Whether you’re looking for history, culture or relaxation, there are plenty of things to do this weekend in Jerusalem that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired. During the week, Jerusalem can be crowded with tourists, locals, and religious pilgrims coming to explore. But on weekends, Jerusalem gets quieter, allowing you to take in your surroundings as you wander down its ancient streets. The holy city is a great addition to your Israel itinerary, enhancing your adventure with rich culture and immersive experiences.
Weekends in Jerusalem are the perfect time to explore the various attractions this historic city offers. See sites in the Old City or discover the vibrant Machane Yehuda marketplace. Here are some of the best things to do this weekend in Jerusalem.
Last Updated October 1, 2023
Have you always wanted to get an early start to your weekend? If so, Israel is the perfect place for you. Weekends in Israel begin Thursday evening and end Saturday (Shabbat) night. If you’d like to kickstart your weekend with an amazing experience, join this morning walking tour of the Old City on Thursday. You’ll be amazed at four holy quarters – Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian – and their great sites.
The rest of your Thursday can be spent exploring the city’s vibrant food and coffee scene. If you were wondering where to eat in Jerusalem, Machane Yehuda Market is a true Israeli foodie paradise. Here, you will find all kinds of fresh produce, spices, sweets, and many restaurants serving traditional Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, falafel, and Israeli shakshuka (eggs poached in tomato sauce). The market’s colorful stalls and lively atmosphere will only enhance your culinary experience.
Shabbat – the Jewish day of rest – begins when the sun sets on Friday and lasts through Saturday night. This means that if you leave the city during the day and return after sundown, there will be no public transportation available and most restaurants will be closed. Therefore, it’s probably best to stick to the city for your Friday plans. Don’t fret, your Israel weekend itinerary can still be jam-packed with adventures.
There are plenty of tours that run on Fridays, like our Jerusalem and Bethlehem Tour, which will take you to the captivating sites of these two treasured cities. If you’re interested in the Biblical stories of Jesus, this is the perfect way to spend your day, complete with stops in Jerusalem’s Old City and the Church of the Nativity. For a more adventurous journey, explore the brilliant Dead Sea in addition to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
If a relaxing Friday sounds more your speed, you can take a half-day tour instead, leaving the rest of your time to simply relax or wander the bustling streets at your own pace. Visit the Mount of Olives, Zion Gate, Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You can also return to Machane Yehuda Market or explore the spirited environment as residents prepare for Shabbat, and taste great flavors from different vendors.
On Friday night, Jerusalem settles into Shabbat. You may wonder, “What time does Shabbat in Jerusalem start?” As many Jewish holidays begin at sundown, and Shabbat is no different. It starts on Friday just before sundown and ends approximately one hour after sundown on Saturday.
There is a unique atmosphere in Jerusalem on Friday nights as people from different religious backgrounds gather to celebrate Shabbat together. If you are looking for a more spiritual experience, there are many synagogues around town offering prayer services. Or you can join one of the outdoor concerts that take place on Fridays throughout Jerusalem’s historical sites such as Mount Zion or Western Wall Plaza.
Again, it’s important to note that, because of Shabbat, many businesses and restaurants will be closed and public transportation will not be available. This makes Friday night the perfect opportunity for a stroll through the city or a quiet night at your hotel. Alternatively, join this 5 Day Christian Holy Land Package Tour that’s available over the weekend. Begin in Jerusalem, ascend to the gorgeous Galilee region, and marvel at the Dead Sea, Jordan River, and more.
Saturday / Shabbat
It’s important to remember that Saturdays are the Jewish day of rest; Shabbat. A day of rest means most places are closed for business and there is no public transportation. However, there are still plenty of things to do and see in Jerusalem on Shabbat, like attending services at one of Jerusalem’s many synagogues. This can be an incredibly moving experience and gives visitors a chance to learn more about local customs and traditions while also honoring their faith. If you are uneasy about feeling intrusive at a Jewish Shabbat service, you can always take Saturday as a day to explore Christian sites outside of Jerusalem. The Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Annunciation, and Capernaum are some great spots featured on this tour that will help you get a feel for the city’s Christian heritage and understand why this is also a Christian holy land.
Sundays may be a regular part of your weekend, but for citizens of Jerusalem, it’s the start of the workweek. However, this benefits your Israel itinerary because most places will be open and less busy with locals. This makes Sunday a great day to explore some of the city’s many museums. The Israel Museum and Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum are must-see attractions that offer visitors an insight into the city’s incredible past.
If you’re looking for something more laid back on Sunday, why not stroll along Ben Yehuda Street or Emek Refaim Street? These popular walkways have plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy some delicious Israeli cuisine while soaking up the atmosphere. Sunday is also the best day for bargain hunting. Jerusalem’s many open-air markets will be bustling with activity, and you’ll find plenty of unique souvenirs to take home.
Things to Remember When Visiting Jerusalem this Weekend
No matter what you decide to do this weekend in Jerusalem, it’s important to remember that this is a holy city for many and should be respected. When visiting religious sites or Jewish neighborhoods, dress modestly and avoid loud noises.
Be mindful that some places may be closed due to religious observances like Shabbat or any holiday pertaining to Abrahamic faith that Jerusalem may celebrate.
Most of the sites found on a Jerusalem bucket list are located in the Old City, which is why it’s recommended that you visit there most of your days in Jerusalem. If you join a guided tour, you can learn more about the city’s history and significance, but here are some of the highlights of what to do in Jerusalem:
- The Western/Wailing Wall (Kotel): The holiest site in Judaism; a wall of prayers and hopes for the future.
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre: A historic Christian site believed to be where Jesus was buried and resurrected.
- Mount Zion: Visit King David’s Tomb, Room of the Last Supper, or simply take in stunning views of Jerusalem from one of its terraces.
- Al Aqsa Mosque & Dome Of The Rock: Two important Islamic sites located on the Temple Mount.
- The Old City Walls: A great way to learn about the city’s past and appreciate its beauty from a different perspective.
No matter what you choose to do, weekends in Jerusalem are always a memorable experience full of culture and history. The city has something for everyone, and it is a great place to explore on your own or with a guide. So why not plan your next weekend in Jerusalem and take the time to appreciate this incredible city?
Special Events This Weekend
Every week in Israel there are new cultural events, festivals, and holidays to experience. Check out what’s going on in Israel throughout October, and subscribe to our newsletter below to find out about new things to do every weekend in Israel.