Situated at the Galilee’s northernmost tip, this picturesque, hilltop village – surrounded on three sides by Lebanon – was founded in 1896 with help from the French branch of the Rothschild family. In 1920 its location played a crucial role in the decision to include the Galilee Panhandle in the British Mandate of Palestine rather than the French Mandate of Lebanon. Today, it’s not French or British, but Israeli. And the economy is based on tourists in the mood for a Swiss alpine vibe and on fruit orchards growing apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, kiwifruit and lychees. Map.
Strolling up and down Metula’s quaint main street, you’ll pass lots of solid stone houses built a century or more ago; ceramic panels explain their history.
Perched high atop the hill southwest of HaRishonim St – the one with the red-and-white antenna tower on top – this lookout offers spectacular, often windy views. To the south you can see the Hula Valley, to the east the Golan (including Mt Hermon and the twin volcanoes of Avital and Bental) and to the north the fields and hills of Lebanon. Inside Israel’s northern neighbor, you can see the Ayoun Valley in the foreground, while on the horizon it’s easy to spot the Beaufort, a Crusader fortress. To get to the lookout, follow the signs – it’s about 1km above the center.
Nahal Iyyun Nature Reserve (04-695 1519; http://www.parks.org.il; adult/child 29/15NIS; h8.30am-5pm Apr-Sep, 8.30am-4pm Oct-Mar)
One of the Galilee’s loveliest creek-side trails, about 3km long, follows the Iyyun (Ayun) Stream from its crossing from Lebanon into Israel, through a cliff-lined canyon, to four waterfalls, including the 31m-high Tanur (Chimney) Waterfall. The park has two entrances: one in Metula’s northeastern corner, just 100m from the border fence (last entry 1½ hours before closing), the other – offering an easy circuit to the Tanur Waterfall – on Rte 90 3km south of town (last entry 30 minutes before closing). The lower entrance has a wheelchair-accessible trail.
Canada Centre (04-695 0370; http://www.canada-centre.co.il; 1 HaRishonim St; ice skating 65NIS, pool 50NIS, bowling 35NIS, combo ticket 105NIS; closed Sun except Jul & Aug)
This modern sports complex, a bit down the hill (south) from the village center, houses Israel’s largest ice rink (10am to 5pm), indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a 10-lane bowling alley (10am to 5pm), a spa and an impressive fitness center.
Sleeping & Eating
The historic houses along HaRishonim street are home to a number of rustic restaurants and a few places to stay.
Villa Lishansky (04-699 7184; http://www.rest.co.il/lishansky; 42 HaRishonim St; d 450-500NIS; restaurant 9am-noon, 1-4pm & 6.30-10pm or later)
Built in the Bauhaus style in 1936 by the family of a famous WWI spy, this place – still owned by the Lishanskys – retains the original floor tiles, moldings and lamps. Hearty beef, lamb, chicken and fish dishes are prepared with Galilean herbs and spices in the hotel’s restaurant (2-course meals 99-138NIS). Upstairs, the three very spacious guest rooms connect to a sitting room that’s straight out of the 1930s.
Travel Hotel Metulla (04-824 8801, reservations 04-688 3040; http://www.travelhotels.co.il; 52 HaRishonim St; d/apt 500/650NIS, Thu & Fri extra 100NIS, additional child 100NIS)
Opened in 2014, this attractive and thoroughly modern place – right in the center of the village – has 23 rooms and four apartments with space for five. Wheelchair accessible. Guests get free use of the Canada Center swimming pools from June to mid-October.
HaTachanah (04-694 4810; 1 HaRishonim St; mains 65-230NIS; 1-10pm or later Mon-Sat)
Modern and airy, with wood-paneled walls and panoramic views, this highly regarded restaurant serves first-rate steaks as well as hamburgers, pasta, soups, salads and lamb chops. A 0.5L glass of German beer costs 33NIS. Kiddie portions are available (of the mains, not the beer). Reserve ahead on Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and holidays, and in August.