Haifa, with its beautiful location on the Mediterranean shoreline, is not only Israel’s third largest city, but also a treasure trove of history and magnificent sights!
It has to be said that Haifa is not always on the list of must-see spots on a visit to Israel, but there really are some diamonds you won’t want to miss… and if you’re not sure where to get started, we’ve compiled a list of Haifa’s top ten things to see and do to help you!
NEW: Don’t miss the new ferry service that runs from Haifa to Akko, and back. But only if you want spectacular views of the northern coastline…more details here.
In no particular order…
Considered to be one of the top sights in the Middle East and certainly one of Israel’s top ten must-sees, Baha’i Gardens draws over half a million tourists each year. This World Heritage Site consists of 19 gardens in terraced style majestically located on the slopes of Carmel Mountain. The gardens are interwoven with gravel pathways and present sweeping panoramas of the attractive Haifa bay. Daily guided tours are available in this tranquil oasis. Read our full guide here.
Perfectly positioned at the foot of the Baha’i Gardens, the German Colony is one of Haifa’s most popular neighborhoods. With a history dating back to 1868 this settlement was the first in a second wave of settlements by Germans that were part of the Templar cult. Whilst many of the homes still exist, many cafes, restaurants and popular art galleries now call this area home. Unlike similarly trendy, urban areas, the German Colony is uniquely framed by the beautiful Baha’i Gardens on one side and the shimmering sea on the other.
Stella Maris Monastery
Situated high above Haifa, the Stella Maris Monastery is believed to be one of the oldest monasteries in the world stretching back to 1291AD. The history of the Monastery is long and complex (the Bible tells us that the Prophet Elijah fought the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel) whilst the staggering views of the bay below are simply stunning. The Monastery can be reached by the cable car from Bat Galim Promenade. Open every day and FREE to enter (08:30-12:00, 15:00-18:00). Telephone: 04-8337758.
Another of the treasures located at the foot of the Carmel Mountain is Elijah’s Cave. The chapel at the site includes the cave where the Prophet Elijah (9th Century BC) is believed to have lived. It is thought that the Prophet conducted many of his teachings here and many of his significant life events occurred in the cave. This cave holds religious significance for Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze alike, and the cave sits inside a beautifully adorned, domed roof chapel. Telephone: 04-8527430.
Arab market at Wadi Nisnas
Situated near the German Colony and affectionately known by the locals as ‘the Wadi’, this Arab district oozes original character with narrow alleyways and old stone houses fringing this exotic eastern market. A particularly popular local attraction is the falafel stands which richly scent the air. The market itself is riddled with stalls offering Jewish and Arab artisan wares and affording a wonderful opportunity to practice your haggling skills.
In comparison to Haifa’s long history, the Louis Promenade is a recent introduction to the city, and has already earned the probably quite correct nickname of Balcony of the Country. Built in 1992, this relative newcomer is 400 meters long and offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in a slice of nature. Lush lawns and Mediterranean woodlands are complemented by pergolas and benches which are perfectly situated for taking in the spectacular bay views while the salty sea breeze whips up an enticing reprieve from the heat of the day.
Mada Tech (Science Museum)
Haifa’s history seems light years away when you step into the ultra modern world of Mada Tech at the magnificent Historic Technion Building. Get up close and personal with science and technology with hundreds of interactive displays to keep you busy or simply wander through the science museum’s many impressive exhibits. There are excellent exhibitions all year round, suitable for all the family. Just be aware the Mada Tech can get packed during school holidays. Telephone: 04-8614444. Also check out the official website.
The Beaches of Haifa
With a gloriously glittering stretch of the Mediterranean sea on Haifa’s doorstep (located at southern entrance to Haifa), a seaside outing is a must for any visitor to the area.
Two of the best are Bat Galim and Dado beaches. Bat Galim is a serene neighborhood with a picturesque promenade providing many restaurants and coffee shops for whiling away the day. This beach is also a draw for swimmers due to the calm waters and a popular spot for wind surfers. Bat Galim also has a cable car connecting visitors with the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery. Dado Beach is most well-known for the beautiful gardens fringing the area and the area’s longest boardwalk. A wonderful location for a great family day out.
Israel’s largest park (84,000 dunams, or 21,000 acres) offers something for each of its visitors. With paths for bikes and jeeps and observation points that offer views of holy sites and archaeological remains, it can be hard to find time to simply sit amongst the greenery. When you do time find to stop, Carmel Park is perfect for a picnic by the flowing stream. Great all year round. To get there: from the Tel Aviv-Haifa road (Road 4), head east via the Oren junction; from the Furedis-Yokne’am road (Road 70), head west via the Elyakim interchange. Telephone: 04-8228983.
Haifa Art Museum
Bordering Wadi Nisnas, Haifa Art Museum is one of Israel’s largest dating back to 1951. Now recognized as one of the biggest three art museums in the Holy Land. With a focus on contemporary art this museum offers a beautiful blend of Israeli and International talent and is a great day out for culture seekers. Guided tours available at the museum. Telephone: 04 – 9115991.
Here are the above sites on Google Maps, just so you know where you’re heading…
And here’s a visual take on Haifa featuring some of the above sites…