Jerusalem needs no introduction, it is known as the holy city for so many religions across the globe. There is so much history packed into one place, every corner of the old city and its surroundings seem to tell a well-known tale I’ve heard growing up. I found Jerusalem fascinating to visit and since it is only a 50-minute bus journey from Tel Aviv, it is a must-visit for anyone in Isreal.
We stayed in a cute little guest house that we found on Airbnb, for the price and location it was perfect. If your interested here’s the link.
What To Do and See
There is plenty to discover within this city from historical locations to museums and stunning architecture.
The Old City
The major attraction for many visitors coming to Jerusalem is, of course, the old city. The old city is split into four quarters the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. The streets are lined with vendors selling everything from Rosary Beads and Crucifixes in the Christan quarter to Yarmulke and Menorah in the Jewish. You can spend days wandering around and exploring but it does get crowded so it can get a little difficult to move around. For me, the notable things to see within the old city is Our Lady’s Church, built atop of the place where Jesus was crucified. This church is pretty cool, it is a mix of Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apolisic. Within the church, there is a replica stone of the one where Jesus was laid out when he was taken down of the cross and the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest and rose again. The church also has some amazing mosaics. From the Christan quarter to the Jewish another notable site is the Western Wall. This is the holiest site for the Jewish people. Jews from all over the world will come here and offer up prayers while touching the wall. Atop of the Western Wall is Temple Mount located in the Muslim quarter. This was my favourite place to visit. The Dome of the Rock which is what most people will recognize from pictures is one of the oldest existing works of Islamic architecture which dates back to the 7th century. To visit Temple Mount as a non-Muslim you will need to entre from the Western Wall. Go towards the wooden ramp and you’ll find your way up to Temple Mount.
There are plenty more amazing places to discover within the walls but these were my top places. Also if crowds arent your thing, you can walk along the top of the city walls which will give you a good view of the old city from above. The walk is called the Ramparts Walk and there are different entrances around the city. One such entrance is located near Jaffa Gate.
City of David
The ruins of the city of David still stand today and you can wander around them if you so wish. We didn’t as truth be told we couldn’t find the entrance but we saw it from the footpath and that was good enough for us. It is located just outside the walls of the old city.
Mount of Olives
At the bottom of the Mount of Olives, you will find the garden of Gethsemane, which is the place where Judas came up to kiss Jesus as he was arrested. Just up from the garden is the Chruch of Mary Magdalene, a Russian Orthodox curch. It has the iconic golden roof as many Russian Orthodox churches have. Unfortunately, the church has very unusual opening hours so we didn’t get to go inside. If you want to check it out up close then check the times online before going.
From there if you continue up the hill you will reach the top of the Mount of Olives. From atop of the Mount you will get a great view of the old city. I would highly recommend making the trek up just before sunset. One thing you will notice is that covering the Mount the whole way down is thousands of Jewish graves all facing the old city. It has been used as a burial site for those of Jewish fate for over 3,000 years and there are approxmitely 150,000 graves covering the mount.
If I could recommend one thing to do in Jersulem, Yad Vashem would be it. Yad Vashem is the world holocaust remembrance centre, it is a complex that contains many memorial sites along with excibitions, a museum and research centres dedicated to the Holocust. We came here to visit The Righteous Among the Nations, which is a commemorative site that honours non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. My Partners Great Grand Parents are among those who were honoured in the Righteous Among the Nations for helping Jews escape Denmark.
We also went into the museum which takes you through the beginnings of antisemitism throughout history and the Holocaust. As a history buff with a major in the Second World War, I found the museum incredibly insightful and educational with detailed facts that would leave you shaken. I would highly recommend this museum to anyone visiting Jerusalem. Puls the entire complex is free to enter and to explore.
Mahane Yehuda Market
If you are looking for a place to come for some dinner and a drink then look no further than this street market. This is a fun place to come at any time of the day, it is popular with locals and tourists alike so it is a great spot for people-watching.
If you are looking for a break from all the sightseeing and fancy a bit of shopping then defiantly check out Mamilla, it right outside the Jaffa Gate of the old city and has a great selection of high street stores. It also has some nice restaurants that you can grab some lunch or a drink after exploring the old city.
Where to Eat
If you are looking for a place near the old city for a spot of lunch then I would recommend here. Definitely get the Hummus!
For a quick dinner come to Aricha Sabich and of course order a Sabich. Sabich is a traditional Iraqi Jewish dish prepared for Shabbat. It consists of pita stuffed with fried eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, Israeli salad, parsley, amba and tahini sauce. It was my first time trying Sabich and I can confirm it was delicious.
Falafel Brothers Levy
Located in the iconic street market, Mahane Yehuda Market. Come to this stall for Falafel, it was definitely the best falafel I had in Isreal.
Recommended to us by our Airbnb host. If you are looking for more of a sit-down dinner with traditional Isreali food then hit this place up.
Katzefet Ice Cream
After dinner treat or mid-day snack, a good ice cream parlour is always a great thing to have saved on google. As far as I am aware there are a few locations for Katzefet, and the ice cream is pretty damn delicious.
Where to grab Drinks
Gatsby Cocktail Room
A speak-easy with awesome cocktails. We came here for happy hour for some pre-dinner cocktails. If you can grab a seat at the bar and watch the bartenders work there magic. Top tip, this spot can be tricky to find, when you get to the place where google maps lead you, go down the stairs and go through the doors with fake grass on them.
If you are into your wines come to this cute wine bar aptly named Wine Bar. We came here after dinner and tried out some local reds.
This is the place to come if you’re looking to grab a couple of beers. Kind of a hipstery young crowd.
Mahane Yehuda Market
Again a great spot to come to grab some beers. Can be very loud though!
Where to go for Coffee
Kadosh Cafe Patisserie
Not known for the speciality coffee but instead is known for having the best pastries in the city. I can confirm that this spot had some pretty amazing pastries! We went back twice. The coffee is pretty decent too.
Located in Mahane Yehuda Market, this is a great spot to grab a morning coffee and watch the world go by.
Right beside our Airbnb was this cafe, we dipped in here one morning to grab a quick bite and a much-needed coffee.
Make Sure to Grab a Juice
Not coffee but Jersulum is known for having so many juice spots, and in the heat, it makes for a welcome break. We went to some on Ben Yehuda street as it was on our route from the Airbnb into the centre.