Is it Safe to Travel to Jerusalem?

By Sarah Mann | Published on 9/10/2023

The city of Jerusalem is beautiful, extraordinary, and unique and, for many, at the top of any travel bucket list.  The capital of Israel, and a city which Jews. Christians and Muslims all revere it, it’s the kind of place that, once you’ve visited, you’ll never forget.

However, because of its long and complicated history (conquered endlessly over the centuries by the Crusaders, Muslims, and the British, to name but a few) and the fact that it is so venerated, means that many people considering visiting Israel ask us ‘Is it safe to travel to Jerusalem?’

We’ve been offering Jerusalem tours for over 30 years, so we’ve got a lot of information at our fingertips, in this article, we’ll be answering many of your questions so that you can plan a trip without any worries. 

Is it safe to travel to Jerusalem at the moment?

Absolutely. The last months have seen thousands of tourists visiting Israel - from pilgrims and backpackers to families and solo travelers. Jerusalem, of course, is the city that everyone wants to see on a trip to the Holy Land, and few come away saying that they felt unsafe.

Is it safe to visit JerusalemThe City of Jerusalem

Jerusalem has endless attractions, ranging from art galleries, museums, and quaint neighborhoods to the magical Old City, home to three major world religions and fabled sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount, and the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. It’s easy (and safe) to walk around all these areas, to shope, to eat and drink and wander around freely. Jerusalemites are proud of their city and love to show it off - moreover, tourism is wanted and welcome. 

Of course, if you feel even the slightest bit nervous, you can always travel to Jerusalem as part of an organized package to Israel - having a guide and things set up for you will give you extra peace of mind.  

Can I walk the streets safely at night in Jerusalem?

Unlike many parts of the USA and Europe, it’s very safe to walk the streets of Jerusalem at night.  Crime against the person is very rare and even petty theft is not that common.  In the warmer months, you’ll also see people out late at night (often well after midnight), sitting in cafes and bars, and taking advantage of the cool breeze that comes from Jerusalem being up in the hills.

Many tourists also like to wander the Old City at night (especially those who love photography) and in general, this is ok, although you should exercise a bit of caution if you stray off the main streets.  But visiting the Kotel (Western Wall) at night is always safe and you’ll see security around, if you need help.

Are there lots of scams in Jerusalem?

Like cities the world over, there are - unfortunately - a few locals in Jerusalem who like to take advantage of tourists, but this is less dangerous than annoying (and frustrating).  The biggest ‘scams’ you should watch out for are;

Taxis - either agree on a price in advance or ask your driver to put the meter on before setting off (this is the law, and you can insist upon it).  Also, if you have a smartphone, you can download the ‘Gett’ app and order a taxi directly.

Money changing - although it’s easy to pay for almost everything by card now, it’s still good to have a little cash on you.  There are money changers all over the city and of course, they charge a commission  - just check the rate before you hand over your cash!  The Damascus Gate, inside the walls of the Old City, has favorable rates and they also change money into Jordanian dinars, which will be useful if you’re thinking of making a day tour to Petra from Jerusalem.

Shopping in the Old City Bazaar - it’s great fun shopping in the Old City, and there are all kinds of souvenirs to take home there. But some unscrupulous merchants will try and take advantage of you - don’t feel under any obligation to buy and if you feel like you are being overly pressured or bullied, just walk away (or look for tourist police).

Is it safe for women to travel solo to Jerusalem?

Israel is a modern and liberal country but Jerusalem is a little bit more conservative than other parts of the country.  Whilst it’s completely safe for women to travel to Jerusalem, it’s good to be aware of your surroundings and dress accordingly.  Don’t wear shorts and tight T-shirts in the Old City- you may inadvertently draw attention to yourself.  If you wear a dress, make sure it covers your shoulders, and swap skinny jeans for loose-fitting pants.  

It’s also good to carry a light scarf with you - you can cover your head inside holy sites with it, and it will also help keep the sun off you (temperatures can be brutal in Jerusalem between June and September).

Finally, if you’re visiting the neighborhood of Mea Shearim, where many extremely Orthodox Jews live, then dress modestly.  This means no pants/jeans whatsoever and sleeves covered to the elbows - this is an area where ‘modesty’ rules the roost.  The same is true in parts of East Jerusalem, where many religious Muslims live - they will appreciate you for it and you, in return, will feel comfortable.

What’s the political situation like in Jerusalem at the moment?

Israel is no stranger to political conflict and over the years there have been periods of intense difficulty.

Having said that, overall the country is very safe, and in the event that ‘flare-ups’ (such as rocket attacks) occur, when there are conflicts with Gaza and Lebanon, it’s rare that they are fired at Jerusalem or the south of the country.

Israelis are also quite vigilant - everyone has their eyes open for suspicious packages or odd behavior and there are also lots of security personnel around the Old City, on the city light railway, and in popular places like the Mahane Yehuda market.

In the last few months, there have also been anti-government protests in Israel, but the biggest are held in Tel Aviv.   Protests in Jerusalem happen, but outside the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s residence, both of which are sites far from tourist areas.  That aside, the protests are almost always peaceful, consisting of people waving Israeli flags and no tourist who has gone along to witness them has ever been hurt.

The Bottom Line: Is Jerusalem Safe for tourists - Really?

The fact is that Jerusalem, all in all, is a very safe place to visit.  Of course, when you read the news, you may feel anxious (and, yes, everybody knows about the Jerusalem terror attacks and some people might feel worried about them). Still, the truth is you’re more likely to be hit by lightning than caught up in political turmoil than to be hurt whilst visiting here.  

If you do feel nervous, you can also take day tours in Jerusalem - all guides are licensed by the Israeli government and will never take you anywhere remotely dangerous.  It’s also possible to visit areas in the Palestinian Authority like Bethlehem and Jericho as part of an organized tour - you’ll be transported safely from one area to the other and feel safe from start to finish, we promise you.

If you have any questions or queries or would like any further information about the wide range of day trips, privately-guided tours, and packages we offer to Israel, don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone.