Israel is a small country and the distance between Tel Aviv and Haifa is just about one hour. Haifa is pretty close to the northern border of Israel with Lebanon.
Israelis say that 'Tel Aviv parties, Jerusalem prays and Haifa works'. The city certainly feels more low-key than the other two hotspots and has a different vibe to these cities.
The city is built around and on Mt. Carmel, which gives amazing views from the top of the mountain. The city is located at the beach but don't expect a 'beach town' feel – it's more industrial and residential…
Haifa Baha'i Gardens
Baha'i followers have set up the World Center in the city of Haifa and these gardens just look incredible. The temple and gardens are visible from most parts of town and are as stunning as it gets.
There is only one public tour – every day at noon, starting at the top of the hill – and many other parts are only open to the public at certain hours. Google the hours before you plan your visit – it's worth it. I regrettably missed it.
Have you been to too many discovery museums that turned out to be boring displays of science? Well this science museum is different – it has tons of exhibits that are more like scientific experiments in the making. There are remote-controlled ships, an outdoor helicopter you can ride and much more. It's $16 to get in, but certainly worth it.
Zoos aren't usually my favorite attraction so I was torn about this one. But boy, Haifa Zoo has a pretty location, on a steep hillside. It's in the middle of a Mt. Carmel neighborhood, but feels like it's in another world with tons of scenic views of the ocean.
It's $10 well-invested into an hour or two of seeing lots of animals and strolling through this pretty landscape.
Food is a great experience in Israel with the enormous choice the country provides. I found a number of delicious hummus places in Carmel center and the town center at the bottom of the hill. Simple, delicious and organic food that is somewhat healthy – perfect!
As for many cities in Israel incl. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, public transport is fantastic. Lots of buses and trains that run on schedule wherever you want to go.
Parking is a big headache in all these cities. Only rent a car if you like to venture to the Dead Sea and Eilat – don't go through the enormous hassle to drive here.
Several buses go to Nazareth from Haifa in about an hour. Nazareth is just on the outskirts of the West Bank (but part of the Israel territory) and it really is as scary as the West Bank.
Keep in mind that the cost level in Israel is high – on par with major US cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. You get quality items, but it is hard to get a deal here.