Jerusalem, a city sacred to three major world religions, is a place of profound historical and spiritual significance. For those pondering things to do in Jerusalem, exploring the Old City with its ancient walls and religious sites, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock, are top activities.
The city’s Israel Museum houses a vast collection of art and artifacts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, offering insights into the region’s rich history and culture. Nearby, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial stands as a poignant tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, providing a deeply moving and educational experience.
Beyond its historical and religious attractions, Jerusalem is also celebrated for its diverse culinary scene, with markets like Mahane Yehuda offering a variety of local and international flavors. For those seeking the best places to visit in Israel, Jerusalem’s blend of ancient history, spiritual depth, and vibrant culture makes it a compelling destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Jerusalem, Israel
1. Western Wall
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, as it is the last remaining wall of the Second Temple. Visitors from all over the world come to pray and place written prayers in the cracks of the wall.
Travel Tip: Be sure to dress modestly and be prepared for possible crowds, especially on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
2. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This ancient church is one of the most sacred sites in Christianity, believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The complex structure houses various chapels and is shared by several Christian denominations.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds, and be sure to explore the various chapels and artifacts inside.
3. Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque
Situated on the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock is an iconic Islamic shrine with a stunning golden dome, and Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the most significant mosques in Islam. Non-Muslim visitors can explore the grounds and appreciate the intricate architecture.
Travel Tip: Check the visiting hours for non-Muslims before going, and be aware that access can be restricted due to political tensions.
4. Israel Museum
The Israel Museum is the country’s largest cultural institution, featuring a vast collection of art, archaeology, and Judaica. Highlights include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Billy Rose Art Garden, and the model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period.
Travel Tip: Allocate several hours to explore the museum, as there is a lot to see, and consider taking a guided tour for a more in-depth experience.
5. Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, featuring a museum, outdoor memorials, and educational resources. The museum takes visitors on a powerful journey through the history of the Holocaust, with personal stories and artifacts.
Travel Tip: The experience can be emotionally overwhelming, so take your time and be prepared for the impact.
6. Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a significant site in both Judaism and Christianity, with its ancient cemetery and several important churches. The mount offers panoramic views of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Travel Tip: Take a guided walking tour to learn about the mount’s history and significance, and be sure to bring your camera for the stunning views.
7. Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda Market, also known as the Shuk, is a vibrant marketplace where locals and visitors alike shop for fresh produce, spices, baked goods, and more. The market also has a variety of restaurants and bars, making it a popular spot in the evenings.
Travel Tip: Visit in the late afternoon or early evening when the market is bustling, and be sure to try some of the local street food.
8. City of David
The City of David is an archaeological site believed to be the original urban core of ancient Jerusalem. Visitors can explore the ruins, walk through ancient tunnels, and learn about the city’s history.
Travel Tip: Bring a flashlight and water-resistant shoes if you plan to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, an ancient water tunnel still flowing today.
9. Tower of David (Jerusalem Citadel)
The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City. The tower houses a museum that tells the story of Jerusalem’s history, and the rooftop offers panoramic views of the city.
Travel Tip: Attend the nightly sound and light show at the Tower of David for a unique and immersive way to learn about Jerusalem’s history.
10. Garden of Gethsemane
The Garden of Gethsemane is a tranquil garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives, believed to be the place where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. The garden is home to ancient olive trees and the Church of All Nations.
Travel Tip: Take some time to sit and reflect in the garden, and visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
11. The Armenian Quarter
The Armenian Quarter is one of the four quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, boasting a rich history and unique culture. Visitors can explore the St. James Cathedral, the Armenian Museum, and numerous historical sites.
Travel Tip: Respect the privacy of the Armenian community while exploring, and consider hiring a local guide to gain deeper insights into the quarter’s history and significance.
12. Mount Zion
Mount Zion holds a special place in both the Old and New Testaments and is home to important religious sites, including the Room of the Last Supper and King David’s Tomb. The mount provides spectacular views of the surrounding city.
Travel Tip: Participate in a walking tour to cover all the significant sites on Mount Zion and understand their historical contexts.
13. The Cardo
The Cardo was the main street in ancient Roman and Byzantine Jerusalem, running north-south through the city. Today, visitors can see the remains of the Cardo and imagine the grandeur of ancient Jerusalem.
Travel Tip: Look for the artistic representations of the Cardo in its prime, which provide a visual context for the ruins.
14. The Ramparts Walk
The Ramparts Walk offers a unique perspective of Jerusalem, allowing visitors to walk along the walls of the Old City. The walk provides stunning views of the city and beyond.
Travel Tip: Bring comfortable shoes, water, and a hat or sunscreen, as the walk is exposed and can be hot, especially in the summer.
15. The Knesset
The Knesset is Israel’s parliament building, and visitors can join guided tours to learn about the Israeli political system and see important artworks.
Travel Tip: Check the Knesset’s official website for tour times and languages available, and bring a valid ID for security checks.
16. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a popular attraction for families, featuring a variety of animals, many of which are mentioned in the Bible. The zoo is committed to conservation and education.
Travel Tip: Check the zoo’s schedule for special activities and feeding times, which can enhance your visit.
17. The Hebrew Music Museum
The Hebrew Music Museum explores the history and development of musical instruments across different cultures and eras. Visitors can see a wide range of instruments and learn about their significance in various traditions.
Travel Tip: Try out the virtual reality tour of the Second Temple, which offers a unique and immersive experience.
18. Ein Kerem
Ein Kerem is a picturesque neighborhood located in the southwestern part of Jerusalem, known for its charming stone houses, art galleries, and historic religious sites. It’s believed to be the birthplace of John the Baptist.
Travel Tip: Spend a leisurely day exploring the neighborhood, and be sure to stop at one of its cafes or restaurants for a meal.
19. Museum on the Seam
The Museum on the Seam is a socio-political contemporary art museum located in a former military outpost. The museum addresses issues of coexistence and promotes dialogue and understanding through art.
Travel Tip: The exhibitions change regularly, so check the museum’s website for current information before visiting.
20. Teddy Park
Teddy Park is a public park named after Teddy Kollek, a long-serving mayor of Jerusalem, featuring green spaces, artwork, and a water fountain that hosts a light and sound show in the evenings.
Travel Tip: Visit in the evening to enjoy the light and sound show, which is particularly popular among families with children.
FAQ About Things to Do in Jerusalem, Israel
What historical sites should I visit in Jerusalem?
In Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Tower of David are must-visit historical sites that offer a deep insight into the city’s millennia-old history.
Can I tour the Israel Museum and what will I see there?
Yes, the Israel Museum welcomes visitors and features a wide array of artifacts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, an impressive collection of Judaica, and contemporary art exhibits.
Is the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial accessible to tourists?
Absolutely, Yad Vashem is open to the public and offers a poignant look at the history of the Holocaust through its extensive archives, museums, and memorials.
What can I do in the Old City of Jerusalem?
The Old City is home to significant religious sites, vibrant markets like the Arab Souk, and ancient history at every turn. Walking tours are highly recommended to fully experience its unique atmosphere.
Are there any unique food experiences in Jerusalem?
Definitely! Try a food tour that includes tasting local specialties like hummus, falafel, and shakshuka. Don’t miss visiting Mahane Yehuda Market for a vibrant culinary exploration.
Can visitors explore the City of David?
Yes, the City of David offers an exciting journey into the archaeological heart of ancient Jerusalem, with guided tours through historic tunnels and revealing layers of the city’s past.
What are the best cultural experiences in Jerusalem?
Jerusalem’s cultural scene includes the Light Festival in the Old City, live music performances at the Yellow Submarine, and the diverse offerings of the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
Are there outdoor activities available around Jerusalem?
Absolutely, the Jerusalem hills offer hiking and cycling trails, and the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is a short drive away, featuring desert landscapes and refreshing springs.