10 Free Things To Do In Jerusalem
Traveling on a budget can be a challenge especially on a visit to Jerusalem where things can be quite expensive. Here’s a list of 10 awesome things you can do while traveling around Jerusalem on a shoestring budget!
1. The Mahane Yehuda Market Gallery
You may have heard of Jerusalem’s culinary hotspot, the Mahane Yehuda Market. It’s home to some of Jerusalem’s best restaurants, street food spots, and fresh produce. This market is also a hub for the holy city’s vibrant night scene, but if you’re looking to save some dough, visit the market on a Friday evening, Saturday, or Jewish Holiday and you’ll get to see the brainchild of British-Israeli street artist Solomon Souza. Souza had a vision that when the market shuts down and vendors close the shutters, something spectacular opens. The market gallery boasts more than 150 shutters featuring murals of famous Jews, Israelis, and other Judaica and its best to observe when the market isn’t operating!
2. The Rockefeller Museum
This museum may be one of the most underrated spots in the city, for history buffs especially. The Rockefeller Museum was established by the American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and opened in the late 1930s. It eventually became Jerusalem’s archaeological history museum. Today the museum houses many historical items from around Jerusalem and Israel including artifacts from the Al Aqsa Mosque, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Jerusalem Ramadan cannon. The museum is FREE of charge and is open every day except Tuesdays and Fridays.
3. Teddy Park Water Show
Just across the street from the Jaffa Gate sits Jerusalem’s Teddy Park where Israel’s only public sound and light fountain. The “show” operates every two hours daily from 11 am until 5 pm, and again at 8 pm (in the summer there is an additional 9 pm show!).
4. Yad Vashem
Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Museum (literally meaning a monument and a name) honors those who fell victim to the Nazis as a result of the Holocaust. The museum houses beautiful and impactful exhibitions illustrating the atrocities of the Holocaust consisting of video interviews, photographs, and personal items from the victims. Yad Vashem aims to give a name to every victim of this horrific event and the museum’s final hall is the Hall of Names. The site is free to visit and is open Sunday-Friday. Read more about Yad Vashem here.
5. Join a Free Walking Tour
One of the best ways to learn about a city is with a local guide! Anytime I travel, the first thing I do is to check out if there is a free tour. There is a daily Free Tour of the Old City of Jerusalem offered through SANDEMANs NEW Europe. The guides are all licensed (as per Israeli law) and they will give you an entertaining and informative tour in about two hours. The best part - it’s FREE - though it is encouraged to leave a tip if you enjoyed yourself!
6. Visit One of Jerusalem’s Parks
It’s nice to visit a city like a local. Jerusalem has many green, beautiful public parks where you can sit in the grass and have a picnic, go for a jog, use public gym equipment, or join a group of slackliners and jugglers for an afternoon outdoors. Parks like Independence Park in Jerusalem’s city center, or Sacher Park between Nahlaot and the Government District have lots of green space, public restroom facilities, walking paths, and benches.
7. Watch the Sunset from the Mount of Olives
They say that the hardest climbs often have the best payoff. Take a walk out the Lion’s Gate and climb the Mount of Olives to watch the sunset from the top. This is one of the best views in the world!
8. Visit Lifta
Next to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem is the abandoned village of Lifta. During the War of 1948, the village was evacuated and today the homes remain abandoned. There is also a beautiful stream (Ein Netofa) that runs in the valley. It’s a nice walk from the city center and a cool spot to visit before you hop on a bus or train to leave the city.
9. Take a Tour of the Israeli Parliament
The Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, offers a daily walking tour of the Knesset building. You must arrive at the time prescribed by their website and it is imperative to be modestly dressed (legs and shoulders covered for both men and women and no ripped jeans). The tour is about an hour and a half and takes you on a comprehensive guided tour of the site. While you’re in the neighborhood, check out the National Menorah (across the street from the Knesset) and the Wohl Rose Garden.
10. Visit the Holy Sites
On a visit to Jerusalem, take advantage of visiting the holy sites. The Western Wall is the holiest place in the world for Jews and it is open 24/7. Write a note and put it in the cracks of the wall! The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. The Church opens daily at 4 am and closes at 7 pm (or 9 pm in summer), The Haram al-Sharif/Al Aqsa/Temple Mount compound opens Sunday-Thursday from 7:30 am until 10:30 (11:00 in the summer) and from 12:30-13:30 (13:30-14:30 in summer) - all free of charge! A visit to Jerusalem doesn’t have to break the bank, and I hope that with these tips, you can make the most of your visit to the Holy City!
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Alex Zaprudsky is a licensed tour guide based in Jerusalem. He loves to share the history and traditions of Israel through the flavors, smells, and sounds of the various cultures. You can contact him at www.alexinisrael.com, www.facebook.com/alexinisrael, or www.instagram.com/alexzaprudsky.