The Jerusalem Bucket List: Best Things to do in the Holy City

Jerusalem is a diverse, spirited and bustling city, which combines both old and new in a multifaceted way. This city encapsulates some of the oldest and most important worldly sites for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It’s also full of little gems scattered all throughout its winding streets that are a must-see for world travelers and locals alike. Here is our Jerusalem bucket list of some must-see, must-dos and must-eats in this incredible city!

First Things First – Where to Eat in Jerusalem?

machneyuda jerusalem best restaurant bucket list
Chef prepares food in famous Machneyuda restaurant

From street eats to fine dining, Jerusalem has developed its culinary offerings to please all palates. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for kosher cuisine or just authentic and vibrant flavors. Jerusalem has an endless list of options to please. The growing scene has developed over the years and you will certainly not be disappointed! Here are a few fine-dining restaurant recommendations:

  • Machneyuda – Beit Ya’akov St 10, Jerusalem – One of Jerusalem’s most coveted eating experiences – be sure to make a reservation!
  • Seoul House – Chabad St 34, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem Old City – Authentic (Kosher) Korean cuisine
  • Lavan Restaurant – 11 Hebron Road | Inside the Cinematheque, Jerusalem – try their pizzas!
  • Luciana – 8 Mamilla, Jerusalem – Upmarket Mediterranean restaurant overlooking the Old City walls

Street Eats – Market Finds

jerusalem bucket list falafel street food

The restaurants mentioned above will offer a wonderful dining experience. But there is also something to be said for quick bites you can grab while out exploring. And, in the on-the-go city of Jerusalem, it’s certainly a more authentic eating experience. You can sit in a nearby park, a busy hummus joint, or even a bench to do some people watching while enjoying these delicious eats who belong on any Jerusalem bucket list:

  • HaHummus Shel Tchina – Jerusalem Nissim Bachar 23, Jerusalem – hipster vibe and tasty hummus
  • Akramawi – Nevi’im 2 – Old City, Jerusalem – authentic hummus in the Old City
  • Aricha Sabich – Machaneh Yehudah 83 15, Agripas, Jerusalem – the best sabich in town inside Machane Yehuda market
  • Urbun Cafe – Rehov Ha-Shikma 5, Jerusalem – amazing American-style cinnamon rolls
  • Ja’afar Sweet Ja’afar Sweets – Khan Al-Zeit Street-Old city, Jerusalem – for anyone with a sweet tooth

The area around the Mahane Yehuda Market offers some great spots that you should visit if you love authentic food experiences:

  • Ishtabach – specialty: shamburek, a Kurdish-Syrian pastry with tasty fillings
  • Pizza Flora – the best Italian pizza in town
  • Azura – a real institution in the shuk, open since 1952
  • Manou Ba Shouk – tastes like your Middle Eastern grandma’s home-cooked food
  • Mousseline – the best spot to indulge in some ice cream for dessert

Don’t miss out on some of the best finds in the market! Our Jerusalem Highlights Walking Tour brings you to the bustling Machane Yehuda for a taste sensation. For a more in-depth exploration of Israel’s favorite Shuk, Join the Machane Yehuda Market Tour to discover the must-eat foods in the market; where to find the tastiest falafel and hummus, shawarma, and freshest spices to buy. The Machane Yehuda Market Tour & Cooking Workshop combines the market tour with a cooking workshop by a local chef.

Get Lost in the Old City

One of the things to do in Jerusalem: Visiting the Old City

Exploring in the Old City is one of the things you absolutely must do in Jerusalem. In fact, no Jerusalem bucket list is complete without seeing the most important landmarks in Christianity and Judaism. You can visit the Church of the Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, and Western Wall, as the modern city outside the walls on this Jerusalem Walking Tour. Or why not make a day out of landmark-hopping? Pair your Old City morning with an afternoon at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem as well as the Dead Sea, on our Jerusalem, Dead Sea, and Bethlehem Tour.

While you stroll through the Old City, pick up a pair of handmade leather sandals, or a gorgeous ceramic bowl. These along with spices, candies, trinkets, and sweets are all worth purchasing from the Old City market. After taking a guided tour (because we don’t want you to get too lost), to have a real Jerusalem experience, return to the Old City on your own to truly get lost in its winding alleys.

Explore Beautiful Jerusalem Neighborhoods

Ein Karem historic neighborhood at the edge of Jerusalem

While there is no shortage of famous and historical sites to visit, there are always a few extra things to see in Jerusalem, that belong on our bucket list as well:

  • Explore the Nachalat Shiva neighborhood sprinkled with many bars, cafes, and galleries, which connects to Downtown Jerusalem
  • Tour the lesser-known neighborhoods of Jerusalem with our Hidden Gems Tour, highlighting areas like ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim or enchanting Nachlaot
  • Check out the ultra cool Rehavia and it’s main thoroughfare of hipster coffee shops and bars, Aza street
  • Be sure to stroll through Ein Karem, a charming old neighborhood tucked at the bottom of the Jerusalem Hills, and a totally different vibe from the Old City
  • Relax in Emek Refaim street, in the German colony, with its array of cute shops, cafes, bakeries and some great ice cream
  • Gain exclusive insight from our 3 Day Insider’s Jerusalem City Tour, where you’ll be enlightened by art, archeology and remarkable culture in the City of Gold

So Extra!

travelers relaxing old city jerusalem bucket list things to do
Travelers relaxing outside the Old City walls after a long day of sightseeing

While you spend your days weaving in and out of the Old City and visiting the many sites Jerusalem has to offer, there’s always the option to take a break from the sightseeing and take note of a few alternative bucket list spots that locals truly love:

  • Take a rest in Gan Sacher or the park around Monastery of the Cross with its beautiful olive trees and many hidden pathways
  • Visit the Israeli Supreme Court, a marvel of architecture
  • Find yourself in Wohl Rose Garden, a gorgeously maintained floral display which can be found behind Sacher Park, in the government quarter.
  • For concerts and local happenings, check out HaMiffal – an art and cultural center with a unique vibe and a very special atmosphere.

Weekend Vibes

The picturesque Yemin Moshe neighborhood

Experiencing the Holy City on the weekend during Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening) is a special experience that can’t be compared to a weekend in any other place in the country. Be sure to make purchases before everything closes in the early afternoon on Friday. Our suggestions for things to do in Jerusalem on a weekend include:

  • On Friday mornings, go visit the Bezalel Street Fair. With handmade gifts and products crafted from over 120 artists, you won’t be disappointed!
  • Take a weekend stroll: You will watch the streets full of energy in the morning go quiet by late afternoon as Shabbat begins. The city will become relaxed and feel almost magical as stores close and everyone takes a break for Shabbat. Insider’s tip: one of the most beautiul neighborhoods to explore by foot on Shabbat is Yemin Moshe, pictured above.
  • On Saturday night, after a quiet and restful weekend, Machane Yehuda comes back to life, and becomes a nightlife extravaganza!

Escape the City

Floating in the nearby Dead Sea

As captivating as Jerusalem is – the city is also a great base to explore the surrounding areas. Take a break from the sites and the noise of city life, and take a tour to Masada, Ein Gedi, and the Dead Sea with pickup and drop off from Jerusalem. Or explore the stunning North of Israel – the lush Galilee.

Whether you’re taking in the historical sites or the new and innovative parts of the city, we are sure you will have no trouble filling your days while visiting Jerusalem, especially now that you’ve read our Jerusalem bucket list.

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