Haifa is less of a tourist destination than other parts of Israel due to its reputation as a working town, but its beaches, food and scenery are some of the best around, making it a worthy stop.
A friendly multi-ethnic, multi-religious community, Haifa exudes a feeling of comfort—the comfort of belonging and the celebration of people from all walks of life; realized by local business signage along Haifa’s main street, Ben Gurion Boulevard.
Its hilly landscape creates a natural multi-terraced slope that is zigzagged with more than one thousand steps, scaling from the top of Mount Carmel down to the port and its beaches. Imagine a cityscape, if you will, conceived by Tim Burton—that was the image racing through my mind as we searched for and climbed nearly every step because the Carmelit subway system was closed.
We enjoyed expansive views of the Haifa Bay from our hotel situated near the top of Mount Carmel, along the Louis Promenade. Each morning we relished a delicious Israeli breakfast, a buffet complete with soft and hard cheeses, cereals, fruits, vegetables, bread and an assortment of salads, while watching military vessels and port activity.
During our first day in Haifa, we walked along the Louis Promenade from the hotel to the Bahá'í Gardens for an introduction to the Bahá'í Faith, a monotheistic religion that emphasizes spirituality and the unity of religion and humanity.
The gardens feature 19 terraces—one for each of the first eighteen disciples of the Bahá'í Faith and a central terrace with a golden dome for the resting place of Báb, the prophet who founded the religion. The garden offers free English-guided tours daily (except Wednesdays) at noon local time, and is the only time guests are permitted to enter the gardens. If you wish to visit, the entrance is at the top of the gardens on Yefe Nof Street.
After the garden tour, we walked to the German Colony neighborhood located on Ben Gurion Boulevard and ate at Fattoush, a popular Palestinian restaurant with excellent hummus. And yes, hummus is served with a pool of olive oil and tahini, alongside vegetables, pickles and soft, delicious pita loaf, unlike the cardboard type that is often served in the States. This same day, we hiked the 1,000-plus steps of Mount Carmel to our hotel and ate falafel (again) before collapsing in our beds.
Our second day in Haifa was a beach day. We made our way to Dado Beach by noon and took a walk along the beach’s lively promenade. There were couples and families enjoying drinks and ice cream at one of the many snack bars. A well-used outdoor fitness park was full of attractive, young health enthusiasts. People jogging, kids playing, even the park benches and tables were full. Surprising for a midwinter weekday. We watched several intense card game matches, and an entire park pavilion filled with gray-haired men immersed in serious game play. It was quite a delight to see.
Lunch at one of the snack shacks, Nirvana (Fresh Kitchen), served up a delicious roasted cauliflower dish with green tahini—one can’t get enough of that stuff in Israel.
After relaxing in the sun and playing a few hands of Cribbage by the Bay, we retreated to the hotel. For dinner that evening we ate at a modern Mediterranean eatery named Rola on Sderot HaBroshim Boulevard. My roasted eggplant dish was divine and I intend to try to replicate it in my home kitchen over the next few weeks. I will post the recipe here.
Our final morning in Haifa ended in Wadi Nisnas, an old Arab neighborhood with narrow roads lined with century-old sandstone buildings. We ate at a well-known falafel eatery named Falafel Hazkenim. Hands down, BEST falafel. It competes with neighboring Michelle Falafel across the street, a forever debated contest for best falafel in Haifa. For me, Hazkenim was a winner. After stuffing our faces, yet again, we hopped on a train back to Tel Aviv to continue our adventures.
This post is a series of posts about travel to Israel and Jordan, from February 24, 2017 to March 5, 2017. They are posted in order of the trip itinerary. Continue reading this series by jumping to the previous post about traveling in Israel on Shabbat or the next post about things to do in Tel Aviv.
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