Israel's capital city is famous for its 3,000 years of history and its diverse cultural profile. The city is a melting pot of people from all over the world making it an inspiring, fascinating, and impressive place to visit. Nothing in Jerusalem is exactly what it seems. One minute you can be in an ancient religious shrine or an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and only a few minutes down the street you will find the trendiest tapas bars or hipster hangouts.
When to Go
The best times to visit Jerusalem are April through May and October through November, when the weather is mild and the crowds are thin. However, make sure to cross-check your travel dates with major Jewish/ Christian celebrations such as the High Holy Day and Passover. Spring and fall in Jerusalem are the most pleasant; just bring a light jacket because the evenings can be cool. Springtime in Jerusalem, and in Israel in general, can be one of the most beautiful times of the year as the flowers are in full bloom and blanket the surrounding hillsides.
The cultural calendar of Jerusalem is packed throughout the year. Fall brings The Sacred Music Festival, which brings together musicians from all over the world, and the International Open House Festival, when visitors can explore the city's iconic structures while hearing stories from experts and residents who are passionate to share the history of their buildings. In November, the city hosts Open Restaurants, a four-day culinary festival. Summer brings the annual Light Festival, which illuminates the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City; both The International Film Festival and the annual Beer Festival and Wine Festivals in July; and finally, the summer concludes with the annual International Jerusalem Arts and Crafts Fair.
What to Eat
Interestingly, while Israel is a country that is primarily desert, somehow it manages to produce some of the most succulent fruits and veggies (often organic) ever made. Just a few not-to-be-missed mainstays you'll find throughout the city are falafel, hummus, sabich (trust us), olives, halvah, chopped veggie salads, local fish from the Jordan River, fresh-squeezed fruit juices, fabulous breads, and a variety of honey filo-dough desserts. Tasting your way through Jerusalem starts in the heart of the city, the Machane Yehuda market, or shuk. The world famous market has been around since the 19th century and has since evolved into one of the trendiest food scenes in Israel.
Souvenir to Take Home
After tasting your way through Jerusalem, you'll definitely want to bring something home to remember your visit. Jerusalem runs on hummus and tahini. These delicious Middle Eastern dips taste vastly different from what you can get at your local supermarket. If you're scared that these dips may leak, go for the halva a sweet snack also made from sesame seeds. Since 1964, the Israeli national snack has been Bamba. It's a peanut flavored snack that simply melts in your mouth. Be careful, you won't be able to eat just one. For the fashion lovers among us, bring home a traditional Hamsa (amulet).
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
While Jerusalem is a large city that spans many miles, a majority of the tourist attractions are within walking distance of the city center and can be enjoyed by foot, bike or Segway.
Jerusalem is a city of inspiration. Every picture is a postcard. Of all the Instagram-worthy locations in the city, the top three are sunrise over the city's ancient walls, watching the sunset over the Haas Promenade, and the Machane Yehuda Market on Friday afternoon.