From the Wailing Wall to Yad Vashem and everything in between, squeezing thousands of years of history into a few days isn’t an easy task, but we were up for the challenge. And, not to toot our own horn, but our list of top things to do in Jerusalem also includes modern destinations and foodie meccas, all of which you can feasibly see on the same trip. Remember – while Jerusalem might be ancient, it’s red hot as far as the Jerusalem hotels , tech scene and of course the oh-so-good Jerusalem restauarnts. Here’s a look at all the museums, religious sights and fun things to so in Jerusalem for the entire family you should add to your Jerusalem to-do list.
The top attractions in Jerusalem
Yad Vashem’s 45-acre campus comprises indoor museums and outdoor monuments, exhibitions, memorial sites, gardens, sculptures, and world-class research and education centers – all devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The hollowed-out cavern with a single candle reflected by a series of mirrors commemorates the 1.5 million children killed.
No visit to Jerusalem is complete without a visit to the Kotel. Considered to be the holiest place for the Jewish faith, a short walk through the Old City of Jerusalem will lead you to this sacred site. Be sure to write a wish or personal note on a scrap of paper and slit it in the cracks of wall as visitors have for years. The Kotel is the pulsing center of the historically amazing Old City of Jerusalem.
Built in 691 CE, The Dome of the Rock is one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, this spot is considered to be one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks. A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the shrine is said to be where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Located at the edge of the Old City in Jerusalem, a walk through the ancient alleyways will lead you to this special monument.
Covering seminal events in Jewish history, the museum contains an extensive collection of artefacts from ancient Egypt, Canaan, Syria, Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Persia. Exhibits are arranged in chronological order granting the visitor a clear understanding of how various cultures evolved and interacted with one another.
An intoxicating fusion of colors, scents and sounds, Mahane Yehuda is Jerusalem’s biggest and oldest market. The stalls here sell everything from fresh produce to clothing and in recent years, Mahane Yehuda has also become a yuppie hub with designer boutiques and top chef restaurants.
Permanent exhibitions tell the story of Jerusalem through specialized cultural events, activities, and tours. During the spring months, the exhibition “The Kaiser is Coming!" is on display, featuring archival images and history of Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany in 1898.
Built on the site revered by Christians as the location of Jesus' resurrection, the church has been a location of pilgrimage since the 4th century. Christians of all denominations and people from around the world can be seen visiting its various frankincense laden vestibules and chambers.
Just outside the Old City wall near the quaint Yemin Moshe neighborhood, Hutzot Hayotzer houses over 26 galleries and artist studios, offering a diverse selection of handmade items and paintings. Every August, there is also an arts and crafts festival with exhibitions and live music in the ancient amphitheater, called Sultan’s Pool.
With a distinctive Arabian nights feel to it, the Arab market – or souq – located in the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City is a labyrinth of alleyways lined with shops selling everything from handmade jewelry and exotic scarves to hookahs and ceramics.
The top restaurants to visit while exploring Jerusalem
Located in downtown Jerusalem in the Ticho House, a place to immerse yourself in Jerusalem’s art and literary works, a kosher dairy and fish Italian restaurant called “Anna” immediately became one of the city’s most-beloved spots. Handmade pizzas and pastas, fresh fish and the best seasonal ingredients all come together for a memorable dinner. Anna is more than a restaurant, it is also an organization that helps disadvantaged students gain work experience in the kitchen and helps them get back on track.
There’s much to love about Satya, but it can be summed up in a combination of fresh seasonal ingredients and the attention to detail in each dish. Opened by Ilan Garussi, former head chef and owner of popular restaurant Chakra, this hotspot serves up Mediterranean food inspired from all over with a focus on fresh seafood along with specials like the hand-made pappardelle pasta with tomato butter, the colorful seafood risotto and 8-hour slow-cooked Japanese barbecue short ribs.
With three Jerusalem chefs running the show, this rustic haven for foodies offers a changing market-to-table menu with all ingredients sourced from the nearby Machne Yehuda Market. The open kitchen gives you a front seat to the action, and the lively, spirited vibes are like no other. This restaurant was the inspiration for two of the most-talked about restaurants in London, The Palomar and The Barbary. Both are known for bringing this ‘Machneyuda’ genre of energetic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine to the city.
This spacious restaurant and wine bar presents an eclectic French/Italian menu with many options from meat to seafood. The vino here takes center stage with an extensive wine list featuring great international picks as well as a huge selection of Israeli boutique wineries. The people flow in as steadily as their wine, while their ever-changing menu makes Adom a must frequent spot.