10 Best Things to do in Haifa and Akko
Directly east of the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel is the beautiful port city of Haifa and the nearby ancient city of Akko, also known as Acre. While they do not contain as many Biblical sites as other areas of the country, they certainly have their own charm and still manage to draw thousands of tourists every year. There are certainly dozens of sites and attractions in these cities and it would be easy to spend weeks in the area, so we have compiled a list of our top 10 favorite things to do in Haifa and Akko.
With one glance at the immaculate multi terraced gardens and stunning temple you will understand why over half a million visitors flock to the Baha’i Gardens every year. Israel is not only a pilgrimage destination for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but for people of the lesser known Baha’i faith as well. The Baha’i faith originated in 19th century Persia and emphasizes a focus on the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. The gardens include a staircase made of 19 terraced gardens that lead to a beautiful gold-domed temple which serves as a shrine and tomb of the Bab, the prophet of the Baha’i faith.
MadaTech – Science Museum
Located in a building that looks more like an ancient castle than a museum is MadaTech- the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space. The museum offers fun and entertainment for the whole family while inspiring curiosity and a desire to learn. If you are a parent trying to sneak a little education into your children’s vacation without them even realizing it. With a variety of hands on, interactive exhibits, multi-sensory presentations, and a scientific playground, the kids be able will exercise their minds all day long.
Druze Village of Daliyat al-Karmel
Daliyat al-Karmel is Israel’s largest Druze village and is the ideal spot to learn about the unique Druze culture while enjoying a meal and taking the opportunity to get a little shopping done. Don’t miss the Carmel Center for Druze Heritage Museum, where visitors can learn about the religion, culture, and history of the Druze people. Established in 2011 is the Garden of the Mothers, a tribute to the sisterhood between Druze, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women working together in Israel. Those who choose to visit the village on Saturday will have the opportunity to explore the vibrant market and sample some of the local cuisine and baked goods. Recently some villagers have begun opening their homes to tourists to allow visitors to get a glimpse of the Druze lifestyle.
Hiking – Carmel Mountains (Cave River, Little Switzerland, Neanderthal caves)
The breathtaking and serene landscape of the Carmel Mountains make Haifa a hiker’s paradise. There are a variety of trails to choose from and something for everyone from the novice to the expert. Little Switzerland is one of the most famous hiking destinations in Haifa and it is named for its lush greenery that reminded European visitors of their homeland. It is a nature reserve that is part of the Carmel National Park so it is well kept and you’ll definitely want to make sure to bring your camera for some great photo ops. The Neanderthal caves of the Carmel Mountains, also known as Nahal Me’arot are not only beautiful, but anthropologically significant as well. Artifacts left by early man were discovered and excavated in many of the cave and visitors to the area can learn about these findings and what they reveal about life at that time.
German Colony (Templar neighborhood)
Haifa’s German Colony is a beautiful area of the city that extends from the foot of the Baha’i Gardens to the Port of Haifa. It was established by German Templars in the 1860s and today serves as a beautiful place to relax and unwind. With stunning views of the Port and the Baha’i gardens, it is the perfect place for a stroll. And don’t forget to stop at one of the red roofed cafes that line the street for a leisurely lunch or cup of coffee.
The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum is built with the Af Al Pi Chen ship at its center. Af Al Pi Chen was one of several ships that secretly brought Jews to Israel while it was ruled by the British Mandate. At that time a severe restriction of Jewish immigration had been established. The museum portrays the early beginnings of the Israeli navy. Photo by: Mark Nakasone
As one the world’s oldest cities, Akko gives visitors an opportunity to travel back in time to experience Israel during the Crusades. After spending the day exploring the museum dedicated to Crusader knights and shopping for artisanal medieval goods, travelers can partake in a royal banquet hosted by King Richard the Lionheart. This is a truly entertaining way to familiarize oneself with medieval life (well… the more pleasant aspects of medieval life anyway). Guests can enjoy a feast of traditional foods, served by a singing waitress in customary medieval garb, while being entertained by jousting knights.
Saint John’s Church
Located next to Akko’s iconic lighthouse is a Franciscan church that serves the Latin-Catholic community. It is the ideal place to visit for some lovely photos and professional photographers come from all over the world to capture the beautiful church with its crisp white walls and striking red bell tower. It also offers a wonderful view of the sea. Photo by: Jason Ryant
This vibrant and colorful market is one of the best shuks (Israeli term for market) in the country. Less crowded than some of the other famous markets in Israel, this is an ideal place to meander through the stalls selling an eclectic mix of spices, baked treats, clothing, and other goods without having to elbow your way through the crowds. It is a treat for the taste buds as well as the eyes, so make sure you come with an empty stomach, plenty of cash, and your best bargaining skills. Photo by: Mykaul
Akko Underground Prison Museum
Built during the Ottoman empire, Akko’s Underground Prison was originally a fortress that served as a government building. During the British Mandate it was converted to act as the main prison for the northern portion of Israel and today it is a museum where visitors can learn about the building’s history as well as the resistance movement against the British and Zionism.
If you would like to visit any of these sites during one of our Israel tours, contact us today!