Haifa,Israel The city of... Haifa is a lively seaport, and the third largest city in the country. It sits on the slopes of the Carmel Mountains, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve stretching down the length of the Mediterranean Sea. The range is rich in flora and fauna, and boasts breathtaking mountain views, many attractions such as Maccabi Haifa's football matches, upscale restaurants, and Spa centers. No wonder, therefore, that the area is known as Israel's Little Tuscany. The city itself has a mixed Jewish-Arab population, with plenty of interesting museums, gardens and religious sites to keep you busy. Story of... Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel and is located about 90 km north of Tel Aviv. Haifa has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and cool and not-too-rainy winters. Haifa is an ancient town, first mentioned around the 3rd century, when it was home to Rabbi Avdimos and other Jewish scholars from the Talmudic era. However, the little fishing village was always overshadowed by a much greater city, Acre, and became a major port on the Mediterranean coast only in the 20th century. Five Great Reasons to Visit Haifa: • The views - the Haifa Scenic Way is the first of its kind in Israel. The tour passes 21 lookout points that are spread across 60 km along the Carmel Ridge, encompassing various points of interest in the city. • The Baha'i Gardens - The Baha'i Shrine and Persian Gardens is undoubtedly the most impressive place to visit in Haifa. It is the world center of the faith, which originated in Persia in 1844, and the shrine's golden dome has become the city's most prominent landmark. Book a tour in advance to stroll through the 19 terraces of tranquil and amazingly landscaped gardens. • The International Haifa Film Festival is held annually at the end of September and the beginning of October. About 200 films from more than 40 different countries are screened in this week-long internationally renowned event. • Nightlife - Haifa is a blue collar industrial city by day, and a hopping party town by night, with numerous pubs, clubs and dance bars. The Gobi Dance Bar for example, has huge glass windows overlooking Haifa Bay; and Little Haifa is one of Haifa's oldest watering holes, with a great international ambience and the best beers in town. Attractions A few hundred yards northeast of the Persian Gardens is the Haifa Museum of Art, one of the best art museums in Israel, with a permanent collection of contemporary Israeli and international art, as well as changing exhibitions throughout the year. Madatech is Israel's National Museum of Science. The museum, established in 1983, is housed in historic landmark buildings, surrounded by a seven-acre green campus - the original home of the Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology and the country's first academic institution. Today, this impressive institution sparks inspiration and inspires innovation in its visitors, children and adults alike, with more than 20 exhibitions and Cinematrix 3D movies in collaboration with University of Haifa. As the name suggests, the Carmelite Order was founded on Mount Carmel in the 12th century. Since then, the Stella Maris Church stands tall on the mountaintop near Haifa. Throughout its history, the building changed hands and served as a mosque, a monastery, and a hospital. It was reconstructed as a Carmelite monastery only in the 19th century; its crypt is actually a cave, traditionally considered to be Elijah's cave. The monastery's main hall is luxurious and built as a cruciform. The frescoed ceiling depicts scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The Carmel Mountain Range offers numerous attractions, from spa centers to spectacular hiking trails, and from art galleries to striking natural and man-made gardens. Little Switzerland (next to Bet Oren Junction) is the name of the main hiking area of the Carmel. Most of the trails are open year-round; they are suitable for all, have spectacular ocean views, and offer highly enjoyable walks through the lush Mediterranean forest. And if you're looking for some down-time, there's nothing more relaxing and luxurious than a couple of days at the Carmel Forest Spa Resort. Here, as the website suggests, you can "find new inspiration to lead a healthy life, as you eat the healthiest gourmet food, sleep better than you have in years, and enjoy the feeling of perfect serenity." Best Restaurants Haifa is a cosmopolitan port, with a culinary scene to match. For the best restaurants, café and pubs, head to Downtown Haifa. Ha'ogen Pub, open since 1942 has simple food in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Golden Coral Restaurant is one of the most romantic spots in Haifa, with striking views of Haifa Bay and a delicious fusion east and west. HaNamal 24 boasts an elegant and Tuscan atmosphere and French cuisine with Italian and other Mediterranean influences. Hashmura 1872 is set in an old stone building in the fabulous German Colony, and from the terrace you can view the Baha'i gardens, illuminated at nightMeat in and Out is the ultimate carnivore heaven - the meat is aged in-house, and entrees are made from the finest cuts. Best Shopping Haifa's freshest produce beacons shoppers at Talpiot Market, with heady aromas and flavors, spice stalls, fresh baked goods and much more. The Grand Canyon shopping center is one of the largest in Israel, with over 150 stores - top international brands as well as Israeli chain stores - alongside a spa and a massive indoor amusement park. City Center Outlet is an exclusive shopping mall in the German Colony, in a building which blends well with the architecture of the Templers, the founders of this charming area. Tips and trips • Don't miss the Carmelit, Israel's funicular underground railway. It connects Paris Square in downtown Haifa with Merkaz HaCarmel at the top of the mountain. It has four cars, six stations and one tunnel 1.8 km long. The ride takes only 8 minutes. • A one-stop resource for planning your trip to this beautiful city is the Tour Haifa website. Treat yourself to a football game at the Kiryat Eliezer stadium to support Maccabi Haifa, one of the best teams in Israel.