Jerusalem Bucket List
The idea to go to Israel arose in November, when some kind of disobedient force made me to look at flight deals. And, well, what I found was so good that it couldn’t be refused by neither of us. Our first stop in Israel was Jerusalem and this is what the Bucket List will be about.
Looking at the travel guides and exploring on the internet made me quite overwhelmed, as most of them suggested to stay in Jerusalem at least 5-7 days, and maybe then you could see everything the city has to offer. But we had counted three and a half days for Jerusalem and that included Purim (a carnival-like celebration), which will definitely will ‘rob’ some time and shabbat from Friday afternoon to Saturday night when many places are just closed.
If possible, it is definitely worth taking a week or so for Jerusalem, because in such case you will not only have to run around the city in manic pace, so that you could see almost everything. Then you can also enjoy the hummus and the falafel, and watch all the vibrant life going on from the coffee table while enjoying the sun. At the same time, everything important can be seen in 3 days.
TRY LOCAL DELICACIES IN MAHANE YEHUDA MARKET
We were lucky because Abraham Hostels was located only 3 minutes walking distance from the Mahane Yehuda Market.
The market itself is quite small, so do not imagine a buzzing market, but rather a peaceful spot where you can try out different tastes.
We also found a Bite Card, where you pay ~25 € and you can discover and try out six different vendors and listen a audio guide while walking around. In the end, we didn’t have time for that, but considering that the audio guide is, it seems worthwhile.
CHECK OUT THE WESTERN WALL
Please do think of those who have come to practice their religion there, and still do not make selfies next to them them, as many tourists do.
Men and women are separated. I always have a strange feeling in all kinds of religious tourist spots, because I can’t really imagine how to get so lost into something and believe in something with your whole soul. I feel like a fraud standing in those places.
Under the walls are Kotel tunnels, where you have to buy tickets in advance. We missed it because of Purim and shabbat.
VISIT TOWER OF DAVID AND EXPERIENCE THE NIGHT SPECTACLE
It’s a good way to learn about the history of Jerusalem. We took the audio guide and went through the whole museum, which gave us a very good overview. Perhaps it would be a good idea to make it one of the first stops in your list to understand the history better.
We took a ticket for the museum + evening spectacle because just wow. Honestly. The history of Jerusalem with music projected on all the walls was so fascinating. At the same time, many were confused, because if you do not know history, you can only admire the artistic side of the spectacle, but you don’t understand much about the story.
INDULGE IN HUMMUS AND FALAFEL
We went to Tala restaurant, which specialises in hummus and falafels. The location is great – on the border of the Old Town, in the immediate vicinity of the Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David.
They offer hummus for vegetarians as well as with meat toppings. It is no wonder that it is so packed, as it is recommended both in TripAdvisor and also on the Free Walking Tour.
The food there is delicious and me as hummus lover was really satisfied after dreaming about different tastes weeks before the trip.
WALK IN THE MOUNT OF OLIVES
From there it is possible to watch both the sunrise (in the rear end) and the sunset, but we made the 20-30 minute walk up with rain and clouds.
As we were there, we visited the burial site of the last Jewish prophets, the church where Jesus ascended and made a lunch break as well. Choose the simplest place to eat because in all the nicer spots, prices are double for tourists and you pay easy 10€ for a sandwich and a drink.
If you have time, you can spend a half day at the Olive Mountain, visiting various churches and gardens.
GET LOST IN THE JERUSALEM OLD TOWN
Usually when we have time, we just walk around the narrow streets and choose randomly where to go. In that regard, it is easy in Jerusalem to not get lost as you constantly see some recognizable building somewhere to understand where you are.
The Old Town differs hugely from Jerusalem’s city centre, and it is a place where you can imagine yourself centuries ago. This picture was taken at about 6 am, when the city was still quiet and we could look around undisturbed and find a place suitable for the last bits of sunrise – which we never did.
WITNESS TEMPLE MOUNT AND THE DOME OF THE ROCK
Jews have had two temples, both of which have been in the place where the magnificent Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque now rise.
Entry to the mosque is only allowed for Muslims, and you must recite a verse from the quran.
Again, if possible, go early to see it without hundreds of other tourists. We went at 7 am and there were several hundred people in the queue already, and the whole garden was buried under the tourist hoards.
DISCOVER THE HOLY SEPULCHRE CHURCH
This is probably the most important church for Christians because they believe that this is where Jesus’ last resting place with some of its remains.
The Church is divided into six branches – the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and, to a lesser extent, Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox, which means that everyone has their own corner in the building.
We arrived already at five o’clock in the morning when the church was opened to admire it without an inhumane number of visitors, which we saw happening later during the day.
PASS BY THE CITY OF DAVID AND WALK THROUGH THE WATER TUNNEL
Our trip began with a visit to the city of David. If possible, I suggest you visit the above-mentioned David Tower Museum before to get a better overview of history right from the start.
The city of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem and has excavated remains of the old city. However, the most memorable part is passing through a half-kilometre water tunnel. It’s not recommended for the claustrophobics and the waistline should also be less than one and a half meters.
SEE ALL THE JERUSALEM NEIGHBOURHOODS
The Old Town of Jerusalem is spread over smaller area than one square kilometer, but is divided into four unequal quarters – between Muslims, Jews, Christians and Armenians. How unequal? There are about 37,000 inhabitants in the Old Town. Of those, 27,500 Muslims, 7,000 Christians, less than a thousand Armenians and 3,000 Jews.
Due to its size, Jerusalem is ideal for walking. The Christian Quarter is perhaps the first one that tourists see thanks to the Jaffa Gate, which is often the closest taxi stop. The Armenian Quarter is again largely closed to the eyes of strangers because of historical reason and away from the pryin eyes.
These were the ten things we did in Jerusalem within three days, and I definitely recommend seeing. If there is more time, you can add these peaceful hours spent in the cafe and get even more lost when walking, but this time it was like that for us. After that, the Israeli travel plan was not so hectic, but about that already in the following posts.
Again, I recommend to take the Free Walking Tour, and if possible then in the beginning of your trip to get a brief overview of the destination and ask some tips from the guide – where to eat and what are the must sees.