As one of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem is a center for anyone wanting to experience vibrant culture, amazing history & archaeology, delectable Middle Eastern food and of course its spirituality. An ancient and holy city in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it has a long and complex history making it like nowhere else in the world and a destination worth exploring – whether you are religious or not.
It’s no easy task but we have delved deep and come up with the very best of things to do in Jerusalem that you 100% need to make a part of your trip to this exciting city. From iconic landmarks to its famous coffee, these are our top things to do in the holiest of cities along with some fabulous ideas for day trips from Jerusalem to help you explore more of Israel.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Things to do in Jerusalem: Inside the Holy City
- 1.1 Walk the Ramparts (The Walls of the Holy City)
- 1.2 Wander the Holy City / Old City
- 1.3 Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
- 1.4 Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif)
- 1.5 Al-Aqsa Mosque
- 1.6 Dome of The Rock
- 1.7 Church of Holy Sepulcher
- 1.8 City of David
- 1.9 Austrian Hospice
- 1.10 Dung Gate & Jaffa Gate
- 1.11 Walk the Via Dolorosa
- 2 Things to do in Jerusalem: Outside the Holy City
- 3 Day Trips from Jerusalem Israel
Things to do in Jerusalem: Inside the Holy City
Walk the Ramparts (The Walls of the Holy City)
Take a stroll around the original ramparts (citys walls) of Jerusalem’s Old City, offering beautiful panoramic views of its ancient buildings, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock, and many other religious sites.
Wander the Holy City / Old City
Split into four quarters, Jerusalem’s Old City encompasses the Jewish Quarters, Armenian Quarters, Christian Quarters and Muslim Quarters. Not only is the area home to many of the city’s renowned holy sites, it’s also packed with endless cafes and markets for you to explore. Join a guided tour in Jerusalem to help you explore deeper and uncover everything the city has to offer.
Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
Famous for being one of the most religious sites in the world for Jewish people, and the remaining wall of the ‘Second Temple’, the Western Wall can be found in Jerusalem’s Old City. A major highlight and ones of the most historical sites in the whole city, people journey to the wall to pray, celebrate, commemorate and ofter write down prayers, placing them in the cracks of the wall.
Did you know there is also a tour you can take which will take you behind and underneath the wall into the Western Wall Tunnel (and beyond) that expose ancient Jerusalem in all its glory.
Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif)
The most iconic site in Jerusalem. A symbolic site for both Jewish and Muslim people (although not currently accessible to Jewish people), Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, encompasses over 100 different structures that date throughout history and as far back as the first century BCE. These include Al-Asqa Mosque and the instantly recognizable Dome of the Rock (both are listed in their own right below) along with the Dome of the Chain plus four minarets, Herodian walls and gates and in the South West stands the remaining section of the Western Wall.
A functioning house of worship, Al-Aqsa Mosque can welcome up to 5000 worshippers. Open to those of Muslim religion only, this stunning building can be admired by all from the outside.
Dome of The Rock
Easily recognizable for its iconic gold top, and one of the top attractions in jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine, of which parts date from 691–92 CE. Both its beauty and significance as a holy site make it a memorable experience during your visit to Jerusalem and one that absolutely MUST be included on your Jerusalem bucket list.
*NOTE* Due to ongoing religious tensions, Jewish people are not allowed to enter this Muslim holy site.
Church of Holy Sepulcher
No trip to Jerusalem would be complete without visiting the sacred sites located in the Christian Quarter of the center of the city, one of which includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church contains the two holiest sites in Christianity (according to traditions dating back to the 4th century): the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha (which sits raised to the right outside the entrance to the church), and Jesus’s empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicula (the top of the building which is pictured above).
We would recommend that you visit the Church with a guide (and allow a couple of hours) or as part of a wider Holy City Tour to really help you understand the intricacies, historical significance and the beliefs of the thousands that flock to the site every year.
City of David
One of East Jerusalem’s most active archaeological sites, the City of David ( and Hezekiahs tunnels) is a number one site for anyone wanting to get up close with history, where visitors can stroll through the 2000 years old excavated streets and learn more about life during King Davids reign at the Tower of David Museum. And for those that a feeling a little bit history-ed out at this point, spending some time in the green spaces of the City of David National Park can be a welcome break.
Offering one of the best aerial views of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock, the Austrian Hospice is a hidden gem in a crowded city. Grab a bit to eat or drink at the delightfully peaceful cafe before climbing the stairs to the roof for this unique view over the Holy City. (There is a small extra charge at the top of the stairs to allow you to access the terrace, so be sure to have some small coins put to one side for the entrance fee).
Dung Gate & Jaffa Gate
Dating from the 16th century, both the Dung & Jaffa gate forms part of the Old City’s historic walls. Important passages in and out of the city throughout history, these gates still remain in use today allowing you to walk in the steps of pilgrims past.
Walk the Via Dolorosa
Visitors to Jerusalem can Walk the Via Dolorosa, The Way of The Cross on a self-guided tour – you just follow the markings and signs on the walls! It is one of the main Jerusalem attractions that is significant with the Christian faith, and it allows you to follow the path of Jesus on his arrival to the city until his crucifixion.
Things to do in Jerusalem: Outside the Holy City
Machane Yehuda Market
An integral part of the city of Jerusalem, you cannot miss visiting one of the city’s lively markets during your trip to Jerusalem. The famous Mahane Yehuda market, known locally as “The Shuk” is one of the most popular in the city, filled with the mouthwatering tastes of Israel, colourful wares, plenty of atmosphere and some of the best restaurants in Jerusalem, it is the place to experience the heart and soul of the city.
Israel’s official memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is a chance for visitors to pay their respects at the poignant site and hear victims’ stories at the museum. It is also officially the World Holocaust Remembrance Center (with flags from all over the world flown outside the facility as a signal of solidarity) and while visiting the site is an emotional experience, it is undoubtedly one of the most complete and detailed memorials to one of the most horrific events in history and worth making the effort to visit.
Mount of Olives
No trip to Isreal would be complete without a visit to this biblical mount. A destination with unrivaled views of Jerusalem city and packed with history, the Mount of Olives is the ideal destination for keen photographers. Once covered in olive trees it is one of three hills to the east of the city and the site of many religious events.
Chapel of the Ascension
For anyone visiting the Mount of Olives, the Chapel of the Ascension is a sacred site that should not be missed. It is not only the spot where Jesus is thought to have ascended to heaven but is also home to a slab of stone that is believed to contain his footprints.
Gardens of Gethsemane
Home to some of the world’s oldest olive trees, the Gardens of Gethsemane situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives are not only beautiful to visit but are also a site of religious significance, believed to be the site where Jesus was arrested.
Church of Dominus Flevit
For those interested in architecture, the unique teardrop-shaped Church of Dominus Flevit can be found on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. In the shape of a teardrop to represent Jesus’ grief for the city, the church is home to many significant historical artifacts, including an elaborate mosaic floor.
The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum was established in 1965 as Israel’s foremost cultural institution and is one of the world’s leading encyclopedic museums. Showcasing art and archaeology alongside Jewish art and culture, there is also the impressive Shrine of the Books – built as a repository for the Dead Sea Scrolls, the first seven scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947.
Church of the Pater Noster
Soak up the atmosphere of the beautiful Byzantine Church of the Pater Noster, parts of which date from 1152, exquisitely decorated with tiles painted with the Lord’s Prayer in 132 languages.
Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations (Universal Church), also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It houses a section of bedrock where Jesus is believed to have prayed before his arrest and the night before his crucifixion.
Tomb of the Virgin Mary
This unique Christian tomb located in the Kidron Valley is believed to be the tomb of the Virgin Mary in the remains of the 5th-century church, making it one of the oldest buildings you can visit in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Time Elevator
An experience like no other, visitors to Jerusalem can hop on the Time Elevator and journey through 3,000 years of history on giant screens with surround sound.
Day Trips from Jerusalem Israel
Masada & Ein Gedi
For a day outside the city, tourists can visit the ancient cliff-top fortress of Masada in Israel’s Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. During your visit to this beautiful part of the country, a trip to the nearby nature reserve of Ein Gedi and the dead sea is also highly recommended (and is often included on a half days tour from Jerusalem).
The Dead Sea
Renowned for its healing properties, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and a popular destination with tourists for the chance to float naturally in the salty waters. Make a day of it with Dead Sea & Spa day trip from Jerusalem.
West Bank Tour
Explore this fascinating landlocked area to the west of Jerusalem on a full-day dual narrative tour where you can visit iconic areas including Bethlehem, Jericho, Qasr el Yahud on the River Jordan, and Ramallah. You’ll explore both the Palestinian and Israeli sides of Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank spending part of the day with an Israeli guide and the other part with a Palestinian guide.
For a once in a lifetime opportunity, if you’re visiting Jerusalem a tour of Bethlehem (at the heart of the West Bank) should absolutely be included on your list – even if it is just to see the 1,500 years old Church of Nativity where Jesus was born and have the opportunity to see the serene Franciscan Grotto of Lady Mary, not to mention amazing views of Jerusalem.
Nazareth & Sea of Galilee
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Explore Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus and the beautiful landscapes that surround the Sea of Galilee for an inspirational day trip from Jerusalem. Book your Nazareth & Sea of Galilee Tour here.
Visit Tel Aviv
Take a day trip from Jerusalem to explore the unique city of Tel Aviv, offering visitors long sandy beaches, history, culture and buzzing nightlife. Although you may decide you need more than just one day to cover all the things to do in Tel Aviv!
Caesarea, Haifa & Akko
For something a little different during your visit to Jerusalem, book yourself on a day trip along the Mediterranean coast to explore the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, the Roman ruins in Caesarea and the ancient port city of Akko. On this 3 city tour from Jerusalem.
The Golan Heights are a green rocky plateau raised high above the Sea of Galilee in the far northeast of Israel. It contains some of Israel’s most beautiful spots, however, like most sites in this country, it is not without controversy. Originally part of Syria, it was annexed by the Israels in the six-day war and had remained a strategic vantage point overlooking Lebanon, Syria and the Jordan Valley ever since and where there remains active military to this day. Learning about the history and seeing it with your own eyes certainly makes for an interesting day trip from Jerusalem.
Craved out by water from the Golan Heights, the beautiful Banias Nature Reserve is the perfect addition to your day trip from Israel while you’re exploring the northernmost area of the country.
By way of background, ‘Banias’ is the name of the spring which rises from the base of Mount Hermon, Israel’s tallest mountain, and which flows for about 3.5km through a gorge before eventually coming to the impressive waterfall (pictured above) that is the largest in Israel, and is a tributary to the River Jordan.
There we have it, 30+ Incredible things to do in Jerusalem that we know are going to make your adventure to this magical city even more inspiring. Are you currently planning a memorable city break to Jerusalem? Or do you plan to see more than just the Holy City when visiting Israel?
We hope this post has helped you plan a trip to Israel and if you think you have come up with some more amazing things to do and see in this holiest of cities, let us and our readers know in the comments below.
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Vicki is the Lawyer turned Content Creator, Editor-in-Chief and all round Boss Lady at MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld.
She has lived and worked in 7 different countries and started the site to show everyone that it is possible to travel whilst holding down a full time job (because not everyone can – or wants to – quit and walk away from it all).
Her style of travel has always been to get the best out of a destination as a time poor traveler making the most of limited vacation days and all without breaking the bank; BUT she does know where to save and where to splurge to have the most incredible travel experiences – such as luxury hotels and over-water bungalows, safaris, spas and more(!) – where the situation calls for it.