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Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is appropriately described as the City of Gold. It is magical, with the mix of ancient history and modernization blended together to form a worldly experience. Jerusalem will forever remain one of the holiest cities in the world, where an interesting mix of religions living together in tolerance, respect and harmony. But religious pilgrimage isn't the only reason to visit Jerusalem: those not interested in religion can choose from a wide range of vacation activities and night-time entertainment to keep busy and enjoy the ambience to all hours of the early morning. Views from the hills around Jerusalem are breathtaking.
The Old City is the atmospheric historical core of Jerusalem, surrounded by Ottoman period walls, filled with sites of massive religious significance and a bustling approach to life. (Please note that some sites, particularly Islamic ones, may bar members of other religions from entry or praying on the grounds). The most iconic site in Jerusalem is the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, which is holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It is crowned by the magnificent gold-and-blue Dome of the Rock, which stands on the site of the ancient Jewish Temples. It also includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque (The Far Mosque), from where the Muslim prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven.
Jerusalem has a pleasant climate with generally lower temperatures compared to areas along the coast or in the desert. Temperatures from May to September average between 27 °C and 31 °C during the day, between 16 °C and 18 °C at night. December to February has highs of 13 °C to 16 °C and nights are rather chilly, 5 °C to 7 °C. Temperatures of 42 °C have been recorde though, as well as possible frost during winter, though not severe (-3 °C). May to October is almost completely dry while January and February have around 130 mm of rain (or, though rare, sometimes snow).
|Avg Max||11.8 °C||12.6 °C||15.4 °C||21.5 °C||25.3 °C||27.6 °C||29 °C||29.4 °C||28.2 °C||24.7 °C||18.8 °C||14 °C|
|Avg Min||6.4 °C||6.4 °C||8.4 °C||12.6 °C||15.7 °C||17.8 °C||19.4 °C||19.5 °C||18.6 °C||16.6 °C||12.3 °C||8.4 °C|
|Rainfall||133.2 mm||118.3 mm||92.7 mm||24.5 mm||3.2 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0.3 mm||15.4 mm||60.8 mm||105.7 mm|
The nearest airport is in Tel Aviv, which has connections to many destinations in the Middle East and Europe as well as a few further afield to cities in North America, Africa and Asia. Travel from the airport to the centre of Jerusalem takes 40–50 minutes, or more if there is traffic.
Israel Railways has trains to/from Tel Aviv via Beit Shemesh. The service, which follows the route of the 1892 Jaffa-Jerusalem line, is noted for its scenery rather than speed. Use the train if you have plenty of time and want to see nice mountain scenery, but not if you are in a hurry.
From Tel Aviv, take the Jerusalem route, with stops at Lod (where you can make connections to Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Rishon LeZion), Ramla, Bet Shemesh, and arrive at Jerusalem's Malkha train station, which is inconveniently located in the south of the city. The old train station in the city center is currently out of service. A few trains also stop at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo station, but it is within walking distance from Malkha station.
Journey time from Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station to Malkha station is about 1.5 hr. There's one train per hour 05.54-19.54 on weekdays, 05.25-14.25 (15.25 in summer) on Friday, 20.10 (22.10 in summer) on Saturday. Trains from Malkha depart on weekdays 05.44-21.41 (the last one only as far as Lod), on Friday 06.00-13.56 (14.56 in summer), on Saturday at 19.47 (21.47 in summer).
From the train station there are several buses to destinations in and around Jerusalem. To downtown take bus #77 or #18, and ask for "MerKaz Ha-ir". To the central bus station, #5 is the fastest, though the #6 and #32 are alternatives. Taxis are also available.
A faster rail link (connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in half an hour and Ben Gurion Airport in 20 minutes) is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2018. Its terminus will be an underground station next to the central bus station.
Egged has buses to other cities and towns in the country, including to Tel Aviv. Most intercity buses arrive at the so-called Central Bus Station (CBS) at the western edge of Jaffa Street, the city's main road. There is a light rail stop just outside the CBS, and many city buses stop there too.
Two Egged bus routes connect Tel Aviv to the Jerusalem CBS. Route 405 leaves the Tel Aviv CBS about every 20 minutes from 5:50AM-midnight. Route 480 leaves the Arlozorov station (the central train station) about every 10 minutes from 5:50AM-0:10AM. Each route takes about an hour and costs about 18 NIS.
On the Sabbath, and very late at night, your only option is a sherut (shared taxi). These depart from Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station and Ben Gurion Airport, and charge a small surcharge on top of the normal bus fare. As of mid-2012 a sherut costs 23 NIS (28 NIS at night, 33 NIS at Shabbat) and drops you off downtown, not far from Zion Square.
Shared taxis are also the best option if travelling from Jerusalem to Palestinian cities, especially Ramallah and Bethlehem. The main bus station (On Sultan Suleiman street, next to the Rockfeler Museum) serves the surrounding Palestinian towns and villages, including Abu-Dis (Line 36), and Bethlehem (Line 124), those buses are colored mostly in blue strips. Another bus terminal, on Nablus road (Straight on from the Damascus gate) serves Ramallah, other main Palestinian cities.
Cabs are plentiful in the city of gold. You can probably flag one down quickly by walking to the nearest busy street. Just in case this doesn't work, it is good to have the number of a cab company ready, or to install the Gett smartphone app.
Be warned as the drivers may try to rip you off by "taking the scenic route" or charging a fixed price instead of on the meter. Insist that the driver turns on the meter (moneh) and you should have no problems. If the driver will not activate the meter, get out and take a different one. If you have the meter on, cabs are relatively cheap.
Note that a private taxi is called "moneet" in Hebrew, and "taxi" by Arabs. Both differ from the shared taxi ("sherut" or "servees"), which runs fixed routes for many people like a bus.
The Jerusalem Light Rail line opened in 2011. It links the north-eastern neighborhoods to the south-western neighborhoods, runs along the western side of the Old City, and passes through the city centre. There are plans to construct additional lines in the future. The ticket price is around 6 NIS. When you get on, tap your card against the reader. The light rail runs from about 05:30 to midnight. Its frequency is every 6 minutes during the day and less often at night. Like buses, it does not run on the Sabbath.
Buses are the main form of public transportation in areas not served by the light rail. Jewish and Arab bus companies run separate bus networks in Jerusalem, serving Jewish and Arab neighborhoods respectively, although there is some overlap.
The Arab bus network, in East Jerusalem, is run by Al-Safariat Al-Mowahadda ("The united traveling service"). It mainly consists of lines running radially to Arab neighborhoods from two bus stations near Damascus Gate.
The bus network is run by Egged bus company. It serves everywhere in West Jerusalem, as well as the Old City and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It is more useful for tourists, and also easier to get information about. Unlike Arab buses, its fare is integrated with the light rail (one ticket will get you unlimited rides on bus and light rail for 90 minutes after your first boarding). Also unlike Arab buses, Jewish buses do not operate on the Sabbath.
While Jerusalem is built in a mountainous area, the central areas of the city are rather flat and very walkable. Due to the altitude, the humidity level of Jerusalem is much lower than most cities in Israel, making walking quite pleasant. The Old City has to be toured by foot, not only because it is more impressive this way, but also because its narrow lanes and alleyways are mostly inaccessible to cars.
In recent years, a number of bike paths have opened in Jerusalem. However, the rights of cyclists are not always respected: you will frequently find bike paths blocked, and drivers will expect cyclists to give right of way, though they will not intentionally harm you if you force the right of way.
Bike rentals are available at the Abraham Hostel (67 Hanevi'im, Davidka square), as well as at Bilu Bikes (7 Bilu), among other places. The city does not provide bike sharing.
Jerusalem, being the multicultural city that it is, has food from all countries, cultures, and tastes. Besides the ubiquitous falafel stands, there is European, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern foods. There is also a large ranges in prices, from the ritzy Mamilla and Emek Refaim, to falafel stands surrounding Machaneh Yehuda and the Central Bus Station. A good rule of thumb is to look for restaurants filled with Hebrew or Arabic speaking locals. For falafel, the busiest place is probably the best, because falafel balls become less tasty the longer they are waiting out of the deep fryer.
If you keep kosher, Jerusalem is a wonderful place to visit. In the Jewish sections of the city almost everything is kosher. However you should still check for the kashrut certificate on the wall. If you don't see it and the staff cannot show you it, it's a good sign to move along. The certificate is stamped בשרי ("basari", meat) or חלבי ("halavi", dairy). The current Jerusalem certificates are cream colored for normal certification, light purple for stricter certification ("mehuderet"), and marbled brown colored for strictest supervision ("mehadrin"). Certificates are valid for 6 or 12 months at a time (typically until Pesach or Rosh Hashana) with the expiration date prominently marked. Note it is not unusual for it to take a few days to get the new certificate up. In Haredi areas, the municipal kashrut certificate may be missing, but a certificate from a local Haredi organization will be provided. Also note that only some branches of McDonalds in Jerusalem are kosher. Kosher branches have yellow arches on a blue background, rather than the usual red background.
Despite its name, the "Jerusalem artichoke" has no connection to Jerusalem, and you won't find it used more widely here than elsewhere.
However, there is an authentic Jerusalem food - the Jerusalem mixed grill (me'orav yerushalmi), which was invented in the 1960s at one of the steakhouses near the Mahaneh Yehuda market and has since spread widely across Israel. It consists of a mixture of spicy grilled meat chunks including chicken breasts, hearts, and livers, and pieces of lamb. Nowadays you can get it as fast food wrapped in pita or laffa bread, or as a main course in sit-down restaurants. One famous place is Steakiyat Hatzot, Agrippas street; check out the photos on the wall.
Most of the nightclubs and bars are in West Jerusalem, mostly in the city center or Talpiyot district. Consult the district article for specifics.
If you are looking for alcohol stores, there is one right by the Jaffa gate and several on Jaffa Rd. One of the stores by the Generali building (located on the right side on Jaffa when you're facing the building) stocks a wide variety of different beers and also has great prices, lower than that of other stores.
The Old City has a diverse mix of small hotels, religious hospices and cheap hostels. The cheapest accommodation is found here.
West Jerusalem has a blend of B&Bs, guesthouses, small hotels and large hotels - all the way up to 5-star accommodation, including the famous King David Hotel, which is worth visiting for its architecture even if you don't stay there.
East Jerusalem contains a similar mix.
|Little House Bakah||1 Yehuda St||Hotel||-|
|Agron Youth Hostel & Guest House||Agron St. 6||HOSTEL||82|
|Alcazar Hotel||6 Almutanabi||Hotel||-|
|Beit Ben Yehuda Guesthouse||Ein Gedi STreet 28||Hostel||-|
|Citadel Youth Hostel||Jerusalem Old city Jaffa gate 20 st Marks road||Hostel||80|
|Hashimi Hotel & Hostel||Souk Khan el Zeit no 73 Old City||HOSTEL||-|
|Jaffa Gate Hostel||Old City, Jaffa Gate, in front of David's Tower||Hostel||81|
|Mount of Olives Hotel||53 Mount of Olives Road P.O. Box 19017||hotel||74|
|New Swedish Hostel||David ST.29,Jaffa Gate,Jerusalem P.O.BOX 19084||Hostel||80|
|The Jerusalem Hostel||44 Jaffa road Jerusalem||Hostel||77|
|The Jerusalem Inn Hotel||7 Horkanos st.||Hotel||-|
|Yitzhak Rabin Youth Hostel & Guest House||1 Nahman Avigad St., Jerusalem||HOSTEL||-|
|Citadel Guesthouse||Saint Mark Road 22 old city, Jaffa gate||hostel||-|
|New Palm Hotel||4 Hanivim Street||Hotel||-|
|East New Imperial||Jaffa Gate Old City||Hotel||-|
|Jerusalem Panorama Hotel||Hill of Gethsamane, Ras El Amoud||Hotel||68|
|Petra Hostel||Jaffa Gate No. P.O.Box 14030 Jerusalem||Hostel||76|
|Rivoli Hotel||3 Salah A Din street||Hotel||-|
|Capitol Hotel Israel||17 Sallah A Din Steet||Hotel||74|
|Eden Jerusalem Hotel||Giladi St. 4 Jerusalem||Hostel||-|
|Abraham Hostel Jerusalem||Davidka Square Ha'neviim 67||Hostel||-|
|Prima Park Jerusalem||2 Vilnay Street||Hotel||-|
|Commodore Hotel||Samuel ben Adaya Street||Hotel||-|
|Montefiore Hotel||7 Shatz st||Hotel||-|
|Jerusalem Gate Hotel||43 Yirmiyahu St.||Hotel||-|
|Jerusalem Hotel||Nablus Road||Hotel||-|
|Eldan Hotel||24 King David Street||Hotel||-|
|Jerusalem city center vacation||Baruch Ben Neriya 5 Nachlaot||Guesthouse||-|
|Lev Yerushalyaim Hotel||18 King George St Rejwan Square||Hotel||-|
|Little House in Rehavia||20 Eben Ezra St Rehavia||Guesthouse||-|
|City Center Jerusalem||2 HaHistadrut St||Guesthouse||-|
|Little House in the Colony||4a Lloyd George St||Guesthouse||-|
|Hebron Hostel||Old City, 8 Aqabat Etkia, Souk Khan el Zeit||HOSTEL||84|
|The Jerusalem Little Hotel||40 Jaffa Road||HOTEL||82|
|Palm Hostel||Hanivim Street 6||HOSTEL||76|
|Le Sixteen||Agripas 21||Hostel||-|
|National Hotel Jerusalem||Al Zahra Street||Hotel||-|
|The Golden Walls hotel||Sultan Suleiman St Damascus Gate||Hotel||-|
|Victoria Hotel||8 Al – Masoudi Street P.O. BOX 19374||Hotel||82|
|Allenby #2 Jerusalem||2 Allenby Square Corner of 1 Tora Mizion St.||HOSTEL||-|
Israel is a technologically advanced society, and internet cafés are widely available in most cities and towns. The regular price for paid internet cafés is about 15 shekels per hour but you can get it for about 10 shekels in some of the more local places. Free Wi-Fi access is common in cafés (check individual articles). All branches of 'Aroma Espresso Bar', 'Arcaffe', 'Café Café', 'McDonalds' and 'Yellow' convenience stores have free Wi-Fi access, though in some you will have to approach the staff for a password.
Recently, the "Jerusalem Wi-Fi" project started. This government started project aims to cover the entire Jerusalem area with Wi-Fi although at the moment the only areas covered are in the city center. A similar project has started in Tel Aviv and in Karmiel in the north. Some other cities are following suit.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The international country code for Israel is 972. Emergency numbers include 100 (police), 101 (ambulance) and 102 (fire). 112 is supported in mobile networks.
Currently Israel offers support for all the available networks including GSM/UMTS (Pelephone, Cellcom and Orange), CDMA (Pelephone) and iDen (Hot Mobile). In any case, you must check with your carrier about the roaming option and the compatibility of your device in advance. A valid suggestion otherwise is to turn off data services.
You can rent a cellphone for use in Israel either before your trip or once you arrive from several firms. You can also rent smartphones with sim cards included sometimes for lower than the cost of renting just a sim card. Vendors such as Israel Phone Rentalsoffer the advantages of a sim card rental without having to worry about bringing your own phone to Israel. If you have a GSM cellphone without a SIM-lock, you can buy a SIM-card. Prepaid SIM cards are available at Pelephone (Talk & Go), Cellcom (Talk Man) and Orange (Bigtalk) phone stores throughout Israel. Almost all shopping malls will have a Pelephone, Cellcom or Orange kiosk or store.
There are many public phones scattered around. Public phones can be always found at hotels, post offices, central bus stations and train stations. These phones use a Telecard, which, today, is a pre-paid calling card that works only with pay phones and can be purchased at post offices and some stores, as well as ordinary calling cards. Some phones also accept credit cards, usually those in hotels and post offices.
The Israel Post is the national postal service of Israel and generally has fast, reliable and affordable services. Efficiency means that letters and postcards send by airmail just take about 3-7 days within Europe, a few days more to the USA and Australia. Express Mail Services (EMS) is available, with which you are guaranteed to have the postcard or letter delivered within 72 hours anywhere in the world. You can buy stamps at post offices, or newspaper stands/kiosks or some souvenir shops and hotels. The main post offices are usually open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Sunday to Thursday and 8:00am to 2:00pm on Friday, though some might keep longer hours. Branch offices and post offices in smaller towns keep shorter hours, usually with a break from 12:30pm to 3:30pm, and on Wednesday and Friday only during the morning. Parcels can be send by the regular post offices or with companies like TNT, UPS, FedEx and DHL.
Post offices in the Palestinian Territories are open Saturday to Thursday, 8:00am to 3:00pm.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Jerusalem searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Jerusalem and areas nearby.
Ask Hachiko a question about Jerusalem
Hi! I work every summer as an archaeologist in Israel, and spend all my free time in Jerusalem, sometimes for weeks on end. I'm in the process of compiling the Ultimate Travel Guide to Jerusalem on my blog, and would be more than happy to help and answer any questions you might have!
Ask Vicenta a question about Jerusalem
I just published the book "Wandering in Jerusalem", and I will be very happy to help others to plan trips to Jerusalem. It's a fascinating city that I love very much.
Ask IsraelReisen a question about Jerusalem
For over 20 years i organize trips and guide individual travellers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Negev desert and all of Israel as a passion and profession. We are specialists for groups of all sizes, confessions and constitutions. Originally Swiss, living in Israel for many years, we are licensed as guides in five languages.
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