Holy Land Pilgrimage

Biking Around the Sea of Galilee

February 21, 2019

One of the most instructive parts of being in the Holy Land is gaining a sense of the closeness between the sites in the scriptures. This has been especially enlightening in the case of the Sea of Galilee. What would it be like for Jesus and the disciples to cross the sea, visiting the various villages?

The Sea of Galilee is shaped like a harp. Therefore, when one stands on the shore, much of the coastline can be seen with rising hills and mountains in the background. Fog often rests over the water leaving the surrounding peaks in an alluring haze, almost beckoning one to cross over.


Knowing that we had a free day, a group of us set out attempting to bike around the sea. The route was forty miles following the coast, mostly flat with a few sizable climbs. The southwestern side around Tiberius is quite developed, but the rest of the route remains rural, and thus similar to how it was in Jesus’ day. We began in Tiberias winding around the southernmost part of the sea. We then turned north and biked through what used to be known as the Decapolis. This part of the ride was stunningly beautiful. The grassy hills were covered with abundant wild flowers in full bloom. The area is also more tropical than I would have imagined. Fortunately, we did not come across any demoniacs.

We then arrived at the northern shore. As we turned west, we saw a cafe in Bethsaida. Shortly after we passed Chorazin, and then made a quick stop where the Jordan River runs into the Sea of Galilee from the north. Continuing along the route, it is only a few miles to Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the location of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and the Beach of Peter’s Primacy. Going up a grueling hill, we then passed Gennesaret, Magdala, and headed back into Tiberias. It was in this last fifteen mile stretch where Jesus performed most of his Galilean ministry.

Riding around the Sea of Galilee was an adventure. Ten started strong and ten finished tired. It was a scenic journey that helped instill a sense of what it was like for Jesus and the disciples to go around the sea. I can imagine following Jesus from village to village, listening to his preaching, and seeing his signs and healings. A sense of great excitement and intrigue would build as news of him spread. Our pilgrimage continues to build in excitement and intrigue as we progress in following Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem.

Joseph Sevcik

Archdiocese of Dubuque

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