The Israel posts are beginning – ring the bells, tell a friend and grab a cup of tea! This is Haifa aka the largest city in the North. What makes it magical is the diversity of people living here yet everyone gets along and it’s a very peaceful, exciting place. Due to the mix there are lots of mini-neighbourhoods and different spots to find certain things. Haifa is built by Mount Carmel and therefore a lot of it is on the mountain, as well as the valley below. The city is an hour from Tel Aviv on the train so great for a weekend getaway or even a stop off on a trip to the Golan Heights.
I’m going to kick things off with some public transport and the unique, very teeny-tiny subway system in Haifa. As of right now the Carmelit is the only underground system in the whole country and it takes up six stops haha. It is a funicular system and great to get up the big hill. I really felt like I had travelled back in time considering the popping colour decor and the sixties vibe from the adverts. It’s cheap and cheerful and a quick experience I’d recommend for a laugh (and to avoid your legs killing you).
We took it to the last stop at the tippy top and then walked along the Louis Promenade. You can see so much of the city from up here it’s ridiculous and on a clear day the panorama stretches out for miles. I’d recommend bringing a picnic and sitting up here. There are several benches along the way and lots of good stops with shops, museums and sights if you want a detour. I think you can see as far as Lebanon but maybe I’m dreaming.
If you keep walking you’ll eventually hit the top entrance of the Bahai Gardens. They are without a doubt the highlight of any trip to Haifa and a necessity to see! The gardens dominate the hillside and are split into three sections for visitors. At each section is a different entrance for you to walk in and wander. The top is the best for a birds-eye look at the different symmetrical levels, the middle is where you can get close to the gold dome and then the lower is perfect if you go before midday so the sun doesn’t block your view. The Bahai faith is all about peace, love, unity and justice. I don’t want to go religious on this blog but definitely give it some research if you’re interested (the origin story is really good). This was my favourite place in Haifa and I ended up just standing and reflecting for a good while. I think I liked it so much because it’s nature that meets design (maybe haha). There are tours available and if you have the time I’d recommend going on one.
On the opposite end of the scale is the more grungy, hipster area on Masada Street. It’s a few blocks long and located to the east. There’s a lot of very funky graffiti as well as shops, cafes, bars etc. We grabbed dinner here and you’ll see that on my food post next week. I’d recommend taking your time and leisurely walking down the street. As the day turns to dusk is probably the best time to go as it gets more lively and people start showing up after work.
That’s my first summary of Haifa. Coming up in a few days is the Arab village, beach and monastery. It’s a very eclectic city and one I’m really glad I got the chance to check out! Feel free to follow me on the tweets so you can stay up to date with new posts.