Cobblestone streets. Picturesque cafes. Vineyards for miles. No, we’re not talking about Italy. We’re talking about Zichron Yaakov, the delightful Israeli town located at the tip of the Carmel mountain range and offering endless charm for romantics, wine-lovers and gourmands alike.
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Ideal for a day trip or a short weekend jaunt, Zichron Yaakov is a quiet, wine-soaked place, a short drive from Haifa and easily accessible by the Israel Railways. It was founded in 1882 by a handful of Romanian immigrants and has a rich history, which is told in beautiful detail at the town’s First Aliyah Museum, located on HaNadiv Street. The town’s name, which means “Yaakov’s Memorial,” takes its name from Yaakov Mayer de Rothschild, father of the town’s patron, Baron Edmund James de Rothschild.
Dozens of “tzimmerim,” or vacation cottages, are spread throughout the town, which is surrounded by vineyards and perched on a hill overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Running through the center is HaMeyasdim Street, a paved pedestrian boulevard dotted with cafes, little restaurants and no shortage of kooky, crafty shops and storefronts.
The area was home to Israel’s first winery, Carmel Winery, which still stands in a modern facility where visitors can tour the factory, taste the many varietals and enjoy innovative cuisine at the adjoining cafe. Several other wineries, from the large to the two-grape variety, are available for visits and tastings.
Many of the buildings in Zichron Yaakov are the originals from the 19th century, although more modern homes and offices have cropped up in the past few years. The town is also home to a large artists’ community, so make sure you take time out from eating and drinking to stroll through a few galleries and even pick up a souvenir or two.