Like many major cities in the world, things in Jerusalem are not cheap and it is important to plan ahead if you would like to explore Jerusalem on a budget. With good research, visiting Jerusalem on a budget is certainly achievable. There are a huge number of local markets which are ideal for sampling street food at low prices, and the city is perfect for exploring the sites on foot rather than paying for transportation. Due to its rise in backpackers, Jerusalem also has a good hostel scene with lots of affordable accommodation options. The list below will hopefully show you just some of the ways to enjoy Jerusalem on a budget.
Machane Yehuda Market
The best way to travel in Jerusalem on a budget is to shop and eat like a local at the Machane Yehuda Market, which can be visited on your own or on a tour. This market is a landmark in itself and is brimming with local produce, eateries, homeware, clothes, and local art – all at affordable prices.
Also referred to as “the shuk”, Machane Yehuda Market dates back to the Ottoman period when it first opened. The market has since been a hub for local merchants and it has developed into a thriving shopping destination. It is one of the best ways to uncover the culture of the city and to sample a wide range of local dishes. If you need to find affordable gifts then there are plenty of handmade accessories and souvenirs to choose from on Jerusalem’s most popular market.
Free walking Tours in the Old City
There is no better way to explore the city of Jerusalem than by foot. Aside from saving lots of money, you will also see more of what this diverse city has to offer. Most hotels and hostels will have a city map to help you navigate from point A to point B. Another option is to join a free guided walking tour of the city, which can be booked in advance online. Notable sites in the city include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount. Once you are in the Old City it is very easy to walk around and admire the architecture and culture of this historic neighborhood.
Perhaps one of the most important things when planning a trip to Jerusalem will be finding affordable accommodation. As Jerusalem is a popular city, accommodation is in high demand. In order to stick to your budget, try to avoid high-end resorts and boutique hotels. Jerusalem’s hostels are very good quality and offer a friendly, low key place to stay. A particularly notable hostel in Jerusalem is The Post.
This stylish backpacker hostel can easily be mistaken for a hotel with its trendy décor and spacious private rooms. The Post is conveniently located just 200 meters from the Old City and visitors will find public transport just outside. The rooms are clean and comfortable and guests can choose to stay in a shared dorm ($32 per person per night) or a private double room ($103 per night) complete with a bathroom and shower. There are also plenty of other hostels to choose from, each with their own character.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Unfortunately, alcohol in Israel can be quite expensive. Many supermarkets are only permitted to sell alcohol at certain times and alcoholic beverages at bars and restaurants are pricier. The best way to really make your budget stretch further is to cut back on alcohol. This way you will save money that can be spent on entering popular landmarks, joining unique excursions, and sampling local food.
Like alcohol, food can become quite expensive if you are dining in restaurants every evening. An easy way to discover the city’s foodie scene on a budget is to sample its street food. The street food of Jerusalem is just as tasty as the cafes and restaurants. Street food stalls are usually run by local families and boast authentic dishes, sweets, and snacks. Along with the ever so popular Mechane Yehuda Market, other notable street food businesses away from the market include Shlomo Falafel and Ja’afar Sweets, which has remained open for over 60 years.
We’ve also put together an extensive list of things you must do when visiting the Holy City – many of them for free. You can find our Jerusalem bucket list here.