Haifa and Mount Carmel - must-see sites
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 infamous 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 10 best Haifa nightlife spots
Stuck somewhere between European ideals, Middle Eastern warmth and character and its undying fascination of American culture, Israel is one of the best places in the world for going out and having a good time. The wild Tel Aviv nightlife scene has earned itself the reputation of city that never sleeps, running 24 hours a day, but Haifa has a surprisingly diverse and rich nightlife scene of its own that continues on into the late night hours in the busy city centers. Here is our pick for this Mediterranean port city’s most sought after bars, pubs, and live music joints – from the trendy to the classy to the purely classic “Haifa”.
An insider's guide to the best restaurants in Haifa
It may lack Tel Aviv’s swag, but Haifa has a unique and very diverse offering of bars, restaurants and culinary options. Whether you want to savor local wines and Middle Eastern fare or you’re looking to dine in style, Haifa has bars as beautiful as its beaches and cuisine as charming as its sites. From establishments set in ancient preserved buildings to an abundance of the freshest locally caught fish, here’s a look at all the best bars and restaurants in the city of coexistence.
10 history-rich Haifa street food establishments
While the Tel Aviv street food and Jaffa street food scenes are on the steep rise, Haifa street food carries a particularly rich history, with classic establishments that have been holding their own for decades. Now, with an influx of trendy eateries that have popped up in recent years and even months, the definition of good street food is broadening, which leaves Haifa swimming in an abundance of possibilities for a delicious and cheap quick bite out. Here are just ten Haifa restaurant selections, four of which represent the city’s old school charm, while the other six tap into the new Haifa food scene – continuing to grow and evolve with each passing day. Any of these options are perfect for a delightful meal in the city, and are sure to make your day on your next visit.
Haifa’s best boutique Israeli breakfasts
Israeli breakfast is Israel’s answer to the relaxing weekend brunch. It is a time to sit in your favorite spot – whether it be a Jerusalem café, a bustling Tel Aviv bakery or a Haifa restaurant – and enjoy the simpler pleasures in life. At the heart of every Israeli breakfast is: eggs cooked to your liking, a basket of fresh bread, a variety of spreads, dips, fresh salads and cheeses. And at the heart of Haifa are five of the best boutique Israeli breakfasts in the city. These are the local neighborhood cafés that are handcrafting their breakfasts with care from only the freshest ingredients - a delicious and inspirational change from the ordinary, and a must try any day of the week on your next trip to Israel’s North.
Haifa's sites and attractions
Rakevel (Cable Car)
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.
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.
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 Flea market
The flea market in Haifa's Lower City is a gem for vintage lovers and collectors, but a recent facelift has opened the area to the wider public. On weekdays, the market is quiet, operating solely during morning hours, but it comes to life on Saturdays and Sundays selling everything from old enamel utensils and used sneakers to ornaments and cut class.
Madatech, Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology & Space
This is a great museum for curious kids and adults alike. Giant exhibitions invite visitors to a hands-on experience surrounding history's greatest scientists and inventors. 3D films in the ‘Cinematrix’ are enhanced by moving seats, wind, water, and bubbles.
Eating and drinking in Haifa
For those who crave an upscale twist on Israeli comfort food, and an exceptionally rich wine and spirits list to match, Sasson Bar is the place to spend your evening. This urban bar with a homey, yet elegant, atmosphere has endless options of good food and drink, and is perfect for a special outing in the upper city. Try their calamari – served seared and not fried, with a dollop of crème fresh and baby greens (a definite winner), or their shrimp risotto flavored with yellow turmeric to remind you how good Israeli fusion cuisine can be. If the wall of whiskey or tempting wine cellar options are not your thing, try one of their craft cocktails, which heir on the side of light and refreshing, made with high-quality liquors and delicate garnishes.
Experience Haifa’s first brewpub, in their expansive new Port Street location, and fall in love with the cool modern-industrial atmosphere, as you sip on their 5 varieties of thoughtfully brewed unfiltered craft beers. A passion project of former engineer Leonid Lipkin, and his beer brewing partners and friends, it is a place where you’ll want to cozy-in and spend your evening with an ice cold pint and a satisfying burger. Watch for the monthly guest beer options (some more controversial than others), and inventive rotating menu from in-house chef Roy Avraham.
Located in the developing entertainment district in Haifa’s lower city tier, Hanamal 24 has one goal in mind: to produce a perfect fine dining culinary experience. The restaurant combines gourmet food, rural Italian design and an ambience of abundance drawing inspiration from Tuscan piazzas. Not only is chef Guy Avital producing iconic Italian specialties like lamb ragout tortellini and rosemary gnocchi, he’s brought in French classics like cream of onion soup and Coquilles St. Jacques to round out his menu. With a list of Europe’s finest wines to top it all off, let yourself sink into this European melting pot.
Borekas Bachar HaAgala
If you're looking for a dose of nostalgia, and a good Mom & Pop eatery that has stood the test of time, then this is a must visit in Haifa's lower city. From the storefront born out of their legendary bourekas cart, Avi Alhades continues his family's tradition of providing the city with his hearty bourekas. They’re kept warm on the cart's plancha, and served up to order alongside a slow stewed egg, pickles and a sprinkling of zaatar spice. Try the signature warm Bulgarit cheese version, which oozes out of the soft and flaky handmade phyllo dough as you take a bite. Other flavors include: cheese and spinach, potato, and mushroom, which are all delicious in their own rite. Stop by in the early morning hours and you will get to watch the bourekas being rolled out by hand at the back counter. A mesmerizing foodie experience in and of itself, in this humble, yet historical spot.
Jet down the Downtown’s newly renovated Natanzon/Yafo street to this classic Haifa live music establishment of 13 years, Eli’s Pub. With a full agenda of weekly jazz and blues jam sessions, often including owner Eli Ifrach himself, and live band concerts (both acoustic and non), this warm neighborhood pub is the place to move and feel the rhythm with soulful Haifa music lovers. Check their Facebook page for the daily schedule, or peer though the bar’s window as you pass by to get a sample of what’s being performed on the stage.
Where to sleep
Bay Club - an Atlas Boutique Hotel
Offering garden-view rooms with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV, the luxurious Bay Club - an Atlas Boutique Hotel is half way between Haifa Bay and the peak of Mount Carmel. The style of the property is inspired by the famous resort towns of the Mediterranean Sea. Guests benefit from free shuttle to the Bahai Gardens tour. Air-conditioned rooms at the Atlas Boutique include a fridge, seating area, and electric kettle with tea and coffee. The private bathroom has a bath or shower. Some rooms feature a terrace. An Israeli breakfast is served daily in the spacious lounge which opens on the garden with pond fountain. It includes cheese, eggs, and bread, along with cold drinks. In the afternoon of weekdays you can enjoy free drinks and appetizers in the lounge. The Israeli National Maritime Museum is 500 metres away, while Haifa Airport is 12 km from the property. In 10 minutes you can drive to the Mediterranean Sea and the Bahai Gardens.
Dan Carmel Haifa
The Dan Carmel Haifa is a luxury hotel near the pretty Louis Promenade, with its panoramic views. The property offers spacious, elegant rooms with views of the Mediterranean Sea or Mount Carmel. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Rooms have a classic style, and each features a private balcony. Some rooms offer free access to the exclusive King David Lounge. Breakfast is served buffet style each morning. Leisure facilities at the Dan Carmel include an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. For children, there is a separate kids’ pool and kids’ club. The hotel offers free tours on Saturdays, with visits to the Bahai Temple and other attractions in Haifa. The Dan Carmel Haifa is a 10-minute walk from the centre of Carmel, with its many shops, restaurants and cafés.
Crowne Plaza Haifa
Set on the green slopes of Mount Carmel, this Crowne Plaza offers panoramic views of Haifa and the Bay. All rooms come with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and an LCD TV. Free tours of the Bahai Gardens are provided. The rooms are equipped with hardwood floors, a safe, and a tea/coffee maker. Some rooms are located on the higher floors, and offer free parking and access to the 24-hour Business Lounge, with free internet terminals and refreshments. The hotel’s Confit restaurant serves an à la carte menu, and a self-service buffet on Friday and Saturday. A breakfast menu is available daily. The Crowne Plaza Haifa includes a wellness centre with indoor swimming pool, gym and hot tub. There is also a synagogue on site. Staff arrange free tours of the Bahai Gardens every day except Wednesday and graphology workshops during the weekend.
Dan Panorama Haifa Hotel
In the centre of Carmel, the Dan Panorama Haifa is a landmark hotel. This 21-storey tower offers great accommodation with panoramic views and a great range of hotel facilities. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Dan Panorama Haifa Hotel’s 266 guest rooms are decorated in a contemporary style and offer fantastic views over Haifa Bay and Mount Carmel. Some rooms offer free access to the exclusive Carmel Lounge. Leisure facilities at the Dan Panorama Haifa include a seasonal outdoor pool and a large fitness centre, one of the best equipped in the country. There is also a separate swimming pool for children plus a kids’ club. The Dan Panorama Haifa is directly linked to the Panorama Mall, with its many shops, restaurants and cafés. The Louis Promenade and the magnificent Bahai Temple are also close to the hotel. The hotel's restaurant serves international and Israeli cuisine. Breakfast is buffet style.