Considered to be the most abundant area of interesting sites and things to do, you will find a variety of attractions for every age and every season in Jerusalem.
Apart from the holy sites of the three religions, the capital of Israel includes some of the most famous points of interest in the country.
The attractions in Jerusalem are fascinating and varied so you won't even have a minute to spare - starting with the Biblical zoo and the Israel Aquarium adjacent to it, through to the City of David site located near the Western Wall and strolling the alleys of the Mahane Yehuda market with its many colorful booths, cafes and authentic restaurants.
On this page we have collected for you the must-see attractions in Jerusalem, special attractions for children, special tours, museums and all the things you must do in Israel's capital city.
10 Must-see Attractions in Jerusalem
There are not a few attractions in Jerusalem, and of course we will start with those that you must not miss. Here is our choice of 10 attractions that are musts for any visitor to Jerusalem.
The Botanical Gardens: for nature lovers
The Botanical Gardens, a magical kingdom of plants, supplies a rich experience of colors and images from around the world, for lovers of nature and geography, since contains a huge variety of plants from around the globe. The large area of the gardens enable walking there for a number of hours, especially if you like plants, and it has many and interesting stopping points.
Nachlaot: a tour that is a story
One of the most desired areas in the list of attractions in Jerusalem today is Nachlaot, an area that includes 32 neighborhoods that were built close to one another in the last part of the 19th century and up until Mandatory times.
The neighborhoods, some of which include dense construction with a number of apartments of the size regular in those times and common courtyards, tell many stories of ethnic groups, families, communities, and in general – the story of the Jewish community’s exit from behind the Old City walls. In Nachlaot, one can also enjoy today the narrow, Jerusalem alleyways, water cisterns, colorful building and more.
The Biblical Zoo
Any list of ‘must-see’ attractions in Jerusalem must include our Biblical Zoo, which also includes, among other things, the unique concept - Noah’s Ark, which symbolizes, like the original Noah’s Ark, the need for preserving and protecting the multiplicity of animals in Israel and around the world.
At the expansive zoo, you will be able to enjoy displays, various different sections and of course many types of rare and beautiful creatures. It should be noted that the zoo plays an important part in preserving many animals that are in danger of extinction, and one can hear or read about them in the zoo. The zoo also has a local train, rest areas, an auditorium and more.
Jaffa Road and HaNeviim Street
As opposed to the rest of our recommendations, this concerns a long walking tour along two of the city’s main streets – from a historical and general point of view. Along these two streets (located close to each other, even next each other at least at their start) one can find many buildings with fascinating stories of their own, among them are: hospitals, noble mansions, the Russian Compound, Consular Buildings, etc. If you want to “feel” the city, start an afternoon tour with these streets.
The Mahane Yehuda Market: the Real Jerusalem Magic
The old and popular Mahane Yehhuda market stars in all the lists of recommendations for tourists visiting Jerusalem, and not for nothing. This is probably the best known market in Israel. The Mahane Yehuda market serves as a real, working market with stalls, distinctive shops, alleys divided according to their subject matter, and lots and lots of hustle and bustle for those that like this type of atmosphere.
Over the last years, the market has become even better known, with a colorful restaurant scene that began to grow there next to the traditional market shops. Today, one can enjoy its daily life in addition to its bustling night life. Read more about the Mahane Yehuda Market in our Blog.
Mt. Herzl, known as the Israel national-military cemetery, is a recommended site for anyone interested in discovering another facet of Jewish History in the Land of Israel.
In addition to its being a cemetery that brings together many casualties from the wars of Israel, many of the country’s leaders and Zionist leaders - including Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl - are buried here, next to symbolic memorials for various events in the history of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.
Mamilla Avenue: Shopping in Jerusalem!
Mamilla Avenue (Alrov Mamilla Avenue) has become, since its refurbishment, one of the best-know and best-loved shopping centers in Jerusalem – whether due to its design as a colorful boulevard, or due to its location close to the Jaffa Gate and the Old City.
In any event, one can easily reach the boulevard by public transportation (recommended in any case in this bustling city) on the way to visiting the Old City, and enjoy the lively shops and cafés located there.
Zedekiah's Cave (Solomon’s Quarries)
This is a huge and impressive artificial cave, located directly under the houses of the Moslem Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and rich in traditions and assumptions concerning its role. Jewish tradition, for example, claims that it served King Solomon’s builders, however the archeological evidences testifies to its use in the time of the Second Temple.
One can tour the cave and on occasion events and special shows take place there. Tip! It is recommended to tour the case with a guide, since there are many interesting stories about it that are worth knowing.
Sacher Garden: the perfect place for a picnic
A broad and expansive garden that is perfect for stopping and while visiting the city. The garden is close to the Knesset building and other sites in the area, and it offers a variety of beauty spots, benches, and even a special area for barbequing and picnics.
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory
For lovers of birds in Israel, there is no need to add a lot, however for the rest of the visitors, an explanation is necessary. This site supplies a unique viewpoint on the rich variety of migratory birds in Israel. This is an urban nature site, where you can watch the region’s variety of birds, and it is all for free!
Attractions for Children in Jerusalem
Our capital city includes not a few attractions that are especially suitable for children, in addition to all the many historical sites. Here we will concentrate on recommendations for various types of attractions that can suit all ages, and to which some of them entrance is even free!
Next to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, the first Israeli Aquarium was established, which includes a wide variety of magnificent fish, a unique path that will take visitors diving in the different marine environments of Israel, as well as giving information from a unique perspective about preserving the various marine-biological lifeforms in Israel.
In addition, the aquarium includes fascinating exhibitions and the possibility of professional guiding by the staff. Read more about the Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem in our blog.
The Monster Garden
Despite the fact that the garden was established sometime in the 1970s, this is one of the most iconic playgrounds in Israel – and in Jerusalem in particular.
The garden, which without a doubt has joined the list of leading attractions for children in Jerusalem, is known to generations of children and parents, both locals and foreigners, who come to slide down one of the well-known Monster’s three tongues.
The Time Elevator
The Time Elevator is the nickname for a type of interactive cinema that includes a number of simulation movies (“moving chairs”) and at the head of the list, the favorite movie where Haim Topol plays a Jerusalem character who will take you down to the depths of the earth, and from there to various periods in the history of Jewish Jerusalem, and in general.
The viewers will meet in this movie Kings and personalities from biblical times, experience various events by means of an interactive viewing experience, etc. Here there are additional movies on subjects such as The Human Body, Space, and more.
Taking part in sifting through rubble from the Temple Mount
This project is unique among the attractions in Jerusalem, and includes seeing and handling rubble from the Temple Mount, which originates from construction leftovers that were thrown from the mount at the end of the 1990s.
These remains were collected, studied as the result of a students’ initiative and since that have served many archeologists and visitors for experience-based research of the Temple Mount. Every family will receive a pail or two of un-sifted rubble (according to how much they complete) and a special place for sifting it, using a water shower above a special sieve.
The Valley of the Gazelles
The Valley of the Gazelles is one of the most intriguing and interesting sites concerning urban nature. The Valley of the Gazelles is the most outstanding urban nature sites in Israel, and the largest.
The valley lies between highways and neighborhoods, and has still managed to preserve a healthy and active flock of gazelles which constitutes part of the ecological mosaic here, which includes other animals and plants. Entrance to this place is free, and open from sunrise to sunset. You can receive explanations at the station located next to the main entrance.
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory
If we have already mentioned the Valley of the Gazelles, then immediately next to it and close to the Knesset building is a small and highly thought-out station for studying birds in Jerusalem. Like the Valley of the Gazelles, entrance to the station is free, and you can watch seasonal migrating birds that come to Jerusalem, especially next to the winter pond that exists here.
In addition, you can take in several ecological structures here, that combine modern construction and sustainable development. These buildings include ecologically constructed walls, roof gardens, and more.
The City of David
The City of David is an archeological site and national park in Jerusalem, located close to the Western Wall, from the direction of the Dung Gate. In contrast to what many thought up until a few years ago, the City of David – i.e. the ancient Jerusalem that was known to us from biblical times and especially since it was chosen by King David, was not located within the Old City walls but rather on this site on a neighboring hill.
Here are to be found secrets connected to many of the other kings, prophets and other famous personalities from Jewish History. You can purchase tickets here for a variety of possibilities, according to what you would like to do, which include a guided tour or independent walk, watching a movie, and more.
Holy Places in Jerusalem
The city of Jerusalem is known throughout the world due to its being holy to the world’s three main religions, and as a result, one can find there places that are holy to Jews, Christians and Moslems. Here are some of the most recommended ones.
The Western Wall
Every tour or article that deals with religious attractions in Jerusalem must of course start with the Western Wall, which according to Jewish tradition constitutes one of the four walls that surround the Temple Mount, and one of the most outstanding remains of the Second Temple. The Western Wall has become, over many years, a center for pilgrimage for both Jews and non-Jews, since it has religious significance of its own.
In addition to its religious importance, the Wall has national-military importance, since stories of many battles have been told over the years concerning the heroism of the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem. Next to the Wall, one can find additional religious and historical sites, such as the Western Wall Tunnels and the archeological garden.
The Hurva Synagogue
One of the relatively new sites on the list of attractions in Jerusalem is the “Hurva” Synagogue. The synagogue, which was built in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem in the 19th century, constituted a religious focal point of enormous community importance for the Jews in Jerusalem during the time of the “Yishuv” (Jewish settlement in Palestine before the founding of the State of Israel).
This impressive synagogue was destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion during the War of Independence and stood thus for more than 60 years, until its reconstruction in 2010. Today, the synagogue is one of the symbols of the Jewish Quarter and the return to Zion, and many visitors tend to stop and enter for a guided tour and even to pray, on their way to the Western Wall or coming back from it.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
This site, is in effect, a complex of Moslem prayer sites located in the southern part of the Temple Mount, and which are considered to be the third-most important holy places for (Sunni) Muslims. According to Muslim tradition, this is where Muhammed rose to Heaven with the Angel Gabriel.
Despite this being a relatively “touristy” site, there are still restrictions on the entry of non-Muslims, which include restricted entry on certain days and hours, security checks and in many cases, the need for Police supervision, and more.
The Mosque of Omar
The mosque, which is located exactly opposite the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, constitutes a pilgrimage site for Muslims. The mosque was built in 1193, to memorialize the Caliph Omar and the story of his praying outside the Holy Sepulchre (according to tradition, the Caliph Omar prayed outside the church in order not to create struggles between the Christians and the Moslems, who were to turn the place into a Holy Site).
Many visitors, both Christian and Moslem, visit this place on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, since it is to a great extent, a Holy Site for both religions (concerning the place).
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is, in the minds of many, the site most visited by tourists in the Land of Israel, and one of the holiest, if not THE holiest sites in Christianity, since according to Christian tradition, it is the location of the Crucifixion, the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus.
The church is divided into compounds with different “rights” and ceremonies, and in addition, it contains on its own, several important Christian sites, such as the Stone of the Anointing and the Empty Tomb.
The Ethiopian Church
A magnificent church, located in the center of Jerusalem, in a building built at the height of the 19th century, as part of the attempts by the world powers to establish footholds in the city in light of the approaching fall of the Ottoman Empire.
The church, by itself is an interesting site, can teach much about the unique Christian-Ethiopian tradition, which many do not know is very ancient. The then King of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Kingdom were among the first to accept Christianity.
Recommended Tours of Jerusalem
Do you prefer to walk about in nature? Love to look at historical buildings? Or is a pastoral urban tour more your thing? Even the history lovers among us, and the nature lovers too, will be able to find what they are looking for in the next article, where we will recommend three tours in Jerusalem.
HaNeviim Street: Meet the Jerusalem of the peak of the 19th and 20th centuries
We have already recommended a tour of HaNeviim and Jaffa streets, as part of the ‘must’ attractions in Jerusalem, and now we will focus on a tour of HaNeviim Street. The ABCs of Jerusalem tours include tours of the historical city center, in the direction of the Old City, and the tour of this street is one such. Tours of HaNeviim street normally start at the Davidka monument, though it is possible to start at the other end near the Damascus Gate and go back up. This is one of the best-known and main streets in Jerusalem, that passes very close to Jaffa Street, so that over the years this has become one of the busiest areas of the city.
HaNeviim Street, to a certain extent even more than Jaffa Street, has various building with historical-international importance, such as hospitals, former consulates, religious edifices and the homes of the rich and famous. The reason these buildings exist is the fact that starting from the sixth decade of the 19th century (+/-), the world powers began to understand that the Ottoman empire was approaching its end, something which enabled the construction that would constitute a foothold by the power in the Holy City, and in the Holy Land in general, a foothold with strategic importance for the Middle East.
Accordingly, one can find along this street the Italian Hospital, the English Hospital, the American consulate, the Bikur Holim Hospital, the William Holman Hunt house and more (by the way, these building were listed here not according to their date of construction, and there are many more on the street that are worthwhile reading about).
Ein Karem: A Jerusalem neighborhood or a pastoral village?
Ein Karem is a neighborhood located in one of the most fruitful areas in Jerusalem, and as a result, it has been settled throughout history (as archeological evidence indicates the existence of settlements in the area since the Bronze Age). Over the years, Ein Karem became a Christian pilgrimage site and an Arab village. In the War of Independence, the control over Ein Karem moved to Israel’s hands and new immigrants were settled there.
In truth, there is no need to expand much about the pastoral streets of Ein Karem, since many tourists choose to independently walk about through its streets and to discover more and more sides to its breathtaking landscape, or to go for walks along nature paths in the area. However, note that alongside the historical buildings, the stone houses and churches, there is a new scene in the neighborhood of unique artisans that give workshops in their colorful homes.
Among the important sites in Ein Karem are: the Bible Sources Museum, the Marciano House, the Muscovite compound, the Eden Tamir Music Center and more.
The Jerusalem Forest
The Jerusalem Forest is perhaps one of the only places where today one can find impressive evidence to the variety of life and unique nature that exist in Jerusalem, at least so close to the city. Most of the nature areas that used to exist in Jerusalem have long been covered by concrete and much construction, but the Jerusalem Forest has survived, between Moshav Beit Zayit, Givat Shaul, Har Nof, Beit HaKerem and more.
Despite the fact that the forest preserves local nature, this is a forest that was planted by Keren Kayemet L’Israel (the Jewish National Fund) in the 1950s and quickly became the home of a variety of animals, such as porcupines, foxes, gazelles (in the past), hedgehogs, etc. There are a number of parking lots and several entrances to the forest, and there are also a number of paths. Among the recommended sites in the forest, one can note: the historical terraces, the restoration and preservation and the lookout point (Horvat Hamama).
From many points in the forest, one can easily view the amazing landscape. In addition, the recommended path during all seasons of the year is the Cedars Path, which is considered to be relatively easy even for families. One can combine a tour of the forest with additional tours of Jerusalem, such a tour in the direction of Yad v’Shem or even a tour towards Ein Karem.
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Recommended Restaurants in Jerusalem
Many people like to use the term “Jerusalem Food”, but not everyone knows how to define it, and with good reason. Jerusalem food includes ethnic and Mediterranean influences, and lots of atmosphere, which each and every chef, in their own way, chooses to add to the food they create. Therefore, we have collected a choice of recommended restaurants in Jerusalem, by styles, tastes and aromas.
After having understood that food constitutes one of the more pleasant attractions in Jerusalem, and which integrates well with the rest of the things one can do in the capital, let’s talk about the relatively new scene in the city: the Vegan restaurants. There are not a few vegan restaurants in Jerusalem, or those that include a varied vegan menu and which are meant for both vegan and non-vegan clientele, with a creative and delicious menu.
One of these is the Nagila Restaurant, which boasts a host of hot dishes, salads, pastries, deserts and more. On the menu you can find breakfasts, salads, soups, main dishes and luscious deserts. The restaurant is located at 5 Mashiach Borochof Street.
Another restaurant from this field is Village Green, a successful chain that has a vegan branch in Jerusalem. The restaurant has a unique and well thought-out menu, which is meant to enable all the vegans, the vegetarians, etc., to enjoy healthy and tasty food, at a high and uncompromising, moral and general level. The branch is located at 5 Yoel Moshe Salomon Street.
Jerusalem is one of the only cities in the country where one can find real ethnic restaurants, such that have an interesting story behind them and such that know how to combine the authentic-original tastes and recipes, and new cooking styles. One of the most famous of these is the Sima Restaurant, which was founded way back in 1969 by Sima herself. An immigrant from Iraq and a talented cook, who fed many customers, mainly from among the laborers in the market, with both Iraqi and Jerusalemite delicacies alike.
Among the recommended restaurants in Jerusalem, there are of course amazing gourmet restaurants. Not a few Israelis, as well as tourists, come to Jerusalem to find there the gourmet restaurants that will give them a Jerusalem culinary experience that takes its inspiration from the local kitchen, as well as various kitchens around the world at the highest level. The first restaurant we will recommend is the La Regence Restaurant, a luxury and kosher restaurant in Jerusalem from the Dan Hotels chain.
The restaurant is located in the popular and luxurious King David Hotel, among our hotels in the capital. The restaurant’s staff, headed by Chef David Biton, has taken upon itself to gracefully combine classical and international styles of cooking with the Israeli-Jerusalem style, which is expressed by simplicity, color and strong tastes. The chef does all this by using great creativity and fresh and superb raw materials, that change from one season to the next. The restaurant is located at 23 King David Street, Jerusalem.
In addition to La Regence, another recommended luxury steakhouse is Rodriguez, which serves its guests rich, juicy and well-seasoned meat, fish and wine. This is a must for the lovers of meat among us, since the restaurant delivers a culinary meat experience which is not necessarily to be found in other restaurants of this genre. The menu is well thought-out and of high quality and is meant to serve the tastes of all the general public. The restaurant is located in the Har Hotzvim neighborhood, at 3 Kiryat HaMada Street.
Hungry for more? Go to our blog and read about other recommended restaurants in Jerusalem.
10 Recommended Museums in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is a city of religion, faith, food and picturesque streets, but also of a great deal of culture. Among the many museums in Jerusalem, here are ten especially recommended ones that are worthwhile visiting during your next visit to the capital.
The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum is the most important museum in Israel, which includes exhibitions, archeological artifacts, works of art, plus changing events and activities for all the family.
Location: 11 Rupin Boulevard
Opening Hours: Vary according to day, date and section of the museum. It is recommended to check before coming.
The Davidson Center
An archeological center of the remnants of a central street on the way to the Second Temple. This street, which according to estimations was the main street, included stores, buildings, and the remains of steps going up to the Temple Mount.
Location: next to the entrance to the Western Wall site
Opening Hours: Sundays through Thursdays: 08:00 to 17:00/19:00 (depending on winter/summer time), Fridays: 08:00 to 13:00/14:00. The site is closed on Saturdays and holidays
The Science Museum
The Science Museum in located in Givat Ram, next to many other museums and sites, and includes changing exhibitions on various technological and scientific subjects. The museum is known for its unique approach to children, expressed in the character of the exhibitions and exhibits, the variety of subjects on display and the exhibitions that change relatively often. In short, a perfect museum for families and children that love research, science and new discoveries.
Location: 3 Museums Boulevard, Jerusalem
Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays, Mondays through Thursdays: 10:00 to 18:00, Fridays: 10:00 to 14:00, Saturdays 10:00 to 16:00/17:00 (winter/summer time)
The Wohl Museum
A compound that contains the remains of several buildings belonging to the Jerusalem nobility, findings that testify to the way of life of the Jews living in ancient times, as well the identities of those living there – due to the variety of findings, such as many ritual baths which testify to many Cohens (Priests) living there (which can also be assumed by the location of the buildings close to the Temple), mosaic floors, well designed clay dishes and more.
Location: the museum is located in the Jewish Quarter
Opening hours: Sundays through Thursdays: 09:00 to 17:00, Fridays: 09:00 to 13:00, last entry on all days is half an hour before closing time.
Old Yishuv Court Museum
When talking about visiting the homes of the Jewish Quarter’s residents, in this museum we can skip to a later period in history: the period of the Old Yishuv in the city. In a 500 year-old house, one can see from close-up the artifacts and the way of life of the Jews in the city.
Location: the Jewish Quarter (6 Or HaHayim Street)
Opening Hours: Hours are changeable according to seasons and dates. Check your visiting times. The museum is closed on Saturdays and Holidays
The Tower of David
One of the best known and best loved attractions in Jerusalem. The museum contains treasures that are some 300 years old, that cover important periods in the history of Jerusalem. The tower, or Citadel, which have become one of the symbols of the city, contains exhibitions, night shows, a lookout point and more.
Location: entrance is near to the Jaffa Gate
Opening hours: Sundays through Thursdays: 09:00 to 16:00, in August to 17:00, Fridays and Holiday eves: 09:00 to 14:00, Saturdays and holidays: 09:00 to 16:00, in August to 17:00
The Museum of Hebrew Music
Very close to the center of the city, and a walking distance from Jaffa Road, is Music Square, where there is a small but very well designed museum that deals with musical styles and instruments which characterized Jewish music over the ages. A unique museum among the museums in Jerusalem. Visiting the museum is by means of a computerized, pleasant character known as “Saba Levy”, and by scanning barcodes on your tablet.
Location: 10 Yoel Moshe Salomon Street
Opening hours: Sundays through Thursdays: 09:30 to 20:00, Fridays: 09:30 to 13:30
The official and largest institution in Israel for memorializing the Holocaust. The museum has many parts, memorials and original artifacts from the Holocaust period, including a railway carriage used to transport Jews to the concentration camps.
Location: Mount Herzl, Jerusalem
Opening hours: Sundays through Wednesdays: 08:30 to 18:00, Thursdays: 08:30 to 20:00, Fridays and eves of holidays: 08:30 to 14:00
There are parts of the museum that have slightly different opening hours.
The Museum of Natural History in Jerusalem
A rich museum of nature located in an old stone house, and includes exhibits of stuffed animals, exhibitions and many types of activities.
Location: 6 Shmuel Mohilever Street
Opening hours: vary according to the day of the week. The museum is closed on Saturdays, holiday eves and holidays, and is open on all the days of Hol HaMoed.
Givat HaTachmoshet (Ammunition Hill)
A memorial site that tells the story of the liberation of Jerusalem, and specifically the battle that took place there. There is a museum there, which includes information and rare, historical artifacts.
Location: 5 Zalman Shragai Street
Opening hours: Sundays through Thursdays: 09:00 to 17:00, Fridays: 09:00 to 13:00
King David - 55 Km
Dan Panorama Jerusalem - 56 Km
Dan Boutique Jerusalem - 59 Km
Dan Jerusalem - 59 Km
We recommend to take a train from the airport to Yitzhak Navon station in Jerusalem from there you can take a bus, light rail or taxi to everywhere you wish in the city.