“Without Jerusalem, the land of Israel is as a body without a soul.” — Elhanan Leib Lewinsky, Hebrew writer.
Jerusalem is the most Epic city in Israel. It is chaotic, beautiful, diverse, stressful, joyful and sometimes scary. Walking around you will see Muslims in traditional clothes, Orthodox Jews of all kind, Christians of all kind, it is a student city, Touristic city and many foreigners who work/volunteer here.
It’s a mix of all of the people mentioned above together and it can create funny situations sometimes.
Diverse weather and nature
You can find forests, springs, and caves inside the city. Walk few kilometers and you will find yourself in forests, trails, springs, and mountains (Check Lifta)
In the summer it's hot, in the winter you might get snow once in a while, and less than an hour drive you will find yourself in the desert.
Get my point?
weak people who can handle its awesomeness prefer Tel Aviv, go figure…
How to get to Jerusalem?
How to get from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem?
Direct bus from the airport to Jerusalem, the line number is 485.
The bus runs every hour 24 hours except Shabbat.
Note that it is not an Egged bus. The company is called 'Afikim'.
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:
-Bus 480 from Arlozorov central train station at the bus area (center Tel Aviv).
-Bus 405 from the central bus station (south Tel Aviv).
Bus every 20 min, its costs 16 ILS and the ride is around 1 hour.
Check the public transport page for more info.
Where to Stay in Jerusalem
Best hostels in Jerusalem and more. Check out this page.
Getting around Jerusalem
Jerusalem is unofficially divided into 4 sections, each part has its own "Down Town Area" and in each of these parts, you'll feel like you are in a completely different city although the distances between those areas can be less than a kilometer away.
- Kikar Tsion (Zion Square) for the modern part.
- Kikar ha-Shabbat for the Jewish Haredim part.
- Damascus gate for the Muslim part.
- The Old City is its own unique place.
Don't worry, you can get hummus in all parts.
The term is not really accurate, some parts here are older than East Jerusalem or the old city. That’s the biggest area of the city.
This is how Jerusalem actually looks like:
Yafo( or Jaffa) Street is the main road in Jerusalem. It’s a wide walking street with only a tram moving on it. The street goes from the Central Bus Station all the way to the old city. it's around 35 min walk or 10 min with the tram.
The main street in Yafo (Jaffa) is called Jerusalem. Why is that? Well in the old time's pilgrims were coming to Jerusalem through Jaffa port. So that route was the main road between Jerusalem and Yafo.
A political line which is defined by the truce between the Jewish forces and the Jordanian Legion in 1949. The term "East" in not exactly correct because those areas are also to the north and south of the city center.
The area was under Jordanian rule between 1948-1967.
Unlike the Palestinians in the West Bank who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority or the Arabs of Israel who are Israeli citizens, the Palestinians of Jerusalem are in a complex status.
Israel sees Jerusalem as its united capital. The Palestinians there didn’t want an Israeli citizenship so they got a status of "known residences". They can vote for Jerusalem municipality but not for the parliament.
Haredim/Ultra Orthodox area
The Haredim choose to live in communities and because of that, they are concentrated in few areas around the city. The most famous area is Mea Shearim and Geula area. On Saturday evening you can watch a Klezmer show.
Old City of Jerusalem
The historical heart of the city. Check the Old City page
Jerusalem Atmosphere and insights:
When Israelis go to visit Jerusalem they must have a Jerusalem bagel.
Not because it is super tasty or it's some high-quality food, just because if you didn’t have one, you haven’t been to Jerusalem. It comes with a small bag of za'atar to deep the bagel in.
Jerusalem Distinctive Look
As you'll walk around the streets of Jerusalem you'll notice the distinctive color and look of the buildings in the city. By law from the time of the British to this day any outer wall of a building must be covered with a "Jerusalemite stone" to preserve the unique character of the city.
People of Jerusalem
Jerusalem population is more religious compared to other cities and you can feel it. Especially on Shabbat, the modern City becomes almost like a ghost town. But it doesn’t mean there are no good bars, nightlifeor just events, and festivals which are not about God.
Unlike Tel Aviv which is mostly young people from all over the country who came to be part of the scene, Jerusalem is more diverse. Students, Ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, families, some of the poorest people next to some of the richest, big artist scene and more.
Unlike what people outside of Israel might think, people from all religion and background mix more than you might think in some aspects. Many Arabs work in West Jerusalem, and Jews go shopping in East Jerusalem.
Iron Lion Zion
Yea, many cultures and cities chose a lion because it is just a cool big cat, people like cats.
If you read the part of the 12 tribes and why Jews are called Jews, you know that the Jews are from the tribe of Judah. The land was split between each tribe and Jerusalem was in the region of Judah. Each tribe had his own symbol and the symbol of Judah was… a lion.
So that’s why they chose the lion to be the symbol of the city. And its a cool cat of course.
If you read that page you know that one of the names of Jerusalem is Zion. Know the song Iron Lion Zion? Now it all makes sense?
Terror Attacks Memorials
Being passed by many who don’t really know what is the meaning of these small signs. Those signs are reminders to a terror attack that happened at that exact location with the names of the victims.
Most of the signs will be from the years of 1995-1997 (peace talks and attacks by extremist) and 2001-2004 (second Intifada) times where suicide bombing was a real threat on the city streets.
Budget traveler Jerusalem and tips
Cheapest Accommodation in Jerusalem
Although it is not the best hostel, Citadel Youth Hostel has the cheapest option for accommodation. Sleeping on the roof with all of its pluses and downsides. Check this page.
Cheap food and groceries in Jerusalem
Although the most famous market in Jerusalem is Machne Yehuda. It is not the always the cheapest option. Near Damascus gate, there are some Arab markets which are most of the time cheaper than Machne Yehuda. Although might have less diversity.
If you come late at closing time, prices will drop dramatically.
There are few big supermarkets near the city center. The big ones are cheaper than the small ones which are open 24 hours.
-There is a big supermarket in Klal building which is the big ugly building next to the davidka square.
-Just next to the Machne Yehuda market entrance on Yafo Street.
6 Shekel chains
All over Yafo Street, you will find many 6 shekel chains. On Hadavidka square you have a big Cofix place which is also a cheap bar at night.
Agripas Street is the king of the cheap fast food. Mainly cheap pizza and falafel. If you had enough of falafel, there are many cheap pizza places, a medium size pizza for 2 men for 20 ILS. Don't expect high quality.
Wait, what is Shabbat? Check here.
Because most people live in this city are religious, Jerusalem will be much quieter and in shut down mode. Walking on Saturday morning on Yafo Street can give the feeling of a ghost town. In case you need to buy stuff or want to go out here are some places that will be open:
- The Arab area of the city will be business as usual, everything is open. in case you need to buy something.
- In the modern city, you will have few convenient stores that are open 24/7. One on this junction. another onehere.
- The Ben Shatach pubs area will be open and the restaurants in the City Center.
- Abraham Hostel bar is open.
- The old train station compound and restaurants are open on Shabbat.
- Ein Karem restaurants are open on Shabbat.
- You have minibusses to Tel Aviv from Harav Kuk Street near Zion Square. Its leaves when the minibus is filled with people and cost 32 ILS.