If you’re searching for a Jerusalem itinerary more than the religious sites and the Holy Land bonanza, this is for you! I lived in Israel and have provided local spots in Jerusalem that are outside of the walled city.
📧 Trisha, thanks for all the information you put out there about Israel. I have been following you since you moved to Tel Aviv in 2017, and I love all your content! It seems like Israel is a great place for young people like me. I am planning to visit Jerusalem but I don’t want to be heavy on the holy land sites. Are there other cool things to do in Jerusalem? What’s in your Jerusalem itinerary and what have you visited? I appreciate all the help. I hope to meet you someday!– Rebecca Morton, USA
Thank you so much! I really appreciate all the support! You are right – Israel is a great destination for young people. I don’t think this information is really out there but I do know that a lot of people (like you) are enticed to visit!
I went back and forth to Jerusalem while living in Tel Aviv because it’s super near and I have so many friends in Jeruz! I know a lot of people who are looking for other things to do in Jerusalem apart from the religious sites so I’ll share that with you in this Jerusalem itinerary hoping you’d love them!
Good luck and enjoy Israel!
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 religious subjects you must take until you finish University.
Every school curriculum in my country has a religious 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 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 in Jerusalem!
Change how you travel and see the world by going deep into the culture. Come and travel with me!
✅ Jerusalem itinerary at a glance
|Day 1||To do|
|8 AM – 12 PM||Tower of David Museum
|12 PM||Lunch at Lina Restaurant|
|3-7 PM||Rest at hotel|
|7 PM||Dinner [Choose Restaurant]|
|Day 2||To do|
|10 AM – 12 PM||New Gate
Russian Compound and Nahlaot
|12 PM – 2 PM||Mahane Yehuda Market|
|2 PM – 3 PM||Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Street
Jerusalem Great Synagogue
Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center
|3 PM – 7 PM||Rest at hotel|
|7 PM||First Station
|Day 3||To do|
|Full-day||Choose from any of the day trips from Jerusalem|
🚘 Arrival in Jerusalem
How to get to Jerusalem 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 center. The bus number to Jerusalem is 480 and costs 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 station 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!
👉🏽 See also: 3 days in Tel Aviv itinerary
🗺️ Jerusalem itinerary planning
I added some realistic walking routes per day in this itinerary, but in case you want to add more things to do, below are some resources and other things that you can add to customize your Jerusalem itinerary:
- Hottest months to visit: August (30°C [86°F])
- Best months for pleasant weather: December to March (15°C [59°F])
- Where to eat for cheap food: Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem
- Jerusalem cuisine and what to eat: Old City Eateries
- Fine dining and award-winning restaurants: Best restaurants in Jerusalem
Now, if you are looking for hotels in Jerusalem, below are those that are less than 1 KM from the center (which allows you to spend less on transportation).
These are walking distance from all the important tourist spots you need to visit in this Jerusalem itinerary.
|The School Hostel||$44 USD||9/10|
|Aristo Luxury Suites||$110 USD||10/10|
|The Walled Capital Hotel||$130 USD||10/10|
|Stay Jaffa Jerusalem||$112 USD||9.1/10|
|The Odette Hotel||$160 USD||10/10|
|The Pearl of Nachlaot||$240 USD||9.2/10|
|Machne Yehuda by Homy||$246 USD||9.6/10|
|Mamilla View||$260 USD||9.3/10|
|Penthouse in Rehavia||$846 USD||9.8/10|
🛐 Jerusalem itinerary day 1: Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem is a relatively small area, roughly one square kilometer, and is divided into four quarters: The Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter.
There are several gates into the Old City, but the most commonly used by tourists are the Jaffa Gate and the Damascus Gate.
The Jaffa Gate is a more popular spot. Below is a walking route for the Old City, starting at the Jaffa Gate (with map):
👚 This Jerusalem itinerary day 1 is all about visiting religious sites so make sure to cover your shoulders and knees.
Start at the Tower of David Museum
A treasure trove of Jerusalem’s history, the Tower of David Museum is your first stop to understand the city’s rich past.
Don’t miss the night-time light show—it’s an incredible experience. Heads up, the climb to the top is steep, but the panoramic view of the Old City is totally worth it.
The smallest quarter, but with a distinct, serene charm. Enjoy its vibrant ceramic tiles and visit St. James Cathedral, an architectural marvel. Catch the hauntingly beautiful sound of the monks’ prayer!
This enclave has been home to Armenians since as early as the 4th century AD, making it among the oldest Armenian diaspora communities.
It’s rich in the monastic tradition, with St. James Monastery being a center of the Armenian Apostolic faith.
💡 Fun fact: Did you know that the first printed Armenian book was made here in 1512?
Jews have lived here for thousands of years, with interruptions due to wars and sieges. The Quarter you see today was mainly reconstructed after 1967.
You’ll find ruins of homes and synagogues from the Second Temple period, alongside modern-day residences and yeshivas.
Ancient and modern life intertwines here. Wander the narrow streets, take a peek at the many synagogues, and delve into the past at the Burnt House Museum.
The Burnt House Museum showcases a house destroyed during the Roman siege in 70 AD.
You’ve got to try the local pastries!
🫓 Tip: Marzipan Bakery which is popular not only in the Jewish Quarter but across Jerusalem for its rugelach, a chocolate-filled pastry. The bakery is known for these pastries being extremely soft, gooey, and delicious.
The only remaining part of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, it has been a site of Jewish prayer for centuries.
Remarkably, the huge stones you see are not even the foundation of the Temple, but part of the retaining wall for the Temple Mount.
A poignant, powerful site, where thousands of whispered prayers flutter on paper notes crammed between ancient stones.
The Western Wall is considered a holy site by many people, not just Jews, and anyone is welcome to leave a prayer there.
People of all faiths visit the wall and leave written prayers or wishes in the cracks between the stones. This has become a traditional way for individuals, regardless of religious affiliation, to express their hopes, wishes, or prayers.
✨ Tip: The process of placing the prayer in the wall is simple: you write your prayer or wish on a piece of paper, then fold it and push it into a crack in the wall.
The most populous of the four quarters, it became predominantly Muslim in the 12th century after the Crusader period. Its bustling bazaars and vibrant food markets are a constant hum of activity.
Teeming with life, its vibrant bazaars are a feast for the senses. Sample street food, from mouth-watering falafel to sweet baklava.
🍮 Tip: Jafar Sweets is a well-known bakery in the Muslim Quarter known for its baklava, knafeh, and other Middle Eastern sweets. Also, Zalatimo Sweets is another favorite spot known for its mutabbaq, a cheesy, flaky pastry.
This quarter houses around 40 religious buildings of various Christian denominations. It’s home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
Take note of the ancient pilgrim route, the Via Dolorosa, said to mirror Jesus’ path to crucifixion.
Home to the Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sacred ground for Christian pilgrims. Between the profound history, take a moment to enjoy a Turkish coffee in one of the hidden courtyards.
☕ For Turkish coffee, you could try Abu Shukri, which is a restaurant rather than a coffee shop, but it’s quite famous for its hummus and they also serve very good traditional Arabic coffee. Another place to consider is the Austrian Hospice’s Viennese cafe, a tranquil spot within the busy Old City, which serves Austrian coffee and desserts but you can also find Turkish coffee there.
Want a guided tour? Book an Old City tour instead!
I’ve given tips on how to do your Jerusalem itinerary Old City route but if you want a guide who will explain the history of Jerusalem’s Quarters, you can book a tour (from $55 USD)
Damascus Gate Route
If you’re starting from Damascus Gate, you’ll first enter the Muslim Quarter. You can visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock as described above.
You will reach the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter heading south from there. You can proceed west into the Armenian Quarter from the Western Wall and visit St. James Cathedral.
Lastly, walk northwest into the Christian Quarter to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and return to the Damascus Gate through the market streets.
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!
Map of Jerusalem itinerary day 1
🚲 Jerusalem Itinerary Day 2: Life outside the walled city
You’ve had a full day 1 Jerusalem itinerary so let’s take it easy on day 2, shall we?
Start at the New Gate
Start your walk at the New Gate on the northern wall of the Old City and head west towards the Russian Compound, a historic district that now houses government buildings, restaurants, and nightlife.
Explore the Russian Compound and Nahlaot
Spend about an hour exploring this area. From there, walk to Nahlaot, a picturesque neighborhood known for its narrow lanes and charming old-world atmosphere.
Visit Mahane Yehuda Market
From Nahlaot, it’s a short walk to the Mahane Yehuda Market. This is a must-see, bustling market full of vendors selling food, clothes, and more. Grab a bite here, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.
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!
Below are some of my favorite spots in the Machne Yehuda Market:
- Eat here: Crave (American): A kosher street food joint, Crave Gourmet serves street food that will feel new to the palette. Sliders and Reubens, Mexican flavors, and some Korean twists make the diversity of the menu.
- Eat here: Ishtabach (Kurdish): Have you ever tried Kurdish delight? Experience shamburak, a baked meat and potato pastry with small dishes like tahini, pickled carrots, and olives on the side!
- Drink here: Hatch: 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!
- Drink here: Beer Bazaar Jerusalem: 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%!
Stroll down Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Street
Post-lunch, walk down Ben Yehuda Street, a popular pedestrian mall, and continue onto Jaffa Street. You’ll pass shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.
Visit the Jerusalem Great Synagogue
The Jerusalem Great Synagogue is renowned for its stunning architecture, both inside and out. The sanctuary can seat 1,400 people, with a beautiful, tall, stained-glass window depicting the seven days of creation.
The centerpiece is a grandiose, copper-topped ark, where the Torah scrolls are stored. On the ceiling, you’ll see an impressive depiction of the zodiac.
One of the synagogue’s key highlights is the awe-inspiring main sanctuary with its remarkable dome, reaching a height of 24 meters.
The dome is adorned with symbols and verses relevant to the Jewish faith.
Moreover, the building has a library with an extensive collection of Jewish texts, a smaller chapel, and a memorial area for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Remember, as it’s a functioning religious institution, it’s important to respect the rules of the synagogue. Dress modestly, and men should cover their heads.
📸 Tip: Photography may be restricted, especially during services.
Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center
Yad Vashem, established in 1953, is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, located on the western slope of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Its name comes from a Biblical verse and translates to “a monument and a name,” signifying the importance of remembering those who perished.
You can spend around 3-4 hours here, although the time could be longer depending on your pace and level of interest. The museum’s layout guides visitors through the Holocaust from start to finish, using survivor testimonies, personal artifacts, and audio-visual presentations.
Key exhibits include the Hall of Names, dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
The Hall of Remembrance, where ceremonies are held, and the ashes of victims are buried; and the Children’s Memorial, a haunting tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who died during the Holocaust.
The museum complex also includes outdoor monuments, the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews, and a Research Institute with a vast collection of documents from the Holocaust period.
🎟️ Tickets and tours: Admission is FOR FREE but you may have to pay for special exhibits during your visit (if any).
End at the First Station
Head south to end your day at the First Station, a historic train station now converted into a cultural and entertainment hub. It’s a great spot to unwind, with many options for dinner.
Dinner at Adom Restaurant
I went to Adom Restaurant for dinner but I also have visited it during the day. Located at the Finegold courtyard, this restaurant has a wide variety of food and wine – from Israeli’s finest sabich 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 you might need to pre-book a table to have a meal here due to high demand.
🚘 Jerusalem itinerary day 3: day trips
Masada and the Dead Sea Day Trip from Jerusalem
💲 from $111 USD
🕘 9 hours
A visit to Masada offers a glimpse into the lives of Jewish rebels in antiquity, with a powerful story of perseverance. Ascend by cable car to see the ruins of Herod’s Palace and breathtaking views of the desert.
The day ends on a buoyant note at the Dead Sea, where you can float effortlessly on the mineral-rich waters and rejuvenate your skin with the therapeutic mud.
Bethlehem Guided Tour from Jerusalem (Half-Day)
💲 from $50 USD
🕘 3-5 hours
In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, you’ll find the Church of the Nativity, a major Christian pilgrimage site.
The city is brimming with religious history, inviting quiet reflection amidst its ancient stone streets. Nearby, the visually striking graffiti on the West Bank barrier tells a complex modern story.
Bethlehem, Jericho, and Jordan River (Full Day)
💲 from $111 USD
🕘 9 hours
This trio takes you through a tapestry of biblical history, from the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to the ancient city of Jericho, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
Finish at the Jordan River, where it’s believed Jesus was baptized, evoking profound spiritual connections.
Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Jerusalem
💲 from $100 USD
🕘 12 hours
Immerse yourself in the life of Jesus in Nazareth, his hometown, with significant Christian sites like the Basilica of the Annunciation.
The Sea of Galilee, tranquil and steeped in biblical events, offers serene views and spiritual exploration, from the Mount of Beatitudes to Capernaum.
Masada, Ein Gedi and The Dead Sea from Jerusalem
💲 from $69 USD
🕘 8 hours
Discover Masada’s ancient fortress, the Ein Gedi nature reserve with its stunning waterfalls and wildlife, and finish with the unique sensation of floating in the Dead Sea.
This journey offers a combination of history, nature, and relaxation.
Caesarea, Haifa And Akko from Jerusalem
Embark on a journey through diverse cultures and epochs. Marvel at the Roman ruins of Caesarea, enjoy the panoramic views and beautiful Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa, and explore the Crusader fortifications and vibrant markets in the ancient port city of Akko.
Hebron Tour from Jerusalem
Hebron is one of the world’s oldest cities, with roots dating back to the Bronze Age. It’s home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a sacred site to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
A visit here offers a deep historical perspective and a look into the complexities of a city that symbolizes the region’s contested past and present.
✈️ Book this Jerusalem itinerary
Love this Jerusalem itinerary? You can book this trip with me, and we can personalize your itinerary according to how many days you plan to be in Jerusalem! The packages start at $1,500 USD (all-inclusive, with accommodations), and we can modify/add some activities for you.
⁉️ FAQ: 3 days in Jerusalem itinerary
Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She’d like to believe she’s not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.