Haifa is Israel’s third largest city, set on the slopes of Mount Carmel facing the Mediterranean, and known as a myriad for coexistence between Jews and Arabs, who peacefully live here alongside each other. A traditionally working, industrial city, Haifa is not a tourist destination to rival its big relations Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, although it does have one or two sites which should not be missed. The most famous of these are the Bah’ai Gardens, the part of the international center of this small, yet fascinating religion.
The Bah’ai Gardens form part of the Bah’ai World Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These gardens are a place of pilgrimage for members of the Bah’ai faith and are set across terraces sloping down Mount Carmel towards the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The gardens were recently redesigned and are remarkable, whether you decide you love them or not. The only way to visit is with a guided tour, and if you can stand being in a group its worth the pain. Tours must be booked, see here for more info.
At the bottom of the Bah’ai Gardens is Haifa’s German Colony. Recently restored templar-era buildings line the main street which runs directly from the base of the Gardens, and is lined with restaurants and cafes, ranging in cuisine from traditional Arab-style Middle Eastern Foods to more modern and creative forms of Western Cooking.
If science is your thing, worth visiting is the National Museum of Science located in the city. Great for kids, this museum is full of fascinating interactive displays, translated mostly into English, covering a wealth of great interesting topics. The museum can get busy during school holidays, but even then a visit is worthwhile. www.madatech.org.il
General culture in Haifa is overshadowed by Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, although it is possible to attend concerts by the Israel Philharmonic and other musical and dramatic groups when they perform here. Haifa’s biggest cultural event is the International Film Festival, which runs for one week each year at the end of September and transforms the city into a party city with over a hundred films of all genres shown.