Haifa for travelers

Welcome to The Haifa (חֵיפָה حَيْفَا).
This is a useful information page for travelers and visitors here. Enjoy!

History, geography and backgroud

The best is just to read from the good article in Wikipedia.
No reason for me to copy-paste it here.

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Public transportation

Shabbat? No Transportation in most of Israel. But… Haifa is unique and different!Well, during Shabbat you can forget about trains, or long distance buses.BUT, inside Haifa, there are many lines still operating, though less frequent.If you want to get in/out of Haifa, you can always use Monit Sherut / Sherut Taxi, from Hadar – Herzel st.

1) Ferris/Harbor:
Many people ask about it, but it’s very complicated and a flight is much cheaper.

2) Train:
In Haifa itself there are 3 main stations.
* Hof HaCarmel (The Carmel Beach):
Near this station there is the Merkazit Hof HaCarmel (one out of two main bus stations in Haifa), taxi station & the beaches of Haifa.
This station is good if you want to go to the top of mount Carmel for your CS host, where I believe more CSers live.
* Bat Galim:
This station is in Bat Galim neighborhood, which is the closest neighborhood to a beach in Haifa.
You can take a taxi from here, but unless your host lives in Bat Galim, I don’t think you need to arrive here.
(I must add that nowadays more and more young people move to live in Bat Galim, and it’s a greet place for surfing and snorkeling!)
* Merkaz HaShmona (The Eight Center [for the memory of 8 train workers that died here during the second Lebanon War]).
This is the area of the Harbor, close to Guesthouses, restaurants and many pubs and bars.
If you need to get to the Down Town or Hadar neighborhood, that would be a good station for you, with buses very close by and also the Carmelit is not far away.

3) Bus:
For Haifa, there’s only one bus company, Egged. Use their site to find your route, price, time.
Haifa has two main bus stations that are good to get to anywhere in Haifa, around Haifa, and all over Israel:

* Merkazit Hof HaCarmel (Carmel Beach)
Near Hof HaCarmel train station, and also the best way to get to the beach from the top of the Carmel.
Also serves as the gate to the places in Israel south of Haifa (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat and more).
Only Egged operates here.

* Merkazit Hamifratz (The Gulf, as in The Gulf of Haifa)
There is a big mall called Cinemall just near by, with train station as well – Hamifratz train station.
Also serves as the gate to the northern/eastern part of Israel (Akko, Nahariya, Golan Heights to the north, Nazereth and Tiberias to the east).
Notice that from here, there are more bus companies operating to the north and east.

4) Carmelit
The one and only “underground train” in Israel. That’s the Carmelit in Haifa!
which is actually a Funicular, from the top of the Carmel to the downtown.
Nice and fast and you can buy ticket for 1 or 3 days for the Carmelit and entrance to all the Museums!

5) Taxis
OK, just like in any other taxi in Israel – always use the meter, since you do not know the price, and it’s accurate.
You will find enough taxis roaming the streets on their hunt for customers.
But in my opinion, use them only at night or if you are in a hurry, since you can use buses and your legs.
There are also Sherut Taxis from the Halutz st. in Hadar neighborhood, which is the only way to leave or get into town during Shabat.

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Places to Sleep, different options

1) Consider Airbnb.com for home style staying with a local host.

2) You can use Couchsurfing.com to stay with a host, on a couch, a bed, or whatever is offered.

3) Guesthouses in Haifa:

– Port Inn  Guest House
(I vouch for it, if you’re up for travelers atmosphere)
34 Yafo Rd.
Ph: 972-4-852 4401
Fax: 972-4-852 1003

– Haddad Guest House
(Good location in the German Colony)
26 Ben Gurion Ave.
Haifa, Israel 35023
Tel  +972-772010618
Fax +972-48512797
Mobile +972-522354283

– Bet El (Christian) Hostel
(I haven’t personally checked this place)
40 Hagefen St.    Hadar
Ph: 972-4-852 1110
Fax: 972-4-851 2318

– Carmelite Pilgrim Centre
(I haven’t personally checked this place)
Stella Maris Rd.
Ph: 972-4-833 2084
Ph: 972-4-833 1591
Fax: 972-4-8331593

– German Guest House
(I haven’t personally checked this place)
105 Derech Yafo
Ph: 972-4-855 3705
Fax: 972-4-851 4919

– Molada Guest House
(I haven’t personally checked this place)
82 Hanasi St
Mt Carmel
Ph: 972-4-838 7958
Fax: 972-4-838 7565

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Things to do in Haifa
There is much to do and see and eat and enjoy in Haifa.
Haifa is unique for it’s nature (Mountain/Forests/Sea), religions living in harmony together, and… sandwiches!

Hadar Neighborhood

Less visited by people who come ot Haifa for just a day or two, Hadar neighborhood is one of the most diverse places you can find: Arabs (Christians and Muslims), Orthodox Jews, hipsters, ‘Russians’ (this refers to Jewish immigrants from ex-USSR, known colloquially in the Israeli society as Russians), Ethiopians, Asylum seekers from Sudan and Aretrea, migrant workers from the Philippines and a few more communities hidden here and there.

Except for the diversity of the people, Hadar’s history is glamorous and full of tales that through them you learn threads of the story of Haifa.

So, what to do, see, eat and experience in Hadar?

1) Talpiot Market: This is the biggest and important market of Haifa. Fresh produce, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dried fruits, and more. Walk around before deciding where you saw the most attractive cucumbers, or the juicy mangoes.

What else can be found at the market? good food, like, really – good food. Look for the small shops that sell Uzbeki-Jewish food (or Bukharan Jewish cuisine), oily but tasty, some with meat and some with vegetables, yumm yumm yumm.

2) Bauhaus and International Style architecture: This unique architecture that came from Germany and Austria in the 20th century, actually survived mostly in Israel, as much of the buildings of this style were destroyed during WWII in Europe. Tel Aviv is an UNESCO World Heritage Site because of this architecture. Haifa has it as well, but Haifa ain’t that goon on the PR to say it nicely.
So, learn a bit how to recognize this architecture and try to look for yourself and see if you recognize the buildings along Herzl st. or other streets.

3) Massada Street: Also known as Massada Strasse, or just the most hipstery cool place in town. Chill out in one of the best cafes in Haifa, not because of the coffee itself, but because of the atmosphere. Meet the new activists of tomorrow or just bums that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. It’s a mixed Arab-Jewish street, full of art and lively.
The famous street art is by Broken Fingaz, a world famous crew of street artists that were raised and continue to live in Haifa. They have a very distinct style, and their work can be found in other spots in Haifa, mostly in Hadar and Wadi Salib neighborhoods. To be sure it’s their art, look for their signature: Kip, Deso, Unga or Tant.
In Massada, you can eat the very good Sabich in Falafel Luna, or sit down for a good meal at Dubi’s vegan place. Other places will serve regular stuff, nothing special.
Don’t forget to walk into the second hand book shops and second had clothes shops.

4) Nordau Street: Used to be the best place in town during the 90’s where families would come to stroll the promenade in the evening. Now, with the many malls to cater thirsty consumers, this street became old and neglected, and has a weird atmosphere. Worth checking it out and dream how it can look like in the future, with the right mayor…

5) Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space: A true part of history of Haifa, Israel and Zionism. How come? This was the building of the Technion, the first technical high institute in the middle east. The building itself is a state of the art building, designed by Alexander Baerwald, with Jewish motifs, Yemenite Jews craftsmen were creating the the outer part, with European symmetric architecture, and local middle-eastern material – this represent the Zionist movement of the early 1900’s.
There was a whole issue about which language should be used to teach at this academic institute – German, or the being-revived Hebrew? This is known at the Language War.
Another cool thing about the building – the two palm trees in front of the entrance. In 1923, Albert Einstein was on a visit to the Technion,  and he planted one of the palm trees in the courtyard. The other was planted by his wife.

5) Mama’s Ethiopian Restaurant: Eat at the best Ethiopian restaurant in Haifa, Mama’s Restaurant. The food is sooo good, healthy, and… probably one of the cheapest meals you can get in Haifa. Worth it, you will see.

6) Braha’s Sandwich: Sandwiches! Yes, this is what Haifa is famous for. Haifa’s sandwiches are really good, and owners are very generous in what they put in the bread you choose. Braha has been around for a few decades, as can be seen from the old signs. During lunch time, this place is full, and once you get it – and people recognize you’re “new” they will all praise how special and good Braha’s sandwiches are. The other customers won’t let you leave without getting this heavenly sandwich. Though not the best option for vegans…

7) Join Fadi’s Haifa Pub Crawl: Fadi, loves Haifa, and loves traveling (and loves beer). He started this amazing project, to practice his fear of public speaking, and you’ll notice that this fear is long gone. Fadi is a great guide, and has a unique way of showing people the different parts of Haifa through the Pub Crawl. Though it’s free, I recommend giving a tip to Fadi at the end if you think it was fun, just like in other free walking tours.

8) Wadi Nissnas

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Base for day trips outside Haifa

Haifa is a good “base” for day trips around the northern part of Israel.

– Day Trip to Akko / Acre

– Day Trip to Rosh Hanikra

– Caesaria

– Nature reserves and more

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Religious places

The Bahá’í Gardens is the number one religious attraction in Haifa.
If you haven’t been there, you should. A World Heritage Site, which is very very beautiful and interesting. and free.
You can just see it from the top during day or night time, or from below from Ben Gurion st., the German Colony.
Another option is to join a guided free tour. Check their site for details.

The Stella Maris Church And Monastery
An impressive Church of the Carmelite Order, it serves as a pilgrimage center. The Church also houses a collection of antiquities.
Elijah the Prophet’s cave is located nearby. The monastery served as a hospital for Napoleon’s soldiers and a monument to French soldiers was erected in front of the Church.
Address: Stella Maris Rd. Open all week: 08:30-13:30 and 15:00-18:00. Phone: 04-8337758. Entry free. Buses: 25, 26, 27, 30, 31.

 – Elijah’s Cave
Elijah the Prophet’s activity and the cave has since become a pilgrimage site for believers of the three main religions.
A religious zealot admired by believers of god, he is also very important for Indian Jews that have many hymns for him.
Visitors and pilgrims alike have recorded many inscriptions on the cave’s walls, including Greek names and a Menorah.
Address: 230 Allenby St. Haifa. Open: during July & August – Sunday to Thursday 08:00-18:00. Friday 08;00-12;45.
The rest of the year: Sunday-Thursday 08:00-17:00, Friday 08:00-12:45. Buses: 3, 5, 43, 44, 45.

The best is to go to the cave from Stella Maris. The Trail has beautiful view of the closest place of the Carmel Mountain to the sea.
At the end of the trail, you can catch the cable car back up to Stella Maris, or walk along the Bat-Galim promenade. Don’t forget to eat some ice-cream!

 – Kababir
A village integrated in the city of Haifa, populated mostly by Muslims belonging to the Ahmedi sect. Opposed to all forms of coercion aggression or violence, they believe that Islam should be spread by intellectual conversations and by persuasion.
The Mahmoud Mosque is situated in the village center. Buses: 34 – from the Carmel Center.

The Ahmedins are very nice and welcoming, and will be delighted to let you in the mosque.

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3)     Museums

Haifa has some pretty good museums, such as the biggest Japanese Museum in the Middle East and a few other unique ones which worth a visit:

The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art. My favorite!

National Museum of Science and Technology. Very good, with two palm trees planted by Albert Einstein in front.

The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum. Recommended if you are interested in the history of modern Israel.

The National Maritime Museum. Has some nice exhibitions. Very close to the Immigration and Naval Museum.

– Haifa Zoo. Situated in Gan ha-Em in Central Carmel. There are two Siberian Tigers (Albino Bengali Tigers), and some other nice animals. This Zoo works a lot for educating kids and adults about wild animals and the problems they face.

– Haifa’s Prehistoric Museum named after Shetkliz. It’s inside the Zoo, and quite interesting.

Hecht Museum

– The Mane Katz Museum

The Railway Museum

The Haifa Museum of Art

The History of the City of Haifa Museum – ‘Beit-ha-am’ (People’s House)

O*GE Interactive Gallery

Beit-Hagefen (Jewish-Arab Center) Art Gallery

Castra Cultural Centre-Art

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Nature and Hiking in Haifa Area

Oh, The beautiful nature that is mixed in the city, small streams and wadis just one minute from a residence neighborhood.
That’s Haifa, which has many hidden marked trails that are highly recommended.
The worth an extra day in Haifa, for sure!

* Nahal Siach (the Bush Stream) is one of my favorite places in Haifa. You need to go to Herzel School in Carmelia neighborhood and follow the Black marked trail. It will lead you down the Wadi, reaching at the end to a special spring, ruins of old Bizantic Monastery & Garden.
You can swim there as well, and end your walking with a bus back up to the Carmel, walk the same trail or… go to the beach!

* Another trail is Wadi Lotem, which starts from Gan Ha’em (The Mother’s Garden) in the Carmel Center, and ends up down near the sea, in Shprintsak neighborhood. The trail is marked in Blue.

* There’s one more Trail, in Neve Sha’anan neighborhood, which marked in Red.
The beginning of the trail is down from the SuperPharm in Merkaz Ziv, and ends up near the tunnel which is 5/10 min walk from the beginning (if you follow the road and not the trail).

* There’s a new initiative that created the Haifa Trail. 70km inside Haifa, passing by all the cool places! Check it out!

* The Carmel Forests are very easy to get to – take bus 37H and stop somewhere and enjoy the view, or find somebody with a car to go to more interesting trails.

* I will add some more trails soon.

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Walks and Spending the Day in Haifa

*  The Druze villages, Usfia (Yisfia) & Daliat el Carmel, are located 25 minutes bus drive from the Carmel Center, in the area of the Carmel Forests.  You can go there and enjoy food, markets & maybe a good talk with friendly Druze. J

* I recommend eating Falafel & Knafe in Wadi Nisnas!

* The 1000 Stairs Trail is a good way experience the three levels of Haifa, with a unique and beautiful trail, which is mostly… going down many stairs and streets, and has signs to direct you to the right stairs.
The Trail starts in the Carmel Center, YefeNof st. near house number 105, 50 m east (right if you look at the sea) of the observatory.
It ends in the area of the German Colony.

* Eat a sandwich. The sandwiches in Haifa are the best I know.

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