When you first step foot in Jerusalem, you’ll quickly understand how much there is to see and do. Jerusalem’s sprawling history spans thousands of years. Today, Jerusalem is like an open-air museum with incredibly rich history and culture. From the ancient structures in the Old City to the vibrant markets and distinct neighborhoods, Jerusalem is a traveler’s paradise, and there’s an endless amount to see and to do. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss any of the most important sites is by joining Jerusalem tours, which can take you to the best sites and locations.
Jerusalem Tours in the Old City
Jerusalem tours in the Old City are a must during your trip to Jerusalem. The Old City is divided into four quarters, and some of the most holy sites in the world for Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam are located in this city.
Discover the most fascinating landmark in the Old City with the Jerusalem Free Tour!
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre dates back to the 4th century, and inside of it are some of the holiest sites in Christianity. The church was built over the spots where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified, as well as the location of the tomb of Jesus. Over the years, the church was destroyed, turned into a mosque, and reconstructed as a church. Today, visitors to the Church of the Holy Sepluchre can walk a pathway called the Via Dolorosa, which includes sites inside and outside the church that were significant in the life of Jesus.
The Western Wall is considered the holiest site in Judaism, and Jewish people from all over the world come to pray at this wall. It is the only remains of the wall of an ancient compound that housed the First and the Second Temples of Jerusalem, which were located in the same place. The Babylonians destroyed the first Jewish temple in 587 BCE, and the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
After the second temple was destroyed, Jerusalem was ruled by various different groups. As we’ll discuss in the next section, followers of Islam also hold this spot sacred, and a mosque now sits on this site. Today, the Western Wall is the only remnant of the retaining wall that used to house the Jewish temples.
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is an icon on the Jerusalem skyline. It’s a gold domed shrine, which marks the spot where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad was taken up into heaven for an encounter with God. The Dome of the Rock is located on an elevated compound called the Temple Mount, and it’s the oldest Islamic monument in existence today. It’s next to another holy site in Islam, the Al Aqsa mosque.
Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed inside the Dome of the Rock or the Al Aqsa mosque, and in general, can only visit during certain hours and days of the week. Please check the status of the Temple Mount before planning a trip here. If you’re on a tour, your tour provider will take care of this for you.
If you want to visit these three main sites in one Jerusalem tour, you can do so with Abraham’s Holy City tour. Also, please note that in order to visit these sites (and other holy sites in Israel), you’ll need to be dressed modestly.
Outside the Old City
There are many things to see on Jerusalem tours outside the Old City.
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is located just outside the Old City of Jerusalem and is significant in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world and has been used as a burial ground for thousands of years. It’s mentioned numerous times in the Bible and contains ancient graves. When you visit the Mount of Olives, you’ll notice the stunning views and the abundance of olive trees for which it’s named.
Machane Yehuda Market
The vibrant and lively Machane Yehuda Market is the main outdoor market in Jerusalem. Located about a 20-minute walk or quick light rail ride from the Old City, the Machane Yehuda Market is full of interesting sights, delicious smells, and unique sounds. The Machane Yehuda Market is home to incredible Jerusalem food, including everything from Middle Eastern street food, sit-down restaurants and dessert shops. There are also many shops with vendors selling fresh produce and meat, clothes and trinkets, and just about everything you can imagine.
There are many interesting neighborhoods to explore in Jerusalem, but Nachlaot is definitely one of them. Nachlaot is where the Machane Yehuda market is located, and it’s a stunning cluster of winding alleys, garden courtyards, and old buildings. Nachlaot is also home to many hip restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as many small synagogues.
Mea Shearim is another distinct neighborhood in Jerusalem, for the fact that it is almost exclusively home to Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as Haredeim, keep very specific traditions and values, and tend to remain withdrawn from the secular world. In Mea Shearim, you can find many significant religious symbols, customs, and sites. If you go on one of the Jerusalem tours that takes you to this area, you’ll have a chance to meet the Ultra-Orthodox Jews who live here, and ask them questions. Please note, modest clothing is required for tours here, and is recommended for visitors who wish to visit sites and speak with the locals.
There are some incredible sites to see in Israel which are easily accessible by day trip from Jerusalem.
Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea
Masada, Ein Gedi, and the Dead Sea are three distinct sites to visit, but some Israel tours group these sites together, because they’re actually fairly close to each other.
The Dead Sea is famously the lowest point on Earth. It is an incredibly salty body of water, where you’ll find that you’re buoyant due to the salinity. The Dead Sea mud is also considered to be good for the skin, and Dead Sea products are often sold as beauty treatments.
Masada is an ancient fortress that is located high up on a natural plateau in the desert, and it’s accessible by cable car.
Ein Gedi is an oasis in the desert, and is a nature reserve that is home to native animals and plants, as well as refreshing creeks.
While you can visit these three sites separately, they’re located in relatively remote places. You can reach these places by public transit, with a rental car, or on a day trip tour from Jerusalem (like the one with Abraham Tours).
Bethlehem, Ramallah & Jericho
The West Bank is home to vibrant cities with interesting culture and history, and three of the most popular cities are Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jericho. The West Bank is accessible to tourists, but there is not an abundance of public transit that will take you to all three of these cities. The best way to get around the West Bank is definitely by tour, such as Abraham’s Best of the West Bank tour.
Bethlehem is referenced as being the site of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Because of this, it holds significance in Christianity. Today, you can visit the Church of the Nativity, as well as Manger Square.
Ramallah is a thriving Palestinian city that is considered a hub of culture, food, and history. You can visit Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum, and enjoy delicious food and traditional coffee.
Jericho is a city of Biblical fame, and it’s one of the earliest continuous settlements in the world. Archaeological excavations (which are still ongoing) have found evidence of people living here since possibly 9000 BCE.
Ein Hemed National Park
Located just a few kilometers outside of Jerusalem, Ein Hemed National Park has the remains of an ancient fortress, a stunning stream, and lots of natural beautiful foliage. It has many walking paths, and offers a quiet and natural retreat from the bustling Jerusalem city life.
As you can see, there is much to see in and around the city of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem tours are the perfect way to ensure you’re able to get around easily, access the sites you want to see, and that transportation is taken care of. If you need somewhere to stay while visiting Jerusalem, our Abraham Hostel Jerusalem is waiting to welcome you.