City Guide: Exploring Jerusalem, Israel

I was really excited when we booked our trip to Israel and the first hotel in Jerusalem. With about 850,000 inhabitants, the city is very large and has many other attractions in addition to its famous Old Town with those four religious quarters.


arrival, parking & accomodation in jerusalem

We arrived in Jerusalem on a sunday afternoon. Driving into the city center was a bit of a hassle, but Chris managed to drive us to to the parking area safe and sound. Since we were not able to use the internet on our phones without wifi, I researched a safe parking possibility beforehand. You enter the parking area from a small street - but make sure not to drive into the parking garage on your right side, which closes during night time. The one you wanna enter is in the left side and it is an open air parking area.




OPEN 24 / 7



We booked the Ben Hillel Boutique Hotel, which is located in downtown Jerusalem. Although we booked our hotels early, it was difficult in the capital city, as we found either great luxury hotels or run down hostels, but nothing nice in the middle. The Ben Hillel Boutique Hotel was the only one that was reasonably priced. The rooms were relatively small and sparsely decorated, but it was ok. Unfortunately, the bathroom was not very clean. Next time we would rather try another hotel, but we did had an affordable room with a private bath, which was fantastic.





Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants City Guide Exploring Jerusalem Pinterest

breakfast in jerusalem

Our day in Jerusalem started with a breakfast at the Mahane Yehuda Market, a food market downtown near our hotel. We were thrilled with the variety and freshness of everything they offered: fresh fruits ad vegetables, sweets, pastries, meat and so much more. Our favorite was the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, which we started drinking regularly from now on. As we did sneak into the market the evening before (when we arrived), we did already know what to eat: In addition to a pomegranate juice, we had malawach, a wrap with fillings of your choice. As the market is very nice to visit, make sure to walk along the stalls for a while.


Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Mahane Yehuda market Halva food
Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Mahane Yehuda market food pastries delicious

sightseeing in jerusalem

For today, the Old City of Jerusalem was on the program. Before we made a free walking tour through the old town, we used the time to explore the market in the Muslim district: it had everything your heart desires, from porcelain to sweets and souvenirs. We joined the Free Walking Tour with Joni, a nice young Israeli man. The first thing he tried to teach us, where the words Yalla for Let’s go and Sabada for Everything Alright. His tour takes us through the Armenian, the Jewish, the Muslim and the Christian quarters. Even though we could see most sights only from the outside, we did enjoy the tour a lot and we learned many things about Israel, Jerusalem and Jews.


Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Temple mount Western Wall Dome of the rock


After the tour was over, Chris and I started looking for a nice restaurant. First we walked to the Austrian Hospice, an Austrian hotel with excellent views from the roof terrace. As they host a café, we thought of eating there, however it was crowded as hell and not very nice. Instead, we preferred the restaurant Abu Shukri, which according to my guidebook, was supposed to prepare the best hummus of Israel. Very close to the Austrian Hospice we did find the restaurant. Not very beautiful, but traditional and authentic: We have tourists as well as Israelis sitting next to us. If you find no place at first glance, you can go through to the counter and look into their additional room. Whether it was the best hummus or not, we liked it a lot.






Before we walked back towards Jaffa Gate, we walked along Via Dolorosa, the street where Jesus walked during his crusade, and looked at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In addition to the anointing stone, the tomb of Jesus can also be found here. Both stops were interesting, but also very weird to see.


Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Via Dolorosa Jesus
Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants church of the holy sepulchre


On our way back to the Jaffa gate to do the Ramparts Walk, we strolled along the market in the Muslim quarter. The Ramparts Walk runs atop of the city wall all they way over to the Damascus Gate. We manage to get through the entrance gate just in time before 4pm and were allowed to stay as long as we wanted. We enjoyed strolling along the entire path and took some great pictures.


Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Ramparts walk view dome of the rock

dinner in jerusalem

After a short break in the hotel, it was time to go back to the market for dinner. We find a table in the restaurant Yudale, a modern bistro with local cuisine. The food is different, but very good. Opposite is the famous Machnehuda restaurant, unfortunately you have to book a table in advance. We had no luck the day before. But since many small restaurants have settled around the Machne Yahuda market, everyone should find something here.


additional day: temple mount in jerusalem

The alarm rang very early, because an important sight was still on the program: The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. At seven o'clock in the morning we took the train to the old town and after a short walk we were arrived at the entrance gate. We were totally happy that we were almost the only ones and there was no queue. After a short security check and a bag check we walked in. Covered with my pashmina, we walked patiently towards the Western Wall. Chris and I had to separate see either women’s or men’s area. I'm fascinated by the people who kneel down in front of the wall or bow to God. For a while we enjoy the atmosphere. Then we wanted to continue to the Dome of the Rock. Unfortunately, we had to realize that there is a very different entrance for that… Although we asked for directions to the temple mount, we entered at the wrong entrance.


Since I was particularly interested in the Western Wall, I was ok with not visiting the Dome of the Rock. A taxi took us to the market where we wanted to have breakfast again. In addition to a whole bottle of pomegranate juice and some fruit, we also bought delicious pastries before heading to the Dead Sea today.

Jerusalem Israel ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Western Wall


If you are visiting Jerusalem, make sure to stay at least three days. We visited for only one day and we missed out on so much that we would have liked to see: Temple Mount, the Holocaust museum, the Davidson Center, Mount of Olives, the Skopus observation deck, the Ancient Jerusalem Sifting Project to find ancient artifacts by yourself, the Jerusalem Cinematheque and all those wonderful neighborhoods, like the finish neighborhood and the one where all the orthodox Jews live.... Plan enough time to see as much as possible!


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To find out more sights to explore in Jerusalem, you might wanna check out Rebecca's post about 29 Things to do in Jerusalem. For more information about what kind of food you need to try during your visit in the holy city, head over to Jillian's post about the Top 10 Things you must eat in Jerusalem.


What about you?

Have you visited the beautiful city of Jerusalem? How did you like it and what interested you the most? Do you have any suggestions for future traveller and tourists? Let me know about what other things you did there as the one day we stayed was just not enough...