This magical town on a hill attracts artists searching for inspiration, travelers charmed by its cobblestone alleys, and religious people in search of meaning—a rare example of harmony between the secular and the spiritual. The city is known for its spiritual, even sacred, vibe and its breathtaking views.
It doesn't take long to walk all of Tzfat's Old City, but allow plenty of time to poke around the little stone passages, remnants of the Crusader and Ottoman eras, that seem to lead nowhere. You can linger over some minute architectural detail on a building from another time, or browse through shops filled to overflowing with locally made art. It's almost impossible to get lost; Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) Street is a good orientation point—it runs through the heart of the Old City, encircles the Citadel, and from there, steps lead down to the two main areas of interest, the Old Jewish Quarter and the adjacent Artists' Colony. There’s no way to avoid the hilly topography, so remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. As the town is largely Jewish Orthodox, modest dress is recommended when visiting synagogues. For women, this means a below-the-knee skirt or long pants and at least a short-sleeve top; for men, long pants are appropriate. In the hot summer days, dress lightly and carry around a shawl or cover up for visiting holy places.
Tzfat hibernates from October through June, when the city's artists move to their galleries in warmer parts of the country. This doesn’t mean you should leave Tzfat out of your itinerary during those months; there’s enough to occupy the curious wanderer for at least a few hours, and much of it is free. In summer, especially during July and August, Tzfat is abuzz with activity: galleries and shops stay open late, klezmer music (Eastern European Jewish "soul music") dances around corners, and the city extends a warm welcome to everyone.