Today Haifa is undoubtedly most well known for the Bahai Gardens that spread down the ridge of Mount Carmel. In the Christian world it is famous for being the place where the prophet Elijah made a fool of those worshiping Baal when he called down fire to consume his offering on top of Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 18). It’s a laid back town with a variety of activities to experience and is also a handy place to base yourself if you are planning on taking a few day trips to some of the sites in the surrounding areas. We spend a few days there, so here’s our compilation of things to do and see in Haifa.
Carmelit Cable Car: At the base of Mount Carmel is the start of the underground cable car in Paris Square. It is part cable car and part subway and somehow ended up being one of our favourite things we did in Haifa! It could have been the crazy angle we were traveling in as we were hoisted to the next station, or it could have been the brightly-coloured fun stations themselves, but something about it just gave us a childish joy to experience. There are five subway stations from the bottom to the top of Mount Carmel. Its inexpensive to ride and a convenient way to get from the bottom to the top.
Bahai Gardens: Once we reached the top of Mount Carmel via the Cable Car, it was an easy walk to the entrance of the Bahai Gardens. There are incredible views looking over the Haifa Port and Mediterranean Sea. What some people may not realise about the Bahai Gardens is that they actually extend beyond just the manicured middle section – the surrounding forests and bushland are part of the gardens, although more unstructured. They also provide free tours in many languages if you would like to walk through the gardens (you can’t visit the gardens unless you are in a tour). Check out their website to see times and information.
Ben Gurion Street: If you’ve just toured the Bahai Gardens, its an easy walk down to the bottom of the hill to Ben Gurion Street. This street is filled with restaurants and is also a must-see place at night, where you can get the perfect view of the thousands of lights lighting up the Bahai Gardens.
German Colony: This area has some unique architecture and is also where we stayed. There are some great local food places and is an interesting place to walk through.
The Beach: Haifa has a long stretch of beachfront that is pretty quiet and has great facilities. There are a few little eateries as well as toilets and showers. Its pretty easy to find a stretch of beachfront you can have all to yourself and the water is calm and some of the clearest we have seen! We even had small fish swimming up to us. A great place to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. If you’re staying around the port/central side of Haifa, it is easy to catch a train or bus around to the beachfront.
Cable Car to the top of Mount Carmel: Not only is there an underground cable car is Haifa but there is also an above ground one near the seaside. This cable car will take you to the top of Mount Carmel in a giant orange bauble where you can lookout over the ocean, visit the Stella Maris Monastery and the lighthouse.
Day Trip to Akko or Rosh Hanikra: From Haifa it is a fairly easy and short trip to get to other must-see sites such as Akko and Rosh Hanikra. We caught the train to the historic crusader town of Akko and spend the day learning about its history. Further north on the border of Lebanon lies the ocean grottoes of Rosh Hanikra.