Jerusalem is a special city for everyone who visits. As a home to three major religions, visiting Jerusalem is a spiritual experience for many people. There are countless things to see and do when visiting this holy city, and it can be difficult to cram so many things into a short visit. We’ve handpicked the most essential things to do in Jerusalem in order to help you plan your trip to this wonderful city.
The Western Wall
This iconic wall goes by many names: The Western Wall, The Wailing Wall, and The Kotel to name a few. Found at the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, this wall is absolutely not-to-be-missed on your visit. The wall itself is probably the most holy site in the Jewish religion, as it is the last remnant of an ancient temple. You can observe many Jews visiting the wall, touching or kissing it, and scribbling prayers down on small bits of paper and pushing them into the cracks. Visiting The Western Wall is undeniable one of the most amazing things to do in Jerusalem, and we strongly suggest not skipping it.
Mount of Olives
Admire sweeping views of the entire city of Jerusalem, both old and new, from the top of Mount of Olives. Located in the east of the city, the site is significant in a few religions. It is important in Judaism as it is the site of over 150,000 graves. In the area surrounding The Mount of Olives, there are many different Christian churches to visit. The mountain is also a prominent site for both Jewish and Christian pilgrims due to its biblical significance.
Visiting the Yad Vashem museum is definitely one of the more difficult things to do in Jerusalem. However, the impact of your visit will last a lifetime. This museum is an official memorial site to the six million Jews lost during the Holocaust. There are several indoor and outdoor exhibits. These include a memorial to the murdered children, a sculpture garden, and memorials to The Righteous Among the Nation (non-Jews who helped save Jewish people during WWII). The museum is both haunting and beautiful, and a somber yet important education experience for everyone.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The site of this iconic church is believed by Christians to be both where Jesus was crucified and resurrected. It is a major stop on Christian pilgrimages due to its religious significance. Many visitors pour in and out of the church daily to admire the 4th century construction, and to visit the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. It is considered as one of the most sacred places in the world for Christians, and is therefore one of the essential things to do in Jerusalem.
Dome of the Rock
This stunning example of Islamic architecture dates back to the 7th century. The Dome of the Rock, also known as The Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa Mosque, is one of the most prominent landmarks of the Jerusalem skyline. The massive gold dome is striking and one of the most recognizable domes in the world. This site is holy for Muslims as it is said to be the site where Mohammed ascended to the heavens.
Any visit to Israel must include a stroll through a market, or shouk. If you’re looking for things to do in Jerusalem, The Machane Yehuda market is one of the liveliest places to be, day or night. The market is constantly bustling with locals and visitors shopping for souvenirs, locals foods, fresh produce, or sampling the tastes of fresh Israeli cuisine. Going on a Friday before he Jewish Sabbath begins is an unforgettable experience, but not for the faint of heart! The market is busier than normal while all the locals are out shopping for Friday night Shabbat dinner. On Thursday nights, the markets pack up and close and give way for DJs and bars to take over the area, turning it into the most hip bar-scene in the city.
Old City of Jerusalem
Getting lost in the Old City of Jerusalem might just be the highlight of your visit to this city. With it’s winding stone roads that zig-zag though historic sites and a colorful bazaar, there is so much wonder in this small concentrated space that will delight all your senses. Aside from sites like The Western Wall, Tower of David, or Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Old City itself gives off a magical feeling to all those who enter. While you’re getting lost, you’ll be sure to happen upon some local culinary delights. Not stopping to sample some local hummus or knafeh would be a sorely missed opportunity.
Tower of David
The Tower of David is located next to Jaffa Gate in the Old City. The citadel is home to many permanent exhibitions that tell the history of Jerusalem. There is also an amazing view over the Old City from the ramparts. In the summer months, there is the Night Spectacular Sound & Light show. An unforgettable 45-minute show about the history of the city is projected onto the stone walls. This event is definitely not to be missed!
Another major museum in the city, the Israel Museum is one of the things to do in Jerusalem that will be fun for the whole family. The massive amount of exhibits range from ancient artifacts to local art to an impressive sculpture garden. The Shrine of the Book exhibit puts the once-lost Dead Sea Scrolls on display. There is also a large Second Temple model to admire.
This building is the parliament building for the Israeli government. Though often skipped by many visitors, this is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Jerusalem. There are daily free tours offered in a selection in languages. Visitors can learn more about Israel’s governmental system and history in a short amount of time.
As you can see, there is clearly no shortage of things to do in Jerusalem. Whether you want to see the holy sites, immerse yourself in local culture, or learn about the city’s rich history, there is something for everyone to enjoy here.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, let our experts handle everything for you. We can create an amazing Jerusalem tour for you with a 1-day or multi-day itinerary. Contact us today to get started!