Photograph by Gary Cralle, Getty Images
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Lights illuminate the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

Photograph by Gary Cralle, Getty Images

Discover the Best of Jerusalem

See the top ten things to do in Jerusalem.

Wildlife

Gazelle Valley (Emek Hatzva'im) is located just outside of Jerusalem's City Center. The park consists of 250 acres where wild gazelles roam freely, along with five ponds, two streams, natural growing vegetation, and a handful of posts for visitors to observe the wildlife in their natural home. The park stands as a natural oasis and a public wildlife reserve.

National Park

Jerusalem is the first city in Israel to be encompassed by green parks as part of the plan to improve the city's quality of life and to protect its natural surroundings. The Jerusalem Ring is a new metropolitan park that extends more than 3,700 acres, surrounding the capital to the north, west, and south. Arazim Valley Park includes some of the most impressive natural beauty to be found in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

Archeological Site

Jerusalem's history spans more than 3,000 years—the city is brimming with archeology, with new artifacts being discovered on a daily basis. The top five archeological sites of Jerusalem include the City of David, Jerusalem Archeological Park, Western Wall Tunnels, The Burnt House and the Temple Mount Sifting Project, an active site, which allows tourists to roll up their sleeves and sift through generations of history.

UNESCO Site

As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance. In 1981, UNESCO recognized the Old City of Jerusalem by virtue of its outstanding cultural value as an official site. Within the one square meter walled area, the Old City of Jerusalem is home to 220 historic monuments, among them the three most iconic sites including the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the the Dome of the Rock.

Cultural Experience

While home to three religions, a Friday evening service at the Western Wall is unique to Jerusalem. Seeing tens of thousands of people visiting the wall to welcome the Sabbath, with the sun setting in the background, is simple a cultural experience.

Best Day Trip

Jerusalem is the perfect city to use as a base for your visit to Israel while taking day trips to other exciting places. It's very common for people to take day-trips on their own, or go on organized day-tours from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Masada. The trip is only about 90 minutes each way by car or bus, which leaves plenty of time to relax on the beach, get a spa treatment and even go up to the top of Masada. The salty, therapeutic waters and amazing scenery of the Dead Sea attract tourists from all over the world, but staying overnight at Dead Sea Hotels can be costly and impersonal, and in general, most of what the Dead Sea has to offer to the casual tourist can be seen in one day.

Off the Beaten Path

On weekdays, the alleyways of Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market bustle with the sounds of shoppers and sellers—a place bursting with sights, sounds and smells. But at night, as the market stalls close, the market located between Jaffa and Agripas streets, turns into a street art gallery. This gallery is a series of large murals of famous personalities painted on the closed shutters. Famous contemporary and historical faces gaze at visitors as they stroll through the market's alleyways, amazed to find art where there are usually stands piled high with fruit, vegetables, nuts and spices. These huge, captivating spray-painted portraits are the work of a young, unschooled British-born artist named Solomon Souza, who works all night to make the market as colorful when it's closed as when it is open.

Most Iconic Experience

Besides the Old City of Jerusalem, the other two most iconic experiences in the city are Yad Vashem and the Tower of David Night Spectacular. Yad Vashem is the official memorial site and museum for those who perished during World War II. With over 1 million visitors per year, this experience is humbling. The Tower of David Citadel is full of amazing history, and the many rooms of ancient artifacts and stunning rampart views over the Old City make it a must-see. At night, the walls of the Citadel transform into the backdrop of a colorful, dynamic Night Spectacular that delivers the narrative of Jerusalem in a modern, engaging way.

Late Night

When the night falls and the market closes, the stalls of the Machane Yehuda market transform into a lively, vibrant bar scene that is open till the early morning hours. Sip one Israel's hundreds of craft beers while munching on hot pita and fresh hummus. The Market is a dynamic place and the offerings even at 2 and 3 a.m. are as diverse as the population of Jerusalem.

Neighborhood to Explore

While the city center and Old City are musts when visiting Jerusalem, the Ein Karem artist district is a great place to spend an afternoon. Tucked away in the foothills of Jerusalem, this rustic Bohemian neighborhood offers a distinctly different vibe from the city center. Make sure to come hungry because Ein Karem is a foodie's dream.