Haifa On a BudgetLocated on the northern Mediterranean coast of Israel, Haifa is Israel's third largest city. It is also a beautiful and strategically located city near the border with Lebanon. The population of Haifa, which is approximately 300,000, is surprisingly diverse. There are Jews, Muslim, and Christian Arabs throughout the city. While Haifa is an industrial city with a strong work ethic and a good job base, it is also a beautiful city with many gardens and a stunning coastline. Today the job base has increasingly become technology based with some large companies such as Google and Microsoft offering employment in the area. Haifa University is also the country's top technology university.
Haifa's climate is hot summer Mediterranean. The summers are hot and dry while the winters are cool and rainy. Spring begins in March with a sharp temperature rise. The average temperature during the summer months is 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the average temperature during the winter is 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Although snow is rare in the area, temperatures can drop to just above freezing during the winter months. Rain is most common between the months of September and May.
SightsOne of the most significant sights in Haifa is the Bahai Gardens and World Center. This is a beautiful landmark of the city that is open every day with the exception of Wednesdays. Also make sure you visit the Cave of Elijah, Stella Maris, and the National Museum of Science. There is also a German Colony that is centered around Ben-Gurion Boulevard. The main street is a promenade with many restaurants and cafes. The University of Haifa is also worth exploring.
In general, a day or two is sufficient to visit most of the sights in Haifa. While it is a beautiful city, and well worth a visit, there are not a large number of sights and attractions. The city is best visited as a whole, and not on a sight by sight basis.
NeighborhoodsHaifa's oldest neighborhood is Wadi Salib. This is the Old City near the port. Wadi Nisnas is the center for Arab life in the city. Hadar was the city's cultural center, but today it has two commercial centers that are each surrounded by the city's older neighborhoods. One commercial center is near the port area and the other is halfway up the mountain. Neve Sha'anon is a neighborhood that dates back to the 1920s. Other neighborhoods around town include Bat Galim, Shikmona Beach, Kiryat Eliezer, Abbas, Khalisa, Ein HaYam, Haar HaAliya, Kiryat Sprinzak and Neve David, among others.
ActivitiesOne of the most popular activities to do in Haifa is to go to the beach. The best beaches can be found near the Hof Hacarmel bus and train station. You can walk straight to the beach from either of the stations. There are beautiful beaches found along the southwest side of the city. There is also a boardwalk that is lined with cafes and restaurants. This area is a center for activity and is a great place to socialize or people watch.
Food and DiningThere are some great restaurants throughout Haifa, but the cheapest food in town is the street food. Like elsewhere in Israel, falafel is readily available throughout the city. There are also plenty of shawarma stands that are great for grabbing a quick lunch. You'll also find plenty of international restaurants including Romanian and Italian options. Restaurants in Haifa, like elsewhere in Israel, are quite expensive, but the food is generally a high quality. You are expected to tip in most restaurants, and approximately 10% is considered customary. If you receive poor service, it is acceptable to tip less.
TransportationThe best way to travel around Haifa is by the elaborate bus system. Buses are convenient and run every day of the week. Haifa is also a very walkable city, so with the exception of longer trips, most destinations can be reached on foot.
There are two main bus stations in town. The first is Mercazit HaMifratz, where you can catch buses to the northern suburbs and the Sea of Galilee. This station is located near the Lev HaMifraz train station. The second station, Mercazit Hof HaCarmel, offers buses to more southern destinations including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It is located near the Hof Ha Carmel train station.