No matter your travel experience level, Jerusalem offers something exciting and eye-opening for every visitor. Combine family-friendly activities and high-end restaurants for an unforgettable journey through Israeli culture that’s sure to please every member of your party.
Stand in awe as one of Judaism’s holiest sites – the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) – as it inspires Orthodox Jews to pray fervently. Feel its electric atmosphere as Orthodox Jews rock back and forth as they pray on this holy ground.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem’s Old City is a living museum of three world religions, and one of its spiritual centers is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – claimed as being where Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection occurred – making it one of the world’s premier Christian sights. Explore the captivating atmosphere at this still-operating basilica as you take in its religious significance and admire its impressive architecture. At its entrance is a modern mosaic depicting Jesus being anointed, while inside is an Aedicule housing His Tomb itself – covered by a marble plaque to prevent damage caused by pilgrims’ flocks; but an indication on the floor marks where He was laid after burial.
Over the centuries, this church has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times; currently, it’s being run by six Christian churches; however, none of this division has had any detrimental effect on its power; whether you identify with Christian beliefs or not, its emotional and historic presence cannot fail to move you.
Overlooking this courtyard stands the Mosque of Ascension and Dome of the Rock; both can also be seen from here. Muslims consider Temple Mount – which overlooks Old City – one of Islam’s holiest sites and believes a stone from this mountain was where Allah first revealed himself to Muhammad. Non-Muslim visitors may enter, though dress modestly and cover your head when entering.
Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s largest and oldest market, offers an intoxicating combination of colors, scents, and sounds that should not be missed while visiting this historic city. Shoppers will find everything from fresh produce to designer clothing in its twisting alleyways; while foodies will find plenty of top-tier restaurants offering delicious bites. An enjoyable afternoon stroll through Mahane Yehuda could bring souvenirs for loved ones back home! Open daily between 0500-2100 during the summer season (March through April) or 0400-1900 (winter).
The Israel Museum is both its national museum and one of the world’s premier art and archeology museums, with an enormous collection that you could spend days exploring. Notable attractions at the Israel Museum include the Shrine of the Book showcasing Israel’s portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls (other pieces can be seen at Jordan’s Jordan Museum), the Model of Jerusalem sculpture garden, the Jewish Art and Life exhibit, and the Jewish Art and Life exhibit.
Visit Jerusalem and witness some Bible-inspired history before heading indoors to a museum – but the Israel Museum should be on any visitor’s itinerary. Even if you’re not usually drawn to museums, this one’s truly captivating; make time to experience its wonder.
Wander through the galleries to discover ancient finds from around the region and take part in various exhibitions. If biblical history is of particular interest to you, be sure to see two small silver amulets bearing Priestly Benediction that date back 500 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls as they represent an early copy of scripture that we currently possess.
No discussion of the Israel Museum would be complete without noting its location–on the edge of Jerusalem’s Old City and facing the Temple Mount – one of Judaism’s holiest sites where both Jews and Muslims come to pray.
Once you’re finished exploring the stunning architecture, head towards the Western Wall for some spiritual reflection. This holy site in Judaism is known by Orthodox Jews as the Wailing Wall due to the vibrant atmosphere that arises when they gather here for prayer services.
Once inside, make sure you take time to look up at the Lion’s Gate and admire its intricately decorated ceilings, especially those found within synagogues. Their rich gold and blue hues serve as a visual reminder of all that once resided here in this holy city. Afterward, stroll through the courtyard towards Edicule which may or may not contain Jesus’ tomb.
First-time visitors to Jerusalem may find the sheer volume of religious tourist attractions daunting, yet most must-dos are conveniently concentrated within the Old City district – including the Church of Holy Sepulchre – a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing five Stations of the Cross and said to mark where Jesus Christ was crucified.
Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to six million Jews killed during the Holocaust by Nazis, stands on a 45-acre campus comprised of museums, monuments, gardens, sculptures, and world-class research and education centers.
On any visit to Jerusalem, a visit to Temple Mount should not be missed – its significance for both Jews and Muslims alike cannot be overstated. Jewish tradition holds that Abraham offered up his son Abraham at this location while Muslims revere it as the spot where Muhammad is said to have attained heaven during his early preaching efforts.
Visitors to Jerusalem have several options when it comes to exploring its rich heritage, from walking along the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross), which features nine stations depicting Jesus’ journey to Calvary, or ascending to its roof for spectacular views over the Dome of the Rock and other famous Jerusalem landmarks, or exploring its mysterious Western Wall tunnels which allow visitors to step back in time and crawl under city walls to feel as if you’ve entered another dimension altogether.
The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is also well worth exploring, boasting numerous historic and religious relics like King David’s Tomb and Cenacle Room (rumored to be where the Last Supper took place) plus impressive synagogues like Cardo Street Synagogue and Hurva Synagogue.
Mount of Olives
Jerusalem can seem overwhelming when it comes to religious attractions, yet most can be found within the compact Old City district. By taking the time to explore its maze-like lanes and discovering its rich cultural and historical tapestry that spans Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – Jerusalem becomes an open museum that will make for an unforgettable visit!
Mahane Yehuda Market, with its colorful array of stalls selling everything from fresh produce and clothing, to clothing, food court service offering delicious falafel and hummus dishes, is an irresistibly captivating sight.
Dome of the Rock is one of Jerusalem’s iconic landmarks and is considered one of Islam’s three holiest sites. Believed to be where Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven, this religious site must still be seen for its beauty outside. Although its interior may remain off-limits to non-Muslim visitors, visitors can still admire its exterior splendor.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, commonly referred to as Calvary, is one of Jerusalem’s most revered religious shrines for Christians and is said to have been constructed on the location where Christ was crucified. A bell tower at this church offers spectacular views across Jerusalem and its surroundings with St Anne’s Church and Pool of Bethesda nearby as additional places of interest.
The Mount of Olives holds great symbolic meaning for both Christians and Jews, serving as the setting for numerous Messianic prophecies. King David would retreat there during battles against Absalom, while Jesus prayed here before His arrest in Gethsemane Gardens. On Judgment Day, Jews believe a rope will descend from its summit to drag sinners back down and save only righteous souls from its surface.
Though you can explore the Mount of Olives on foot, taking a guided tour will offer a different perspective of Jerusalem from within the Old City walls. Starting at Jaffa Gate and walking northward, your journey will show the Christian Quarter, Church of Holy Sepulchre as well as Jewish Muslim and Armenian Quarters from an unparalleled vantage point.