Haifa is one of the Middle East’s most picturesque cities. The views from the top of majestic Mt Carmel (546m) are breathtaking, especially from the Baha’i Gardens, but almost everywhere you look in the city there are interesting, if not always beautiful, urban landscapes, many from the late Ottoman and Mandate (Bauhaus) periods.
Haifa was intended by British planners to serve as the Levant’s main port and transport hub, linked – thanks to rail lines and an oil pipeline – to a hinterland that encompassed Transjordan and Iraq. That vision came to an abrupt end in 1948, when much of the city’s Arab population were expelled or fled. Today, Haifa’s Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side, largely in harmony and the city is proud to serve as a model for Jewish-Arab coexistence.
Haifa – Israel’s third-largest city – is about equidistant (a bit over 40km) from Caesarea, Nazareth and, up on the Lebanese border, Rosh HaNikra, making it an excellent base for exploring the Galilee by car.