© Shuttestock

The best things to do in Haifa this holiday season

The Holiday of Holidays Festival that takes place in Haifa every December is a celebration of the arts, culture, tourism, cuisine and is a great opportunity to go up north and see what the city has to offer

Written by
Yulia Prilik-Niv
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Haifa's image as a sleepy, aging city couldn't be farther from the truth. The city has a burgeoning youthful community including students, entrepreneurs, and artists who've transformed Haifa into a fascinating city, one with a distinct international flair.

Where to eat

Lux
© Afik Gabay

Lux

One of the most talked-about & delicious places in town, is Lux, opened by chef Alla Moussa (from El Marsa in Akko) and his partner Ahmad Assad. Located in a young and busy complex in the Port, Moussa has assembled a menu featuring everything that’s fresh from the sea and fields. Among the dishes: ceviche of sea fish with labane, hot pepper and pistachio, a pan of seafood in sherry butter and preserved lemon, fish fillet on freekeh risotto and wild spinach alongside green beans, and other surprising delights. A culinary cultural experience in a trendy, designer space.

 

13 HaNamal, Haifa (077-206-0970)

Fattoush Bar & Gallery
© Yulia Prilik-Niv

Fattoush Bar & Gallery

The new Fattoush complex in the Port offers food, a bar, music, live performances, and an art gallery. A massive space on two floors offers an eclectic patio – ushering in a new vibe to the Port. You can sense the attention paid to the design, the investment, and the care taken for the smallest detail in this spot.

6 HaNamal, Haifa (04-881-3040)

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • The Lower City

This young culinary institution has an interesting story. Libira is a restaurant with a brewery, or perhaps the other way around. If you arrive with a small enough group you can sit at the bar and watch the beer being brewed. The owners’ vision was of a large place with a happy atmosphere serving its customers locally home-brewed beers, guest beers, and food that goes hand in hand with beer and other alcoholic drinks. The menu offers palate-pleasing plates like beer rolls with anchovy butter, charcuterie platters, roasted cauliflower, carpaccio, juicy hamburgers, spare ribs, and juicy sausages and steak.

26 HaNamal, Haifa (04-374-0251)

Where to sleep

Villa Carmel
© Alonis

Villa Carmel

While most of the action is centered in the Lower City and the Port area, there are those who prefer spending the night in a quieter, pastoral part of Haifa. The Villa Carmel, an intimate place with only 15 rooms, is one of the city’s most charming hotels. Located on a quiet street, it is sandwiched between gardens – one of its own and one public. The spa-hotel is soaked in history, has an elegant European feel and is really cut off from the rush of urban life. Built in the 1940s as a guest house for the Israeli aristocracy of those bygone days, its clientele included such luminaries as David Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula. It’s had various names over the years, from the Vechtel Hotel to later Vered Hacarmel, it got its current name after extensive renovations by the Shitrit family. Whether sitting on your room’s terrace facing the treetops or on the roof where there’s a great Jacuzzi, it is a true getaway for a couple or a family to spend an urban holiday, or a welcome place to return after a busy day of touring Haifa or Israel’s northern region.

 villacarmel.co.il (04-837-5777)

Cultural happenings

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Haifa is a cosmopolitan city, where tolerance and coexistence are part of its DNA. During December, as well as before and afterwards, Haifa exemplifies how to live and celebrate together. The high point of that togetherness is the Holiday of Holidays, this year taking place for the 25th consecutive time at the initiative of the Arab-Jewish cultural center Beit HaGefen and the Haifa Municipality. It marks the trifecta of holidays, celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas. Scheduled to take place this year December 6-30, the festival fills Beit HaGefen, the Wadi Nisnas area and the German Colony with events and light in an atmosphere that’s no less exciting than Christmastime abroad. This year’s selected theme is ‘The Third Sector’, with festivities encompassing elements of tolerance, art, culture, tourism, and, of course, food.

haifahag.com

An invitation to dine
Erez Golko

An invitation to dine

More than anything else, Haifa is a city where people take initiative and welcome guests. One of them is Erez Golko, the Haifa-born son of an established Haifa family, who cooks meals that are a special experience in his home and runs tours focusing on Christian Arab cuisine in Wadi Nisnas. Golko’s tour stops off at several culinary and cultural stations. He has many stories to tell along the way, including how Wadi Nisnas got its name, where you can buy Haifa’s famous laffa pita, where’s the sweets capital of the Middle East, and a serving of other oddities that interest foodies, cooks, and just plain food lovers.

inmykitchen.co.il

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Shuk Shops
© Yulia Prilik-Niv

Shuk Shops

Chef Vered Feren conducts tours of the authentic Talpiot Market and runs food workshops at her market studio. The Haifa native is the sole woman running a shuk business, knows all about culinary Haifa, proprietors of eateries and merchants, and unique flavors and aromas they offer. The Wadi Salib Market, which was active in the 1950s when the area once housed a transit camp for immigrants who just arrived in Israel, has since become a flea market. The place is pure heaven, brimming with antiques and vintage pieces.

 veredferen.com

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