From ancient temples to markets and landmark museums, Jerusalem invites travelers to explore the past, sample local cuisine, and discover traditional culture. Since key sites are found in the compact center, you can cover the essentials with just one day in the city. Here’s how.
The historic center of Jerusalem is like a city within a city, and the area within the walls is packed with destinations. Start the day by entering Old City Jerusalem through one of its landmark gates, then make your way to the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Tower of David Museum. Since every stop is deeply layered with history, join a guided tour that delves into the stories behind each place; choose between general-interest excursions and trips that focus on the Old City’s religious heritage, underground passageways, or traditional neighborhoods.
After a light lunch in one of the many Old City cafés—save your big meal of the day for Mahane Yehuda Market—go outside the historic center to check out one of the city’s world-class museums. The Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum is a deeply personal take on the lives of victims of the Holocaust, while the Israel Museum goes from ancient archaeology to modern-art installations. Book tickets online to save time when you get there, or opt for a tour that helps unlock the stories behind the museum exhibits.
Hundreds of vendors gather in the landmark Mahane Yehuda Market, which combines a neighborhood shopping spot, tourist destination, and foodie heaven under its peaked roof. With so much to try, avoid filling up in one place. Instead, taste your way through the market on a guided food tour, or snag the Mahane Yehuda “Bite Card,” which is good for samples at a long list of stops. Cafés stay open late, but if you’re hoping to visit the many fresh-food vendors, plan to arrive early in the evening for a wider selection.