Haifa – The Perfect Starting Point To Explore Israel’s North


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Too often forgotten, Haifa is the perfect starting point to explore Israel’s north; it has some gems of it’s own as well!

Haifa Reviewed
Situated on a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean Sea coastline, and perched atop Mt. Carmel, Haifa is a beautiful city. Only about 100 miles north of Tel Aviv (and Ben Gurion airport) it seems like the perfect spot to begin a journey into Northern Israel. The city itself is the third largest in Israel, though it garners far less attention than both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. From a distance it’s amazing to look it, as the city is built in three levels – the lower level (which is mostly commercial in nature, including the shipping port), the middle level (which hosts some older apartment buildings), and the newest upper level where you find the larger neighborhoods and hotels. These tiers give way for unbeatable views, both of the sea and of the levels of civilization below.

Attractions in Haifa
The most visited attraction in Haifa, by far, is the 50-acre Baha’i Gardens. While the meticulous landscaping of the area is obviously what attracts most visitors, it’s really just secondary to the true meaning of the place. This extravagant sloping garden, together with the ornately decorated domed structure in the centre, is home to the Shrine of the Bab – the founder of the Baha’i faith, As such, this beautiful site is quite a holy place. The Baha’i faith may not be the world’s most prominent religions (boasting only about 5 million followers), but those that do follow the faith are incredibly loyal. In fact, almost all of the upkeep involved for the gardens in Haifa, including for the shrine itself, is done by volunteer pilgrims from the Bahai faith who come to give their time. In July of 2008, the gardens (together with other Bahai attractions in surrounding areas) were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Luxury Hotels In Northern Israel
Considered the religious epicenter for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it’s no surprise that Israel attracts tourists from every corner of the world, and from many religious backgrounds. Northern Israel however, is focal point for much of the New Testament tradition, and it’s the reason so many Christians spend such a great deal of time in the region. There are many Christian sites to see – not to mention the plethora of Old Testament sites and modern-day Israeli history to explore – in the Galilee, but unfortunately there are few large cities. This makes finding a quality hotel and decent restaurants hard to come by from night to night. Rather than hopping from city to city, many decide to use Haifa as their jumping off point. A drive from Haifa to the Sea of Galilee, Mt. of Beatitudes or Capernaum, is only about 90 minutes; and once you’re in that area, most of the sites are within a 15-20 minute drive of each other. As mentioned, the Galilee offers far more than just the ancient Christian sites. Those interested in the history of war will find this region (and the neighboring Golan Heights) of particular interest, as they were the key battle grounds in the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Syria (among others). If you have the time and are interested in a taste of Jewish mysticism, or “Kabbalah” as it’s called, a day-trip to Safed (Tzfat in Hebrew) is a unique and uplifting experience.

Review Of The Crowne Plaza Haifa – A Hotel With A View
There are several hotels up at the top of Mt. Carmel, overlooking the city of Haifa, the port, and the beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. Among the best views you’ll get however is at the Crowne Plaza. In this beautiful hotel you enter, at street level, into the lobby on the 9th floor – that gives you an idea of how the hotel and city are laid out! The property features a large lounge area with an accompanying bar near reception, and has a rather impressive menu for dinner in the lone restaurant. Breakfast is also a treat, as the views from dining overlook the sea and all it’s glory.

Unfortunately, many people who visit Israel stick to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, before heading to see the Dead Sea and other attractions in the southern part of the country. To get the full experience and to see some of Israel’s “greener” beauty, venture north – you won’t be disappointed! From the views across Haifa to Jesus’ synagogue in Capernaum, and from the Bahai Gardens to lookout points along the Syrian border, Northern Israel provides much more to do than may initially meet the eye. And don’t worry, there’s a little bit of everything for travellers of all ages and all faiths.

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