Our Israel trip was a perfect break from the long Finnish winter. When we left Oulu there was -20°C and in Haifa temperatures ranged from 25° to 32°C, making a 50 degrees gap, no big deal 😀
Maybe not the most obvious destination in Israel, Haifa turned out to be perfect for us for many reasons.
- It wasn’t too hot, at least at this time of the year.
- It wasn’t too crowded or too big.
- It was a perfect starting point and home base to visit the Galilee region.
- Its multiculturality made us feel at ease from the beginning.
So here comes our tips for a perfect stay in Haifa!
What to visit
Modern and tolerant, Haifa is a top destination for anyone who’s main interests in Israel are not of a religious nature. That being said, one of Haifa’s top sights is the world center of the Baha’i religion. The famous Baha’is gardens are truly a sight to behold especially in springtime when all the flowers are in bloom. From the top of the gardens you also get a very nice view to the city and the Mediterranean.
Right down the Baha’is gardens there is the German colony, another one of Haifa’s main sights. Build by the German Templers (no, not the Templars) in 1868, the area is now famous of its distinctive architectural look and probably the trendiest food scene in town. The German colony is full of little and not so little restaurants varying from traditional foods to fine dining.
For anyone interested in architecture, Haifa has plenty to explore. The grain museum features a very classic Middle Eastern style, while the ultra modern Sail Tower represents completely different approach. As cultures and nationalities in Haifa do, these architectural styles blend together beautifully too. Tip: a very good overview of this tower can be enjoyed from the HaZikaron Gardens.
Being a coastal Mediterranean city, Haifa doesn’t disappoint with its beaches. Already in March the weather was so warm that the beach season was already going strong. Besides fine sand, seashells and palms, from the beach high, oriental looking buildings can be admired, making it clear that this is not just another Mediterranean travel destination.
Haifa is known for its being multicultural and making it work well. Jews, Muslims, Druze, Baha’i… they all live in an amazing, thin balance. Among all those cultures, there is also a community of Christian Arabs that populates a valley of the city, Wadi Nisnas. This area is also famous for its nightlife and good selection of restaurants.
Last but not least, Haifa is situated on the legendary Mount Carmel. While this implies some uphill hiking, it also is a guarantee of stunning lookouts and landscapes. For those who like to hike, the Mount Carmel National Park is a must stop.
What to eat
Street food in Israel is the best and usually a cheap solution in an otherwise quite expensive country. Usually street food include a pita bread filled with krauts, tahini, chili sauce, hummus and falafels.
Falafel HaZkenim is in our opinion the best falafel place in the whole city. 17 shekels (around 4€) for a big pita is really a bargain. If you like iced tea, enjoy your pita with a Fuze Tea, seriously one the best iced tea brands we’ve ever tried.
Hummus in Israel is used in a variety of ways: you can spread it on a bread, fill a pita with it, pair it with a salad… But in Israel it is also eaten as a main dish, served warm with vegetables or mushrooms.
One of the many communities coexisting in Haifa is the Druze. They are an Arabic speaking minority group with their own religion and also own food culture. We tried the Druze flatbread, which basically looks like a giant tortilla baked in a tabun oven, that would be filled with hummus or cheese spread, za’atar (a mixture of spices), chickpeas, chili, bulgur salad, eggs and potatoes.
If you like craft beers, LiBira is the place you’ll have to try. They brew their own selection of beers, of which the Belgian Ale was Klaus’ favorite, and have a nice variety of foods too.
Not far from Libira, there’s Bâtard, which serves definitely the best cocktails in town. These guys have a very creative approach to making cocktails. You’ll find stuff that’s exclusively from the region and other quite fearless combinations. You’ll be able to order a personal favorite or a classic off the menu too, but we definitely recommend trying the thing from the menu. Even the Old Fashioned is quite an unique experience, with aged rum and lot of bitters and served in a way that engages all the senses..