“You’re shaking … so am I. It’s because of Jerusalem, isn’t it?
One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries.” – Elie Wiesel.
An enigmatic city that often gets misunderstood and misrepresented, but offers so much reward for those who dare to visit themselves.
After visiting the city for what was probably the fifth time, I realised that I never knew what this city was about and I’m almost embarrassed at how little appreciation I had for it.
I discovered that Jerusalem is one of the most enigmatic cities in the world and has so much to offer, but because of its famous history, importance in three of the major religions and reputation in the media, it often gets overlooked.
The truth is, Jerusalem is a very happening city with great nightlife, a lively art scene, modern public transport and a satisfying food scene.
Seriously, you won’t get enough of the hummus and falafel.
So even if you’re not a history buff or religion isn’t that important to you, Jerusalem is very deserving of a visit.
If you’re contemplating visiting, here is a sample itinerary for 5 days in Jerusalem with lots of fun activities that I got to experience myself.
Read More – What The Media Doesn’t Tell You About Jerusalem
9:00 – After heading into Jerusalem the night before, wake up ready to explore the old city. Learn about the vast & significant history that Jerusalem is known for and see why the old city is important to 3 of the major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity. You can join a guided tour group starting from Jaffa Gate or wander between the quarters on your own, but must-see religious sites are the Western Wall, Qubbat al-Sakrah (Dome of the Rock) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Observe the ongoings in each of the quarters and marvel at the many lives this city has lived.
13:00 – After a great morning soaking in the impressive history of the old city, it’s now time to rest your feet and fill your bellies. Head back to Jaffa Gate and find yourself a spot to eat some delicious Israeli cuisine. I recommend eating at Tala (which you can reach by turning left from Jaffa Gate) because the hummus was delightful and of good value. I also recommend you to browse the souvenir shops that are only a few feet away. They have a wide range of Jerusalem mementos that are worth a look and who says you can’t shop for souvenirs on the first day.
15:00 – Once you’ve reloaded on energy, head to the Peace Forest to start your segway tour of the City of David*. The City of David is an archaeological site which has revealed a lot of knowledge on Ancient Israel and the beginning of Jerusalem. The tour will allow you to learn about Ancient Israel over the course of two hours, all while enjoying the beautiful views from your segway.
11:00 – You had a very full first day yesterday so let yourself snooze for a little longer, before you head back to the Shuk Machane Yehuda. The Machane Yehuda Market is a huge market with over 250 vendors, and a personal favourite of mine. Wander around the market, indulging in the sights and smells, or if you want to have a truly fun and memorable experience – participate in a Shuk Dash. Shuk Dash is a competitive tour game where teams race to complete as many Machane Yehuda Market related missions as they can before the time is complete. With the help of a mission booklet, complete missions such as ‘Find the most unique flavored Halva’ and ‘Find a vendor who is originally from Yemen, Morocco or Greece’ and lose yourself in the excitement of this bustling market.
13:00 – Once you’re done with your exciting escapade at Machane Yehuda, stick around and eat some lunch at the Shuk. As you have already seen from this morning and yesterday night, Shuk Machane Yehuda not only has stalls and vendors selling their freshest produce, but also plenty of high quality cafes and restaurants. You are spoiled for choice with where to eat in the shuk so follow your nose and take your pick.
15:00 – After enjoying a delicious lunch at Machane Yehuda, take the light rail to explore the art scene at Mamilla. Mamilla was one of the first neighbourhoods of the new city of Jerusalem, branching right off the Old City and is home to some of the most exciting pursuits of art in the city. Float between the different workshops in The Artists Coloney, where you can receive private showings of work made by painters, jewellers, blacksmiths etc. in their own workshop, and pay a visit to HaMiffal (The Factory), where you can see local artists work on projects in the communal space. Discover the thrilling creations of this unknown art scene.
8:00 – Wake up early and prepare some sandwiches, because today you’re going on a day trip to the Dead Sea and Masada. While a tiny country, Israel has some impressive natural attractions with many of them located near Jerusalem. Masada is a national park located in the heart of the desert and home to many important historic events. Take a bus from the city to enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the desert. Then head off to the Dead Sea, which is famous worldwide for being the lowest point on Earth and for having incredible healing properties. Give yourself a full-body mud mask, float in the sea and allow for the wonder of the Dead Sea to do it’s magic. If you want to have the logistics taken care of for you, consider joining a guided tour*. Go back to your accommodation and plop on your bed feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
11:00 – After a long and fun day of seeing a couple of Israel’s natural wonders, wake up after a deep and restful sleep because you’ll need to be emotionally prepared for your visit to the Yad Vashem Museum today. Yad Vashem is the museum that tells the stories of the 6,000,000 Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War 2. What their lives were like in the various concentration camps, different methods of murder and torture and a painful depiction of the brutal cruelty that the people had to endure. This is not going to be an easy tour but it will be one that will enrich your knowledge and allow you to understand the history better.
20:30 – After having taken some time to process the morning and having rested at your accommodation, gussy up so you can go out and experience some of Jerusalem’s nightlife. But don’t worry if you’re not a fan of the party scene or in the mood for dancing. Instead, make your way to the Shuk Machane Yehuda and experience the nightlife there by participating in a self-guided food tour! Using the BiteMojo app, walk around the shuk trying out all sorts of different sample meals and drinks and while learning about the stories of the people and places responsible for the meals you’re sampling. Enjoy an alternative way to enjoy some nightlife while indulging your inner foodie.
9:00 – This is your last day so take your time getting ready and savor the moments of your last morning in Jerusalem. Swim in the hotel pool, chat with your AirBnB host or even document your thoughts and feelings from your trip in your journal. Take this time to reflect on your experience and be in the present moment.
14:00 – After eating lunch wherever took your fancy, head over to the Tower of David Museum to explore the history of Jerusalem even further. The Tower of David Museum tells the story of Jerusalem from the beginning until the State of Israel was founded. Explore the different exhibitions depicting its story and the events that occurred throughout many different timer periods.
19:00 – Stick around until the evening so that you can watch the Tower of David Night Spectacular. The Night Spectacular is a visual arts show that depicts the story of Jerusalem using detailed graphics, moving music and state of the art technology. Take a stroll through the cleverly lit Citadel before you take your seat and enjoy the impressive and mesmerising show as you wrap up your experience in Jerusalem.
- While Jerusalem is actually a lot more metropolitan and modern than many people think, it doesn’t have the reputation of being a religious city for no reason. When exploring religious areas such as the Old City, make sure to cover your shoulders and dress respectfully.
- The major religion in Israel is Judaism and according to the religion, Saturday is the day of rest. Which means that starting from Friday evening to Saturday evening, there is little to no public transportation. Take the lack of public transportation on Saturdays into consideration when planning your trip.
- If you’re staying for a longer period of time, I highly recommend you use a RavKav card for public transportation. The RavKav card is a smart travel card that allows you to use the Jerusalem Light Rail and Egged buses and can be issued at the Jerusalem Central Station without needing to provide personal identification. Always make sure to use your RavKav because your card will likely get checked en route.
- Use sunscreen & drink plenty of water. Israel is a very hot and sunny country and Jerusalem & the surrounding areas is no different. Put on sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids to make sure you don’t get burnt or dehydrated.
- When sitting in a restaurant for a meal, ask for water from the tap. The water is drinkable and free so take advantage of this to stay hydrated and cut costs.
In all honesty, there are so many ways that you can experience this city and there are so many things to do there, that you could spend even longer than just 5 days in Jerusalem.
If you want to read more about Jerusalem, I recommend reading these posts:
- Israel Travel Secrets – The Insider’s Guide To The Ultimate Jerusalem Travel Experience
- Piccavey – 21 Tips For A Trip To A Jerusalem
Have you ever spent around 5 days in Jerusalem? If not, what would you like to do there? Feel free to comment below!
Be Brave & Be Kind,
*This wasn’t an excursion that I was fortunate to try myself but I’d like to. I have heard many great things about the experience and therefore included it in this post for the chance that maybe you’d be interested. I’m not getting paid to include it (or anything in this post for that matter) and if I was, I’d a) try it out for myself first and b) let you know I’m getting paid.