Perched above the Mediterranean shoreline, Haifa and Mount Carmel in northern Israel are teeming with sites to see and places to discover. Not only is the area home to the famous Baha'i Gardens and historic landmarks dating back to Ancient Israel, there are also a host of family-friendly, action-packed places to visit, including a number of options in our round up of the top attractions in Israel. And at the end of the day, when all you want to do is settle in for a nice meal and throw back a cold one, the best restaurants and bars in Haifa are at your service.
The top sites in Mount Carmel and Haifa
The Baha’i gardens are built on 19 terraces, beginning at the foot of the mountain and ascending towards its summit. The main axis points towards Acre, a historically and religiously important city to the Baha'i. At the center of the exceptionally beautiful and meticulously maintained gardens stands the Shrine of the Bab, the burial place of the religion's founder, whose golden dome illuminates the grounds. Various sections of the gardens are separated by gravel paths, trimmed hedges and flower beds, which are carefully tended to by a dedicated gardening team. The gardens offer splendid views of the Haifa Bay, the Galilee and the Mediterranean. It's possible to tour independently, but for an enlightening experience, join the free guided tours (every day but Wednesday). Reservations are not necessary. As the Baha'i Gardens are a Holy place, visitors are asked to dress modestly, keep the place clean and respect its special character.
Haifa’s cable cars are fun for the whole family. The line runs from the Bat Galim Promenade to the Stella Maris lookout point on top of Mount Carmel, and hosts a view for the ages. The ride is five minutes in a glass car that allows you to enjoy the scenery from every angle. For those who enjoy a walk, one way tickets can be purchased, allowing visitors to take a twenty minute journey back. The lower terminal features Yotvata Restaurant, famous for its salads and ice cream, as well as an art exhibit. The upper terminal has a refreshment kiosk. Free for children under 2.
Nineteenth-century Stella Maris monetary is situated at the western edge of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean. The name, “star of the sea,” comes from an ancient epithet for Jesus’s mother, Mary. Stella Maris Church contains a beautiful painted dome and alter over a cave, which Elijah is said to have inhabited. Take a walk through the garden to see a monument to Napoleon’s soldiers. A small museum on the site displays interesting antiques, and located across the street is a cable-car that takes visitors up the mountain for a panoramic view you don’t want to miss. The church is open to people of all faiths, at no cost to guests.
Pine trees and hundreds of plant species abound in this mountain range. Its evergreen character is consistent all year round, making it appear oddly disparate with the rest of Israel. In December of 2010, one of Israel’s worst natural disasters occurred when forest fires spread through 6,500 acres of the wooded mountain range. Still, a major rehabilitation project has been underway since, and Mount Carmel has managed to restore much of its former glory.
One of the most beautiful walking trails in Haifa is the Louis Promenade on Mount Carmel. It is located just minutes away from numerous museums, shops and hotels, making it a must-see when visiting. Louis Promenade is perfect for enjoying the sunshine with an exceptional view that includes Haifa, distant white outcropping Rosh NaHikra, the coastal cities of Nahariya, Akko, and the Krayot, and the mountains of the Western Galilee. The promenade lasts about twenty minutes, while connecting to various other walking trails. Bring your camera any day of the year to this free of charge sightseeing opportunity.
Nestled between tall bamboo, this museum is dedicated to art from the Land of the Rising Sun, showcasing a broad cross-section of both traditional and modern Japanese prints and paintings. Due to the delicate nature of Japanese craftsmanship, which is sensitive to light and weather, exhibits change frequently.
Ninety years of archaeological research in the area has uncovered an astounding archive of early human life, including cultural deposits representing at least 500,000 years of human evolution, attesting to the unique existence of Neanderthals and evidence from numerous Natufian burials and early stone architecture. These represent the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and animal husbandry. Not to mention the breathtaking beauty of the Carmel Range. The nature reserve is well worth a day’s hike.