Haifa, beautifully located on the Mediterranean shoreline, is not only Israel’s third-largest city but also a treasure trove of history and spectacular sights. Haifa is not always on a tourist’s list of places to visit in Israel, but there are some sites here that should not be missed. We have put together a Haifa bucket list to help you make the most of your visit.
Considered one of the top sights to see in the Middle East and certainly one of Israel’s must-sees, Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens is the first stop on everybody’s Haifa bucket list. Every year, over half a million tourists flock to the gardens located on the slopes of the Carmel Mountain. Make your way down the gravel pathways that wind through the 19 terraced gardens. Have your camera ready, as you’ll want to capture the sweeping panoramas of the attractive Haifa bay.
The gardens lead to a domed shrine, the resting place of the prophet of the Baha’i faith. The magnificent gold-domed shrine has nine sides to represent the nine major religions of the world. The inside of the shrine is filled with ornamental goldwork and flowers, and emerald green and red mosaics. Everywhere is intricately decorated and a real sight to behold.
The Baha’i Gardens are open from 09:00 to 17:00, and the Baha’i Shrine is open from 09:00 to 12:00 daily. The site is closed on Baha’i religious days, so check ahead of time. Daily guided tours are available from the entrance gates.
the German Colony
Located just under the Baha’i Gardens, the German Colony is one of Haifa’s most popular neighborhoods. It was the first settlement in the second wave of German migrants that were part of the Templars. Many of the original homes still exist. Today, the German Colony is a hub of cafes, restaurants, shops and art galleries. The German Colony is uniquely framed by the beautiful Baha’i Gardens on one side and the shimmering sea on the other, making it a picturesque part of Haifa. During the festive season, the streets are adorned with Christmas lights and a massive Christmas tree in the center. For Haifa locals, it is the place to be on Christmas Eve.
Stella Maris Monastery
Situated high above Haifa, the Stella Maris (“The Star of the Sea”) Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, dating back to 1291 AD. The history of the Monastery is long and complex. The Bible tells us that the Prophet Elijah fought the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
Inside the church, the painted dome portrays Elijah and the chariot of fire in which he is said to have ascended to heaven. On the pathway leading to the church, a pyramid topped with a wrought-iron cross serves as a memorial for the 200 French troops who were hospitalized here and later slaughtered by the Ottomans. The views of Haifa Bay from the monastery alone are worth the trip.
The monastery is open daily from 08:30 – 12:00, and 15:00 – 18:00, and is free to enter.
Flickr user Karen Gentry
Elijah’s Cave is located at the foot of Carmel Mountain and is the grotto where the Prophet Elijah is believed to have lived. The Prophet conducted many of his teachings here and it is also where many of his significant life events took place. The site holds religious significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Upon entering the cave you must follow the signs to the separate sections for men (to the right) and women (to the left). The cave is protected by a velvet curtain but you can still see it.
The cave opens daily from 08:00 – 18:00. On Fridays, the cave closes at 13:00. On Saturdays & Jewish holidays the cave is closed.
Haifa beach promenade
Haifa’s paved promenade extends 5 kilometers along the coastline. Walk to the end of Shikmona beach for a spectacular view of Haifa’s untouched rocky beaches, complete with tidal pools, rare seabirds, breathtaking Mediterranean sunsets, and plenty of benches to sit on while you take it all in. Beach restaurants, cafes, and smoothie bars line the promenade. It’s definitely the place to be if you want to live like a local and the perfect way to end your Haifa bucket list.
The Haifa Cableway is located at the edge of Haifa and juts out into the Mediterranean sea. They are super for quick transport up and down the mountain, as well as a popular tourist attraction. The three red, ball-shaped cars are distinctive. They ascend from the Bat Galim Promenade up to Stella Maris Monastery at the top of the Carmel ridge. If for no other reason, the cable cars provide a spectacular view of Haifa and the bay.
The cable cars operate daily from 09:00 – 20:00 in the summer, and 10:00 to 18:00 in winter.
Albert Einstein visited in 1923. He and his wife planted two palm trees that still stand at MadaTech’s northern garden.
MadaTech is open 7 days a week. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance. Up to date prices can be found ont he msueum’s official website.
Our Private Haifa, Caesarea, Akko and Rosh Hanikra Tour is the easiest way to see the highlights of Israel’s beautiful and historic northern coast. To join a group tour, check out our Northern Israel tour which departs weekly.