With so much to offer, Jerusalem may seem overwhelming to some travelers. One of the oldest cities in the world, it has a wealth of cultural offerings including outdoor marketplaces and ancient sites, and it’s considered holy to three major religions. Tours can offer a great way to explore the city and discover everything it has to offer.
Sandmans New Europe is famous for its free walking tours, which normally take about two hours and give a basic overview of the city. Sandman’s branch in Jerusalem offers a free tour, but the Holy City tour, which costs 90 shekels, is the best option. A four-hour intensive walking tour, it covers all four quarters of the Old City including the holy sites of the Al Aqsa Mosque, The Church of Nativity, and the Wailing Wall. The tour stops for lunch in a quaint Middle Eastern-style restaurant. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and often hail from all over the world. Sandemans’ guides can be found at the entrance to Jaffa Gate wearing red shirts with ‘Sandemans New Jerusalem’ printed on them.
Machane Yehuda is arguably the best market in Jerusalem. The market, also known as the shuk (from the Hebrew word) is a landmark of the city, a place where locals make most of their food purchases. The market offers everything from local produce to fresh fish and meats, as well as quaint local eateries offering delicious homemade-style dishes such as hummus, salads and other Middle Eastern meals. The Shuk Bites tour allows tourists to taste their way through the Machane Yehuda shuk and enjoy a variety of traditional delicacies. The tour is self-guided, allowing travelers to enjoy the market at their own pace, and works by turning in a ticket to certain vendors who in turn provide complimentary tastes of what they are selling. Machane Yehuda has a great energy to it, and this tour is a great way to explore the market.
The Wailing Wall (or Western Wall) is one of the best-known religious sites in the world. People flock to the Wall from all over the world to pray and stuff notes into the cracks between the stones. The Underground Tunnel Tours offer an alternative way to experience the Wall. The tours take place within tunnels underneath it, where guides explain the lifestyle of ancient Jerusalem. Archaeologists have preserved what they found in these tunnels, and the information and history presented is astounding. The tour lasts 75 minutes, and it is recommended to book a few days in advance online (although the website for booking is in Hebrew) or at the booking office, located near the Wailing Wall in the old city of Jerusalem.
The Abraham hostel is the largest hostel in Jerusalem, and one of the most traveler-friendly. It has only been around since 2010 but is already recognized internationally as a great place to stay. One of the services the hostel offers is the Abraham Tours Jerusalem Pub Crawl. The tour visits four bars and one nightclub, weaving its way through all the hot spots of the city’s nightlife. Jerusalem’s nightlife is a bit grungy, which means the hot spots are often in the markets or in small, cozy bars. The tour starts at the Abraham Hostel bar every Wednesday at 9:30 pm and costs 60 shekels.
Jerusalem may be a small city, but there is much to explore within its walls. A fun way to experience the city is through bike tours, and the best of the bike tours is Bike Jerusalem’s Night Ride. This ride explores the Old City of Jerusalem, which has a special magic at night. The guides are experts and help the city reveal itself in a way most travelers don’t get to experience. The tours must be booked online a few days in advance, and start at the Inbal hotel.