Although it covers only a small part of Haifa the Carmelit funicular was very useful for us to cover the steepness of the mountain from downtown to Hadar district or upper near the upper level of Bahai Gardens. Most of the times it was empty with only a few other riders but we would visit it anyway just to see the world's second shortest (1750metels long) subway after the tunel in Istanbul (570meters long). It operated for the first time in 1959 and it’s the only subway in Israel.
You get your ticket (single ticket 6.60nis) from the ticket machines at the entrance of each station and then you validate the ticket at the yellow machines to pass the turnstiles (pic 2). One day we didn’t have chance for the machine and the guard (that didn’t speak English) let us in without a ticket! While waiting for the next funicular you can check the numerous funny graffiti in most stations (pic 3)
It’s the only subway in Israel and it’s really funny to see its weird structure with numerous steps on the stations’ platforms (pic 4) but also inside the train cabins! (pic 5). There’s also special space for bicycles inside some of the cabins.
There are only 6 stations, starting from Paris Square(downtown, near port and main train station) and goes up to Solel Boneh (near City Hall), HaNevi’im (near Wadi Nisnas), Massada (near Hadar), Bnei Zion (near the Hospital and Golomb street where we stayed), Gan Ha’em (near Louis Promenade)
how to go there
Haifa is 90km North of Tel Aviv (follow route 2), 156 NW of Jerusalem, 25km SW of Acre, 65km West of Tiberias.
Although there’s a local airport (from local flights to Eilat mainly) most people arrive at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv.
We took the direct train from Ben Gurion airport (single ticket 39.50nis in 2013), we arrived in Haifa 70’ later. Have in mind there are 6 (!) different train stations in Haifa, we used CenterHashmona which is centrally located near downtown, port and carmelit funicular. You can also use the train to/from Akko, Nahariyya, Tel Aviv etc
Haifa is well connected with other Israel cities by bus (usually Egged that has the monopoly all over Israel). There are many through out the day from Jerusalem(940, 950, 960)/Tel Aviv(910) but also smaller ones, especially the small towns all over Greater Haifa region..
We used a shared taxi (sherut ) to reach Akko(Acre) from Haifa, it was faster than the bus and the cost similar. They are min vans (pic 3) and most of them depart from Hadar district, we were staying there so it was more convenient for us to stop one just on the street.
Many visitors arrive in Haifa as it is the main port for cruise ships, there are always some of them waiting at the Haifa harbor (pic 4)
how to move around
Although we walked a lot Haifa is not a walking friendly city for the simple reason many parts except the downtown area near the port are located over the steepness of the Carmel mountain. Bicycle is also a bad choice here but we saw some of them inside the Carmelit funicular as there are specific cabins where you can lock them (pic 5).
We used some local buses, they are a bit slow but worth the effort if you know where you go. Bus 23 is useful for the upper level of Bahai Gardens, bus 115 is handy to visit Stella Maris church.
Single ticket costs 6.60nis while a cartisiyah is 10trip card in the price of 8 (52,80nis), unfortunately there’s no daypass.
They also run during the night, even on Sabbath (must be the only town in Israel that you can find bus from Friday noon to Saturday evening.
Sherut is a small van that is bigger than a normal taxi and usually follows the route of a normal bus, it’s much faster and definitely more frequent. The only problem is that there’s no sign in English where it goes so you have to stop one and ask the driver for your destination
The Carmel Tunnels
The backbone of the Carmel mountain goes through Haifa all the way to the coast, leaving a very narrow coastal strip which channels all the traffic into and through Haifa.
The Carmel Tunnels, dug into Mt. Carmel, inaugurated in December 2010, enable you to bypass Haifa going north or south.
Coming to Haifa from Tel-Aviv on Route 2 you will see the roadsign pointing to the tunnels, in the direction of Akko (Acre) and Neve-Shaanan (a neighborhood of Haifa). This is a toll road. The first tunnel connects the coastal area south of Haifa with Neve Sha'anan. There is an exit there. The second tunnel follows right away, and leads directly to the Haifa-Akko road (the old "Checkpoint" junction).
The first tunnel is 3200 m long, the longest tunnel in Israel. The second tunnel is 1643 m long.
The speed limit in the tunnels is 80 km/h.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
Parking at Haifa Tourist Board
To park in Haifa can be tricky, but I found a place just behind the Haifa Tourist Board in the German Colony. Maybe this helps you when coming to this interesting place.
Behind 48 Ben Gurion Boulevard.Related to:
- Road Trip
"Carmelit": Israel's First Underground
Haifa is built on the slope of Mt. Carmrl, on 3 major levels: The Lower City (or downtown), Hadar Ha-Carmel (middle level), and Mt. Carmel. A network of long, winding and often congested streets connects these areas.
The Carmelit, Haifa's subway, connects these 3 levels of the city in the most efficient way: a straight underground line climbing from Paris Square in the Lower City to Gan-Ha'Em on the Carmel. En route it has four more stops: Solel-Boneh, Ha-Nevi'im St., Massadah St., Bani-Zion Hspital.
The Carmelit was first inaugurated in 1956, and operated until 1986, when it needed rennovation. The outdated cars were replaced by four modern, air-conditioned cars, which are operated like a funicular.
The journey from the lowermost station (Paris Square) to the uppermost station (Gan Ha-Em on the Carmel) takes 8 minutes, and costs NIS 6.40.
Inside the staion, by the escalator, I found two unusual signs: one forbidding passengers to take the escalator if they are wearing crocs, the other informing passengers that blind persons can ride for free (but you need to have pretty good eyesight to read this sign!).Related to:
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Buses and Trains
Haifa has a very devaloped transportation system.
Buses - there are 3 main stations in Haifa. Hof Hacarmel is a beautiful new station (i would give it 9 of 10) which is located in the southerm entrance and serves most of the buses coming from south (highway 2) and there are also many internal lines. The second central station IS Lev Hamifratz which located in the northern exit of Haifa and besides the central transportation hub the area is a center of commerce and is not far from the cities main industrial zone. Another station is called Bat Galim which located in the downtown and used to be once the central station of Haifa. Today , after the openings of the first 2 its much less in use by intercity buses.
Trains - Lately I read that Haifa has no less then 6 train stations! (which is more than in Tel Aviv for example). The train is passing trough the shore of Haifa and the views in the region of Atlit shouldnt be missed. The main 2 bus stations have a direct connection to the train stations (also called the same) and it makes it very easy to get from one point to another.
The Shortest Metro In The World
Its called the "Carmelit" and its a kind of funicular altought most of the people consider it as Israel's only subway system.
It was built in the 50ies and , closed during the late 80ies and reopened in 1992. Today it includes 6 stations and passes from the downtown, trough Hadar and up to the Carmel.
One way ticket costs 5.5 NIS (1 Euro) ... anyhow you wont use it more than ones.. ;]
Getting to Haifa
The first time I went to Haifa, was by local bus from Tel Aviv. The next time a couple of years later was on a Mini Cruise from Cyprus, just for Derek to have a taste of Israel.
The boat was the Princessa Marissa, Its the only sea going cruise ship I have been on, I imagine (and hope) it is not the best! Adequate enough though.Related to:
The Carmelit Subway starts at Paris Square (sea level) and runs underground, straight up for 1.75 km ( Approximately 1 mile) to Gan Ha'em on Mount Carmel, with 6 stations. It is operated by 2 two-car trains on single track with a short double track section to allow trains to cross. If your destination is around Carmelit's stop, you better use it. Interesting to feel like you are going straight, when in reality in goes up or down the mountain. Do not expect too much... It is modest, sometimes not very clean around, but fast and easy.
The Carmelit Subway runs approx. every 10 minutes, 6:00-22:00 from Sunday to Thursday, 6:00-15:00 on Fridays, and from one hour after sundown until 22:00 on Saturdays.
Price : 5.5 NIS Which is very similar to bus's price.There is option to 10 rides,Weekly Pass or Monthly Pass tickets too.
Pods to take you to haven
This orange pods, will take you from the beach in Haifa right to the top of the Mnt Carmell (hill) where is this great viewpoint of the City.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
For travel from the Port area of Haifa to the City Center or vice-versa use Israel's only subway The Carmelit. It is inexpensive, efficient and oh so cute.
28 Ben Gurion Street, Haifa, Israel
Good for: Couples
Carmel Forest, PO 9000, Haifa, 31900, Israel
Good for: Business
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