The Jerusalem nightlife scene is a source of surprise for many visitors to the city, including many Israelis. Whilst Tel Aviv is termed the ‘city that never sleeps’, Jerusalem is too often written off for it’s nightlife, but this is a mistake. Jerusalem is a city of big contrasts, and the city’s secular population, combined with a large student population, mean that there are a great array of bars, clubs, and other nightlife destinations in the city, many of which are totally unique in their character.
Jerusalem Nightlife Hotspots
Jerusalem’s Old City is almost totally closed up at night, and apart from festival days or the few times a year when there are cultural events festivals in the evenings (such as the Light Festival in Spring and Knights Festival in Autumn), little excitement can be found after dark (although it is a unique experience to take a walk through the empty nighttime alleyways).
Jerusalem’s Nightlife scene is centered around the modern City Center, in the streets off Jaffa Street, roughly from Zion Square, extending out towards the Machane Yehuda Market (walking time between these two points is around 10 minutes).
Nightlife in Jerusalem ‘City Center’
In the narrow streets around Zion Square are some of the city’s most characterful bars built in old Jerusalem stone buildings that completely conflict with any architects ideals for building a modern bar. Among these are ‘The Little Pinkas’ (14 Rivlin Street) a popular bar set in a unique building with great diverse live music events. ‘The Sira’ (literally ‘The Ship’, 4 Ben Sira Street) a dance bar like no other and popular hipster hangout. Also worth checking out are the ‘4:20’ (5 Itzhak Elishar) and ‘The Taklit’ (literally ‘The Record’, 7 Heleni Hamalka).
This area of the city center also has its share of more mainstream bars and clubs, similar to those you might find elsewhere. Among the most popular are the ‘Toy Bar’ (6 Du Nawas Street) and ‘Oliver Twist’ (59 Haneviim Street).
Nightlife in the Machane Yehuda Market
Moving away from the Old City, the Machane Yehuda Market has transformed in recent years from a place that shut up in the evenings, into a hot nightlife spot, with a handful of popular bars. This is another uniquely Jerusalem nightlife setting, and gives Jerusalem its 24 hour response to Tel Aviv (the market which opens early in the morning with fresh produce, transforms in the night to a hotspot). The bars here share the same backdrop, and in some situations, even flow from one into another, so the specific bar is less important. Nonetheless, some of the more popular bars in Machane Yehuda are ‘Casino de Paris’ (Machane Yehuda Street), the ‘Shuka’ (17 HaEgoz), ‘Que Pasa’ (12 HaEgoz), ‘Fifth of May’ (56 Etz HaChaim Street). Just outside the market on the far side is the popular bar ‘HaSchena’ (literally ‘The Neighbor’, 11 Beit Yaacov Street).
Exploring the Jerusalem Nightlife
As in any city, Jerusalem’s nightlife scene changes from day to day, and the only way to explore is to go to a few bars and find the one that has the best atmosphere on the day. There is a weekly bar tour every Wednesday evening, which is a great introduction to the Jerusalem nightlife scene for those who are new to the city. It’s also worth mentioning that the bar at the Post Hostel can be a great place to start an evening if you want to meet other travelers to explore with.