Jerusalem it is one of the holiest cities in the world. Here the Jews built their sacred temple, Muhammad received the Prayer and Jesus was crucified. I went back 2 times (the second with my mom who really cared about it) and both times I spent 2 days here without ever getting bored.
This guide on what to see in Jerusalem in 2 days it was written and designed (based on my personal experience) to help you visit the Holy City if you have two full days, that is, if you arrive one day early and if you stop at least 3 nights in the city.
Jerusalem is a fascinating city, to be seen absolutely once in a lifetime and which certainly will not leave you indifferent.
Two days will not be enough to get to know it thoroughly, but it will certainly be a good start.
So get ready to walk to discover the main places of interest in this city!
Consiglio: the GERUSALEMME CITY PASS. I didn't take it because I didn't know it was there, but seeing what's included is really convenient if you want to see most of the things in Jerusalem (and also includes train transport from Tel Aviv Airport, Ben Gurion)
- 1 day
- 1 - Esplanade of the Mosques
- 2 - Via Dolorosa
- 3 - Christian Quarter
- 4 - Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher
- 5 - Western Wall
- 6 - Mahane Yehuda Market
- 2 day
- 1 - Damascus Gate
- 2 - Muslim quarter
- 3 - City of David
- 4 - Citadel of David
- 5 - Garden of Gethsemane and tomb of the Virgin Mary
- 6 - Mount of Olives
- What to see around Jerusalem
- 1 - Bethlehem
- 2 - Masada and the Dead Sea
- 3 – Nazareth
- 4 - Jericho
- 5 – Hebron
The first day of your two days in Jerusalem will be quite busy, so wear comfortable shoes and get ready to walk!
The itinerary includes some of the most significant places within the Old city Old City, which will allow you to start discovering and understanding this fascinating city.
Compact but full of historical and religious sites, this is the most classic and important part to visit, especially for those coming for the first time. The old city of Jerusalem, an area of only 0,9 square kilometers, is bounded by an ancient wall built by Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire.
Within these walls are many of Jerusalem's most important and popular places to visit, such as the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Yes, it may be small, but it can keep you busy for days!
Are you looking for an ENGLISH GUIDE to Jerusalem?
Our first day in Jerusalem we decided to take one English guide, essential to fully understand this very complex city from every point of view.
We have entrusted ourselves to Benedetta, a girl who has worked and lived in Jerusalem since her university days. Graduated in archeology and licensed guide, Benedetta was absolutely fundamental. You can contact her on her number: +972 523135147 or on his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you can get a taste of the Old City with THIS FREE TOUR or with THIS very popular € 35 TOUR
1 - Esplanade of the Mosques
La Esplanade of Mosques, also known as the Temple Mount, is one of the most important sacred places in the world and still today is a source of contention between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The Temple Mount in the Christian and Jewish tradition is identified with the place where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. For Muslims, however, this is the place where the Prophet Muhammad received the Prayer.
Today on the Esplanade of the Mosques are the al-Aqsa mosque (famous because its 7-nave model inspired later mosques in Istanbul and Morocco), the Dome of the Rock, the Dome of the Chain and four minarets.
For non-Muslims, access to the site is allowed according to set times and only through the entrance located near the Western Wall.
PRO tip: try to get there early in the morning as you also avoid long queues. You can find all the timetables HERE.
Remember that to enter it is necessary to dress appropriately: long trousers and covered shoulders for women. also do not carry religious symbols in your bag.
2 - Via Dolorosa
La Painful way it is the road traveled by Jesus with the Cross on his shoulders. The route develops from the Lion's Gate, another of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, and continues for about a kilometer to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The 14 stations of the Way of the cross.
Entering from the Damascus Gate and continuing straight on the Al – Wad Street you will find yourself at the intersection with the Via Dolorosa at the third station.
PRO tip: you want to see the BEST PANORAMA of Jerusalem? Right next to station 3, you will find theAustrian hospice. Come in and go to the roof!
A curiosity: the saying "he washes his hands" comes from Pontius Pilate, who is seen represented in one of the three stained glass windows (in which Pontius Pilate dressed in yellow washes Pilate's hands of Jesus' guilt) in Franciscan convent of the Flagellation, Station 2 of the Via Dolorosa where Jesus was put on the red velvet cloak, the crown of thorns and where he was loaded with the cross.
3 - Christian Quarter
Continuing along the Via Dolorosa you will immerse yourself in the Christian quarter of the Old Town. Architecturally, it will not change much in your eyes: the narrow streets that intertwine in this area are a continuation of the largest Muslim quarter.
In this area, however, there are the last stages of the Via Crucis and the famous one Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.
4 - Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher
La Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher it is one of the most important churches for Christianity: this is the place where Jesus was first crucified and buried.
The stations of the Via Dolorosa from 10 to 14 are located inside the Holy Sepulcher.
In fact, inside the Basilica you can see the tenth station (where Jesus was stripped of his clothes), the place of the crucifixion (11th station), a piece of the rock of the Mount Golgota where the cross was placed, the 13th station when the body of Jesus was delivered to the mother Mary and, in the end, the Holy Sepulchre (14th and last station).
Whether you are a believer or not, this place will excite you for sure: the interior of the Church is sparkling, colorful, glittering, a collection of people, prayers and spirituality.
Being one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world, the Basilica is always very crowded, so my advice is to visit it during the early hours of the morning. The Church, in fact, is open from 5 during the summer and from 4 during the winter.
SPOILER: you cannot fail to see inside the Basilica the place that is recognized as the Holy Sepulcher. A small chapel with a long queue at the entrance. BUT there is a BUT. From the Gospels it is deduced that the Holy Sepulcher had been excavated probably with the aim of preserving the remains of the owner, Giuseppe D'Arimatea and it was here that Jesus was buried.
Inside the Basilica you can also see this tomb, you will then be the one to draw your own conclusions on what really is the place where Jesus was buried.
5 - Western Wall
Il Western wall, which we know as the Western Wall, is what remains of the walls that surrounded theancient temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans.
Today this is a pilgrimage destination for Jews from all over the world who come here to pray in what they consider to be the holiest site of their religion.
Visiting the Western Wall is very touching: you will see people praying and inserting cards with prayers and wishes inside the holes between one stone and another in the wall.
Be respectful and follow the rules to enter the venue: men must wear kipa and women must have their shoulders, arms and legs covered.
6 - Mahane Yehuda Market
To round off the first day of your two days in Jerusalem, you could go to the Mahane Yehuda Market, also called simply "shuk". Inside there are 250 stalls!
The market is as popular with tourists as it is with locals: here it sells all kinds of goods, local products, fruit and vegetables, colorful sweets, dried fruit and so on and so forth.
In recent years, the market is not only alive during the day, but has turned into a beautiful evening meeting place where you can sit down for dinner or a drink.
This area is also one of the best areas to sleep in Jerusalem (if you are looking for nightlife)
WHERE TO DINE?
Around Mahane Yehuda there is a practically infinite choice of restaurants, I dined at one night Jacko’s Street e I found myself BAD.
If you are looking for a nice place, not too expensive, but with an amazing atmosphere take a look at Tmol Shilshom. It is within walking distance (2 light train stops). I fell in love with this small and intimate literary café. BOOK EARLY, It is very popular!
La second day it will be as demanding as the first and I recommend that you dedicate it to other of the most significant places in the city. On this second day in Jerusalem I suggest you visit other symbolic attractions of the city, the ones you really shouldn't miss!
Please note:: Another good idea to spend half a day is to go to the new part of Jerusalem and visit theIsrael Museum.
1 - Damascus Gate
To enter the old area of Jerusalem there are seven gates, among these one of the most majestic is certainly the Damascus Gate. The entrance is to the north - west and once the road through it led directly to Damascus.
The structure that can be seen today was raised in 1542 by the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent and still today the Arabs call it the Porta della Colonna in honor of Hadrian's column which no longer exists: it was destroyed in 200 AD
Entering through the Damascus Gate you will immediately find yourself inside the bazaar which will lead you to the Muslim quarter.
2 - Muslim quarter
The Old City of Jerusalem is made up of four districts: the Christian Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Muslim Quarter.
Entering the Damascus Gate you will find yourself right in the heart of the Muslim zone, the largest and most densely populated in the entire Old City.
A lively area, very animated, dotted with shops of all kinds.
Paradoxically, this is also the area where most of the Via Dolorosa is located, that is, the Via Crucis.
3 - City of David
La City of David it is the ancient core of Jerusalem and one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Israel.
It is located not far from the Wailing Wall, if you go outside the walls and cross the street you will see the entrance. This is where Jerusalem began 3000-4000 years ago (yes, the ancient city of Jerusalem is located outside the walls of the Old City… Welcome to Jerusalem!)
Much of it is underground and you can also walk along some ancient underground tunnels, some of which are submerged in water.
Il Hezekiah tunnel it is a tunnel that connects the Gihon spring to the Siloam pool. It is an aquifer built by the people of the City of David to keep their water source within their walls and away from enemy forces.
This narrow, claustrophobic tunnel is filled with running water that can rise to your knees. Bring a flashlight, shoes that don't get damaged, and clothes that can get wet. On a hot summer day, this is the place to cool off!
Don't miss the underground tunnels: HERE you will find a highly recommended TOUR!
You can also explore the archaeological exhibit at the Davidson Center, located next to the Wailing Wall.
The visit to Archaeological Park will allow you to discover the oldest history of this city retracing 4.000 years of history!
4 - Citadel of David
Not far from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, near the Jaffa Gate, another of the gateways to the Old City of Jerusalem, is the Citadel of David.
This is nothing more than an ancient Citadel built in the XNUMXnd century BC to strengthen the defenses of the city.
Today inside it is the Museum of the History of Jerusalem which traces the most significant historical events that have affected the city over the centuries. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Museum hosts temporary exhibitions, events and shows.
At night, however, the Tower of David literally transforms itself thanks to a truly fascinating representation: one light and sound show that traces the history of Jerusalem.
5 - Garden of Gethsemane and tomb of the Virgin Mary
At the foot of the Mount of Olives, you will find the Church of all Nations and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. Both are located within walking distance of each other and are easily accessible about a 10-minute walk from the Old Town's Lion Gate.
According to the Christian religion the Gethsemane, the olive grove located under the Mount of Olives, is the place where Jesus was arrested on the night of Holy Thursday.
Olive trees are the oldest in the world, some over 800 years old. These trees are believed to be descendants of the original olive trees in the garden that may have "witnessed" Jesus' prayers here the night before his crucifixion.
Here you can also visit the Church of all Nations, a Roman Catholic church that guards the piece of rock where Jesus prayed the night before his arrest.
Located right in front of the Church of All Nations is the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. It is an unassuming building behind a stone wall. Enter the building and descend a wide staircase into the cave-like church.
This is believed to be the burial place of the Virgin Mary.
6 - Mount of Olives
At this point it is time to go to the Mount of Olives, another of the sacred places for Jews and Christians.
From the Garden of Gethsemane the uphill road leads directly to the top. Beware that the climb is steep and tiring, it takes about 40 minutes to get there. If you can get a taxi which shouldn't cost you more than 30 shekels (about 10 euros)
The Jews consider the Mount of Olives important for the large cemetery that extends here. This is the place where some important rabbis and the prophet Zechariah were buried.
It is really worth going up here: the view over Jerusalem is one of the most beautiful you can enjoy! Think of going there at sunset, but sunrise could also be a perfect choice.
If you are tired of walking, know that the Mount of Olives can also be easily reached by bus n ° 75.
What to see around Jerusalem
I told you what to see in Jerusalem in 2 days, but if you are going to stay in Israel for longer, know that from the Holy City it is easy to leave to visit some of the most beautiful places in this land.
Below I briefly recommend 4 places not to be missed.
PS: all these places can also be visited with aday trip from Tel Aviv
1 - Bethlehem
Bethlehem is, for Christianity, the birthplace of Jesus. In addition to the beautiful churches, including the Basilica of the Nativity, do not miss a walk under the Separation Wall to realize the horror of a current story unable to go on and to observe some of Bansky's most famous works.
Read my post on how to visit Bethlehem here
2 - Masada and the Dead Sea
Masada is an ancient fortress that stood 400 meters high on the Dead Sea. The view is unforgettable. Going back from the archaeological site you cannot miss a dip in the famous salt lake!
Read my post on Masada and the Dead Sea
3 – Nazareth
Nazareth it is the place where, according to Christianity, the Annunciation took place. In addition to the sacred places, Nazareth is an interesting city to visit. Do not miss a walk in the Old Market.
4 - Jericho
Jericho it is, according to scholars, the oldest city in the world. Certainly a stop not to be missed if you are in Israel.
5 – Hebron
My biggest regret: twice in Israel I have not (yet) been able to go to Hebron, the most troubled city in Palestine.
Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, is located in the south of the region. In case you don't know, Palestine is divided into two regions: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, both of which are separated by the state of Israel.
Hebron is home to the Grotto of the Patriarchs, the place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are buried. The Grotto of the Patriarchs is the second holiest place for Jews and the fourth for Muslims.
The city of Hebron has a peculiarity, which is that it is the only city in Palestine where the Jewish settlements are located within the center itself. It is a rather critical situation. If you are interested in learning more about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, no doubt this is where you should come.
An advice: you can't understand well without a guide. For that I advise you to take part in an organized tour like this.