Discovering Jerusalem’s panoramic views, holy sites, historical landmarks and mesmerizing streets is on every tourist’s itinerary while visiting Israel.
If you only have one day to spend in the Israeli capital and want to make sure you see its highlights including the Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre and some key museums, here are a few options depending on your personal traveling preferences:
Although Jerusalem’s Old City might be daunting for first-time visitors, there are ways to explore its meandering streets by downloading some of the Jerusalem travel apps, renting an audio guide in most of the museums and walking on your own around the main attractions.
You can use local transportation like the Jerusalem Light Rail to get to the Old City and local busses in order to reach the new town’s landmarks — Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Israel Museum or Israel's Parliament - the Knesset.
You can also create your own itinerary by booking attractions ahead such as a 4 hours 30 min walking tour in the Jerusalem’s Old City (departing at a set time on certain days of the week), tickets for the tunnels tour of the Kotel - Western Wall (the underground attraction leading to the most ancient remnant of the Jewish Temple) and the Night Spectacular evening show at the Tower of David Museum.
If you wish to venture to the new town and its vibrant Machane Yehuda market, purchasing the Shuk Bite Card will enable you to organize your itinerary around sampling food at the participating food stalls.
A great way to see the main sites of Jerusalem without the hassle of planning anything under the guidance of a knowledgeable tour guide is joining an organized day tour.
Pick up is from your hotel in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you’re accompanied throughout the day by a licensed tour guide and can choose among a few different languages. You can either opt for a tourist group (up to 50 participants) or a business class (no more than 19) if you prefer a more intimate experience.
For first-time visitors to Jerusalem who only have 24 hours to dedicate to the holy city and want to make the most out of it, to join an organized day tour can be a great option.
A private guided tour enables you to customize your itinerary, explore the city in a more personal way and have exclusive access to your qualified tour guide wealth of knowledge.
Options range from meeting your tour guide for an Old City Walking Tour to booking a full day with a car.
All private tours are available departing from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or any other location. Recommended to visitors who wish to explore Jerusalem more in depth in the short time they have.
For passengers of cruise ships making a one-day stop in Israel, a guided tour of Jerusalem is a must.
Departing from the port of Ashdod or Haifa in the morning, you’ll be able to see all the main attractions including the Mount of Olives and Old City’s Western Wall, ancient Roman market street, Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish quarters, as well as the Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Transports: The main bus station in Jerusalem is at the entrance of the new town and is connected to the Old City by a few buses (line 1 for example) and a tram. This is a good way to travel if you already know the city but it might feel overwhelming and time-consuming to first-time visitors.
Distances: Every site in the Old City is within walking distance of each other. You’ll need to take public transports or a taxi to reach attractions in the new town, including the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem.
Dress code: It’s recommended to dress modestly (no sleeveless tops or shorts) while visiting Jerusalem’s religious sites and for women to take a scarf or pashmina to cover their shoulders and head.
Best time to visit: A fascinating destination year-round, Jerusalem is at its busiest during the main religious festivals of the three monotheistic religions. It’s advisable to check the timings of these ahead of your trip as opening hours and hotel availability are affected.
Safety: Jerusalem is a safe place for tourists. Traveling with a local licensed guide is the best way to avoid worrying about security issues.
Words: Sonia Esther Soltani