14 October 2017

10 Ways To Spend A Weekend In Jerusalem | Jerusalem Travel Guide

With the all the religious sites in Jerusalem, you would think all there is to do on a visit to Jerusalem were pilgrimage activities. That couldn't be far from the truth. I have had quite a few trips to Jerusalem so I thought I would do a Jerusalem travel guide on things to see and do on a weekend in Jerusalem. There is so much to life in Jerusalem beyond the visits to the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, Holy Sepulchre and many other religious sites Jerusalem is famous for.  Below is a list of places to visit, things to do, places to eat and hotel in Jerusalem. Also including the popular. You can, of course, do a day trip to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and I have also done it all the way from Shlomi and Nahariya in the north of Israel boarding Lebanon. Israel is small enough to go from North to South is as few as 4-5 hours.

1. Explore Jaffa Street

Jerusalem's main throughway. No trip to Jerusalem is complete without checking out this bustling hub in the city. The streets here are filled with people, from your locals going about their daily lives to tourists milling around cafes, restaurants and shops that line the streets. If you are looking for a little retail therapy or  a few souveirners then a trip to Jaffa Street and Ben Yehuda and surrounding streets are the places to head This area also comes alive after dark. This is also where you will find the street with the Umbrella Project I told you about in a recent post.

With all the beautiful sights and things to do in Jerusalem, you will surely work up an appetite in no time. A taste of Shawarma is a must when you are in the Middle so one cannot leave Jerusalem without sampling authentic Shawarma in the many restaurants in Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. Tasty falafel and hummus should be added to your list of things to try when you visit Jerusalem. There are many places to eat in and around the quarters. Check out places like Al Nasser and Abu Shukri in the Muslim quarter and B'sharayich in the Jewish Quarter. In the Christian Qarter be sure to check out Versavee and Lina for fantastic hummus and salads.

2. Taste Sharwama 
3. Explore the four quarters of the Old City

The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters; The Jewish Quarter, The Armenian Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and The Muslim Quarter. Each quarter has its own characteristics and unique atmosphere. There are seven gates in and around the walled city from which to enter. The Jewish Quarter is filled with narrow alleyways lined by the homes of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families, and schools where students study the Torah study. Here you can observe the residents go about on their daily life. The Jewish Quarter’s narrow alleyways led you up to the Western Wall.

The Muslim Quarter is one of the busiest of the quarters with busy streets filled with shops with shish cafes. Streets here are filled with tourists, locals, this is the best place to try out your haggling skills with the many shops selling a variety of products. From clothes to spices. This quarter also leds to the Dome of the Rock which sits above the Western Wall Plaze in the Jewish Quarter. The Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem is home to about 40 holy sites to Christians. The streets are filled with priests and pilgrims from around the world. This quarter was constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried. The Armenian Quarter area is home to some 2,500 Armenians and is the smallest quarter of the Old City. The Armenian community are said to have resided here for over 2,000 years.

A trip to Israel is not complete without checking out the holy sites in the city. Mostly concentrated in the Old City of Jerusalem. Here you will find some of the most important and holiest sites to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The Western Wall sits just below Temple Mount where you will find Dome of The Rock and a short walk from here is where you will find the Holy Sepulcher where it is believed Jesus was crucified. Remember to dress modestly if visiting these sites. Also note that non-Muslims are not allowed inside the Al Aqsa mosque but can tour around the building's surrounding area.

4. Check out the holy sights

5. Seek out the best views of Jerusalem

With all the beautiful sites that draw tourists to Israel and Jerusalem in particular, you sometimes need to take a few steps back to get a better view of the sights in Jerusalem. In my recent post, I shared with you the beautiful views of Jerusalem from Haas Promenade.  This place offers a beautiful vantage point to take in the site. My post also included a couple of other places with viewing decks and amazing views, somewhere you can even see as far as the Dead Sea.

6. Explore the beautiful markets

Jerusalem has many a market to lose yourself in. The Old City of Jerusalem and its beautiful entrance gates is where you will find the Old City Souk. The market is busy and bustling with tourists and locals and you can find anything from fabric to postcards not to mention the Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall are nearby. Another market to check out is the Farmers' and Artists' Market located in the German Colony, a prominent neighbourhood in Jerusalem. The market  offers and array of items from cheese, handmade clothes to books and organic products. Another market to include on your list of things to do in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda Market. This market is often refered to as 'The Shuk', here you wil find fresh fruit and veg and many local delicacies. This market had a less than great reputation but has since seen some gentrification and now features designer boutiques among the fruit and veg market stores found in the area.
7. Take a tour of the city

Jerusalem is small but when you think of all the things to see and do in Jerusalem, its almost as if the city grows or the days suddenly get shortened. One cannot miss out on visits to Mount of Olives with amazing views of Jerusalem, Zion Gate, The Old City Cardo, Western Wall, Markets, The Quarters of Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa... the list is endless! Thankfully there are many tours on offer from half day tours to full day tours to tours that pick you up at your hotel in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Some tours also combine visits to the Dead Sea, Bethlehem and other places in Israel.

The beautiful and bustling streets of Jaffa Street and Ben Yehuda are busy with locals and tourist in the day but also come alive in the night when they become the center of the nightlife in  Jerusalem. This area is home to the famous Mikes Place, an American style bar restaurant that comes with live music and sports. Other places to include on your evening of sampling nightlife in Jerusalem are Sira Pub, Hataklit, The Barrel and Tap and Mirror Bar.  If going it alone seems intimidating Jerusalem also has pub crawl tours you can join and drinks and entrances to bars are included!

8. Sample the night lift on Ben Yehuda
9. Learn to Cook

You have toured the Old City wall to wall, tasted authentic Shawarma, did you know that you can learn how to cook and make Israel's or Middle Eastern cuisien in a cooking workshop? Above I told you about I told you about Mahane Yehuda Market, located in the heart of Jerusalem is filled with fresh and fregrant produce. One one of the many cooking workshops in Jeruselm this is where many will bring you and go through the selection of produce you will use to cook your very own meals. Check out TripAdvisor for cooking glasses in Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem may be filled with old and ancient sites but that does not mean the hotels also fall in the relic category. After touring the city walls you might need a comfortable places to rest your head and relax before embarking on yet more exploring. Jerusalem comes packed with some of the luxurious hotels this side of the Middle East. The likes of Waldord Astoria is only a few yards from the Old City Walls. If luxury and beautiful interiors are how you like your hotels then The King David overlooking the Old City is one luxury hotel not to pass up. Then there is also The American Colony Hotel with a colonial-era style to it and comes with beautiful gardens and beautifully spacious rooms. For a list of hotels and hostels at all budgets check out prices at Booking.com, Trivago, and Agoda.

10. Stay locally

Getting around Jerusalem:

Getting around Jerusalem for those that that love DIY exploring, couldn't be easier. You can definitely walk around the city but there are also Trams and buses available. Jerusalem has a Light Rail (tram) which runs along Mount Herzl and Pisgat Zee. At Mount Herzl, Ammunition Hill, and Pisgat Zeev, there is a park and ride lots where you can park and then take the Light Rail instead of driving to the city center. We didnt use the park and ride on this trip but we did on my previous trip to Jerusalem. We drop through to Jaffa Street and there is a car park just behind the streets with the Umbrella Project. We used Google Maps to find the nearest car park at the time. To use Jerusalem's Light Rail you have to buy the ticket before you board. Tickets can be purchased at stops, and cost 5.90 NIS for a single trip. The last time we used the tram in Jerusalem we got on at Mount Hertzl and got off at Damascus Gate which has one of 7 entrances to the Old City walls where you can walk through the markets and end up on the Western Wall Plaza. I haven't got round to using the buses in Jerusalem but used the tram. I can't imagine they would be as difficult as trying to navigate your way around London on the bus.

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  1. I've been in Israel for a month now and haven't been to Jerusalem yet lol. Nice post, doing these things will definitely help me getting to know the city. Btw, if you're still in Israel, go to the university of Jerusalem, you get a wonderful view there too, both on the city and on the desert. :)

    1. Yes, I have heard that about university of Jerusalem. I am heading back to Israel next month. I will definitely check it out.