Jerusalem, one of the holiest city in the world, is a city packed with a rich history, impressive architecture, diverse cultures, delicious global cuisine, and a growing ecosystem of innovative talent. Combined, these distinctive qualities define Jerusalem and transform it into the ultimate tourist destination.
In terms of actual size, Jerusalem is not a large city. When every alleyway in Jerusalem offers a unique story, every building is infused with meaning, and every stone reveals the city’s secrets, Jerusalem is a city larger than life.
Jerusalem is one of those rare tourist destinations that truly offers something for every visitor. But, with so much to do in Jerusalem, tourists looking to experience all that Jerusalem has to offer will have a hard time spending only a day or two. Sure, Jerusalem has a bucket list of must-see locations, but the city has so much more to offer. What else can a traveller see in Jerusalem?
Here’s a list of must see Jerusalem spots that tourists should make sure to cover when visiting this amazing city.
The Old City of Jerusalem definitely earns the number one spot to visit. Home to treasures that include the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock. If you visit the Western Wall, don’t forget to place a note in its crevices. Take some time to browse the stalls and storefronts in the narrow streets of the Old City shuk (bazaar), and be inspired by a visit to the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.
For a bit more context, the Old City is divided into four quarters- Armenian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim – each with its own ambiance. As mentioned, every stone in Jerusalem reveals a story, so one day may simply not be sufficient. The Old City is the starting point for any tourist to become familiar with the city’s history, theology and archaeology.
Tower of David Museum
Although situated at the entrance of the Old City, this amazing museum set in a restored citadel, is a standalone destination. Here tourists can trace 4,000 years of Jerusalem’s history.
Pro tip: Visit the museum during the day to capture the iconic landscape of the city, then return at night for the museum’s famous interactive sound and light show, which uses the walls of the Old City as backdrop.
City of David/ Hezikia’s Tunnels
Looking for an “Indiana Jones experience”? Located right outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, this 2,700- year- old waterway gives tourists a fantastic experience.
Among the City of David’s most interesting attractions, the lavish archaeological excavations reveal expansive houses once belonging to some of Jerusalem’s wealthiest families.
Known as one of the world’s greatest museums, the Israel Museum has definitely earned its spot on the must-see list for tourists coming to Jerusalem. Like many Jerusalem sites, the museum complex is filled with so much content, that one day may not do justice to this impressive campus.
The Israel Museum is divided into 3 main collections, Archaeology, Art and World ethnology collections.
Recently, the Museum added an outdoor scale model of the old city of Jerusalem during the time of the Second Temple. Machane Yehuda Market
The best way to experience the city is through its local food. The Jerusalem Machane Yehuda Market (or shuk) offers just that. It gives tourists a chance to taste the city’s Middle Eastern flavor, influenced by the melting pot of immigrants who call Jerusalem home.
Pro tip: Many tourists may be overwhelmed by the sensory overload of the shuk, not to mention the constant hustle of shopkeepers so take your time and don’t be rushed.
The Jerusalem shuk is not only fresh fruits and vegetables, it is also home to some world famous stores selling cheese, wine, halva, exotic spices, coffee, baked goods and other impressive ethnic dishes. The shuk has also become the nucleus for the city’s gentrification. At night, the day time market transforms into a trendy, vibrant urban cultural experience.
The market is the place for tourists to truly appreciate the people, food and customs of Jerusalem.
Knesset/ Parliament Building
The Knesset is the parliament building for the Israeli government. The building plays a crucial role in ensure the operation of the country, from passing laws and electing the President and Prime Minister.
So far, this building would not earn a spot on the must-see list for tourists. The Knesset building does offer a place for tourist to gain a better perspective on how Israel and Jerusalem operate. Close to the Knesset is the Supreme Court building. This postmodern complex incorporates several contrasting themes that reflect the overall thematic landscape of Jerusalem- : inside and outside, old and new, lines and circles. In fact, the Supreme Court building was named “Israel’s finest public building” by The New York Times.
A vibrant city like Jerusalem can only be appreciated by understanding its significant past. A somber point on the Jerusalem tourist list is Yad Vashem. It is museum that is living memorial to the millions who perished during the Holocaust. Over one million visitors annually walk through Yad Vashem. A range of exhibits at Yad Vashem including, authentic film footage, videos of personal interviews with survivors, historical documents, artifacts, personal items, memorial structures, gardens and commemorative installations. Unlike many of the city’s tourist destinations, Yad Vashem is located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Spanning over 45 acres, this large complex of museums is sure to leave any tourist moved and inspired.
Ein Karem Neighborhood
Close to Yad Vashem, this charming artsy neighborhood is definitely not on the bucket list of Jerusalem must see’s. Located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Ein Kerem has turned into a mini bohemia offering tours of the artists' studios that fill the small village. The churches in the area are always open offer easy access to the forests surrounding Jerusalem. The highly regarded Targ Centre presents regular music recitals. The eclectic scene of Ein Karem is also home to some impressive restaurants and boutique hotels, which only enhance the neighborhood’s unique vibe.
If you’re in the area, Ein Karem is a great experience to spend a few hours and is only a few stops from the centre of town with the new Jerusalem light rail.
Old Train Station
Speaking of Jerusalem destinations that define the city’s strong past with an eye towards innovation, the city’s Old Train station transforms a defunct 130-year-old train station into a culinary and cultural hub. This urban complex is now home to many impressive restaurants that has turned into a cultural centre for many community activities. Here, visitors can tour the city with segways or choose to take a stroll down the pedestrian walkway that was built on the old train tracks, connecting the station to the Jerusalem Mall.
The Haas Promenade
Tourists seeking to truly understand the expansive city of Jerusalem, visitors should make time to explore the Haas Promenade- or Tayelet- offering an impressive landscape view of the entire city. From any of the observation points along the Promenade, visitors can look out over the city and identify all of Jerusalem’s main attractions.
Pro tip: Round your trip off with a visit to the Promenade at sunrise or sunset for a majestic photo opp.
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