Welcome To the Holy city of Jerusalem (Yerushalayim). This is the largest city and capital of the State Of Israel. It is a city with a real vibrancy and straddles old and new perfectly thanks to the careful preservation of the city by the Jewish state. Historical sites sit side by side with new constructions though nothing looks out of place and the Municipality take every precaution to ensure that the city maintains its authenticity.
To the West side of Jerusalem, Hebrew is mostly spoken whilst to the East of the city it is a combination of Arabic and some Hebrew. You may also hear Yiddish spoken a lot by the Haredi community but most Israelis do have a good command for English.
Jerusalem is without doubt one of the most enchanting places you will ever visit. Religious or not, the history that envelops this city is like no other. Jerusalem holds a different type of importance for everyone depending on which of the four quarters is the most significant to your personal connection. There are the Jewish, Greek, Armenian and Muslim parts. The area spans just over 0.95 square kilometres and with some very comfy walking shoes you can easily get from one end to the other.
The Jewish quarter is home to more than 1,800 Jewish families and counting. Jerusalem has been home to the Jews as far back as the First temple which itself dates back over 3,000 years. As you walk the well kept and tidy alleyways you will see how this quarter is well cared for and bursting with a colourful vibrancy as bougainvillaea drapes itself over the houses and little boutiques selling anything from Judaica to modern art waiting to be discovered.
Within this area there are also loads of Yeshivas and numerous synagogues. It still amazes me how much jewish life exudes from this magnificent area when you consider jews were expelled in 1948 by the Jordanians. It was in fact under their control until 1967 but soon became a thriving city once more, once the Jews were able to reclaim it following the six day war and really turn this city around to be thriving and prosperous and habitable for all its residents.
Dining within the Jewish quarter and indeed the old town generally tends to be fast food with Falafel outlets and Gelaterias being the main choice and there is always a coffee shop close at hand. As you make your way to the Western Wall, be sure to visit the observation Deck. It is not expensive but gives you an excellent opportunity to overlook the Kotel and the surrounding city views. Sunset is especially a great time to visit as a stunning purple and crimson hue gently caress the skyline. I often took my best photos from this point.
As you wander around this area of the Kotel for prayer or general observation, be sure to explore the Western Wall Tunnels too! There are layers upon layers of walls that have been discovered and excavated over the years and these date as far back as the first century.
Discovering parts of Jerusalem old and new are truly an enlightening experience and heading outside the walls, why not head over to the area known as Mishkenot Sha'ananim where you will come to the Montefiore Windmill. Built in the mid 1800's this now serves as a museum and in the summer there is a pleasant cafe bar there. This community was originally constructed to solve the over crowding problems of the Old City and was paid for and built by a renowned Jewish Brit by the name of Moses Montefiore. wander the streets and see the flowers engulfing the now million dollar houses. Just below this is the pretty Artists' Colony known as Hutzot Hayotzer. Small galleries line the pavement whilst artists sit in their workshops creating their Judaica or Modern Art.
But Jerusalem is not all about visiting historical sites. Because aside from the wealth of culture this city exudes, there is also a great deal of retail therapy to be had combined with a first class cafe culture to rival its other Mediterranean counter parts. The Mamilla Mall is a luxury end open air shopping street with fine stores and expensive café bars, whilst at the complete opposite end of downtown area at the top of Jaffa Street is the colourful Mahane Yehuda market. Here you can find some of the finest street food served up, some great buys to take home like fresh halva, Tahini, Israeli wines and all your fresh spices.
Also if you have time and for something more quirky, why not take a stroll around the religious district of Guela and Me'a She'arim, the location of the fictitious Israeli hit TV show now available via Netflix called 'Shtisel'. Some of the old houses are breathtaking! and date back to the 1800's.
The most important & thought provoking memorial dedicated to the six million Jews who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany during WWII. Located on Mount of Remebrence, the site consists of two museums, small synagogue, the Children's Memorial and gardened areas where you can walk along the Avenue of the Righteous. The Hall of Names is especially moving & contains millions of pages worth of testimonials connected to the horrors of the Holocaust. There are numerous interactive areas whilst the many carefully placed personal items, photography & heartbreaking letters will draw you into the lives of those taken so cruelly. Be sure to allocate at least 3-4 hours as it can get busy. You can hire personal interactive walking guides at the main entrance for an individual experience or you can opt for a guided tour. This is a must when visiting Jerusalem. Museum Website
A visit to the Knesset can be quite a moving experience. After all, this is the home & control centre of Israeli Democracy & where many inspirational leaders over the years have walked, spoken and led! If you have the time it is well worth booking a guided tour. These usually last for around 90 minutes. Check out the Knesset official website for further details. It is also here you can see the famous Marc Chagall tapestries that illustrate special or important moments throughout Jewish history. Close to the government building, just opposite and standing to the front of the Wohl Rose Garden is the majestic bronze Menorah, referred to as the 'Knesset Menorah'. This was a specially commissioned design and given as a gift by the British government to celebrate Israeli independence. The ornate detail on the Menorah tells a very detailed story dating back to the time of the Romans and the Jewish revolt. Knesset Website
Jerusalem is a magical city & strolling through the winding streets will leave you astounded, as you feel the history totally envelop you. Surrounded by a wall built in the 16th century there are eight gates. The city is then divided into four main areas, the old city is home to three religions: Judaism, Christianity & Islam. My recommendations of the key places to visit include: Walking the ramparts (lovely opportunity for a walk combined with a hearty dose of sightseeing, The Cardo, Via Delarosa where Jesus is said to have carried his cross towards his crucifixion, The Western Wall including the tunnels and do try the observation deck for great sunset views!, Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christianity's most important church, Also check out the Great Greek Monastery, Ethiopian Monastery, Hurva Synagogue and go to the roof terrace of the Austrian hospice for some lovely city views.
Bursting with charm and character is the Mahane Yehuda, a place to go to for those seeking a true culinary experience matched with the most vibrant of atmospheres. Stroll from stand to stand, each lined with tempting eye candy. Your camera will be on a constant roll here snapping away with great photo oportunities. You can find everything from fresh halva, tahini, exotic fruits, teas, nuts, spices, herbs, Israeli crafted beers and numerous street food outlets filling the market with tempting aromas. Any time of day is the perfect time to come, during the morning you can unwind enjoying a coffee and a pastry at one of the many cafes within or surrounding the market. Lunch time is an inexpensive way to enjoy some of the finest 'street food' you'll find in the city. Sit, relax and enjoy a plethora of colourful dishes whilst lapping up a large dose of people watching. During the evenings the market changes face yet again with a number of trendy bars taking the place of the market stalls and a busy friendly vibe ensues.
The Wohl Rose Park is a really lovely public garden area not too far from the Knesset, and the Supreme Courts, so it is a very easy to do pit stop prior to a visit/tour to the Israeli government building. The park, which has been recognised as being one of the worlds most beautiful) is over 30 years old. Numerous varieties of roses are grown and cultivated here. In fact there are over 400 varieties from which to discover. It is a peaceful oasis with a number of features including some gorgeous shrubbery and flowers which of course bloom at various stages throughout the year. There is a lovey pond area with ample seating and plenty of time to sit, relax and absorb the natural beauty. The area known as the Garden of Nations was a personal favourite of mine. As you walk around the landscaped surroundings, the areas are sectioned by country with a variety of rose specific to that nation. Countries include: Switzerland, Argentina, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Austria and The Netherlands.
Live like an Israeli and take a ride on the the light rail network. The stops cover the main touristic sites and travel is easy and comfortable, but just make sure you buy your ticket beforehand from the stops. Do keep your ticket on your person in case a ticket inspector boards the tram. The starting point is from Mount Herzl station by Yad Vashem, it travels the length of Jaffa street by the Mahane Yehuda and continues to City Hall. It then runs by the wall past Damascus Gate up to Ammunition Hill. There are numerous ticket options according to your needs so it is really convenient and if you happen to have a car rental, they also offer 'Park n Ride' options to make it easier getting to the centre if you prefer not to drive in the city. I think if you are in the city then it is a must whilst you are there. It is green, it is clean and above all fun. Official Website
Visiting the Old City of Jerusalem is like travelling to a mystical, magical new world. Long considered one of the world’s holiest and most visited locations and home to structures and ruins significant to the three significant monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a walk through its hallowed passages is an exciting and life-changing source of historic, cultural and spiritual uplift that one simply must not miss out on. Official GoIsrael Site
There are several Segway operators in Jerusalem, and a guided tour with this novel form of transport is both original and fun. Most companies offer different options from short, long, night and day touring and you can even have private tours which go at your own pace. Once you get the hang of these, they are great fun and enable you to experience Jerusalem from totally different perspective. Check out our directory for some options.
Cycling around Jerusalem can be great fun, especially if its with a group of friends, though you'll need to be relatively fit given that the city can be quite hilly, depending on where it is you are cycling to. There are some lovely cycle paths to follow and the Sabbath can be especially pleasant when there is less traffic on the road and public transport is more restrictive. Check out our directory for some options.
Guided walking tours in a city like Jerusalem are an essential part of the overall enjoyment. Needless to say there are parts of the city that you can only access on foot, and with so much to see in the old town a private guided tour is a perfect way of seeing the key sites and then some at our own pace. you can also learn a lot of quirky facts about the city or culturally that you probably would not get to learn about. Check out our directory for some options.
Opposite a sensational view of the Old City, on the terrace above the hotel's gardens or inside the garden café, your experience only just begins. Executive chef, David Biton, has created a delectable menu highlighting a range of cuisines characteristic of Israel.
The dairy menu includes traditional dishes from the Mediterranean kitchen, breakfast served all day; and homemade sweets, pralines and pastries. Open daily from 10:00 am to 23:15 pm. Official Website
Are you the active type in search of some hardcore leisure activities to combine with your slice of culture? If the answer is yes then why not consider a jeep safari over the hilltops of Jerusalem stretching out to the Judean hillsides and desert lands? Several companies offer such excursions and whilst perhaps you never thought of being quite so active whilst on holiday, this is an amazing way to see another side of Israel whilst feeling invigorated by something unique and exciting.
The fusion of cultures blend together to bring you an explosion of flavours and as is often the case, the best food is often the least expensive. Hummus restaurants are plentiful so be sure to order a couple of varieties & take a salad to lighten the load. Why not stop at a juice stand & enjoy a freshly squeezed melon or pomegranate juice high in anti oxidants? Try the kebabs, meat or vegan options and it goes without saying falafel is a must when in Israel. When making a coffee stop, try a fresh rugelach or slice of knefe - but beware! This sweet cheese pie is deadly.
There are a lot of hotels in Jerusalem and all of them have their features and benefits. The Eldan however is a hotel that offers multiple benefits and in my opinion is a great hotel to consider when booking your Jerusalem stay. First and foremost the hotel itself is recently renovated and decorated to a stylish spec, with minimal clutter and fuss and has an overall feel of space, light and freshness. The hotel is clean and the service is solid. It is often said that Customer Service is questionable in Israel, but I must say that Eldan Hotel (as with their car rental) has always been a pleasure. Guests are sometimes eligible to car rental discounts when booking the hotel, the location is perfect , just across the road from the King David, so you are in easy walking distance from the wall, Jaffa Gate and shopping at the Mamilla. Breakfast is to a very high standard whilst the rooms are simple but adequately appointed. There is limited parking also which comes at a premium in Jerusalem. I personally think its one of my preferred stays when visiting.
This classic hotel which is over 100 years old and situated in East Jerusalem really is a hidden oasis that through the years has hosted numerous famous dignitaries and celebrities. In fact, when I stayed here, Joaquim Phoenix was dining at the next table. If you are not staying here but nevertheless are in search for that special meal in atmospheric surroundings amidst a verdant backdrop, then this is the place to dine. Perhaps take an aperitif in the garden bar opposite the main building beforehand. It is quiet and intimate and the bar man is really friendly. The Courtyard is my personal favourite dining option of the choices within the hotel. The tables are interspersed between the large trees and flowers placed throughout this gorgeous garden with feature fountain. The atmosphere is relaxed and the menu sophisticated. There is a good wine selection and I found the service to be both friendly and attentive.
Jerusalem has many places to dine, most of which are of a fine quality and serve great tasting food. It is often very hard to recommend a restaurant given the fact that it is often subjective. This however is a restaurant that has me coming back time and time again when I am in Jerusalem. Manou Ba Shouk is a Jewish Lebanese Kosher establishment, located in the Mahane Yehuda, the large open air market. With an indoor seating area and a tight balcony terrace with.a handful of tables, this is the perfect place to sit and enjoy hearty inexpensive cuisine whilst watching the world go by. Passers by watch with envy as you tuck in to a crammed table full of the most delicious food. The reviews will tell you all you need to know! The friendly owners are professional and no messing with a speedy service. The extensive menu offers a range of options for meat and non meat eaters so consider this a suitable option for everyone. Do try the stuffed aubergine, this is one of the restaurant's signature dishes, a large aubergine stuffed with various options topped with a creamy tahini and Finley chopped corriander - pure heaven. The okra & rice dish and the taboulé are also a must!
Shopping in Jerusalem is an enjoyable experience and an easy one that can be broken into 4 sections. 1/ Old City Market 2/ Food Market 3/ High Street shopping and 4/ Indoor Malls. The old town is one big market. The narrow winding streets are awash with a range of Judaica, souvenirs, religious items and tourist goods. Mahane Yehuda is the perfect place to buy all your fresh herbs and spices, teas and sweet goods. In addition they have some good wine shops in the vicinity and if you are in search of some funky designed yarmulkes, this is where you can find them at a reasonable price. This is also about the market itself, just sit and take a drink and soak up the atmosphere! Outdoor shopping is fun and interesting along Jaffa street where the variety of shops is great, broken smart phone case? no worries, this is where repairs are fast and cheap! Upscale shopping is at Mamilla close to Jaffa Gate is where a number of fashion stores blend with trendy cafés for a luxury shopping experience whilst if you do have a car and really are a shopaholic, then the Malha Mall is the place for you. This is however further out of the city and closer to the Zoo and the Israel Museum.
In the seam between old and New Jerusalem, opposite the breathtaking view of the Old city walls and only few steps away from Jaffa Gate and the western wall, you'll find Alrov Mamilla Avenue. The modern open-air street mall, became popular with locals and tourists alike thanks to its proximity to the Old city and because it bring together the best of all worlds - Rich history, local culture, and sophisticated retail experience in a word-class prime location. (Via: GoIsrael). Official Site.
This is Israel's parliament building, cradle of the nation's democratic law making. Tours are available & be sure to see the Marc Chagall tapestries.