Get to Know Jerusalem
The best way to get to know Jerusalem is to spend several days exploring both independently and with an organized Jerusalem tour. Some of the sites and attractions you can discover for yourself while others are better seen with a knowledgeable guide on one of the many Jerusalem day tours. Here are a few ideas on how you can get to Jerusalem.
Statue of King David at the entrance to King David's Tomb, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
See the Highlights of JerusalemBefore you start delving into the unusual and unique attractions of Jerusalem it is worth seeing the top 10 Jerusalem attractions that all visitors to the city should see. Among the top 10, there are the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
Although there are some Jerusalem attractions that all travelers will want to see, your personal top 10 will depend on your interests. If you are a Christian traveler you will probably be drawn towards the churches on the Mount of Olives; the Room of the Last Supper and Via Dolorosa among other biblical sites. Jewish travelers will want to include other landmarks in their top 10 Jerusalem attractions, for example, the City of David; Knesset, and the Sephardi synagogues of the Old City.
Mount of Olives with ancient tombs. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Jerusalem Old City GuideIf your time is short and you can only go to one place in Jerusalem then it has to be the Old City. Within the 16th century stone walls, the 1km² city holds Jerusalem’s top attractions. The Old City is also home to the most important Christian, Jewish and Muslim landmarks – the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the Western Wall and Temple Mount, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.
Spend your time exploring the narrow lanes of the Old City. In the Armenian Quarter see the exquisitely painted ceramics; in the Christian Quarter follow the Via Dolorosa and see where Jesus was crucified; in the Muslim Quarter shop in the traditional market and in the Jewish Quarter see ancient synagogues, museums and beneath the Temple Mount walls.
Temple Mount, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Attractions in New JerusalemDon’t miss out on the attractions in New Jerusalem. Many tourists, especially those short on time concentrate all their sightseeing in the Old City but New Jerusalem has much to offer. Visit the ultra-religious neighborhood of Mea Shearim; the colorful Mahane Yehuda Market; the Knesset; the Chagall windows; the Bridge of Strings; the Israel Supreme Court and the Jerusalem Israel Museum.
New Jerusalem has some incredible malls and the lively Ben Yehuda pedestrian street with outdoor cafes. There are plenty of art galleries, parks like the Wohl Rose Park and the Haas Promenade where you can get an overview of the city. Visit the 130-year restored First Jerusalem Train Station that is now a hip cultural and culinary hub and spend some time in a local café people-watching.
Church of all Nations, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Jerusalem Machane Yehuda MarketIf you really want to experience the lively atmosphere of local Jerusalemites then head for the Mahane Yehuda Market. You’ll find stalls selling fresh produce, baked goods, pickles, spices, fish, meat, eggs, and about every other type of food you can imagine. Not only that but the market, which has both outdoor and covered sections is home to excellent restaurants.
Some of the market eateries are run by top Israeli chefs and others serve up traditional dishes from around the world. Try Ethiopian pita bread; a Georgian pastry; British fish and chips or Spanish tapas. In addition to food, the market sells household goods, fashion items, and more. Be sure to visit the “doctor” who serves up freshly squeezed fruit drinks made with unusual ingredients that are said to have therapeutic properties whether you want to treat a sore back or a broken heart!
Gethsemane Garden, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Get to Know Jerusalem NeighborhoodsAlthough most travelers limit themselves to the Old City there are several wonderful Jerusalem neighborhoods worth visiting. Stop in downtown West Jerusalem for excellent food and a vibrant nightlife scene. Near Mahane Yehuda Market see interesting street art and one-off bars and restaurants. In the Nachlaot neighborhood see where a former ultra-orthodox traditional neighborhood has transformed into a hip, cosmopolitan hang-out for artists and musicians. The neighborhood has narrow lanes, historic homes with hidden courtyards, and a bohemian atmosphere.
Musrara is a picturesque neighborhood with many art galleries and museums including The Museum on the Seam that focuses on socio-politically inspired contemporary art. The German Colony is where you’ll find up-market boutiques, charming cafes, and restaurants housed in historic buildings with Bauhaus, Ottoman, and Templar-style architecture.
The Germany Colony’s Emek Refaim Street is the place to people-watch and visit the neighborhood’s best stores and restaurants. Ein Kerem is arguably the most beautiful of the Jerusalem neighborhoods. Ein Kerem has a village-feel with charming stone houses, window boxes, craft stores, excellent restaurants, and several attractions including Mary’s Well and John the Baptist Church.
Dominus Flevit Church, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock