Haifa, Israel’s third largest city is perhaps unheard of to most people from outside the region. With a population on just over 300,000 people (2019) I decided to visit this city after Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to see if Haifa in Israel is worth visiting.
Where is Haifa?
Haifa is located north of Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast on the slopes of Mount Carmel. This gives Haifa a distinctive feel with the sea and the mountains behind. It also means there are some very steep hills in the city! The coastal location is important for Israel and as a result a large seaport can be found here.
What does Haifa mean and why is it special?
The theory goes that the name translates to ‘beautiful shore’ from Hebrew, although this is not definite. Haifa plays an important role in Israel’s economy with a large ship building port. Matam the largest tech park in Israel can be found here. Haifa is known also known for its food scene. It also boasts have the only underground system in Israel and the whole of the Middle East. If you are a train fan this may make Haifa in Israel worth visiting.
Is the weather good in Haifa?
I visited Haifa in November where the temperature was around 28C during the daytime. The city has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters. I found it to be more pleasant than the heat in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The best time of year to visit is in the early summer with temperatures getting up to 35C. The gorgeous weather makes Haifa worth visiting and a great alternative to other countries in the region like Greece.
How to get to Haifa?
Haifa can be reached on public transport by train or by bus. Both modes of transport are exceptionally cheap for Israel. The bus from Jerusalem was around $8 for a two/three hour journey. I took the train out of Haifa to Tel Aviv and this was equally as simple. Haifa even has a direct connection to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport so in theory you could make Haifa your last stop.
Where to stay in Haifa?
Top End – Dan Panorama Haifa Hotel ($400 a night)
Middle End – Bat Galim Boutique Hotel ($120 a night)
Lower End – Haifa Hostel $50 private room. And yes they have an amazing dog there.
Is Haifa safe?
Haifa is considered one if the safest places in Israel. Haifa itself has some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the country. Unlike other parts of the Middle East you are unlikely to be hassled on the streets. In fact I found most Jewish people very indifferent to my presence.
Is Haifa expensive?
Unfortunately general prices in Haifa are not much cheaper than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. However accomodation in Haifa is more reasonable. I was able to get a private room in a great hostel for $50 a night (This is very cheap for Israel). Travelling on public transport is a must as the hills are so steep. Make sure you have you Kav card at the ready as the buses do not accept cash.
6 best things to do in Haifa
- Madatech Museum of Science and Technology – one of Haifa’s most famous museums. It has numerous exhibits/experiments of basic scientific principles. Having visited by myself I would say the museum is more aimed at a younger audience, perfect if you have kids. Entry for adults was a tad pricey at $30.
- Head to the beaches – Haifa has numerous beaches, particularly beautiful ones are Bat Galim, Dado and Carmel.
- Mount Carmel National Park – take an egg bus for around 30 minutes to the edge of city and visit this beautifuo national park. There are numerous trails you can do none of which a particular hard. Just be aware there is little shelter from the shade as the tress are small so best to take a hat.
- The Baha’i Gardens – this imposing building overlooking the city is home to members of the Baha’i faith. Built in 2001 it steeped terraces attract one million believers a year.
- Louis promenade – an amazing shopping street, very close to The Baha’i gardens.
- The German colony – an area below The Baha’i gardens full of shops and cafes.
What to do in Haifa at night?
Looking for bars and pubs in Haifa. While not as diverse as Tel Aviv there are plenty of options. We have picked two that we think were the most fun and make Haifa israel worth visiting.
- Wunderbar – lively venue with bands performing.
- Iza Bar – great beers and cocktails staff are very kind.
What are the best restaurants in Haifa?
- Ein ElWadi – this Lebanese restaurant is one of the most well known resturants in the city. Inside is cosy and family friendly authentic.
- Mayaan Habari – amazing selection of meats and beers, located in the centre of the city.
Does Haifa have a Subway?
The only operating underground system in Israel and the Middle East. The Carmelit named after Mt Carmel which it runs under was completed in 1959. The line itself is rather short. There has been talks about extending it however due the existing stations not serving most of where the population lives these days it is on hold. The Egg bus system is proving rather effective as an alternative mass transit system and serves its residents well.
Can I get to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv from Haifa?
Yes it’s easy. Head to Haifa bus terminal where there are multiple buses a day to Jerusalem. The price is cheap as well. it only costs around $8, and takes around 2,5 hours. In order to get to Tel Aviv head to the main train station near the port where you can get a direct train into Tel Aviv, ticket price was $10.
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