Jerusalem Travel Guide
Jerusalem Travel Guide
With a humbling and fascinating combination of ancient history and sacred religious sites, Jerusalem attracts more than three million tourists a year and earns a profound loyalty from many of its visitors.
Jerusalem, the Holy City, is a place of pilgrimage for the Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions; but whatever their religious beliefs, people from all over the world are drawn to holiday in Jerusalem, the city with a sacred heart. The relatively small area of the Old City is arguably one of the most atmospheric ancient enclaves remaining in the world, with winding old streets, ancient fortifications and an almost tangible sense of history. Most who holiday in Jerusalem come to immerse themselves in the religious and historic attractions of this ancient city, including iconic religious sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Jerusalem is also not without modern attractions and the city has many world-class museums and art galleries and hosts a number of cultural festivals. The city is also well located to be a spring board to some of Israel's most remarkable landscapes and attractions.
Best time to visit Jerusalem
Summers in Jerusalem are hot, but the months of July and August remain high season for a Jerusalem holiday, despite accommodation being more expensive and queues longer. Both spring and autumn (around May and September) are great seasons to travel to Jerusalem, with sunny and warm days. For budget travellers the least expensive is the cool (but wet) winter, between November and March. During the Jewish Passover and some other religious holidays many facilities are closed.
Read more on Jerusalem's Climate and Weather.
What to see in Jerusalem
- Pay tribute at Yad Vashem, Israel's moving Holocaust memorial.
- Visit the Israel Museum to learn about the Holy Land from the prehistoric to the present.
- Stroll around the famous Citadel of David, admiring the views, the exhibits and the ancient architecture.
- See where Jesus was born just outside of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem.
What to do in Jerusalem
- Explore the ancient Hezekiah's Tunnel, which winds beneath the city.
- Float in the unique, healing waters of the Dead Sea.
- Take an excursion to Masada, one of Israel's most famous tourist attractions.
- Walk the footsteps of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of the Cross, through Old Jerusalem.
Israel is not a big country and Jerusalem is a great base for excursions to other famous sites and tourist attractions, like Masada, the Ramon Crater and The Dead Sea. Tel Aviv, the coastal city known as the heart of Israel's contemporary nightlife and shopping scene, is within easy reach and complements the more sombre and ancient treasures of Jerusalem with its young, hip atmosphere.
International flights to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv land at Ben-Gurion International Airport, which is situated nine miles (14km) southeast of Tel Aviv, and 30 miles (50km) west of Jerusalem. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from the airport to Jerusalem and there are buses and taxis available.
Get more information on Airports in Jerusalem.
Did you know?
- The city of Jerusalem is over 3,000 years old.
- Considering the number of people, of various religions, who hold Jerusalem sacred, it can be called the most holy city in the world.
- Jerusalem has more than 2,000 archaeological sites.
Jerusalem © Neta Bartal
Israel's capital city occupies an important place in the hearts and minds of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. The walled section comprising the Old City of Jerusalem is an area rich in the historical traditions of these three religions. It is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, and the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Western Wall provides the focal point for Jewish worship and stands as an enduring symbol of the Jewish homeland.
The Old City can be accessed through seven of the eight gates punctuating the ancient walls enveloping it. Within these walls are the separate quarters of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian communities. A dazzling array of merchandise can be purchased from the lively Arab souk (open-air market), and meandering through the narrow corridors and cobbled pavements of the ancient centre inevitably provides a feast of sensations. For an orientation of the Old City it is best to set off along the Ramparts Walk, originally designed for watchmen, or to climb the Citadel of David for a panoramic vista of the eternally fascinating city of Jerusalem.
Although famous for its many remarkable historical and religious sites, Jerusalem does have more modern attractions too; the city has all you would expect in the way of amenities, shopping, restaurants and nightlife, although if you are visiting Israel primarily for these sorts of activities Tel Aviv may be more to your liking.