This is my list of the top 10 things to do in Jerusalem, Israel – and I want to start by admitting that I was a bit overwhelmed by the city at first. Jerusalem is one of the oldest and holiest cities of the world, which has been continuously inhabited for over 3500 years and is sacred to 3 religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
The layers of history, culture, people and religion make it the wonderful city that it is today. The vibe here is of spirituality and strong religious beliefs, at the same time.
[ Read my popular post My Trip To Israel And Why I Loved It ]
This is the city where Jews built their sacred Temple, Mohammed rose to heaven, and Jesus was crucified. So obviously, there is a lot to do in Jerusalem, and in this post I will share my list of top and the best 10 things to do in Jerusalem.
But first, a little background to my trip to Israel.
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This was my first trip to Israel and I loved every part of it – from the stunning Tel Aviv to the mesmerizing Negev, and everything in between. Israel was magic, and I am still under the spell, to be honest.
[ Here is a compilation of some stunning Snapshots From Tel Aviv, a fantastic city that will amaze you. ]
I reached Jerusalem from Tel Aviv Airport in the early morning hours. I was invited by the Israel Ministry of Tourism India in association with Woodland, along with Kiran who is a travel addict and Rahul, a talented photographer from the Woodland team. This was No Ticket To Explore, ladies and gentlemen.
I like going on trips that are carefully planned by experts – getting pre-planned Flights, Visa and Holidays is a good thing when it’s the ministry of tourism that’s arranging it. This was an adventure trip where we later on Sky Dived in Eilat, Trekked to Masada and a lot more – but Jerusalem was the first stop of our fantastic Israel trip.
And Jerusalem – for the lack of a more impactful word – is overwhelming. This is a city where ancient history mingles with potent spirituality; strong faith intersects with rich culture from thousands of years – and the combined effect of all this sometimes hits people with full force.
So I’d say it is perfectly normal to feel awestruck in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is called Yerushalaim in Hebrew, and according to our fantastic guide Yael, the suffix ‘aim’ stands for ‘more than one’ or plural. What does this mean? Well, this means that Jerusalem is not a city, it is many cities in one.
Let that sink in.
Jerusalem is many cities and has been for thousands of years – till the present times.
Towards the end of our Jerusalem trip, Yael (our guide) said something that stayed with me – There’s a Jerusalem for everyone.
Here, I saw Christian, Jewish and Muslim pilgrims from all over the world. I met history enthusiasts who explored Jerusalem for months at a stretch trying to unfurl new layers of the city.
I also met foodies, artists, and travellers in Jerusalem – and everyone finds what they are looking for, or at least a part of it in Jerusalem. They all find their own Jerusalem, and this is something so thrilling that even thinking about it gives me goose-bumps.
So now, let me come to the list I promised in the title of this travel blog post – a list I hope helps anyone who is planning a trip to Jerusalem, and traveller who want to know the best things to do in Jerusalem.
The Top 10 Things to do in Jerusalem:
- Visit the Western Wall
Probably the most striking sight in Jerusalem, as well as the most popular one, is the Western Wall. This is the last remaining wall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans a long time ago.
Also known as the Wailing Wall, this religiously significant wall is huge and is built of big slabs of yellow – golden stone. With separate praying areas for men and women, you will see many people of all ages, praying in front of the wall – their foreheads to the wall.
Witnessing people crying as they approach the wall is something you will probably see a lot, and it makes even the least religious of us feel the force of faith. Another common thing at the Western Wall is to write your prayer on a piece of paper and stuff it in the cracks between stones of this magnificent wall.
- See the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock
In Judaism, Temple Mount is the holiest place on Earth. Incidentally, it is also the third holiest site in Islam, and a revered spot for Christians. Long, long ago, the Jewish second Temple was built at the very spot but as I mentioned in the point above, it was destroyed by the Romans.
Many years down the line, as Islam began to gain followers, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built at the same spot in 705 AD. The Dome of the Rock, the blue building with the golden dome, was constructed in 692 AD and is said to be the holy site from where Mohammed ascended to heaven.
Both of these are on every must visit list for Jerusalem, both of them make prominent parts of the Jerusalem skyline, and make it beautiful.
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a Must Visit
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built around Mount Golgotha, the exact place where Jesus is said to have been crucified, buried and resurrected.
The Church premises are shared between several sects like Catholics, Egyptian Copts, Syriacs, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopians, Armenians – and all have their own small constructions that serve as chapels or praying areas.
The Stone of Anointing – where Jesus was laid after crucifixion and was washed before being buried is here. The Aedicule which houses the Holy Sepulchre itself and the Golgotha Altar where you can touch the actual rock of Mount Golgotha are also here.
This place was so mystifying that it needs a separate blog post for itself, and I think I’m going to do it (Stay tuned to my Israel series!). This should be on top of your 10 must-visit list in Jerusalem if you’re interested in History.
- Check out The Cenacle
The Cenacle is the site of The Last Supper and is located in Mt Zion, just south of the old city of Jerusalem. While the building itself was erected many centuries later by the Crusaders, it is still considered a very important religious site for Christians and is hence on every traveller’s list of best things to do in Jerusalem.
The Cenacle also contains is the burial site of King David, which brings me to my next point.
- Go see the King David’s Tomb
Since you are already at Mt. Zion, do not miss King David’s tomb. One of the most famous kings of Israel, David ruled from 1010 to 970 CE. His tomb is a sacred place for people of Jewish faith and like the Western Wall, this also has separate viewing areas for men and women.
- Do not miss the Tower of David Museum
This is situated just inside Jaffa Gate, and offers some of the best views of Jerusalem city! A visit here will also guarantee a lesson in the vast history of the city of Jerusalem. The pictures taken from here are amazing.
- Segway Ride in the Holy City of Jerusalem
Like I mentioned earlier, my trip to Israel was an Adventure Trip with Woodland and this Segway Tour of the Holy City of Jerusalem was a part of it. I enjoyed it a lot! To be honest, at first I was not very comfortable on a Segway, but after the first ten minutes, I got the hang of it and after 15, I fell in love.
Exploring the Old City on a Segway was an experience I will never forget. I recommend this as one of the MUST DO THINGS IN ISRAEL, seriously. You can book a tour easily online, or on the spot if you’re lucky. Just do this, don’t miss out and I promise you will thank me later.
[ Read about my adventures in Israel including Sky Diving in Eilat: My Adventure Trip to Israel with Woodland ]
- Western Wall Tunnels
Ah, the underground tunnels below the Western Wall! This is probably the best thing to do when visiting Jerusalem.
I walked through the underbelly of Jerusalem, deep below the Western Wall and it was an enriching – not to mention, thrilling – experience. It took us nearly two hours to walk the narrow, often wet tunnels and was like a crash course in history and petrology (the scientific study of rocks).
Our special guide for this tour told us that the current city of Jerusalem is much higher than the original, which is a result of centuries of rebuilding.
I made a very, very short video while I was inside these underground tunnels of Jerusalem, and here it is to give you a feel of this extraordinary experience:
- Witness The Cardo
The Cardo – meaning the heart – was originally a street built by the Romans after they destroyed most of Jerusalem. The Cardo is now a shopping street that comes in the Jewish Quarter. Yes, the term Cardiology comes from this ancient word, which means the heart, and this street served as the heart of the city at that time. You can still see pillars that ran through this street thousands of years ago.
- Eat Local
Eat street food while you’re exploring Jerusalem, it will surprise you. From Chicken Shawarma to hummus and pita – I tried a lot of things. All that walking sure made me hungry! The falafel and halva which is a sweet dish, are also a must try. There are plenty of eating joints all over Jerusalem.
So, that is my list of top 10 things that you must do in Jerusalem. There are more, many more things that I can still put on this list but I wanted to keep is short and number ten seemed like a good idea.
But now that I want to share more things to do in Jerusalem, I think I will write part two of this post soon. Let me know if you’re like to read about more things to do in Jerusalem because I love comments, obviously.
[You might enjoy this collection of 15 Best Travel Quotes To Inspire You To Travel ]
And, plan your trip to Israel soon and immerse in this city that tells the tale of years and years of faith and humanity, and above all, teaches a lesson in endurance and resilience.
Go find your Jerusalem!
PS: For more information and help on Israel Visa, planning a trip to Israel and more, you can get go to Go Israel.
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