The living home of the world’s three major religions, Jerusalem is also a vibrant city for outdoor sightseeing. Stroll along pedestrian walkways and streets lined with Ottoman architecture, past lively sidewalk restaurants, street vendors and outdoor markets. From the ancient Old City to the original City of David, Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli West, you’ll discover a captivating mix of ancient and modern.
Day 1: The Old City
Settled 6,000 years ago, the City of David is one big archaeological site running south of Temple Mount. King David built his palace here, and Jesus and his disciples shared the Last Supper at a site nearby. The Old City is north of the City of David, and it’s here that you’ll get a shiver down the backbone as you walk through history. Old City highlights include the David Street souk for bargaining, the open-air market surrounding Damascus Gate in the Muslim Quarter, the preserved Roman and Byzantine road in the Jewish Quarter, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Day 2: Jerusalem’s Museums
With so much history and so many faiths, Jerusalem has more than five dozen museums and hundreds of historic sites to explore. Admire swirls of calligraphy at the institute for Islamic Art, the archeological discoveries of the British Mandate at the Rockefeller Museum, and imagine how life was lived in the days of Jesus at the Wohl Archaeological Museum. There are several moving museums devoted to the holocaust at Yad Vashem, and the wonderful Israel Museum combines art and archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls and a fascinating model of old Jerusalem.
Day 3: Biblical Day Trips
Many visitors to Israel make the pilgrimage to Bethlehem to visit the birthplace of Jesus, only 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Jerusalem. The Church of the Nativity is the focus, built on Manger Square over the grotto where Jesus was born. The parables and gospels come to life on a day trip to the Sea of Galilee, with its historic town of Tiberias. The tour also visits Nazareth in Israel’s north, the childhood home of Jesus and site of the Greek Church of the Annunciation.