Israel’s capital lies at the intersection of the world’s three Abrahamic and monotheistic religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam. While historically this collision has been just that, today followers of the different faiths live together relatively harmoniously. Ancient evidence of the city’s significance abounds in the form of ancient temples, churches, mosques and the Old City.
From the airport there is limited public transport to Jerusalem, unless you take the hour-long 485 bus from the airport to Jerusalem Central Bus Station. To save time and stress, download the Gett or Uber apps to call a cab and pay by card.
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, most nationalities will receive a blue, paper card instead of a passport stamp. Do not lose this card for the duration of your visit, as passport control will need it upon departure. Security at Ben Gurion is also very high. Arrive three hours before an outbound flight.
We found we needed two days in Jerusalem to do everything we wanted.
We did not have time to go, but heard from friends that the Yad Vashem Holocaust World Holocaust Remembrance Center is excellent and a powerful visit.
Jerusalem is one hour from the northern shores of the Dead Sea and two hours from Masada National Park, the site of King Herod’s dramatic, cliff-top palace fortress and where the Romans surrounded the final vestiges of the Jewish Rebellion. Do both in a day trip or stay overnight at one of the Dead Sea resorts in Ein Bokek.
Focaccia Bar Go for wine and apps or stay for dinner. Excellent food in a beautiful, light-filled building.
Jahnun Bar With two locations in the city, including one in Mahane Yehuda market, this casual eatery serves up sandwich wraps made of the fluffiest, flakiest, pan-fried bread called malawach. Brought to Israeli by Yemeni immigrants, you will not soon forget this delicious pastry.
Birman Local dive off of Ben Yehuda Street with live music.
Mahane Yehuda Market Most nights, except on Shabbat, the market comes alive with row after row of tiny bars and shisha lounges, DJs and young people spilling into the corridors.
Ben Yehuda Street and Nahalat Shiv’a Trendy shopping areas.
Mount of Olives Views of the city are spectacular but it’s quite a walk from the Old City and the sites are not as clustered. Consider taking the bus or a cab, or hiring a driver.
Mount Zion South of the Jewish Quarter, this area contains King David’s Tomb and the site of The Last Supper.
Old City Split into quarters aligned with the different faiths, the Old City contains some of the holiest places for Christians, Jews and Muslims. These sites include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (believed to contain Jesus’ tomb), the Western Wall (all that remains of the holy Jewish Second Temple), and the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock (the third most sacred site for Muslims). Spend hours in the souks, walking the rampart walls and exploring the different gates. If heading to the Old City from the west enter the Christian Quarter through Jaffa Gate. Exiting from the Muslim Quarter’s Damascus Gate places you in East Jerusalem.
Staying west of the Old City, around Mahane Yehuda market and Ben Yehuda Street, provides access to nightlife, shopping and restaurants and is a 15 minute walk to the Old City.