Jerusalem is history! Lots of history. It is the place where the stories from the Bible would have taken place and it is one of the twenty oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Jews, Christians and Muslims consider Jerusalem as an important city within their religion. You can walk through old alleys from faith to faith. In Jerusalem people live, work and profess their faith next to each other. A mixture of cultures. Those who visit Jerusalem experience how the Jews (who make up the majority of the population) profess their faith at the ‘Wailing Wall’. In Israel this wall has a totally different name btw… it is called the ‘western wall’. A visit to the Jewish cemetery, the Temple Mount, the markets in the various districts, located in the many alleys, is not to be missed and end the excursion with a beautiful overview of the city from the olive mountain at sunset. Priceless!
You can opt for an organized tour trough the city, but if you own any navigation skills, you will be able to navigate from highlight to highlight by buying a map and use those skills. With some efficiency you can tick most of the highlights within one day, but if you really want to ‘feel’ the soul of the city, count 2/3 days for it. What you can also expect is a flood of tourists. Dozens of buses come and go to get rid of the tourists and hand them over to Jonny Umbrella, one of the many screaming guides. Come out of bed before the rooster starts yelling, to be ahead of the crowd. Don’t be surprised by the amount of heavily armed police and soldiers. Take it from me that they are there for your safety.
“Those who visit Jerusalem will experience how the Jews profess their faith at the Western wall.”
“The wall is known for its written prayers.””
Visa – Residents of the Netherlands receive a visa on arrival at the airport. This visa is free of charge (If you have another nationality please check the up-to-date information at the Embassy or Consulate) Note: Having an Israeli visa stamp in your passport can cause ‘problems’ if you are traveling to other, especially Arab, countries such as not granting a visa. Therefore, ask the customs official to place the stamp on a separate document instead of your passport.
Accommodatie – In the centre of Jerusalem you will find plenty of hotels, B&Bs and hostels. Hostels range from EUR 10-EUR32 per night, midrange accommodation EUR140-EUR150 and high-end EUR150+. A stay in the old centre of Jerusalem is highly recommended. I stayed in the Abraham Hostel at 15 minutes walking distance from the old centre. A modern hostel with a cool bar and a large roof top part. Recommended!
Food & drinks – There are many eateries to be found. Especially in the old town you stumble over the falafels, sugar-sweet biscuits and humus. Falafel price level (EUR7) midrange price level (EUR40-100) and first date price level (EUR100+). The nightlife in Jerusalem is also worth a visit. You can experience the exuberant nightlife in the discotheques, but make sure you visit one of the covered alleys where you can walk from bar to bar and quench your thirst with a delicious beer. In general, Jerusalem is pricey, both for food and other items. A bar provides your beer for NIS24/EUR6,25.
Some (low budget) other examples:
“Walk through the different quarters in old town Jeruzalem”
Transport – if you enter Israel by plane, it is best to fly to tel Aviv. From the airport you can take buses to Jerusalem for NIS25/EUR6.5 except during Sabbath (Saturday). Sabbath is the ‘Sunday’ for Tel-Aviv and then there are no buses. Taxi do drive during Sabbath.
Public transport in Jerusalem itself is relatively cheap. A bus trip (short) will cost you NIS6/EUR1.5 and a bus trip (long), for example to Eilat, will cost you NIS76/EUR19.75. If you jump into the bus from Jerusalem to Eilat, book an early ride and get out a few hours at Ein Gedi to float in the Dead Sea. Then take the last bus (around 6pm) to Eilat which will take another 3 hours. For long distances bus rides, always book the bus in advance in Israel! Often the buses are full or they will let you in for the full price without having a seat. 4 hours on the ground is no fun. Renting a car is also an option. Prices start from 60 euros per day.
Climate & Season – On average, the warmest months are June, July, August and September. It can rise to 40 degrees in these months with an average of 29 degrees. Jerusalem has dry periods in May, June, July, August, September and October. You can in general visit Jerusalem throughout the year, but be sure to start excursions earlier during the hottest months.
“The city breathes antiquity and history””
Suggested daily budget – EUR60 per day (low budget) EUR125 per day (medium budget) EUR 125+ (high budget)