyon of Nahal Og will not disappoint.  This short circular trail begins in a designated parking area near Kibbutz Almog, about a 30-minute drive outside of Jerusalem on the road that leads to the Dead Sea. There is an observation point here offering sweeping views of windswept desert sand dunes. There is also some shade and a few picnic tables, making this a nice spot for a pre- or post-hike picnic or snack.

While the circular 2-mile hike here is relatively short, it is also challenging. In several places, hikers must climb up and down ladders on the face of steep cliffs. But this does not require any advanced skills and most adults, and even children, can handle Nahal Og if they are up for some adventure.

Exploring History at the Good Samaritan Museum

For those looking for something less strenuous, the Good Samaritan Museum is another place near Nahal Og which also offers stunning desert views. This museum is also just off the road between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, and located in an ancient restored building with outdoor space and exhibits as well.

Filled with Byzantine mosaics and other archaeological finds, it focuses on the history of Chrisitans, Jews and Samaritans, a pre-Rabbinic Jewish sect, in Israel. In addition to these exhibits, there is a 2,000-year-old cave that is now part of the museum, where visitors can watch a short film about the history of the Samaritans. There are also outdoor paths and an overlook with views of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. This site also has a shaded picnic area.

Cooling off at Einot Tzukim

Further down toward the Dead Sea sits the hidden nature reserve of Einot Tzukim. This lush oasis on the shores of the Dead Sea includes walking trails and several natural springs and creeks, suitable for wading, swimming or just enjoying the views. It is the perfect place to cool off after exploring the desert. 

In addition to the stunning scenery, this site has a rich history, including as the setting of an ancient perfume factory, and as one of the first ports where ships docked on the Dead Sea. For those looking to fill a whole day outside the city, a visit to Einot Tzukim can be paired with a hike at Nahal Og or a visit to the Good Samaritan Museum—or with both.

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