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Visiting the Beautiful Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel: Top Tips

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As a long-time traveler to Israel, I’ve visited the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa several times. It’s an incredible place and should absolutely be on your Israel bucket list!

It’s been several years since I last went on a tour of the Bahá’í Gardens, so I’ve asked expert cruiser Lisa Garret to share her tips from a more recent visit to Haifa. While she arrived directly in Haifa on a Mediterranean cruise, land travelers in Israel will find these tips just as helpful as they built their Israel itinerary!

Taking an Israel tour or cruise that includes a stop in Haifa?  You’re definitely going to want to visit the spectacular Bahá’í Gardens!

Your cruise line will certainly offer shore excursions that visit the gardens.  But it’s always much cheaper to see the sights on your own – in this case, your only cost will be transportation.  (I always check out both options to save money on a cruise.)

Not sure how to visit the Bahá’í Terraced Gardens? No worries! I took a tour of the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa, and I’ve got all of the information on what to expect during your visit.

Lace up your shoes and let’s go!

Want to skip all the planning and access my detailed Israel itinerary complete with daily schedules, awesome activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

What are the Bahá’í Gardens?

Bahai Gardens in Haifa
View of the gorgeous terraced Bahá’í Gardens and Shrine in Haifa, Israel

Haifa’s star destination is the Bahá’í Gardens and Shrine, perched on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Visiting these gardens is one of the best things to do in Haifa.

They’re also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

The gardens are incredibly beautiful. Admire the lush plants, vibrantly colored flowers, and eye-pleasing symmetry. 

I don’t know how they do it — there was nary a gardener and nary a sprinkler to be seen, but the whole garden is immaculate and green.  It’s just amazing!

The outer shrine gardens are open daily from 9:00-17:00. Note the gardens are closed on Bahá’í holy days and Yom Kippur.

You can take opt for a limited self-guided view of the gardens from the upper balcony for a quick visit. If you have time, I recommend taking a free guided tour of the entire site, which starts at the top and continues down. If you’re trying to get directions for where to enter the Bahai Gardens, be sure you pull up the Yefe Nof address – the others are located further down and won’t give you access to the gardens or tour.

Pro tip: It’s a long (and uphill) walk from the downtown Haifa and the cruise port to the entrance to the gardens. It’s best to take a taxi or bus.

Guided tours of the Bahá’í Gardens

Reverse view of the terraced Bahá’í Gardens

Guided tours are available Tuesday through Sunday, typically with one English tour each in the morning and afternoon. The tours are free, but reservations are required to reserve a space. Since these tours are offered on Saturdays, land-based travelers can even hop up on a day trip if you’re looking for things to do in Jerusalem on Shabbat!

I took advantage of one of the free daily tours in English. Free tours are also offered in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian so pay attention when booking! Plan to arrive ten minutes before your tour starting time, or you may lose your spot. Since this is a religious site, you must cover your shoulders and knees. You’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes as well.

My tour started at the top of the terraced garden, and we worked our way down. The tour includes 750 steps from the top of the gardens to the Shrine. This was enough to make my legs wobbly, but at least we were going down rather than up. If you have mobility issues, this is not the activity for you.

And those weren’t even all of the steps! The garden’s stairs continue down the hill from the Shrine. The official website says there are around 1700 steps from the top of the gardens to the bottom. Yikes!

The tour guide stopped at each terrace to give everyone in the group a chance to catch up, catch their breath, and take in the beauty of the gardens from each new perspective. At each stop, our guide also shared facts about the gardens and the faith.

Once you reach the end of the tour, don’t forget to look back and see where you’ve come from! The view isn’t quite as stunning from the bottom, but it is still impressive.

Read more: 50 MUST-READ Tips For Your Trip To Israel in 2023

The Shrine of the Báb

The garden view of the Shrine of the Báb is one of the best places to see in Haifa

After reaching the Shrine at the midpoint of the terraced gardens, the tour comes to an end.  From here, you’re free to explore on your own. However, we were not allowed to retrace our path upward through the gardens. I headed towards the Shrine of the Báb from this lovely garden starting point.

As I got closer to the Shrine, I could see more architectural details. 

The Shrine features columns, arches, gilded balustrades, and intricate carvings – all topped by a magnificent golden dome. It was almost like a multi-tiered fancy wedding cake.

Admire the incredible architectural details of the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel

You must remove your shoes to enter the Shrine.  Sorry, no photography is allowed inside the Shrine.  You’ll have to visit yourself to satisfy your curiosity!

Note: the opening hours for the Shrine are much shorter than those of the gardens themselves. You’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing when to take your tour.

The Shrine and the inner gardens are only open from 9:00-12:00 and are closed on Bahá’í holy days and Yom Kippur. If you would like to enter the Shrine, it’s better to take the morning English tour rather than the afternoon tour.

Other top attractions in and near Haifa

While the Bahá’í Gardens are the best thing to do in Haifa, you’ll have plenty of time to see more of the city’s top attractions during a port day or day trip.

Some of the most popular Haifa attractions include:

  • Madatech – This interactive science museum is one of Haifa’s most popular museums
  • Bat Galim Beach – Sunsets here are phenomenal!
  • The Haifa Zoo
  • Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
  • National Maritime Museum and Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum – A must for any fans of maritime history
  • Haifa Museum of Art
  • Haifa cable cars

If you’re comfortable renting a car in Israel, take a day trip from Haifa to explore more of Israel. Some of the easiest places to visit from Haifa include:

  • Acre: The historic city of Acre (Akko) is less than a 30-minute drive from Haifa. Explore the city’s rich cultural blend with sights such as the Templar Citadel, the souk, and the Turkish bath museum.
  • Caesarea: This waterfront city is about a 40-minute drive south along the coast from Haifa. Caesarea is best known for its Roman ruins in the Caesarea National Park.

Wrapping up

The Bahá’í Gardens are a must-see for visitors to Haifa. The gorgeous symmetry of the terraced gardens makes them worth a visit!

If you have a full day in port, you can visit the gardens as well as some of Haifa’s great museums and beaches. No matter how you spend your day in Haifa, you’re sure to make some wonderful memories!

About Lisa
Lisa is an engineer by profession, a traveler by obsession, and the founder of the Waves and Cobblestones and Travel to Lyon travel blogs.  Whether you are planning a two-week trip to Lyon or have just one day in Cabo San Lucas on a cruise, her destination guides and travel tips will help you have an amazing vacation.  Lace up your shoes and let’s go! 

Want to skip all the planning and access my detailed Israel itinerary complete with daily schedules, awesome activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

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Visiting the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel

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