Wondering what to see in Jerusalem?
As you first climb the Judean mountains on your way to Jerusalem, the view is breathtaking. There is no place in the world quite like Jerusalem with its spectacular jumble of religions, history and wonders, ancient and new.
You can easily travel in Jerusalem on your own. You can walk it, or take city buses and taxis. Driving might be cumbersome due to traffic.
Or better yet, consider hiring a guide to explore the city in one day, especially if you want to catch the essence of this timeless city in a short time.
Learn more about our private tours of Jerusalem - Classic, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant varieties.
or take an organized, day tours of Jerusalem.
Dress Code When Visiting Holy Sites
Many religious sites in Jerusalem require you to dress modestly.
To avoid mishaps and ensure that you are allowed entrance to wherever you wish to visit, make sure your shoulders are covered (no tank tops), and that your pants or skirt reach your knees.
Below is our top-ten list of what to see in Jerusalem. Use this map of Jerusalem to find the location of each place of interest:
Walking the Ramparts of the Old City Walls is a great introduction to Jerusalem.
There is an entrace fee of about 16 Shekels to walk the ramparts in both directions. You can purchase tickets at Jaffa Gate.
Starting from Jaffa Gate, you can walk along the walls in two directions and enjoy amazing views from up above.
The Western Wall is the only remnant of the second Great Temple of Jerusalem. It is Judaism's most sacred site that can be visited.
Jews and non-Jews have prayed at the wall for 2,000 years. You can write your wish or prayer on a piece of paper and slip it into the cracks between the ancient stones.
If you have time, visit or take a tour of some of the truly amazing excavations in 3 areas: the Western Wall tunnels, the Davidson Center with remains from the 1st Temple, and the South Wall and Southern Steps of the Temple.
In the two picture above, and below, you can also see the Mt. of Olives.
There are wonderful views of Jerusalem from its peaks. With more than 150,000 graves, it has been used as a Jewish cemetery for 3,000 years since the days of King David!
The Temple Mount is holy for Jews and Muslims.
The entire Great Temple area and especially the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was stored is considered too sacred to enter. Most religous Jews don't visit the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is Islam's 3rd holiest place after Mecca and Medina.
It houses two magnificent mosques, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and many beautiful fountains and arches. The Dome of the Rock is sacred as the place of the world's creation, the rock where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac and the place from which Muhammed ascended to heaven on a night journey. Unfortunately, non-Muslims are not allowed into the Dome of the Rock.
Opening hours of the Temple Mount are limited, and the area is often closed without notice for security reasons. Check before your visit.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a fascinating place for Christians and non-Christians alike.
It is one of the holiest places on earth for Christians. It is where Jesus was crucified at Golgotha. The Stone of Unction within is where his body was cleansed for burial, and it is the place where Jesus was buried and resurrected.
It contains the final stops along the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrow, following the fourteen stations where Jesus was led on his last day on Earth. The first 6 stations pass through the Muslim Quarter which despite the name, is full of Christian sites. For many Christians, walking along the Via Dolorosa and visiting the site of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection is the highlight of their visit to Israel.
Read more about the essential Christian sites in Jerusalem,
and the ten important Christian sites in the Holy Land.
The Jewish Quarter has been excavated and restored and is a gemstone! Wander around and discover:
Although its not in the Jewish Quarter, we recommend visiting the colorful Old City Market. It makes for great souvenir shopping. Experimen with a cup of cardomon-flavored coffee at one of the local Arab restaurants.
There's one in every major city in israel, but we think Shuk Mahane Yehuda is the best open-air market in Israel...
It's a feast of colors, smells, and sounds.
But don't just loo, taste your way through.
Stop over at some of the eateries, enjoy a freshly squeezed juice, a delicious snack or sit down for a meal at one of the excellent market restaurants.
Many visitors say their visit to Yad Vashem was truly life-changing.
Even if you have visited other holocaust museums, they pale in comparison.
The thoughful layout, the first-hand video accounts, the haunting images and words and even the architecture and gardens, all together leave an impact.
As you progress in the musuem, you start before the war, moving in time to the rooms displaying the atrocities and extermination, continuing to the armed resistance of the Jews, and culminating in the rebirth of the Jewish nation in the Israel with an amazing view of modern Jerusalem from Mount Herzl.
There is a separate building commemorating the children lost in the Holocaust is especially emotional. My father, Abraham Rozenzveig was just seven years old when he lost everything - his entire family, his home and the normal life he led. You can read more about his unbelievable survivor story in his personal memoir on Amazon here.
Allow enough time and at a bare minimum, 2 hours for this visit.
The City of David is the oldest settled area in Jerusalem, just outside the Old City Walls south of the Temple Mount.
It's an archaeological wonderland.
Excavations have uncovered some of the most exciting finds ancient Jerusalem.
These including remnants of a building considered by many to be King David's palace, and the surrounding noble homes from 3000 years ago, remains of the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586 BC and more.
You can walk along Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a water tunnel under the City of David that was built to bring fresh water from Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.
Just recently, a massive Cannanite fortress was uncovered that was built 3,800 years ago to protect Gihon Spring. There are new discoveries here almost every year.
The Tower of David lies in the Old City just near the Jaffa Gate.
There is a unique, panaoramic view of Jerusalem from the top of this tower (with no connection to King David). On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. The tower and minaret were built during the Ottoman Turk period, on layers of archaeological finds from as far back as the days of the 1st Temple period.
The museum in the Tower of David Museum is dedicated to the 4,000 year old history of Jerusalem from its Canaanite origins until today.
Further south outsides the old city is the famous Mount Zion, the traditional burial place of King David. Mount Zion is also considered the 'Cenacle', the Last Supper Room of Jesus and his disciples.
Mount Zion is home to many churches and Christian cemeteries worth visiting.
We think that the Israel Museum is one of the greatest in the world.
You'll need at least 3 hours, if not all day. You can truly spend weeks on end in this grand museum.
There are both history and art collections. The two highlights are the Shrine of the Book Complex that houses the 2,000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls, and the intriguing model of Jerusalem from the time just before the Roman destruction.
The archaeology, history and Judaica wings are fascinating, with pieces from every period of history of the region. There are world-class scultpures in the beautiful art garden, and impressive permanent and temporary art collections.
There are lots of other amazing things to see in Jerusalem. Here are some great places to visit if you have and hour or half a day to spare:
Visiting the monumental Tomb of Absalom and two other ancient tombs nearby is definitely worth an hour It is just a few minutes away fom the Old City Temple Mount facing the Mount of Olives.
Ein Karem is an ancient village in the Jerusalem hills that is today part of the city of Jerusalem. It's a charming place to walk around amid spectacular landscapes. There is a real village atmosphere, winding lanes, Crusader churches, artisian shops, cafes and restaurants.
Jerusalem is home to some wonderful, historic monasteries with wonderful art and architecture. The monasteries are great places to visit whether you are Christian or not.
Most Israelis visit Abu Ghosh, just ten minutes from Jerusalem for its excellent Middle Eastern cuisine. But spend a half day to explore its famous churches, mosques and atmosphere.
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