Haifa Mini Guide
What can you tell me about Haifa?
Haifa is a large seaport in the north of Israel and is the country’s third largest city. Originally founded in late Roman times, it began as a centre for producing dyed cloth for the robes of priests. It became important in the time of the crusades before remaining in Arab hands more or less until the start of the 20th century. The city grew after the demise of the Ottoman Empire when the port facilities developed. Today, Haifa is the world centre for the Baha’i faith which has their temple on Mount Carmel. The mount is also the home of the Carmelite order of nuns.
How do I get to Haifa?
Although there is an airport in Haifa, there are no international flights and whilst a connecting flight from Ben Gurion
is available, by the time you’ve checked in etc., you may as well have taken public transport to the city. You can get to Haifa from Tel Aviv
by train, bus or hire car with the train being the quickest and cheapest option but a hire car does give you flexibility.
What is There for me to See and Do in Haifa?
For a truly wonderful experience, visit the Baha’i World Centre and Gardens. Like a tropical paradise, the centre is awe inspiring, tranquil and memorable and best of all, it’s free. You can easily spend a day exploring the centre, finding out all about this much misunderstood religion. Mount Carmel is worth a visit to see the ‘Cave of Elijah’. Many say it is a disappointment when you get there but it is a revered part of Old Testament history and a popular place of pilgrimage. Whilst there, take a trip further up the mountain to Stella Maris, the ‘Star of Mary’ which is the name for the Carmelite order’s founding place.
What Should I buy When I’m in Haifa?
Haifa’s souvenirs tend to be linked to its religious sites and are items such as rocks and stones from Mount Carmel inscribed with Old Testament verses, prayer books and cards relating to the order of nuns and videos of the area detailing its history. In the city, the usual tourist fare gives way to good quality leatherwear including sandals and bags.
What can I eat That’s Typical of Haifa?
It’s another city where its large Arab population means that its food is heavily influenced by Arab cuisine. Try some of the delicious falafel on offer or the take away wraps called shawarma filled with grilled shaved lamb or chicken. Arab coffee and mint tea is popular and you’ll often see a ‘tea boy’ running down the street with a suspended tray of teas or coffee for a customer.
How do the People of Haifa Celebrate?
Being a cosmopolitan city and home to a university, nightlife is better here than in some other Israeli cities. The action still centres on the bars and cafes but a sprinkling of European outlets make for a change from the usual Middle Eastern fare.
Haifa has some amazing sights including the world centre of the Baha’i faith. Haifa is the most important place to members of the faith and thousands go on pilgrimage each year. The centre is in a huge complex with stunning gardens which are open to the public every day apart from Wednesdays.
Mount Carmel nearby, is the site of Elijah’s cave from the bible and further up the mountain is the Stella Maris church and monastery where the Carmelite order began. Finally, if you have a hire car, visit the old German colony dating from the 19th century.