Haifa, Israel | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Haifa, Israel

Haifa (Hebrew חֵיפָה Heifa; Arabic حَيْفَا Ḥayfā) is the third largest city in Israel and the major city in the north of the country with a population close to 300,000. It is a seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, below scenic Mount Carmel. It is the second holiest city in the Baha'i Faith.

Haifa is first mentioned historically around the 3rd century CE as a small town near Shikmona, the main Jewish town in the area at that time and a center for making the traditional Tekhelet dye used for Jewish Priests' temple cloth. The archaeological site of Shikmona lies southwest of the modern Bat Galim neighborhood. The Byzantine ruled there until the 7th century, when the city was conquered — first by the Persians, then by the Arabs. In 1100, it was conquered again by the Crusaders after... Read more

Haifa, Israel


Haifa (Hebrew חֵיפָה Heifa; Arabic حَيْفَا Ḥayfā) is the third largest city in Israel and the major city in the north of the country with a population close to 300,000. It is a seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, below scenic Mount Carmel. It is the second holiest city in the Baha'i Faith.

Haifa is first mentioned historically around the 3rd century CE as a small town near Shikmona, the main Jewish town in the area at that time and a center for making the traditional Tekhelet dye used for Jewish Priests' temple cloth. The archaeological site of Shikmona lies southwest of the modern Bat Galim neighborhood. The Byzantine ruled there until the 7th century, when the city was conquered — first by the Persians, then by the Arabs. In 1100, it was conquered again by the Crusaders after a fierce battle with its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants. Under Crusader rule, the city was a part of the Principality of Galilee until the Muslim Mameluks captured it in 1265.

In 1761 Daher El-Omar, Bedouin ruler of Acre and Galilee, destroyed and rebuilt the town in a new location, surrounding it with a thin wall. This event is marked as the beginning of the town's modern era. After El-Omar's death in 1775, the town was under Ottoman rule until 1918, except for two brief periods. In the years following, Haifa grew in terms of traffic, population, and importance, as Akko suffered a decline. The development of Haifa increased further with the arrival of members of the German Protestant Temple Society in 1868, who settled a modern neighborhood near the city, now known as the "German Colony". The Templers greatly contributed to the town's commerce and industry, playing an important role in its modernization.

By the beginning of the 20th Century, Haifa had emerged as an industrial port city and growing population center, reflected by the establishment of facilities like the Hejaz railway and Technion. At that time Haifa District was home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants, comprised of 82% Muslim Arab, 14% Christian Arabs, and 4% Jewish residents. The Jewish population increased steadily with immigration primarily from Europe, and by 1945 the population had shifted to 38% Muslim, 13% Christian and 47% Jewish.

Today, Haifa is home to Jews, Muslim and Christian Arabs, as well as small communities of Ahmadis (in Kababir), Druze (in nearby Isfiya and Daliyat al-Karmel), Bahá'ís, and others. Haifa is characterized as a mosaic of peaceful coexistence between the communities. It is also the second-holiest city in the Bahai faith.

The phrase "Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv plays" refers to Haifa's reputation as a city of workers. A generation ago Haifa's image was that of a serious—and somewhat dull—labor city because of its many factories. It still has an industrial area to its north, where one of Israel's two oil refineries is located. But it also has a world-class high-tech strip in its south, in the "Matam" technology park along the beach. The park includes blue-chip tech firms such as Intel, Philips, Microsoft, and Google as well as some of Israel's largest tech firms, Elbit, Zoran, and Amdocs. IBM has an R&D center on the top of

Mount Carmel


Haifa University

and HP has a lab at the Technion, Israel's leading technological university.

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Haifa, Israel: Port Information

The Port of Haifa is the largest of Israel's three major international seaports. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long and serves both passenger and merchant ships. It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume and handles about 26 million tons of cargo a year. The port employs over 1,000 people, with the number rising to 5,000 when cruise ships dock in Haifa.

The port contains a modern passenger terminal serving cruise and ferry passengers. The terminal offers a waiting area, duty-free shop, souvenir shop, cafeteria, VAT reimbursement counter, currency exchange, free wireless internet, parking, as well as other services to travelers.

The area near the terminal also offers excellent public transit connections for passengers. The Haifa Center Railway Station is adjacent to the terminal and is served by nearly 200 passenger trains 24 hours a day on weekdays to the Haifa region and beyond. Additional public transit connections are available by bus or taxi at the railway station or on Ha'Azmaut Road, the main thoroughfare in downtown Haifa which is located in front of the station. The Carmelit's Kikar Paris subway station is also within walking distance and allows convenient access to the top of Mount Carmel.

Get around Haifa, Israel

Local buses

Haifa has two main bus terminals where passengers can switch between inter-city buses and trains to the local routes:

  • Mercazit HaMifratz - (bay area hub) connecting Haifa with the Krayot (northern suburbs) and the Galilee. Located near Lev HaMifratz train station; 960 bus from Jerusalem goes here.
  • Mercazit Hof HaCarmel - (Carmel coast hub) connecting Haifa with southern destinations, like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Located near Hof HaCarmel train station; 940 bus from Jerusalem goes here.

Haifa's local bus system includes three "Metronit" (BRT) routes and a large number of "normal" routes.

Buses in Haifa run regularly between 5 AM and midnight. Unlike most cities in Israel, local buses (but not the Carmelit subway) run on the Sabbath (Friday afternoon to Saturday evening) and Jewish holidays; however, they only operate minimal and highly infrequent services during these hours. The "sherut" (taxi van with fixed routes and prices) lines also run on Saturdays in parallel with some bus routes and are much more frequent.


Haifa has a subway: the Carmelit funicular. It is the only subway in Israel. It is useful for getting up or down the mountain from downtown, but it only extends to a small part of Haifa. If you need to go further, you can buy a ticket which includes a transfer to a bus for the remainder of your journey, though it's probably more convenient to just take a bus the whole way. However, the Carmelit is worth taking for fun, to see its weird angled structure (steps in the stations and train cars, made necessary by the steepness of the mountain). The Carmelit has few riders, so you'll always find a seat.

The Carmelit has six stations listed here as they go downhill:

  • Gan Ha'em - in the Carmel Center, adjacent to the Haifa Zoo, the Louis Promenade (with a beautiful view of the Haifa Bay, the Haifa Auditorium and Cinematheque, and many shops and hotels.
  • Bnei Zion - in Golomb street, near the Bnei Zion (formerly known as Rothschild) Hospital and the Bahá'í World Centre (see below).
  • Massada - Upper Hadar HaCarmel, home to an up-and-coming artists' neighborhood with many antique shops, second-hand bookstores, bars, and coffee shops. Also not far from Nordau Street, a pedestrian mall which has seen its better days. Close to the

    National Science Museum

  • HaNevi'im - near HaNevi'im, Herzl and HaHalutz streets, and their shops, offices. Close to the Haifa Museum of Art and Wadi Nisnas pedestrian area.
  • Solel Boneh - near Ha'atzmaut park, and the Haifa city hall.
  • Kikar Paris (Paris Square) - downtown. Near government buildings and courthouse, Ha'atzmaut street, walking distance to Haifa Merkaz train station and Haifa port.

What to see in Haifa, Israel

Haifa is largely a modern city.


  • Bahá'í Gardens and World Center, ☎ +972-4-831-3131, fax: +972-4-831-3132. Every day but Wednesday. The gardens and world center on Mount Carmel's northern slope area a must-see for any visitor to Haifa. Comprising the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, terraced gardens and administrative buildings, the World Centre is the holiest site of pilgrimage for the members of the Bahá'í faith, as well as the faith's central administrative center. The gardens are stunning and well worth visiting if you are in Haifa. The tours are free and no reservation is required unless you are a group of 25 or more. 
  • Cave of Elijah (follow the stairs up on Siderot HaHagana). Elijah is considered a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Carmelites have a tradition that they were founded by Elijah at this time. According to tradition, Elijah lived in a cave on Mt. Carmel during the reign of King Ahab. The site itself may disappoint many tourists as it's a very simple site. One enjoyable and scenic option for good walkers is to walk down to the cave from Stella Maris (monastery) at the top of Mt. Carmel.
  • Stella Maris. A French Carmelite church, monastery, and hospice. This is the founding place of the Carmelite Order, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. The present monastery and church, built over what the Carmelites believe to be a cave where Elijah lived, dates from 1836 after the previous buildings were destroyed in 1821 by Abdullah, pasha of Akko. It's worth visiting the church to view the beautiful painted ceiling which portrays Elijah and the famous chariot of fire (in which he ascended to heaven), King David with his harp, the saints of the order, the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and David, and the Holy Family with the four evangelists below. A small adjoining museum contains ruins of former cloisters dating from Byzantine and Crusader times.
  • German Colony, Centered around Ben-Gurion Blvd. All hours. In 1868 members of German Templar Society (not to be confused with the Knights of the Templars) purchased land that was far from the city and set out to build the first planned agricultural community in the Holy Land. Many of the original templar houses have been preserved and have undergone restoration in the last decade of the 20th century. Now the main street of the former colony (Ben-Gurion Boulevard) is a promenade, with many restaurants and coffee shops. Some examples of good places in the German Colony are Havana Plus, a hookah bar with a full-service bar; Milagro, a restaurant that provides great beer on tap and live music; and Isabella, one of the finer restaurants in the area. The City History Museum and the local Tourist Board are also located here. Free.
  • University of Haifa. Located at the top of Carmel, the campus was originally designed by the architect of Brasilia and UN building in New York City, Oscar Niemeyer. Newer buildings were added later. The top 30th floor of the Eshkol Tower provides an incredible view of almost the entire North of Israel. The campus is also a home of Hecht Museum with its rich archeology and art collections. Entry to both of these attractions is free.
  • Wadi Nisnas. Haifa's largest Arab neighborhood with a bustling pedestrian zone and outdoor art. "Holiday of the Holidays" is held there between December and January.
  • Tel Shikmona. An important coastal city from the 15th century BCE until the Byzantine period; some of the ruins can be observed now.

Museums and Galleries

  • National Museum of Science - MadaTech, 12 Balfour St, ☎ +972-4-861-4444. Established in 1984, MadaTech - the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space is housed in two historic landmark buildings in mid-town Haifa. Designed, at the turn of the century, by renowned German Jewish architect, Alexander Baerwald, these were home to the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel’s first institution of higher education. 
  • Clandestine Immigration & Navy Museum (just next to the large bridge over Sderot HaHagana). This may sound a bit bland but it's actually quite fascinating and worth a visit. The museum deals with the successes and failures of the Zionists' illegal attempts to infiltrate into British-blockaded Palestine in the 1930s and '40s. The centerpiece of the museum (quite literally - the building has been constructed around it) is a boat, the Af-Al-Pi-Chen (Hebrew: Nevertheless), whose hold carried 434 refugees to Palestine in 1947.
  • National Maritime Museum, 198 Allenby St, ☎ +972-4-853-6622. deals with the history of shipping in the Mediterranean area. The collection contains old maps, models of ancient ships, navigation equipment, and bits and pieces of sunken ships.
  • Haifa Museum of Art, 26 Shabtai Levi St, ☎ +972-4-852-3255.
  • Reuben & and Edith Hecht Museum, University of Haifa campus, ☎ +972-4-825-7773, fax: +972-4-8240724, e-mail: mushecht@research.haifa.ac.il. houses a fine collection of archaeological artifacts relating to Jewish history before the Diaspora. There is plenty of ancient pottery, weapons and even a pair of 2100-year-old petite-sized sandals. The museum highlight is a 5th-century-BC Greek ship found near Caesarea in 1984. It has been carefully rebuilt and placed in a specially designed annex of the museum. An art wing upstairs contains sections on French Impressionist and Jewish art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the works are paintings by Monet, Pissarro and Van Gogh. Free.
  • Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, 89 Hanassi Ave, ☎ +972-4-838-3554. The museum was founded in the year 1959, at the joint initiative of Felix Tikotin, a known collector of Japanese art. The museum presents rotating exhibitions of old and modern Japanese art. It features everything from 14th-century Buddhist scroll art to pottery, metalwork and newer exhibits on Japanese animation and even Pokémon.
  • Marc Chagall Artists' House, 24 HaTziyonut St, ☎ +972-4-838-3482.
  • Mane Katz Museum, 89 Yafe Nof St, ☎ +972-4-852-2355.
  • Haifa Educational Zoo. A small zoo, located in Carmel Center. It has lions, tigers, and bears, but no apes or large herbivores. As of 2014, there were rumors that this would become the only zoo in the Middle East to host giant pandas. However, this has not yet happened.
  • The Railway Museum (follow HaPalyam Ave past the mosque - the museum is a few minutes walk further, on the left), ☎ +972-4-8564180, +972-4-8564293, fax: +972-4-8564310. Housed in the old Haifa East train station, The Railway Museum features a collection of stamps, photographs, tickets, timetables, and rolling stock. Old timetables remind you that you could at one time travel from here by train south to Cairo or north to Beirut or Damascus.
  • Haifa City Museum, Ben Gurion 11. A museum dealing with urban culture and describing the history of the city Haifa.

What to do in Haifa, Israel

  • The (student's) beach (Hof Ha'studentim - חוף הסטודנטים) (Near "Hof Ha'Carmel" train and bus stations). The best beaches are right next to the Hof HaCarmel bus and train stations. Just get off the train/ bus and walk straight onto the beach. Haifa has many kilometers of beautiful beach on its southwest side. Part of the beach has a boardwalk with cafes and restaurants that are always bustling—day or evening. The beach has its own unwritten segments. Families with kids come to the area along the boardwalk. Younger singles hang in the strip just south of there (with no boardwalk, stores). The locals call it "Students' Beach." Free.
  • Cable car (Near "Stella Maris" (top station)or "Bat Galim" promenade (buttom station)), ☎ +972-4-8335970. Rides between Bat-Galim Promenade and Stella Maris. The ride offers spectacular views of the city, beach, port and Haifa Bay.
  • Carmelit. A subway rides between Carmel center and downtown Haifa.
  • Holiday of the holidays (Ha'Chag Shel Ha'Chagim - החג של החגים), German Colony and Wadi Nisnas. A festival celebrating holidays of Christianity (Chrismas, New year), Islam (Ramadan), and Judaism (Hanukkah). The festival happens mainly on weekends, and include free entrance to museums, public shows, fair and colorful market. Free.
  • Haifa Trail, ☎ +972-54-7237067, e-mail: haifatrail@gmail.com. A trek along Haifa's landscapes and attractions, museums, cultural and religious sites, and the city’s unique urban wildlife.
  • Hecht Park. Haifa's largest park, located adjacent to the sea.

What to eat and drink in Haifa, Israel


Haifa is not a gourmet center like greater Tel Aviv, but it still has plenty to offer.

Falafel and other street food. Some good falafel can be found in Falafel Michel and Falafel HaZkenim, both in the Wadi Nisnas area; Falafel HaNasi (locations in the Carmel Center and Horev Center); and at Paris Square, the lowest Carmelit station. Wadi Nisnas has many restaurants and food stalls for shawarma, falafel, and Middle Eastern sweets like baklava and knafe.

There is a huge concentration of falafel and shawarma stands downtown on Yafo Street, near the old Bat Galim Central Bus Terminal building (about 400m from it). The food is cheap and authentic.

Another cheap street food is the Bureka — a Turkish phyllo dough, filled pastry — which is almost as common as falafel. Price is also cheap, and it usually comes filled with cheese, potatoes, spinach, and feta, or meat.

Further up the food chain are the Middle Eastern/Arabic restaurants. Most are located downtown: Abu-Yousef (there are two with no relation ), Hummus Faraj, Hummus Abu-Shaker (on HaMeginim St.), Abu Maroun (in the flea market), Matza (a good place 10 minutes walking distance from the shopping mall "Grand Canyon"). They are all famous for their high-quality hummus (which is regarded as the "best of the best" in Israel).

There are several Romanian-style restaurants; in actuality, this is a hybrid of Middle Eastern and Romanian cuisine. Most are located downtown: Ma'ayan HaBira (beer fountain), Cafe (coffee) Glida (ice-cream) Younek.

  • Jacko - one of the best fish restaurants (on Moriah Street and downtown near Natanson Street). It was a working-class restaurant until it became famous, and increased its prices a bit.
  • Isabella is a restaurant at the entrance of the German Colony. Isabella provides great seafood that caters to a western palate at a mid-range price. Their house wine is pretty good and overall the service is good.
  • Hanamal 24, Hanamal St 24, ☎ +972 4-862-8899. One of the top cuisine restaurants in Haifa. Serving excellent (though high priced as expected) food and desserts. Highly advised place for a gourmet dinner.

Wadi Nisnas is mostly frequented for produce and groceries, but there are also a few good eateries in the area. Most of the businesses are on a street called simply "Al-Wadi" (the Valley), or its northern continuation "Shehadeh Saleh", running diagonally from Shabtai Levi St. to HaTsiyonut Boulevard.

  • Abdel Hadi Sweets - On Shehadeh Saleh Street, near the intersection with HaTsiyonut. It's marked only in Hebrew and Arabic, but even if you don't know those alphabets you can find it by the Arabic pastries visible through the windows. You can eat in at one of the three or four small tables (the place is mostly built for take-out); their knafeh is particularly good.

Restaurant and cafe clusters

Moriah Avenue, starting from Horev center (shopping center) all the way to the Carmel center along Moriah Avenue. Some good places alongside this 3 km stretch include:

  • Charliebar (meat, seafood, hamburgers)
  • Frangelico (sushi bar).
  • Café Louise (organic).
  • Sinta-bar (meat)
  • El Gaucho (steaks, kosher)
  • Meat In and Out (steaks)
  • Canibar (hamburgers)
  • Agadir (hamburgers)
  • Lechem Erez
  • Giraffe (Asian fusion)
  • HaBank (cafe with good food)
  • Pasta Carolla
  • Isabella Bar
  • Shipudei HaTikvah (traditional meats and salads, kosher)
  • Pomodoro (pizza and pasta, kosher)
  • Jacko (seafood)
  • Japanika (reasonably-priced sushi, Fridays: reservations advised)
  • Greg (cafe restaurant)
  • Mandarin (cafe)
  • Voila (Swiss-French)

You can find good food in the local bars around Moriah Avenue, for example, the Duke, Brown, Barbarosa. Good traditional restaurant is Ma'ayan Habira, where home-style dishes are served.

Ben-Gurion Avenue, right below the Bahai Gardens. (at a straight line below it, thus completing an imaginary line from the Gardens into the sea. The street is downtown near the port). This cluster holds some good restaurants, including:

  • Isabella
  • Fattoush
  • Rak Bassar ("Only Meat")
  • Ramsis Restaurant
  • Captain Nemo (seafood)
  • Douzan
  • Taiwan (Chinese food)

Stella Maris, at the San Francisco Observatory. Several restaurants with spectacular views:

  • Kalamaris
  • Golden Coral

HaNamal, the Port.

  • Jacko (seafood)
  • HaNamal 24 (fancy)

Dado Beach. Last but not least is the beach strip cluster which has several restaurants. The food is OK, but the real reason to go there is to relax while enjoying views of the beach (only 15 meters away), or for people-watching.

  • Shaltieli (kosher)

All these clusters of restaurants are very vibrant with youth at about 9 PM further into the small hours of the night, almost at any day of the week, but on Fridays, it may get too crowded on the most popular places. Unfortunately, the medium priced places usually take the 'all the people you can squeeze in' approach, thus you might get a noisy crowded place, and service may not be as good.


Tipping is customary. The normal rate is 15% at all places that you sit down and are served. Don't tip at falafel, shawarma, and bureka stands. If you feel the service was poor, tip less if it was outstanding tip a little more.


Central Mount Carmel offers a decent selection of mid-class cafes and bars. Popular cafes are Greg and Tut (Strawberry), which are right next to each other in Kikar Sefer, and closer to the Horev Center, 'Frangelico' and 'Barbarossa' are considered to be the most popular bars in the city's chic Carmel area. They are often very crowded, but if one can't get in, there are many other bars in the close walking distance, such as Brown, Levinsky, Maidler, and Duke. The beautiful street of Yefe Nof also boasts a cluster of pubs including a popular Charliebar and Irish-style pub. Downtown there are some more pubs, including the legendary old-fashioned 'Maayan HaBira', which is more popular among adult crowd; the "Martef" (Basement), where you might also catch an open-mic night; and up the street from HaMartef is Jack and the Beanstalk, a more intimate pub with a great selection of appetizers. Another downtown happening place is the Syncopa bar.

Shopping in Haifa, Israel

Haifa's mountainous location makes it generally unfriendly for the pedestrian. Therefore shopping avenues are less common than in other cities, though there are a few, such as the Hadar area and the Carmel Centre.

In the old downtown (city center), in a flat area close to the seaport, there are inexpensive shops.

Haifa has many shopping malls. These include the Kiryon, Horev Center, Kastra Center, City Centre Mall (Lev HaIr), Kanyon Haifa and Cinemall. In addition, the 'Grand Canyon' is the newest and biggest mall. It has international brand names such as Armani, Lacoste, Benetton, and Zara as well as local brands and a large food court. "Kanyon" is Hebrew for the mall, and the "Grand Canyon" is in a deep valley in central Haifa, hence the pun in its name.

Safety in Haifa, Israel

Emergency phone numbers:

Police (Mishtara) — 100
Ambulance ("Magen David Adom"- MADA) — 101
Fire & Rescue (Mecabei Esh) — 102
In case of an emergency, don't bother searching for the right number to call - you will be redirected by the dispatcher if you got it wrong.

In terms of typical crime, Israel is a very safe country with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

You should always stay informed of the current situation before and during your visit.

Tap water is potable and perfectly safe for drinking all throughout Israel, big cities and rural parts alike. However, avoid taps that you might find within cultivated fields (e.g. while hiking); they may use recycled water which is only good for irrigation.
Street food is safe and clean, including fried dishes, fish and different salads. It still is wise to use common sense and avoid anything suspicious.
Due to the hot climate in sunny Israel, remember to use sunscreen throughout your stay and drink a lot of water.

Language spoken in Haifa, Israel

Hebrew is the official language of Israel.

English is the most popular foreign language. Israelis study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in Israel. Older people are generally unable to converse in proper English and some knowledge of Hebrew will come in handy. All street and road signs (and many others) have English names, as well as the Hebrew and Arabic names.


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Acre is a small Israeli city on the Mediterranean Sea, which can be considered to be almost the only worthy rival city to the great Jerusalem. There are ancient walls, the Arab bazaars, winding streets and dark-blue sea, which bathes the Old Town on three sides. Taking a walk there, you really...
Nahariya is one of the resorts in Israel, located on the Mediterranean coast in Western Galilee. The resort life is centered on the main street, Ha-Ga'ton. Eucalyptus trees grow along tree-lined boulevards, and there's the river Ga'aton, which looks like a dead stream. To the right and to left of...
We were going down the terraces of the Bahai Garden -  Terraces of the Bahá'í Faith . Only believers are allowed to go up there. The Baha'i Faith is one of the youngest world religions. It started in 1844 in Iran. The symbol of Baha'i is a nine-pointed star. There's a tomb of Baba on...
Haifa  is the third largest city in Israel and the largest seaport on the slope of  Mount Carmel . The population is about 275,000. The higher the district, the more prestigious. Arabs live in the Lower Town, Hof Shemen is the industrial district, and Carmel is the highest and most...
We came out of the subway, and I took pictures of the cloudy winter day in  Haifa.  Then it started raining. Modern buildings of glass and concrete neighbor smaller, ramshackle buildings.  The Israeli law forbids even touching unowned houses for 60 years. They are only subject...
Caesarea  is a city built by King Herod and it served as the capital of Israel, during the ancient Roman period. There you can find a theater, a "palace on the reef," an amphitheater for King Herod, baths, administrative and economic areas, a fortified town from the Middle Ages, a port, a...