Jerusalem, the heart of three world religions and a living testament to centuries of human history, beckons with an endless array of sights, sounds, and experiences. This ancient city’s cobbled streets whisper tales from times gone by, while its modern side offers vibrant markets and a thriving culinary scene. Here, we present the top 10 things to do in Jerusalem, each one a unique chapter in the city’s enduring story.
1. Visit the Western Wall
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is the most sacred site in Judaism. It’s open 24 hours a day and free to visit. Visitors can participate in the tradition of writing a prayer on a piece of paper and placing it in the wall’s crevices. Remember while standing at the Western Wall that every Jew faces this direction during prayer.
2. Explore the Old City
The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a living museum. Its four quarters – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian – are home to important historical and religious sites. Entry is free, but individual attractions may charge a fee. Don’t be afraid to “get lost” in the various markets and alleyways. You are bound to discover hidden gems!
3. Tour the Dome of the Rock
This iconic Islamic shrine is not only a marvel of architecture but also of immense religious significance. It’s open from Saturday to Thursday, 7:30 am to 10:30 pm, and for one additional hour in the afternoon, usually, 12:30-13:30 depending on the season. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the compound, but entry to the interior is restricted. Remember to dress modestly. Scripture in your backpack is not allowed on the Temple Mount.
4. Stroll Through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, offers a sobering but important history lesson. It’s open Sunday to Wednesday from 9 am to 5 pm, Thursday from 9 am to 8 pm, and Friday from 9 am to 2 pm. Admission is free, but it is important to book an entrance slot online.
5. Visit the Israel Museum
The Israel Museum, one of the world’s leading art and archaeology museums, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls among other treasures. Don’t miss out on the famous “Tel Dan inscription” in the main exhibit. It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Entry costs vary.
6. Walk the Via Dolorosa
Via Dolorosa, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion, is a deeply spiritual experience. The walk ends at the Holy Church of Sepulchure, also known as the Church of Resurrection. This is the place of Jesus’s tomb.
7. Discover the Tower of David Museum
Housed in the ancient Jerusalem Citadel, the Tower of David Museum illuminates the city’s history through stunning exhibits. It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm, and Friday from 9 am to 2 pm. Admission costs vary.
8. Enjoy the Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem’s largest marketplace, is a feast for the senses. Sample traditional street food, buy fresh produce, or simply soak up the bustling atmosphere. The market is free to enter and open every day from early morning until late at night. Some great local foods to check out: Knafe, Chalva and Bobka. Read more about market food here.
9. Relax in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
These beautiful gardens, home to over 6,000 plant species, offer a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. They’re open Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 7 pm, Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. Admission costs vary.
10. Experience the Night Spectacle at the Tower of David
The Night Spectacle, a stunning light show projected on the walls of the Tower of David, is a magical journey through Jerusalem’s history. Shows take place after sundown and ticket prices vary. Shows are canceled when it rains.
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a spiritual seeker, Jerusalem has something for everyone. Its timeless allure has drawn travelers for centuries, and it’s waiting for you to discover its wonders. Remember, these ten highlights are just the beginning of what Jerusalem has to offer. The city’s charm lies in its hidden corners, its people, and their stories. So, immerse yourself in Jerusalem’s vibrant tapestry and make your own memories in the city that transcends time.