The North of Israel is often overshadowed by other places, namely Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea, when deciding where to spend time when visiting Israel. However, I usually find it’s nicer to sway from the most popular travel destinations for a few days of the holiday and see what the smaller cities of a country have to offer.
It was my dad’s first visit to Israel, so we spent three days touring around the north. We made Haifa our base, and day tripped to Nazareth and Akko.
What to do-
Haifa is a northern Israeli port city, easily reached by train from Tel Aviv. The travel time is just over an hour.
The city’s most iconic sites are the Bahá’í Gardens and, at the heart of the garden, the gold-domed Shrine of the Báb. At the foot of the gardens lies the German Colony, with shops, galleries and restaurants in 19th-century buildings.
You can explore the whole city within a day, but it was nice to make this our base as there are a lot of great restaurant choices and a small beach. Haifa was a small, relaxed city, making it a lovely getaway from the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv where I am living.
Where to eat-
- Garden Restaurant
- Abu Shkara
We stayed at Diana Seaport Apartments. The place was in a great location in close proximity to public transport, the German Colony and the Gardens.
Nazareth is a quick 45 minutes by bus from Haifa, which was why we made the choice to visit. But in all honesty, had I made the effort to visit from Tel Aviv for the day I would have been annoyed.
Nazareth is a city with biblical history. In the old city, the domed Basilica of the Annunciation is where the angel Gabriel told Mary she would bear a child. St. Joseph’s Church is said to be the site of Joseph’s carpentry workshop. The underground Synagogue Church is supposedly where Jesus studied and prayed. But as someone who has no ties to Christianity I found this city incredibly boring. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a beautiful church, but the one church I wanted to go into I was pulled aside and denied entry because my shorts weren’t long enough. So learn from my mistakes and wear a long skirt if you’re a girl, or pants if you’re a man to avoid this.
Despite my enthusiasm towards the city, my dad and I decided that it was one of those places we’d always wonder what it would have been like had we not gone, so I don’t regret going, I just won’t be going back…
Akko is one of the only cities where everything is open on Shabbat in Israel as it is a Muslim dominated area. We caught a ferry boat that only runs between Haifa and Akko. It takes about 1 hour each way, and has no set times that it runs so you’ll have to check the day before or early in the morning on the day you wish to travel.
I’ve already been to Akko and dedicated a whole post to this city so I won’t bore you with the same details here.
However, this was one of my favourite cities I’ve visited during my time in Israel so I wanted to take my dad. Coming back, I realised there were spots I didn’t get to check out the first time I was there so I was glad to come back.
I think spending a WHOLE day here is necessary to take in all the sites. Also, make sure to climb up the stone ramp for great views back over the city and over the beach.