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Jerusalem

Photo © sarabee

Travel Guide Middle East Israel Jerusalem

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Introduction

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

© All Rights Reserved jkirsch

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.

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Neighbourhoods

  • The Old City - home to holy sites for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
  • West Jerusalem - Jewish-Israeli part of Jerusalem, also known as New Jerusalem;
  • East Jerusalem - home to nearly 200,000 Jews and is also home to most of Jerusalem's Muslim and Christian populations of approximately 250,000.
  • Me'a Shearim - inhabited largely by ultra-Orthodox Jewish people, modest dress is required.
  • The German Colony
  • Ein Kerem

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Sights and Activities

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Events and Festivals

  • Christian Holy Week - During the weeks leading up to Easter, Christians from around the world visit the holy land. Many hold re-enactments of Christ's final days at these holy sites, along with a variety of processions, religious services and masses. On Palm Sunday Christian pilgrims climb the Mount of Olives, in memory of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. During this highly emotional procession, many believers carry crosses, in remembrance of Jesus's journey to be crucified for sinners. Easter is a grand celebration of Christ's Resurrection from the dead.
  • Jerusalem Light Festival - This annual light festival draws some of the greatest light sculptors to Jerusalem. Beautiful works of illuminated art are displayed all throughout Old City. Visitors can also plan to attend operas and dance performances during this festival.
  • Contact Point - Hosted annually by Jerusalem's "Season of Culture", Contact Point, is a lively event where art, dance, and music presentations are held all night long. The Israel Museum (which is a must-see attraction in Jerusalem) also keeps their doors open for guests long past closing time.
  • Wine Tasting Festival - A festive event hosted by The Israel Museum (see above). Wine lovers can sample a variety of wines from over 30 wineries in the region, and while visitors are enjoying their wine, they can take a stroll in the beautiful sculpture garden housed at the museum. The admission price usually includes tastings along with a commemorative tasting glass.
  • Balabasta! - This festival occurs every Monday during the month of August in Jerusalem's prized open air market, Mahane Yehuda. Every evening, Balabasta festivities bring this market to life, with live musical performances, dancing, and local artists displaying their latest creations.
  • Jerusalem Knights Festival - Visitors can achieve the sense that they've stepped back into a different time when they attend this festival. Local performers dress in traditional medieval clothing and appear as knights, kings, princesses, magicians, troubadours, court jesters, and peddlers to roam the historic grounds. Authentic sounds and chants of the Middle Ages can be heard. Acrobatics and theater performances will also take place during this event. This event occurs annually on Thursdays in October/November.
  • Hutzot Hayotzer Arts and Crafts Fair - Every summer, Jerusalem hosts the largest crafts fair in Israel near Sultan's Pool, just outside the city walls. This popular event attracts a thousands of people and displays many different types of crafts from all over the world. Visitors will have numerous stalls to view, and options to buy unique regional crafts that they won't be able to find anywhere else. Both local and international artists will be represented.

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Weather

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).

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max11.8 °C12.6 °C15.4 °C21.5 °C25.3 °C27.6 °C29 °C29.4 °C28.2 °C24.7 °C18.8 °C14 °C
Avg Min6.4 °C6.4 °C8.4 °C12.6 °C15.7 °C17.8 °C19.4 °C19.5 °C18.6 °C16.6 °C12.3 °C8.4 °C
Rainfall133.2 mm118.3 mm92.7 mm24.5 mm3.2 mm0 mm0 mm0 mm0.3 mm15.4 mm60.8 mm105.7 mm
Rain Days12.911.79.64.41.30000.33.67.310.9

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Getting There

By Plane

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.

By Train

Israel Railways has trains to/from Tel Aviv via Beit Shemesh. A high-speed link will open in 2011.

By Bus

Egged has buses to other cities and towns in the country, including to Tel Aviv.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

For now, only buses (and taxis) are the only option of getting around by public transport, but the Jerusalem Light Rail will open somewhere in 2010 or maybe 2011.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Little House Bakah1 Yehuda StHotel-
Agron Youth Hostel & Guest HouseAgron St. 6HOSTEL-
Alcazar Hotel6 AlmutanabiHotel-
Beit Ben Yehuda GuesthouseEin Gedi STreet 28Hostel84
Citadel Youth HostelJerusalem Old city Jaffa gate 20 st Marks roadHostel76
Hashimi Hotel & HostelSouk Khan el Zeit no 73 Old CityHOSTEL81
Jaffa Gate HostelOld City, Jaffa Gate, in front of David's TowerHostel79
Mount of Olives Hotel53 Mount of Olives Road P.O. Box 19017hotel76
New Swedish HostelDavid ST.29,Jaffa Gate,Jerusalem P.O.BOX 19084Hostel72
The Jerusalem Hostel44 Jaffa road JerusalemHostel79
The Jerusalem Inn Hotel7 Horkanos st.Hotel-
Yitzhak Rabin Youth Hostel & Guest House1 Nahman Avigad St., JerusalemHOSTEL-
Citadel GuesthouseSaint Mark Road 22 old city, Jaffa gatehostel82
New Palm Hotel4 Hanivim StreetHotel-
East New ImperialJaffa Gate Old CityHotel-
Jerusalem Panorama HotelHill of Gethsamane, Ras El AmoudHotel78
Petra HostelJaffa Gate No. P.O.Box 14030 JerusalemHostel73
Rivoli Hotel3 Salah A Din streetHotel-
Capitol Hotel Israel17 Sallah A Din SteetHotel78
Eden Jerusalem HotelGiladi St. 4 JerusalemHostel-
Abraham Hostel JerusalemDavidka Square Ha'neviim 67Hostel90
Prima Park Jerusalem2 Vilnay StreetHotel-
Commodore HotelSamuel ben Adaya StreetHotel-
Montefiore Hotel7 Shatz stHotel-
Jerusalem Gate Hotel43 Yirmiyahu St.Hotel-
Jerusalem HotelNablus RoadHotel-
Eldan Hotel24 King David StreetHotel-
Jerusalem city center vacationBaruch Ben Neriya 5 NachlaotGuesthouse-
Lev Yerushalyaim Hotel18 King George St Rejwan SquareHotel-
Little House in Rehavia20 Eben Ezra St RehaviaGuesthouse-
City Center Jerusalem2 HaHistadrut StGuesthouse-
Little House in the Colony4a Lloyd George StGuesthouse-
Hebron HostelOld City, 8 Aqabat Etkia, Souk Khan el ZeitHOSTEL73
The Jerusalem Little Hotel40 Jaffa RoadHOTEL79
Palm HostelHanivim Street 6HOSTEL67
Le SixteenAgripas 21Hostel-
National Hotel JerusalemAl Zahra StreetHotel-
The Golden Walls hotelSultan Suleiman St Damascus GateHotel-
Victoria Hotel8 Al – Masoudi Street P.O. BOX 19374Hotel85
Allenby #2 Jerusalem2 Allenby Square Corner of 1 Tora Mizion St.HOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 31.7857
  • Longitude: 35.2007

Contributors

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Jerusalem Travel Helpers

  • Hachiko

    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 Hachiko a question about Jerusalem
  • IsraelReisen

    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.

    Ask IsraelReisen a question about Jerusalem

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