Take a trip to Haifa

After spending so much time hiking in nature, I felt like it was time to visit an urban center. And so, this week, I took a trip to Israel’s most northern city: Haifa.

Take a trip to Haifa (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Take a trip to Haifa
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
After spending so much time hiking in nature, I felt like it was time to visit an urban center. And so, this week, I took a trip to Israel’s most northern city: Haifa. This city contains so much history, and amateur historians will find interesting discoveries at every turn. If this is your first time visiting Haifa, I recommend beginning in the more touristic areas, such as the German Colony. If you’ve been to Haifa a few times, you’ll probably want to start your visit in areas you’ve never heard of.
One option is Bat Galim, one of the older neighborhoods located near the coast that has gone through many trials and tribulations over the years, and which has gained tremendous popularity recently, especially among youngsters.
Bat Galim was established in the early 20th century, and when you walk through its narrow streets you can’t help but be amazed by the older buildings’ unique architectural structure, which stand side by side with more modern buildings. One of the nicest parts of walking through this neighborhood is that you can almost always enjoy a nice sea breeze.
I recommend starting your walking tour on Ha’aliyah Hashniyah Street, the main drag that cuts straight through the neighborhood, which consists of four sections – two of which lie along the coast. Next, I recommend making your way through the narrow streets and enjoy looking at the old buildings. One of the most interesting sites is the Old Carmelite Monastery, which is located on the northern side of Second Aliyah Street, close to Hayl Hayam Boulevard. The monastery was originally built in 1892 and currently houses Rambam Hospital.
Another interesting monastery in the city is the Holy Joseph Monastery, which was built in 1912. It is much larger than the Old Carmelite Monastery and also currently functions as part of Haifa’s hospital. As you’re walking along, I recommend venturing off the main road and meandering around the neighborhood. You will see lots of old Templer buildings and you might even be lucky enough to come upon the ancient windmill whose blades have all fallen apart, and which people have been living inside of since the 1940s.
After wandering around the narrow streets, return to the main road and walk towards Bat Galim Boulevard. At the corner of Bat Galim Boulevard and Ha’aliyah Hashniyah, you will find a quaint café called Millhouse Café, which is a little taste of Tel Aviv and perhaps a harbinger of changes that are yet to come to this neighborhood. Afterwards, as you walk towards the sea, you can enjoy the change in architectural style as well.
At the end of the road on your right, just as the promenade begins, you’ll see the abandoned casino, which was built in the 1930s when the neighborhood was still quite young. There’s also an old swimming pool that is no longer in use. If you turn left and walk along the promenade, you’ll soon reach the cable car, which will lead you to adventures in other parts of the city.
Another popular tourist destination in the lower part of Haifa is the Wadi Salib neighborhood, which has been nicknamed the Neveh Zedek of Haifa for its integration of both the old and new. There you’ll find fantastic Arab homes constructed during the Ottoman period alongside new modern buildings, and the engaging artist colony with its restaurants and galleries that attract many visitors. A number of local guides would be more than happy to lead you around the city, such as Gadi Duvdevani (054-589-4074), who knows every nook and cranny of Haifa.
THERE’S SO much to do in Haifa that it’s best to stay overnight and benefit from a second day of touring. One of the most interesting new boutique hotels in the city is the Diana Hotel, which opened in September 2017 in the heart of the lower city near the train station and nightlife. Located on the mythological Banks Street, before renovations began the building that houses the Diana used to be a coveted commercial center. As soon as you enter the lobby, you will notice the intricate architectural design from 100 years ago. When you’re ready to move on, the Baha’i Gardens and an array of restaurants and other tourist attractions are just minutes away.
One such gem, which is located just below the hotel, is HFA. This two-story art-deco restaurant, which recently underwent a NIS 3 million restoration, is run by Chef Shachar Dabach, of Mischakei Hachef notoriety, and offers an eclectic menu.
Location: 5 Banks Street, Haifa.
Prices: Begin at NIS 480 per night, including breakfast.
Reservations: 072-334-4344
If you prefer Asian food, I recommend Chang Ba, run by Lior Golan and Chef Idan Lifshitz, and is located on the Haifa promenade. Partaking in a meal there will make you wonder if maybe you’ve been transported directly to Bangkok.
Location: 23 Hanamal, Haifa.
Reservations:  (04) 672-2891
Translated by Hannah Hochner.