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Jerusalem is one of those cities that you can easily spend a full week exploring and never get tired of. There are a lot of unique historical attractions in Jerusalem to visit, and the food scene is unbelievable. If you don’t have time in your schedule to spend a week or more in the Israeli capital, spending 3 days in Jerusalem will be enough to visit the main points of interest and discover some of the lesser known attractions too.
The city of Jerusalem is famous for its historical ties to the biblical era, and there are still many archaeological sites under the new city that are yet to be uncovered. However, places such as the Tower of David and the Western Wall Tunnels are helping visitors to gain a better understanding of the city’s past. Whether you’re interested in Jerusalem’s history or want to gain a deeper understanding of the mixture of cultures that live here, three days in Jerusalem will have you falling in love with the city.
Chances are that your accommodation will be located outside of the Old City, so for the first day I would recommend spending some time around the neighbourhoods surrounding the city walls. We stayed at the Mamilla Hotel which is located less than 10 minutes from the Jaffa Gate, so we were perfectly positioned to visit all parts of Jerusalem.
One of the most popular places in Jerusalem to visit is the iconic Jerusalem International YMCA. This building is also a hotel, but if you’re not staying here you can pay a small fee to head up to the top of the bell tower for breathtaking views of Jerusalem from all sides. The tower itself was designed by the same architect as the Empire State Building, and it sits across from the world-famous King David Hotel too.
A short walk from the Jerusalem International YMCA is the Bloomfield Garden, one of the largest parks in the city. There are plenty of archaeological remains in this part to look at which are completely free to access. One of the highlights of the park is the famous Lions Fountain so make sure you don’t miss that! The average temperature in Jerusalem is quite high in the summer months, so you can imagine how busy it gets as people look for ways to cool down.
Located next to Bloomfield Garden is Montefiore Windmill - a famous landmark of the city. The windmill was built in 1857 but never really lived up to what it was intended for, and the neighbourhood it sits in was the first to be built outside of the Old City. Today visitors to the windmill can unwind with a glass of wine and a cheese board thanks to Jerusalem Vineyard Winery which is a unique activity in Jerusalem to get involved with.
Before heading to the Hebrew Music Museum I would recommend stopping for lunch at the Music Square located at the back entrance to the museum. We dined at Nahman Restaurant but there are other options available too. The Hebrew Music Museum is one of the best museums in Jerusalem to learn about the history of the Jewish people and it takes you on a musical journey through 7 rooms, each with its own regional theme.
You have to stop at Miss Brown for a tasty, freshly made dessert before heading back to your hotel. We tried their churros, mini pancakes, and flavoured tiramisu which were all incredible.
For one of the best views in Jerusalem, head over to the Tower of David. You could easily spend half a day here exploring the archaeological site as well as the museum. The best time of the day to visit is near sunset, when it’s likely to be less busy. The sunset view over the Old City is completely jaw-dropping, and if you’re looking for something to do at night in Jerusalem then you can’t go wrong with the unique light show here either.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in Jerusalem that’s very unique to the city, The Eucalyptus is a great option. This award-winning restaurant serves biblical dishes with a mixture of modern cuisine, and it’s unlike any other restaurant in Jerusalem.
Your second day in Jerusalem should be all about the Old City. A lot of the places of interest in Jerusalem are found within the Old City, so it should come as no surprise that it’s recommended you wake up very early in order to see as much as possible.
The first stop of the day definitely needs to be Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. The gates open at 7am, with free entry, and you’ll need to pass through security from the Western Wall Plaza first, so take that into account. At 7am it won’t be too busy, but any time after that is when the tour groups start to emerge. Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem, and has a history dating back to the 1st century BC. It’s a must-see in Jerusalem so grab an early breakfast from your hotel and head here for opening time.
Following a visit to Temple Mount, the only logical thing is to visit the Western Wall which sits just beneath it. Even if you’re only spending a day in Jerusalem this needs to be on your itinerary. This wall is all that remains of the retaining wall that once surrounded Temple Mount, and it’s very significant to the Jewish people. Once you’ve visited the wall itself, you can head underneath it to the Western Wall Tunnels to see the remains of the ancient city below the modern one.
To get a true taste of Jerusalem, a guided tour of the Old City is a must. It’s difficult to navigate unless you’ve visited before and know the Old City well, so if you’re only spending 3 days in Jerusalem joining a tour will save you a lot of time. Our Old City walking tour took us through the different quarters where we learned about the history of the cultures in Jerusalem, tried some local food, and saw many of the city’s main historical attractions.
Our guided tour took us briefly to the Holy Sepulchre, but there wasn't nearly enough time to see everything inside, so we returned after our tour had finished. This church is very important for Christians as it’s the site of the crucifixion of Jesus and is where his tomb is located. There’s a lot more to see inside though, and there are levels underground that many visitors miss.
This is the last stop along the Via Dolorosa, and the church opens very early in the morning and closes no later than 9pm in the summer and 7pm in the winter, so there is plenty of time to visit it. The best option is to visit it at off peak times to avoid the enormous amount of people inside.
Dinner tip: Near the Mahane Yehuda Market is a restaurant called Jacko’s Street which is known for being one of the best places to eat in Jerusalem. They serve modern Kurdish food in a trendy but elegant atmosphere, and their tables get booked months in advance so make sure you get a table in advance!
The final day of your 3 days in Jerusalem is all about museums and food. Of course, if you’re not a museum person you don’t need to go to them, but there are a few important museums in Jerusalem that really should be visited for educational purposes.
The country’s official memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, is located in the western part of the city. This is a free museum in Jerusalem to visit but there is the option of a guided tour which is a lot more informative than simply reading the displays. The museum allows you to walk through the history of the Holocaust in chronological order, with thousands of items on display for visitors to see. It’s a very moving experience and one not to be missed in Jerusalem.
You shouldn’t plan a trip to Jerusalem without adding the Israel Museum to your itinerary. It ranks within the top 10 museums in the world, and the complex is so big that you can easily spend a full day here. If you only want to spend a couple of hours at the Israel Museum though, I would suggest researching the exhibitions before you visit so you know what you want to see.
The Israel Museum is quite a distance from the Old City, but there is a café inside that serves very nice food and it’s a great option for a quick lunch.
The Mahane Yehuda Market is the most famous market in Jerusalem, and is also known across the Middle East. There are over 250 stalls to visit here which cover everything from fresh produce to baked goods and traditional desserts. The market is fun to wander around at your own pace, or you can opt for a guided market tour either during the day or in the evening. It’s one of the best places to visit in Jerusalem, especially if you’re feeling hungry.
So, when is the best time to visit Jerusalem? The summer months may be too hot for some people, so I would suggest visiting in November when it’s a mixture of t-shirt and sweater weather. This itinerary is what we got up to during our 3 days in Jerusalem, but for those of you who maybe have 5 days in Jerusalem to spare or more, you can adjust it to suit your own interests. You’ll no doubt want to spend more time in the Old City, and I don’t blame you.
Have you been to Jerusalem before? Or maybe this is your first time visiting this incredible ancient capital and you have some questions? Either way, please feel free to leave me a message below or get in touch either via Instagram or email - I’m happy to help!