Jerusalem is the holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. There are many important religious buildings in the Old city of Jerusalem. However, the city is more than just a religious site. There are many things to explore like natural beauty, culture, history, and food.
Why should anyone visit the city?
Dead sea is the most unique lowest place on the planet. It is extremely salty that the things and body just float on the surface of the sea. People from all over the world visit the sea, cover themselves in the mud of the sea and take the that in bottle as the beauty product. Israel is a very unique country.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv serves as the international airport for Jerusalem. The drive is less than an hour to reach from the airport to the Jerusalem city. When you reach the airport, you get a stamped piece of paper that you need to carry until you leave Israel.
Shuttle bus is available from the airport to reach the city center. Central bus station from Jerusalem connects it to different cities in the country.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
Most tourist areas of Jerusalem are safe to visit. However, US travelers get a second degree warning for visiting Israel because of the terrorism. There are chances of small crimes in narrow streets of old city like pick pocketing. You need to keep a track while paying in the shops especially through the ATM card. Shopkeepers try to charge in US dollars instead of shekels.
Solo females should not walk around at night. Try to travel in group.
What’s the weather like?
- December to March is a much cooler winter time with heavy rainfalls. Travel and hotel prices are low.
- April to May is the spring season with very pleasant sunshine and temperature. Many religious visitors come to the city for Passover and Easter.
- June to September is the most crowded time. Hotel prices are very high and entrance fees of some places also increase.
- October to November is the very enjoyable time of Jerusalem. Temperature is ideal to explore different outdoor attractions.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
Official language of Israel is Hebrew. It is used in everyday life, government documents, commerce and in every important thing. A very high proportion of locals speak frequent English. People who are not fluent in English, understand and speak a little.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
Official currency used in Jerusalem is the new Israeli Shekel (ILS or NIS). It is highly recommended to use Shekel instead of USD or Euro. The exchange rates are not favorable and shopkeepers get a chance to scam. There are plenty of ATM machines to get the Israeli currency easily.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
- The old City – most fascinating historic sites, Western wall, Jewish, Armenian, Islamic and Christian culture in one area.
- City Center – Restaurant, Bars, Cafés, local and international brand stores, Historical places to stay.
- Musrara – Historic neighborhood, art schools, exhibition places, galleries and eateries.
- The German Colony – prestigious area of the city, mansions, expensive apartments, different historic buildings.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
- Jerusalem Inn Hotel is a budget accommodation. Hotel offers free Wi-Fi, buffet breakfast and complimentary passes to rock climbing wall.
- Hashimi Hotel is located very close to the religious sites and Old city. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, mini fridge, TV and complimentary hot drinks.
- Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is a five-star hotel located in a grand building. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, minibars, safes and espresso machines. Suites have saunas, whirlpool tubs and living areas.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Bus service connects Jerusalem to the airport and different tourist attractions.
- Jerusalem Light Rail Transit (JLRT) features one line that starts at Mount Herzl and the end is Heil Ha-Avir (suburb).
- Taxi is very convenient but expensive way to travel as compared to the public transport. Taxis are easily available at every part of the city.
- Car rentals are available in the entire city. It is not recommended because the drivers in Israel are aggressive and you need a valid international driver’s license.
Uber is not legal in Israel.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
- Church of all Nations is an important historical site that is located on the mount of olives. It is said to be the last place where Jesus prayed.
- Tower of David is also known as Jerusalem Citadel. It is believed to be more than 2000 years old. It is very well preserved and has the Tower of David Museum with interactive exhibitions, maps and holograms.
- Via Dolorosa is named as the “Way of Sorrow” because it is the historical street where Jesus walked for his crucifixion. Pilgrims and tourist start from the Lion’s gate and retrace the steps of Jesus.
- Western wall Tunnels are historical tunnels which were destroyed and recreated many times. They were built on the ruins of buildings. A guided tour can be booked to explore them.
- The Garden Tomb belongs to the 7th and 8th century BC. Some believe that it was the place where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead. It is very calm and quiet spot of the city.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
Temple Mount is the best place to click photos because it is the place of many historical sites. There is Al-Aqsa Mosque, first and second temple and many other places related to religions and history.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
- The Eucalyptus – ancient stone building, modern recipes, Jewish and Arab cuisines, biblical ingredients
- Machneyuda – Most popular restaurant of Jerusalem, run by local chefs, Israeli and Mediterranean foods.
- Chakra – meat, seafood and pasta dishes, Israeli and Mediterranean dishes, innovative cuisines.
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
- Villa Brown Tea Garden – Israeli, Turkish and English brunch
- Nocturno Café – Vegetarian and Vegan Breakfast, fresh food ingredients, 12 types of coffee
- Piccolino – fresh baked foods, music
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
You will find a variety of Arabian and Israeli foods in the markets of Jerusalem. Try delicious Hummus available in the market especially in the open air Mahane Yehuda market. It is made with extra oil and fresh herbs.
What about food markets?
- Machane Yehuda Market – fresh food ingredients, Israeli foods and international street foods.
- Old city market – fresh fruits and vegetables, street food
- Emek Refaim Street Market – cafes, food shops, bars
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
- City Center – best bars and clubs of the city
- Machane Yehuda Market – Bars, Clubs and famous nightlife places.
- Jaffa Street – bars and nightlife places
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
- Simcha Hall at Kotel
- Notre Dame Rooftop Cheese and Wine
- Mamilla Hotel
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
- Old City Souk
- Bezalel Arts Fair, Jerusalem
- Tel Aviv Port & Jaffa Port Markets
- Carmel Market
- Nachlat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair, Tel Aviv
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
- Sea of Galilee
- Dead Sea
- Ein Gedi
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
Only two types of gambling are allowed in Israel. One is national lottery and the other is sports gambling that is handled by the Israeli commission. There are no casinos in Jerusalem.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Try to use cash in small shops and eateries. Do not use your ATM card in these places.
- Friday is usually a half working day and Saturday is mostly off.
- Locals are very responsive and friendly. Tourists should not behave rude or pass any negative remarks about the culture and people.
- Do not travel alone late at night especially in the old city to avoid getting lost with no help.