A celebration of hip and progressive things to do in Jerusalem

Reconsider your assumptions about the ancient city with these relevant things to do in Jerusalem
© Igor Favarov
By Kayla Levy |

For many, Jerusalem is considered to be the center of the world, but it’s seldom regarded as hip or progressive. There are a variety of things to do in the ancient citybut few are as on-trend as the Tel Aviv or Haifa happenings. However, beyond the walls of its holy sites lie many opportunities to combine modern events and eateries with its deeply rooted history. Whether it’s a funky speakeasy or a progressive art museum, there are countless opportunities to experience new culture in and around this old city. If you’re looking for something to eat, grab a bite at a modern eatery in Jerusalem’s first train station or even at a restaurant open on Shabbat! Between galleries hidden within the walls of the Old City and hip bars that come alive after hours in the Shuk, you just might be surprised at what is hiding behind Jerusalem’s ancient facade.

Something old, something new

Museum on the Seam
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Art, Galleries

Appreciate art on the seam

icon-location-pin Musrara

Museum on the Seam displays contemporary art focused on different aspects of the socio-political reality of Israel. The gallery features artists from both Israel and abroad that respond to tension between and within groups. It invites visitors to examine the degree of societal influence on the individual and vice versa. Museum on the Seam calls for listening and discussion and for engagement with the “other.” Rated as one of the 29 top exhibits in the world by the New York Times, Museum on the Seam is a unique gallery you don’t want to miss.

Bread and Meat
© Anatoly Michaello

Eat modern cuisine at an old railway station

When the Jerusalem Railway Station opened in 1892, it included a two-story stone building, a mechanism to change the train’s direction, and a large water tank. Over 100 years – and one major renovation – later, The First Station has become a central location in the entertainment and dining scene in Jerusalem. With restaurants serving up fresh international flavors, favorites from notable Israeli chefs, and an array of Kosher offerings, the complex attracts hungry diners looking for an Asian bite or Italian meal. Stop by to fill your stomach and feast your eyes on years of history.

Tahrir Bar
© Tahrir Bar Facebook Page

Shuk 'til you puke

When the sun sets in Jerusalem’s legendary Mahane Yehuda Market, and the fruit and vegetable stalls close for the day, an array of local bars begin to open up around the Shuk. Some serve tasty plates and sides, others have Israeli breweries on tap, and a few host live music, but all are guaranteed to fulfill your nightlife needs. Let go of your preconceived notions of Jerusalem’s culture, and check out some of the most magical bars in the ancient city.

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Restaurants, Street food

Munch on street food fusion

icon-location-pin Machne Yehuda

Sick of the usual Israeli street food? Craving some good old fashioned greasy grub? One meal at Crave and you’ll throw your falafel and shawarma days right out the window without looking twice. At this Jerusalem diner bar, Todd Aarons (former chef at Tierra Sur in California) has concocted the ultimate menu that pairs classic American street food staples like sliders and Reubens with mexican favorites like pulled brisket burritos and a little added Korean flare. If you haven’t fallen in love yet, Chef Todd has even dedicated a section of the menu to the ‘munchies’ – with sinfully delicious snacks like truffle oil french fries, wings and ‘The Big O’ (panko crusted onion rings). Plus, the whole restaurant is kosher so greasy favorites like burgers that are usually taboo due to cheese and bacon fixings are now a dream for all parties. Feed your craving today.

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Bars, Cocktail bars

Take it (speak)easy

icon-location-pin Jerusalem City Center

It’s a Thursday night, and you’ve suddenly become inspired to experience the F. Scott Fitzgerald-deemed ‘Jazz Age’ in the city of the Biblical Age. Impossible? Of course not. This is Jerusalem, of course there’s a bar for that. Sitting behind a black, unmarked door, this bar oozes ‘speakeasy’ before you even set foot in it. With wickedly-masterminded cocktails (including using light bulbs for glasses), you can see the bartenders pouring their heart, soul, and passion into crafting these wicked little delights for you. Tucked away, relatively far west of the shuk, creativity and style has almost never been done better in a city that prides itself on tradition.

Jerusalem nightlife
© Shutterstock

Enjoy Friday night freedom

It's Friday night. You’re in the heart of the Holy City, and at the end of a long and exhausting day of exploring the Jewish history and Israeli culture, you really fancy that bite to eat and a drink – or several. But, the sun has set and you’re looking around, only to realize that everywhere you see is closed. While for much of the city, Shabbat is a sacred time to be cherished with family and friends, for those less religious, it simply means a temporary goodbye to the exotic diversity of the famous Jerusalem nightlife. Although, that’s not entirely true. For dotted around this now silent and crowd-less ancient city, little Jerusalem restaurant hot spots and one particular bar in Jerusalem are alive and booming, and more-than-ready for eager visitors who aren’t quite ready to give up their Friday night freedom.

Yellow Subramine
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Jazz yourself

icon-location-pin Jerusalem

Whatever genre of music tickles your fancy, or your ears, or your feet – Yellow Submarine is the place to indulge in all of those musical pleasures. From jazz to funk to rock or folk, Yellow Submarine offers a performance stage, a sitting and standing area and a fully equipped bar. The sound is sublime too.


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