Any self-respecting traveller knows that if you ain’t been to Jerusalem, you ain’t seen nothing! The ‘City of Gold’ is arguably the most significant religious city in the world. That also happens to make it one of the most troubled, but violence against visitors is thankfully extremely rare and should not be allowed to detract from what is one of the great travel experiences.
Soak up the staggering atmosphere as you roam through Jerusalem’s bustling Old City, relish in a meal and a day of shopping along Ben Yehuda Street, or explore your way through some Roman history at Via Dolorosa. Visiting Jerusalem is such a profound experience because of its immeasurably significant past, present and future that even sinners and total non-believers will feel cleansed at the civic confluence of three of the world’s three most consequential faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jerusalem’s Top 10
10. Yad Vashem Explore the Jewish people’s rich living memorial to the past at Israel’s Holocaust museum.
5. Qubbat Al-Sakhra Aka the ‘Dome of the Rock’, this is Arab architecture at its finest.
9. The Biblical Zoo Search for two of every animal as you wander through this tourist favourite.
4. Har Habayit The most important Jewish holy place, this mighty temple structure is over 2,000 years old!
8. Yemin Moshe Jerusalem’s first modern neighbourhood outside the Old Town still feels pretty ancient.
3. The Israel Museum Israel’s largest museum is the home to the famed Dead Sea Scrolls.
7. The Western Wailing Wall Found in the Jewish quarter, this wall was built in 50BCE. Be awed by the outside, then explore the depths of the tunnels. An absolute must!
2. The Garden Tomb The place where Jesus was said to have been buried. The origins of Christianity (and the Easter Bunny) lie in this lush garden.
6. Damascus Gate The most elaborate entry point, and conveniently near Jerusalem’s most renowned sweets store!
1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre You’ll have to queue to get in, but considering this is Christianity’s holy of holies, it may just be worth it.
- Tower of David Museum – This tower was built by the Hamoneans and expanded on by Herod the Great.
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre – This church built in the 4th century preserves memories of the death and resurrection of Christ.
- Karaite Synagogue – One of the oldest Synagogues where members of the Karaite, a Jewish sect, used to worship.
- Hezekiah’s Tunnel – Dug during the reign of Hezekiah in Israel underneath the city of David.
- Garden Tomb – A garden in Jerusalem that is naturally watered by an underground spring with views of Golgotha.
Jerusalem Art & Culture
- Manofim – Started in 2008, see Jerusalem’s creative arts at this annual visual arts exhibition.
- Muslala – Check out the art displayed on walls and gardens at this outdoor exhibition.
- Jerusalem Season of Culture – Enjoy artistic talent from musicians, poets, visual artists and dancers from the middle of July to the end of May.
- The Jerusalem Theatre – The largest centre for art and culture.
- Jerusalem International Arts and Crafts Fair – Enjoy ceramics, paintings, metalwork jewellery and food exhibitions.
- Malha Hall - Your kids will enjoy the play area and food court as you shop at this indoor mall with more than 260 stores.
- Shuk Mahne Yehuda – Enjoy an authentic open-air market that sells culinary delights.
- Souk – An outdoor flea market in Jerusalem that spreads over a number of streets and sells food, spices, clothes and shoes.
- Sheshet – Offers high-quality jewellery and accessories at affordable prices.
- Dead Sea Gallery – Stocks quality skin care products that are worth trying.
Gay & Lesbian Jerusalem
- Riff- Raff – Open 24 hours a day and serving a variety of foods, as well as various activities to keep visitors busy.
- T-mol Shilshom – Quite ideal for booklovers, this is a restaurant and bookstore.
- Pride Parade – An annual event where gays and lesbians parade through the city.
- Jewish Princess – Enjoy good ambiance and relax on the comfortable couches.
- Platinum – Attend a party for gays every Fridays.
- Haas Promenade – Enjoy the whole landscape of the city from this leafy green garden.
- Kiftzova - Ideal for children, as it has a lot of sliding and jumping games.
- Jerusalem Botanical Gardens - Enjoy exotic vegetation and scents as you take a walk through the flowers and bushes.
- Ein Kobi to Ein Yoel – A 7km trail that goes through a tunnel, caves and pools of water.
- Wohl Rose Park – Has roses from around the world with sculptures and benches for resting.
- Catch Hapoel Jerusalem, the local basketball team, playing at Teddy Stadium.
- Take the 9km hike at Nahal Nahama’ara and enjoy historical sites on the go.
- Keep fit and regularly participate in the annual Jerusalem half-marathon, which is normally held in March.
- East Jerusalem YMCA offers both indoor and outdoor sporting facilities.
- Enjoy an expansive swimming pool and three tennis courts at the Hotel Ramat Rachael.
Bookworms unite at the Jerusalem International Book Fair held each February.
Celebrate Easter where it all began. With a plethora of religious services all around the city, this is one of Jerusalem’s most important annual events.
June’s annual Israeli Festival brings 16 days of music, theatre and dance into Jerusalem.
Put on your film critic hat and enjoy Israel’s finest at the 10-day Jerusalem Film Festival in July.
Last, but definitely not least, Christmas in Jerusalem is when the city comes alive!
When To Go
Some like it hot and if that’s you, Jerusalem in summer should appeal. Average temperatures are 30°C (86°F) with relatively low humidity.
Winter in Jerusalem can get fairly chilly. It has even been known to snow, but you’d have to be very lucky to see that!
The best time to go is around April, when the weather is mild and Jerusalem is full of life.
Cabs are plentiful, but make sure the meter is running and you don’t get taken on the ‘scenic route’.
The bus system can be quite confusing, but with the help of a friendly local it’s the best (and cheapest) way to get around West Jerusalem.
By far the most pleasant way to soak up Jerusalem is to pop on your sandals and make your pilgrimage to the sights on foot.
Perhaps the most holy city in the world, with vital roots in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Jerusalem is singular and as such, escapes comparison. Beyond religion, the city is vital as a place of settlement as far back as the Bronze Age. A windfall for those in the field of archaeology, Jerusalem seems to be under constant excavation. Not only is the capital of Israel safer that most assume, Jerusalem is also much more beautiful and hospitable than any guidebook can assert.
As the major city in Israel, in every sense of the word, there is tremendous appeal for tourists. Aside from the obvious Old City classics, every last one of them must-see, from The Western Wall to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Al-Aqsa Mosque and The Temple Mount, Jerusalem pulsates with attractions. The Rockefeller Museum, Islamic Museum and Israel Museum are all worth a few hours of your time. Similarly, Yad Vashem is a remarkable Holocaust memorial. Last but not least, as the cultural heart of Israel, the city has much to offer, from the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra to the Israel Philharmonic.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
With dry, hot summers and mild, rainy winters, Jerusalem has a pleasant Mediterranean climate.
- Winter (December to February) 4-14°C
- Spring (March to May) 6-25°C
- Summer (June to September) 15-29°C
- Fall (October to November) 9-25°C
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