Tourist Tip #124 / Amirim, a Vegetarian Garden of Eden

Overlooking the Galilee and a short hop from Safed, the vegetarian moshav Amirim offers a number of cozy lodgings and fine meat-free dining.

Tucked into a mountainside in lush northern Israel, the vegetarian moshav Amirim is one of those places that seem to exist in a bubble where the air is cleaner and your worries are left behind. And it's not just the altitude (650 meters above sea level) that leaves you feeling lighter: The cozy community of bed and breakfasts, log cabins and stone cottages exudes a calming vibe.

Amirim was founded more than 50 years ago by a group of dedicated vegetarians and vegans looking for a home to practice their earth-friendly ways. In 1985, the Tourist Ministry deemed it a "rural tourist village," the first of its kind in Israel. Since then, Amirim has become the destination of choice for those seeking environmentally responsible escapes that don't skimp on luxury or comfort.

Dozens of unique lodgings line the narrow winding road that hugs a mountain overlooking the Galilee. The cabins and secluded interior gardens may look quaint from the outside but don't be fooled – inside, most are tricked out with ultra-modern amenities, such as flat screen TVs, spa tubs (that drain to the plants so not a drop of water is wasted, natch) and room-sized showers.

These privately owned guesthouses each have their own look, feel and style, but they're united by a communal welcoming spirit and attention to detail that may include little touches such as homemade wine and cake upon arrival.

Amirim is as well known for its inspired cuisine as well. A number of restaurants, cafes and bakeries dot the village, some interspersed with the guesthouses and others clustered a few kilometers away from the entrance. All are vegetarian or vegan and many grow their own organic ingredients. Enjoy long prix-fixe feasts with a variety of salads, soups, ingenious entrees and fresh desserts in the homey dining rooms or take a meal to go, change into your bathrobe and picnic in your private patio.

There's nothing quite like a delicious, hearty meal made mostly from the garden next door and a view overlooking the Kinneret. The combination of nutrition, tranquil environs and pampering strikes a harmonious balance that is the essence of Amirim.

Yaron Kaminsky
Yuval Tebol
Dror Artzi