A peek into my 3-day Jerusalem itinerary
As someone who lived in Tel Aviv, I have been always biased but when I first visited Jerusalem, I never imagined I will have a different opinion.
Growing up in a Catholic country, Jerusalem has always been perceived as a mecca in our bible study classes. In the Philippines, we have religion subjects that you have to take until you finish University. Every school curriculum in my country has a religion subject. This did not make me a devout Christian but if I am being honest, coming to Jerusalem will give you ‘that Catholic feel.’ Everything looked so familiar yet strange. The feeling was so strong I thought Jesus was literally around.
However, it gave me a learning that Jerusalem is more than just a religious site but an infusion of different cuisines, rich cultures and radical beliefs.
Here’s my Jerusalem itinerary and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Mind you, this itinerary is not just about religion but everything Jerusalem!
What to expect when visiting Jerusalem
Jerusalem is deeply practicing ‘Shabbat,’ the Jewish day of rest. It starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday evening when the new week begins. You won’t find any restaurants or establishments open in Jerusalem so better plan that ahead! Make sure to go to groceries before sundown on Friday and cook your food in your hostel.
If you’re travelling on a Friday to Jerusalem, remember that public transport will be unavailable, too.[/us_iconbox]
From Tel Aviv: Buses to Jerusalem depart frequently at Tel Aviv Central Station. If you are departing from this station, the bus number is 405. Fare is around 20 NIS ($6 USD approx).
If you don’t want to go to the station, another bus departs from Tel Aviv’s Arlozoroff Bus Terminal which is closer to the city centre. The bus number to Jerusalem is 480 and costs pretty much the same as above.
There is no need to pre-book your bus tickets to Jerusalem. Just go to the station and you will always have a seat! Please take note that buses to Jerusalem do not depart from Tel Aviv during Shabbat (sundown of Friday to sundown of Saturday) so plan your trip accordingly!
In my experience, it was easy to find buses going to Jerusalem all over Israel. If you’re not coming from Tel Aviv, you can easily go to any bus stations in whichever city you are in and take a bus to Jerusalem!
Trains are also very common from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but I prefer the bus as it seems faster. Plus, the view is amazing![/us_iconbox]
As a Philippine passport holder, I am allowed to enter Israel for 90 days visa-free. If you want to know if you can enter Israel without a visa, you may refer to this list.
Entering Israel is not similar to other countries as they tend to ask a lot of questions (I mean a lot!) to any foreign national (and even locals) entering the country. You may feel interrogated at times but answer the questions honestly and you will be fine!
Israel is constantly at war so precautionary measures are heavily imposed no matter where you are from in the world. This doesn’t stop the tourism boost in Israel as you will not physically feel the so-called ‘war’ they have with their neighbouring countries.[/us_iconbox]
For 3 days in Jerusalem, I allocated $80 USD per day budget but not including tours. You see, Israel is an expensive country so if you’re coming for a visit, you should take note of the numbers!
To have an idea of the daily costs of traveling in Jerusalem, see the pricing chart below:[/us_iconbox]
Israel’s weather is perfect for travellers any time of the year. Their winters are not that cold but beware as the summers, though very enjoyable, can tend to be hot. Below is ‘tourism’ seasons you have to take note of:
Low Season (Dec-Feb). Cold in the north especially in the mountains.
Shoulder Season (Sep–Nov; Mar–Jun). It rains sometimes but this is actually my favourite time of the year because the temperature is just right!
High Season (Jun-Aug). Summers in Israel are in high demand despite of the extreme heat because the biggest pride parade in the world is held in Tel Aviv every June.[/us_iconbox]
I don’t think getting a sim card is necessary in Israel, especially if you’re just doing a short trip. There is free WiFi in the cities. Just in Israel and Jerusalem, you can access WiFi even on the streets!
As a travel blogger and full-time traveler, a portable wifi device allows me to be connected anywhere I am. No need to deal with changing sim cards and disposing them after![/us_iconbox]
Jerusalem Itinerary Day 1
If you’re coming from Tel Aviv, note that you don’t need to be in Jerusalem the night before your trip. Jerusalem is only 45 mins-1 hour from Tel Aviv so you can even leave the same day. This way, you save on accommodations in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Itinerary Day 1 highlights:
10:00 am – 12:00 nn: Old City Tour
In this tour, you will get to know the fusion of three different religions in one area. You can definitely do it yourself but if you want a tour guide in Jerusalem to explain the bits and pieces of the old city, you can easily find that at the Jaffa gate, where your journey will start.
Below are some of the sites you will visit:
Via Dolorosa is the street in the old city of Jerusalem where Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. If you go back to your biblical lessons in grade school (if you have it), you will experience walking the stations of the cross. Devout Christians even carry a cross to experience the ‘path’ Jesus took.[/us_iconbox][us_separator type=”short” style=”dashed” color=”primary” icon=”fas|globe”]
12:00nn – 1:00 pm: Lunch at Lina Restaurant
I didn’t understand why they ate so much bread in Israel but my discovery of hummus lead me to a new level of gastronomic learning – hummus. Lina Restaurant is one of my first legitimate taste of hummus in Israel and boy, this is really something else! I finished a whole plate to myself!
Lina Restaurant is really a small place so you will need to fall in line but be patient because it’s worth the wait!
1:00pm – 3:00pm: visit Katamonim and Beit Safafa neighborhoods
These neighborhoods represent extreme social, cultural, and economic gaps in Israel. For years, Katamonim has been one of the strongest symbols of racial discrimination in Israel. Beit Safafa is another interesting neighborhood in Jerusalem where you can see the effects of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the past. At present, the residents are trying to be part of Westernized civilization while maintaining their traditional heritage.
Bakehila, a non-government organization that impacts the lives of thousands of Israeli and Arab children and youth conducts this kind of tour.
3:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Strolling, dinner, and nightlife at the Machne Yehuda Market
Jerusalem’s Machne Yehuda Market is home to many Middle Eastern shops and sellers. This is where I was able to experience the real Middle Eastern fusion as it’s packed with Moroccan delicacies, Jordanian pastries and more!
This is not only a place to shop but there are also bars and restaurants inside the market! Take a shopping stroll during the afternoon and have dinner wherever you please. Drinks will come after!
Bars and restaurants in the Machne Yehuda Market
A kosher street food joint, Crave Gourmet serves street food that will feel new to the palette. Sliders and Reubens, Mexican flavours and some Korean twist make the diversity of the menu.
Prices start at 48 NIS ($12.85 USD approx. See Crave Machne Yehuda menu[/us_iconbox]
Have you every tried Kurdish delight? Experience shamburak, a baked meat and potato pastry with small dishes like tahini, pickled carrots and olives on the side!
Prices start at 40 NIS ($10 USD approx)[/us_iconbox]
Burritos, tortillas, spicy salsa – if you’re sick of falafel and hummus (though this rarely happens), Burrito Chai will satisfy your Mexican craving!
Prices start at 40 NIS ($10 USD approx)[/us_iconbox]
If you’re up for an early drinking session, Hatch serves handcrafted sausages and beers that I’m sure you’ve never tried before! This is the best restaurant I’ve tried in Machne Yehuda and is really perfect for day drinking!
Beer prices start at 30 NIS ($ 8 USD approx). See Hatch Machne Yehuda menu[/us_iconbox]
Located in one of the entrances of the market, Beer Bazaar Jerusalem is a good place to start your bar hopping. There are over 100 types of Israeli craft beers in this pub so make sure to try at least 10%!
Prices start at 28 NIS ($7.50 USD approx). See Beer Bazaar menu[/us_iconbox]
Jerusalem Itinerary Day 2
You’ve had a full day 1 Jerusalem itinerary so let’s take it easy on day 2, shall we?
Jerusalem itinerary day 2 highlights
10:00 – 12:00: Visit the Jerusalem Bird Observatory
I was pretty surprised when I first discovered that Jerusalem has a bird observatory. This is not one of the common places to visit in Israel (or in Jerusalem alone!) so make sure to come here and bring a different story about Jerusalem to your peers!
This is a 15-min walk from the central bus station in Jerusalem. Bus #9 comes close to the observatory. The observatory is open from Sunday – Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
12:00 nn – 2:00pm: Lunch at Adom Restaurant
I went to Adom Restaurant for dinner but I also have visited in during the day. Located at the Finegold courtyard, this restaurant has a wide variety of food and wine – from Israeli’s finest sabih to bouillabaisse, the selection is good for a fancy dinner in Jerusalem!
It may sound fancy but Adom is not that expensive. For starters and salads cost 52 NIS ($13 USD approx) at a minimum while mains are from 67 NIS ($18 USD approx).
Please note that due to high demand, you might need to pre-book a table to have a meal here.
2:00 pm onwards: Play with gazelles at Gazelle Valley
Another uncommon thing to do in Jerusalem, the Gazelle Valley is another place where you can experience a mini-wildlife and the outdoors. This sanctuary has fought to preserve and support the teeming wildlife in Gazelle Valley by raising awareness of this urban-wildlife ecosystem and maintaining natural resources.
If you book this tour, part of its revenue will be used to develop and maintain the ecosystem in the valley and raising awareness about the importance of Urban Wildlife.
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm – Sunset drinks and dinner at Rooftop Mamilla
Mamilla, a luxury hotel in Jerusalem has this rooftop bar and restaurant where you can see a good view of Jerusalem’s old city. With a large and varied menu for both lunch and dinner, the Rooftop features fresh natural ingredients infused in simple cooking; from grilled meat and fish dishes, fresh salads and pasta, to a selection of mouth-watering desserts.
Mamilla Rooftop is open from Sunday-Thursday, 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm 18:00 – 23:00 with special hours on Shabbat (Friday and Saturday).
Jerusalem Itinerary Day 3
8:00am – 9:30am: Take Krav Maga lessons
Krav Maga is a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces. Remember that Israel has a mandatory military service for all its citizens and Krav Maga is one of the coolest things they learn during training.
This tour is by appointment only so hours can be flexible. Part of the tour revenue will go to the programs that the org offers, giving every woman and girl the right to gain tools to defend her body, spirit, and personal safety, regardless of religious beliefs, ethnicity, or social standing.
9:30 am – 10:30 am: Breakfast/brunch at Kadosh Café
A cafe dating back to 1967, Kadosh is one of the oldest and most-trusted breakfast place in Jerusalem. Take a bite of the ‘bready’ life of the Israelis plus some European and Mediterranean dishes.
Prices start at 30 NIS ($8 USD approx).Kadosh is open from Sun-Thurs 7:00 am – 12:00 nn and on Fridays, 7:00 am – 1:00 pm.
10:30 am: Goodbye, Jeruz!
People will normally just spend a day in Jerusalem for the Holy Land tours as it is notoriously known for it but if you want to explore Jerusalem in a different level, feel free to follow my itinerary and discover that this city is not only about the religious sites.
After Jerusalem, most people opt to go back to Tel Aviv for a more livelier city setting or discover the outskirts of Israel which are accessible from Jerusalem.
If you have more time in Israel, here are the best (and closest) places you can go to after Jerusalem:
For a West Bank visit, you will be able to see the ancient city of Jericho, the modern Arab city of Ramallah and even Bethlehem, where Jesus was born![/us_iconbox]
What’s in your Jerusalem itinerary?
When did you go? What did you eat? Where did you stay? Which activity did you enjoy the most? I’d like to hear your thoughts! Please leave your ideas and suggestions (that may not be in this post) in the comment box below!