With a history dating back to 3000–2800 BCE, Jerusalem is one of the oldest existing cities in the world. However, the Israeli capital has a lot more to it than it’s mostly known for – museums, monuments, and history.
A blend of vibrant nightlife, prominent history, and heavenly cuisine, Jerusalem is a city that should be on every globe trotter’s list. Let’s jump into some top things to do if you’re planning a trip to Jerusalem.
The Kotel: The Wailing Wall
Search for the best attractions in Jerusalem, and you’ll find the Kotel on the top of the list. Considered to be the holiest places of the Jewish faith, the Kotel is a sacred site located in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the Old City in itself is an attraction worth reckoning, the Kotel is what attracts most visitors. If you visit the Kotel, don’t forget to write a wish on a scrap of paper and slit it in the cracks of the Wailing Wall, as visitors have for decades.
The restaurants of Jerusalem
Step into the Old City and let the seducing aroma of falafel, hummus, msabbha, and shakshouka arouse your taste buds. Israeli cuisine is a mix of Jewish fusion, Middle-eastern, and Mediterranean foods. Thus, no matter what you’re looking to eat, you’ll find it in Jerusalem.
From elite, fine-dining restaurants serving inter-continental dishes to local food stalls in bustling markets, Jerusalem offers a wide range of dining experiences. Besides, the restaurants make a big part of Jerusalem’s famous nightlife scene. So, if you’re planning a trip to Jerusalem, have the following restaurants on your list:
With the city’s history dating back to 5,000 years, there ought to be some museums in Jerusalem – Yad Vashem is the pioneer of them. Also known as World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Yad Vashem is a 45-acre campus comprising of indoor museums, memorial sites, outdoor monuments, sculptures, and more.
However, a visit to Yad Vashem is often poignant, melancholic, and painful. The entire campus is devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The hollowed-out cavern consists of a single candle and series of mirrors that commemorate the 1.5 European Jewish children killed in one of the gruesome acts in world history.
The Jerusalem nightlife
That got a bit intense, right? So, let’s lighten the mood with Jerusalem’s vibrant, world-famous nightlife. A few years back, Jerusalem was renowned for anything but historical monuments. But recent developments have changed the face of this history-charged city.
Jerusalem is now home to some of the fanciest restaurants, nightclubs, and bars in the country. These nightspots entail a unique, old-school design and architecture, thanks to the very talented Israeli designers. Whether you’re a person who likes to sit back with a glass of wine, or a party freak who loves to dance, Jerusalem nightlife offers it all.
Pro tip: Jaffa Street and Ben Yehuda Street are the best areas for spending the night in Jerusalem. Here are a few nightspots in Jerusalem to put on your list.
Dome of the Rock
Look for images of Jerusalem on Google. There’s one thing that’ll stand out in every picture, no matter from what angle or distance it is taken. Yeah, that big golden dome.
Built, in 691 CE, and recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, the Dome of the Rock is one of the most ancient works of Islamic architecture. This architectural masterpiece is one of the most prominent attractions in Israel and is said to be the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven. This special monument is located at the edge of the Old City, and a small stroll through the alleyways will lead you there.
Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda is Jerusalem’s oldest and biggest outdoor market. It is an intoxicating fusion of scents, sounds, and colors and will surely acquaint you with the Israeli culture. The stalls in the market sell everything from clothes and jewelry to fresh produce and street food. Besides, the market is quite cheap, and you could shop a lot of stuff even if you’re low on budget. So, whether you’re a shopping freak or just someone who wants to experience something new, be sure to visit the Mahane Yehuda Market.
The landmarks of Jewish history
The city of Jerusalem has modernized over the past few decades; cafes and bars have turned to be the major attractions. Yet, most people visit the city for what it’s always known for – landmarks of Jewish history.
There are a plethora of landmark establishments in the city dating back to thousands of years. From the City of David to the Israel Museum, the city’s rich history is worth exploring.
The best Jerusalem hotels
If you haven’t already booked a hotel in Jerusalem, this could help. When it comes to hotels, Jerusalem is a thriving city with the luxurious King David and other Five Star Alliance hotels. Aside from luxurious accommodation options, you’ll also find unique boutique stays in the city that’ll give a fair fight to boutiques in Tel Aviv. And if you visit Jerusalem of season, you’ll find hotels with over-the-top amenities at reasonable prices. Let’s take a look at a couple of pro tips.
June-Summer is the peak season in Israel. This time in Israel can be expensive, plus, the summers are quite hot. Visiting Jerusalem in winter is recommended if you’re looking for pleasant weather and an overall less expensive trip.
When looking for a hotel, try to stay in or near to the Old City. Most attractions in Jerusalem are located around the Old City, so staying far would lead to unnecessary commutation expenses.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Regarded as Jerusalem’s holiest site for Christian Pilgrims, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is said to be built on the site where Jesus was crucified.
Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, picked this site during her tour to the Holy Land in AD 335. However, the original church was destroyed in 1009, and the grand monument that stands today dates from the 11th century.
In addition to being a site of significant religious importance, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher features an opulently beautiful interior and architecture. The interior of the church embodies various religious scriptures and holy relics, making it one of the must-visit attractions for tourists.
Outside the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem is the city’s Arab neighborhood, known as the East Jerusalem. To the east of the gate, there are Solomon’s Quarries. It is a cave system that extends under the old city. And according to the ancient tradition, the stone for Jerusalem’s First Temple was quarried from these caves.
When you go slightly east from Solomon’s Quarries, you’ll find the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum that has exhibits from the Stone Age to the 18th century.
If you take a stroll down the Nablus Road, you’ll reach the Garden Tomb, which dates back to the Roman or Byzantine period. Head along the north of the road, and you’ll come across the French Dominican Monastery of St. Stephen, where the first Christian martyr (its namesake) was stoned to death.
And if you veer off onto the St. George Street, you’ll come to the Mandelbaum Gate, which was the only crossing point between the Israeli and Jordanian sectors during 1948-67. On the same street is the Museum on the Seam, contemporary art that exhibits work related to human rights and social commentary.
Jerusalem is a blend beyond perfection that offers a mix of history, culture, and modern lifestyle. If you’re looking for a place to travel but aren’t sure, Jerusalem could be an excellent pick. But be aware of the peak tourist season, as it can get a bit crowdy and expensive.