While there are a few key sites that almost everyone will visit while in Jerusalem, there are other places that give an in-depth understanding and feel for the city. Here are five place that give visitors the opportunity to get to know the many different sides of this beautifully complex city.
The Haas Promenade
Situated in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, the promenade, which is often simply called “the Tayelet” is a stone walkway with one of the most spectacular views of the Old City, the Kidron Valley, and east and west Jerusalem.
Cover up if it’s a sunny day, take a bottle of water, and plan to walk along the many walkways, sit on the grass under an olive tree, and maybe even have a picnic.
Referred to as a village, this garden-rich Jerusalem neighborhood of biblical significance may be a bit difficult to get to (take the light rail to the Yafe Nof station and catch Egged bus 28 or 28A), but it is one of the most picturesque sites in the city.
Today, this ancient village is an upscale neighborhood with a plethora of music, art, and trendy restaurants and bars. Walk the country-like paths to Mary’s Well, the five churches and monasteries, and even into the proximate nature.
In a city that all but shuts down on Saturdays for the Jewish Shabbat, Ein Karem (sometimes spelled Ein Kerem) is one of the most vibrant places to spend a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.
Jerusalem Archaeological Park & Davidson Center
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park, which reaches the Temple Mount on the north, presents visitors with findings that span 5,000 years of history, from the Canaanite (Bronze) Age through to Christian and Muslim times. This is one of the largest and most significant archaeological parks in Israel.
At the adjacent Davidson Center, one receives an in-depth archaeological and historical introduction by means of an exhibition which is augmented by visual, textual, and audio information.
The Arab Shuk
This outdoor market starts just inside the Old City walls by Jaffa Gate and goes through the Muslim and Christian Quarters. This is the place to go for an authentic local shopping and eating experience. Often called the Arab Shuk or the Muslim Shuk, it is situated along David Street.
Walk along the colorful, narrow street, buy interesting souvenirs, and sample the local foods. Merchants have been operating in the Old City for a couple of millennia, which means that a visit to the shuk will give you a taste of the way things used to be.
Although Jerusalem is a modern city with a heterogonous group of locals, it is an extremely religious city too; it is best not to ignore the large percentage of ultra-Orthodox Jews that live an insular yet rich lifestyle, one that is most definitely fascinating to the outsider. Tourists stop by the neighborhood of Meah Shearim and Geula to peek through a window into this world.
While in Meah Shearim, take in the lifestyle brought over from Eastern Europe, visit local stores and taste the local foods, for example the traditional dishes at Hadar Geula (13 Malchei Yisrael Street).
Be sure to show respect towards the locals. Dress very modestly with elbows and knees covered, no low-cut shirts or overly tight clothing. And although people might appreciate your curiosity, respect the locals’ privacy.
Looking For More?
There are so many things to do in Jerusalem; this is just a taste. And if you want one more tip, a few times during the year, the Old City of Jerusalem hosts many different kinds of festivals during which you will find the Old City alleyways filled with people dressed as knights or international musicians playing at different squares. Either way, it’s worth checking if a festival is going on in the Old City while you’re here.