Things to do in Jerusalem

Things to do in  Jerusalem

The heart of the Holy Land

Known as Israel’s spiritual capital, Jerusalem is divided into three parts: Jewish-majority West Jerusalem, Palestinian-majority East Jerusalem, and the Old City and its four historic quarters (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian). Most visitors target Old City attractions like the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Church of the Holy Nativity, plus outlying biblical-era sights in the Mount of Olives. But, don’t dismiss off-the-beaten-track things to do in Jerusalem, from food crawls through Mahane Yehuda Market to the sprawling Israel Museum or political art museum, Museum on the Seam.

Top 15 attractions in Jerusalem

Western Wall (Wailing Wall)

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An open-air synagogue where worshippers recite prayers, Israel’s historic Western Wall (Wailing Wall) is where travelers come to kiss pale gold stones the color of the Negev desert and to stuff paper prayers between the stones. The beating heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, this is a must-see sacred site in the Jewish Quarter.More

Old City of Jerusalem

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The ancient winding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City house some of the world’s most sacred religious sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, including the Temple Mount, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, Dome of the Rock, and the Western Wall. Plus, each of the district’s four quarters has a unique character well worth experiencing.More

Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa)

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The Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) is an ancient path in Jerusalem’s Old City, where it’s believed Jesus carried the cross to his crucifixion. Also known in Catholicism as the Stations of the Cross, it’s a pilgrimage that’s been followed going back to the fourth century. The route has changed over the years, and today there are 14 stations along the path, each marked with a plaque detailing what took place at that location.More

Kidron Valley

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Set on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem, the scenic Kidron Valley is an ancient burial ground renown for its religious significance and natural beauty. The valley divides the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives and is prominently featured in both the Old and New Testaments, making it an important stop on many religious pilgrimages.More

Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea, home to the lowest point in the world at 1,269 feet (383 meters) below sea level, also ranks as one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. This hyper-salinity that is so unique to the Dead Sea attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience the unusual buoyancy, as well as access the nutrient-rich mud on its banks.More

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City sits on what is thought to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Christianity’s holiest site, the church stands at the end of the Via Dolorosa—the route Jesus is believed to have taken on the way to his crucifixion.More

Garden of Gethsemane

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According to the Christian faith, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his arrest. Today, the Church of All Nations guards this sacred site at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where Franciscan friars stroll past gnarled olive trees alongside pilgrims from around the world.More

Jerusalem Jewish Quarter

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Home to the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, as well as synagogues, religious schools, and a Byzantine-era stretch of the ancient Cardo thoroughfare, the Jerusalem Jewish Quarter is one of the Old City’s traditional four quarters. Rabbis, scholars, and ritually clad Orthodox Jewish believers still stroll its ancient streets.More

Masada

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The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada, an ancient fortress built by King Herod the Great, dates back to 37 BC. It’s location on a cliff overlooking the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea is a spectacular spot from which to watch the sunrise.More

Christian Quarter

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Home to religious landmarks such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa, the Christian Quarter—one of four districts in the Old City of Jerusalem—is popular with pilgrims and tourists alike. You’ll find about 40 important sights in this neighborhood, including archaeological attractions, shrines, and monasteries, plus vendors selling everything from fragrant spices to rosary beads.More

Church of the Nativity (Basilica of the Nativity)

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The Church of the Nativity encompasses a grotto where, according to Christain scripture, Jesus was born. Situated in Manger Square in Bethlehem, on the West Bank of the Palestinian territories, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed church is one of Christianity’s holiest places.More

Bethlehem

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An ancient city in the West Bank in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Bethlehem is home to many significant religious sites, including the Church of The Nativity in Manger Square, believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus.More

Cardo

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Once a busy market street during the Roman and Byzantine Empire, the Cardo is a picturesque cobbled lane in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Byzantine-era ruins of the Cardo were part of a 6th-century colonnade. Another section has been renovated as a shopping street and is now lined with jewelry boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries.More

Jericho

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Jericho is an ancient biblical town, with early settlements traced back 10,000 years, possibly making it the earliest site of human civilization. Located in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and reached by traveling through the Judean Desert, Jericho is filled with archaeological ruins, monasteries, mosques, and other religious and historical sights.More

Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony)

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According to the Christian faith, the night before his crucifixion Jesus prayed in anguish on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today, the Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony enshrines the sacred stone. Completed in 1924, the basilica stands on the remains of two older churches, with Crusader ruins still visible as you enter.More
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All about Jerusalem

When to visit

Think shoulder season. Jerusalem—at an elevation of more than 2,500 feet (754 meters)—has surprisingly frigid winters and famously sweltering summers. Spring and fall are ideal windows for planning a visit, although you’ll want to check the calendar for major religious holidays or national holidays like Jerusalem Day. Unless you want to partake in the festivities, they’re best avoided as they bring crowds and occasionally protests or other disturbances.

Getting around

If you’ve got your sights set mainly on the Old City, then the only way to get around is on foot. The Light Rail will get you pretty close to Jaffa Gate, stopping at City Hall and connecting to the Central Bus Station and Mahane Yehuda market. For getting further afield, you’ll find a well-connected grid of inter-city bus lines. And, when you’ve exhausted your leg muscles (easily accomplished in hilly Jerusalem), you’ll find plenty of taxis and ride-sharing apps.

Traveler tips

Consider beginning your time in Jerusalem with a trip to the Israel Museum, a sprawling campus dedicated to art and archaeology. Highlights include the Shrine of the Book—housing facsimiles of the Dead Sea Scrolls—and the Kadavumbagam Synagogue, a restored 16th-century temple from Southern India. The museum will give you an excellent primer on Jewish history and the region’s heritage, so plan on spending half a day. Save time for lunch at Modern, the museum’s top-notch restaurant.

Local Currency
Israeli New Shekel (₪)
Time Zone
IDT (UTC +2)
Country Code
+972
Language(s)
Hebrew
Attractions
42
Tours
401
Reviews
7,716
EN
07913879-5fce-48cf-a3b8-f22cbdb03cf2
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People Also Ask

Why is Jerusalem important?

Jerusalem is Israel’s declared capital and has many places held sacred in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Sites include the gold-coated Dome of the Rock—holy to the Muslim and Jewish religions; the Western Wall—cherished in the Jewish faith; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, hallowed by Christians.

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How many days do you need to see Jerusalem?

Many travelers cover Old Jerusalem in a day, taking in sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock, Western Wall and Jewish, Muslim, and Christian quarters. Add a day or so to delve further, exploring the excavated City of David, markets, and Yad Veshem Holocaust Museum.

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Is it safe to go to Jerusalem?

Yes. Jerusalem is generally safe—the terrorism risk is pretty low—but it’s worth taking some precautions. Be ready for security measures and armed soldiers in the city and for security screening in certain locations. While street crime is rare, it’s wise to keep valuables like passports and wallets stowed away.

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What is there to do in Jerusalem at night?

Jerusalem thrums with activity at night. Join locals at buzzing Mahane Yehuda market: a food and nightlife hotspot with narrow alleyways crammed with outdoor tables, bars, and clubs. Alternatively, take a sunset stroll through the Old City’s gold-hued lanes or watch a spectacular sound-and-light show at the ancient Tower of David.

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What should you not miss when visiting Israel?

Top your sightseeing with Old Jerusalem’s historical treasures, including its old quarters, Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Holy Sepulchre Church. Don’t miss a swim in the Dead Sea, a sunrise Masada trip and—to chart the story of Christianity—the biblical sites of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Galilee.

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What is the best month to visit Jerusalem?

May is probably best for visiting Jerusalem. You’ll avoid the peak crowds and intense summer heat, and likely enjoy warm, dry weather with daytime average temps of around 70°F (21°C). You’ll also miss the busy Passover holiday, usually in April. Another option is October, the last sunny hurrah before winter.

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