A MUST Read Before You Spend a Few Days in Jerusalem
Ahhhh, Jerusalem. If you are traveling to Jerusalem you are in for a treat! About one of the only places in the world where you can be in awe of such beauty and history, while also turning a corner to witness a guy peeing in the street! Haha! This is a true story. Yet – I don’t need to tell you about its significance, abundance of culture, people and really delicious food. I do recommend spending a night or two or three so you can enjoy all it has to offer.
Where to Stay in Jerusalem
We rented an Airbnb in HaRav Kuk 7 when we traveled to Jerusalem. It is super central and perfect for a family. All of our restaurants were within walking distance. Mamilla Mall is only a 10-minute walk. Of course there are many hotels to choose from.
On the Way to Jerusalem
First, if you’re traveling to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv I encourage you to consider making a few stops at wineries in the Judean Hills. Not only is it a beautiful area, but you will also enjoy some delicious wines and meet the winemakers from all over the world. We visited Tzuba Winery while the kids were able to take a chocolate-making class. It was perfect. Had we not had the kids in tow I would have loved to visit Domaine Du Castel. I think their wines are delicious. You can purchase a bottle elsewhere as well. Do make sure you call ahead if you visit any winery. *They don’t ban kids, but they aren’t geared towards them. So, depends on your kids’ ages. I would have brought my own kids there, but my nephews are a bit younger.
What to Do in Jerusalem
Once you’re in Jerusalem the possibilities are endless, from a visit to the Kotel to shop till you drop. Mamilla Mall/Avenue is a popular area for shopping, of course, the Shuk while chaotic is definitely a must. The First Station has crafts and shops, open 7 days a week. And, stroll City Center. King George Street and Jaffa Street are best for budget-shopping. Ben Yehuda Street has the best souvenirs. And, Hillel Street offers a more upscale experience. Don’t miss the beautiful & colorful Umbrella Street Project covering Yoel Moshe Solomon Street through October. Also, a fun area to walk around even once the umbrellas move on.
Take in the sights at Mount of Olives or Haas Promenade. Both give panoramic views of the city.
The Botanical Garden and Israel Museum (which are both open on Saturdays) are worth a visit. Visit the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, it’s the only place in the world where you will find this exhibit. The museum is a beautiful place to walk around. There are two cafes inside. One stays open on Shabbat.
Walk the path that Jesus took on his way to being crucified. Various markers show all 13 stations of the cross. This route will take you to Mt. Zion, Upper Room, the Cenacle, the Room of the Last Supper, Dormition Abbey, the Protestant Cemetary, and St. Peter Gallicantu.
We loved the Ramparts Walk which gives you an entirely different perspective of the city. There is a fee associated with this. Also, open on Saturdays. This walk takes you on top of the walls to get a birds-eye view!
Lastly – get tickets to see one of the light shows at the Tower of David. SO good!
Food in Jerusalem
When traveling to Jerusalem, definitely ask the locals for their favorite recs (especially for falafel!). But, some of ours were:
Anna – YUM YUM YUM. Probably our most favorite meal of the entire trip. Plus, it’s a gorgeous space located in the Ticho House Museum. Dairy.
Piccolino – Also quite delicious. Enjoyed a wonderful lunch here. Dairy.
Chakra – a wonderful, upscale dinner.
Talbiye – a great breakfast spot.
Day Trip from Jerusalem
In my opinion, when you travel to Jerusalem it is a must to get to Masada and the Dead Sea! We left at 4 am to hike the snake trail to get to the top of Masada before sunrise. It is SO worth it! Despite the crazy wakeup time. You can sleep on the ride unless you’re driving it yourself! The tram does not open until after 8 am. However, my three kids (13, 13 & 9), my two nephews (7 & almost 5) plus my 60+-year-old mom all hiked to the top! DO IT!
The Dead Sea is obviously an awesome experience for first-time Jerusalem travelers.
Ein Gedi is another place to stop with a waterfall and natural swimming pool.
I’d recommend a driver. There are tons of tour operators to work with. I am happy to give you the name and number of the person we used. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerusalem Travel Tips
Attire: Contrary to what some people believe, you will see people wearing anything in Jerusalem! The only place where you’re required to cover up is at the Kotel. Bring a cardigan or a scarf to wrap around your shoulders and wear something that covers your knees. Other than that you will not feel uncomfortable sporting casual clothes, tank tops, shorts, etc. while you are walking around. Especially in the hotter months!
It can get chilly at night! Do bring layers.
Wear comfortable shoes! Despite its size, you will do a ton of walking.
Getting Around: Jerusalem is very bike-friendly. Rent bikes or use the bike share, even scooters! You will want the Gett App (like uber) if you want to take taxis. Jerusalem is quite big and spread out! You can also use public transportation as well. Staying in the City Center means that you are quite central and most dinners will be within walking distance.
Language: Many people do speak English! Know a few Hebrew words –
Thank you: Toda
Goodmorning: Boker Tov
Excuse me/Sorry: Slicha
Of course, there is so much more to do/see than what I’ve listed here! And, there are a lot of private guides and tours that you can book to really get the full experience and history. This visit we did quite a bit on our own, which is equally as enjoyable, so do what works best for you! I am always happy to help or answer any questions.
Some people do only visit Jerusalem to go to the Kotel, I think they are missing out! There is so much more to this beautiful and historic city.