Caesarea Maritima, pronounced “Kei-sar-ya,” is one of Israel’s leading archeological and recreational sites. People come to Caesarea to witness the ancient remains of Herod’s magnificent city, enjoy excellent restaurants, or participate in a live music concert. I’ve been to the place several times in my life. But as part of my project to check the accessibility of national parks for people who do not have a car, I finally tried getting there by public transport. Here’s my guide to Caesarea National Park by public transportation.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no extra cost to you. These links help me keep the website alive and not depend on sponsors! Thank you in advance.
Where is Caesarea National Park and how to get there?
Caesarea Maritima is located on the Israeli western coast, about halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. It’s easiest to get there by rental car or by joining a guided tour. But if you prefer going on your own by public transportation, it’s best to leave either from Tel Aviv or Haifa. Both are about 1.5 hours away by public transport. Just take into account that the bus in Caesarea is not so frequent, and therefore, you will have to wait a while, and the visit will most probably take a whole day.
In both cases, you will pay 37 Shekels for a daily pass. Read more about public transportation in Israel.
Please note – it is NOT possible to get to Caesarea by public transportation on SHABBAT (Friday eve to Saturday eve) because there is no public transport on Shabbat.
I traveled to Caesarea National Park from Tel Aviv. From Tel Aviv – take the train from any of Tel Aviv’s train stations to the Binyamina Train Station. Then, exit the station, turn right, and climb on the pedestrian bridge that crosses the railway tracks. After passing the bridge, you’ll find a bus station (#46041) to your left, on the same side of the pedestrian bridge. From there, take bus number 80, operated by the Kavim company, all the way to the “Caesarea National Park” station (in Hebrew: Gan Leumi Keisarya, “גן לאומי קיסריה”). The whole ride should take you about one hour and 15 minutes, but if you miss the bus at Binyamina, you will have to wait about an hour until the next one. I recommend using Moovit or Google Maps to determine the best travel route for you based on your location and the time of the day.
From Haifa – You should also be able to take a train from Haifa Hof HaCarmel Train Station to Binyamina Train Station and from there, board bus number 80 (from bus station #46041) to Caesarea National Park. I haven’t tried the route from Haifa. But there are also other ways, as you can see on the Google Map below.
Planning your trip to Caesarea National Park
While I do my best to update the information in this post as frequently as possible, I might sometimes miss it. So, for the most updated information about opening hours and pricing, I recommend checking out the official website of Caesarea National Park.
Opening hours: In the summer, the national park is open from Sunday to Thursday and Saturday from 8 AM to 5 PM, and on Friday and holiday eves from 8 AM to 4 PM. In winter, the site closes an hour earlier. On holiday eves, it closes at 1 PM.
Caesarea is a national park, so there is an entrance fee. If you plan to visit many national parks in Israel, you should check out the Israel Pass.
How much time is needed for visiting Caesarea? At least an hour and a half. If you’re coming by public transportation, free a full day for this visit.
Visiting the national park at Caesarea Maritima
Bus number 80 stops at the “Caesarea National Park” bus station, located a few steps away from the entrance to the national park. Once you pay and enter, you’ll pass through a beautiful fortification from the time of the Crusaders. Then, you will be in the area of Caesarea’s Port, today a recreational area full of restaurants and places to sit by the sea.
The new visitor center at Caesarea Port
Before entering the archeological site, I recommend visiting the new visitor center that opened in the historical vaults beneath what was once a huge pagan temple.
The visitor center tells the story of Caesarea from its very beginning, shows fascinating artifacts that were drawn out of the sea and found around Caesarea, and even has an excellent video telling the story of King Herod, who built Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. It’s a great place to open your visit to the Caesarea National Park.
Make sure to have it included in your entrance ticket.
In Caesarea, Herod built the first port with piers in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the largest and most sophisticated port in the ancient world. This port made Caesarea one of the main gateways into the Land of Israel. Many famous figures passed here, including Paul the Apostle, who stopped here on his way to teach the gospel of Jesus to the world. After visiting the visitor center, you can wander a bit toward the sea and imagine how the port might have looked. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard you can even dive underwater to the remnants of the port! For more info, visit the Old Caesarea Diving Center.
Next, go through the western gate and enter the archeological part of the park. There’s supposed to be a guard at the gate that checks you have the right tickets, but when I was there last time, there was no one.
After passing the gate, you’ll see the hippodrome to your far left. It’s a huge stadium which was used by the Romans for chariot racing. Today, you can see seats only on the eastern side, but during ancient times, there were also seats on the western side that were demolished by the waves over time. At the beginning of the 2nd century, a new and larger hippodrome was built on the eastern side of the city, so this hippodrome was changed into an amphitheater, where gladiators fought against hungry carnivore animals. High nets were installed in front of the seats to protect the audience. Today, if you look very well, you can still see the holes in which the net poles were installed.
The public Roman bathhouse
Instead of walking through the hippodrome, you can turn to the left and follow the trail to the public Roman bathhouse in Caesarea, the most nicely preserved one. You can clearly see the different rooms that made up the bathhouse. You can even see the small clay columns that supported the floor of the Caldarium, the “hot room.” There was an oven that sent hot air underneath the floor, in between the columns, and heated the room above.
The Reef Palace and Pilate Stone
From the bathhouse, continue into the hippodrome and south toward the Reef Palace. This impressive palace was built by Herod on top of a coral reef in the sea. In the middle of the ruins, you can see a swimming pool that was the center of the palace. Archeologists believe this pool was filled with freshwater because plaster was found on its sides. Herod was a crazy architect who loved “the good life.”
On the path leading to the palace, you’ll find the Pilate Stone. The stone was discovered in the 20th century near the ancient theatre and was moved to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The one in Caesarea is a replica. And why is it so important? Because the name of Pontius Pilate is mentioned in the inscription on the stone, which says: “To the divine Augustis Tiberium Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea has dedicated.” Pilate was the Roman governor of the province of Judaea from 26–36 CE and is believed to have condemned Jesus to death. When Pilate was governor, Caesarea Maritima was the capital of the Roman Judea Province.
The Roman theatre
Finally, you’ll reach the Roman Theatre. You can enter the theatre through one of the passageways and stand next to the stage, where the Romans performed comedies and dramas. Try to talk with your friends while they are sitting on the upper seats and see if they can hear you from down below. Today, some of Israel’s greatest musicians and singers perform in this theatre, so you might see some preparations for an upcoming show.
Behind the theatre, you can view pieces of statues that were found in Caesarea. I was most impressed by the enormous feet that were found and probably belonged to enormous-sized statues.
After visiting the theatre, you’ll reach the park’s southern entrance, where you can exit. There’s another audiovisual show in the white tent next to the entrance, but I didn’t check it out. There are also restrooms and a souvenir shop, through which you need to exit the park.
The bus station of bus number 80, which will take you back to Binyamina, is located a few steps from the southern entrance, to the left, on the other side of the road.
Free things to do near Caesarea National Park
Outside of the Caesarea National Park are some areas that are free to enter and include some interesting archeological findings.
The Sculptures Park
On the other side of the road from the northern Port Gate (Crusaders Gate), you’ll see in front of you a building that belongs to “Caesarea Cellars”, an events hall that holds weddings. Inside their courtyard, there is a magnificent Roman-era street, decorated by enormous sculptures. Most of the sculptures are of human figures. Archeologists believe the largest sculpture is of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ruled the Land of Israel in the 2nd century CE. If the courtyard is open, you can enter through the wooden doors and enjoy the archeological site for free.
The Arches Beach (Aqueduct Beach)
If you walk about 20 minutes north of the national park, on the Israel National Trail, you will find one of the most picturesque beaches in Israel, the Aqueduct Beach. Please note that there are no lifeguard services on this beach. On the beach, you’ll find amazing remnants of the High Aqueduct, which was part of the water system leading water to the ancient Roman city of Caesarea. As you walk along the aqueduct, you’ll be able to see the beautiful arches that are today partially covered by sand dunes.
Caesarea Maritima, known today as Caesarea National Park, is one of the leading archeological sites in Israel. While the easiest way to get there is by vehicle, you can also get there by public transportation from Tel Aviv or Haifa. It is without a doubt an excellent day trip from the main cities!
If you liked this post or found it useful, please don’t hesitate to like, share or comment (:
If you’re searching for a tour guide in Israel, I also offer private tours in Israel.
You can also support my work by buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Your support helps me maintain the site and keep creating content about Israel. It’s greatly appreciated!