Jerusalem has something profound to offer even the most well-worn traveler. When I returned to Jerusalem for the second time I was a full seven months pregnant with my third child—so clearly my commitment to revisit all my favorite spots in the Holy Land was a strong one! Come along with me as we strengthen body, mind and spirit on a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City—the city at the center of the world.
- Best view of the city: The Ramparts Walk. For an elevated view of the Old City, climb the walls and circle it from above. Start at the Tower of David and take the southern route (from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate) for the best views of the Armenian Quarter, the Hinnom Valley, Dormition Abbey and more. The walk requires a lot of stair climbing so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- Most unique festival: Jerusalem Light Festival. For a week in June, light artists from around the world display their unique art installations in back corners and alleyways throughout the Old City. This year the free festival takes place the week of June 5–13.
- Friendliest place to shop: Shorashim in the Jewish Quarter. Offering a wide range of gifts that incorporate Scripture, Shorashim is not just a shop, but also a place to learn and connect. The shop’s owners Moshe and Dov are Orthodox Jews, originally from Canada, who welcome visitors of all backgrounds. Bring your questions about Judaism and engage in thought-provoking dialogue. shorashim.com
- Most surprising urban experience: Descend the stairway just outside Jaffa Gate and you’ll find yourself in Mamilla Mall, a $150 million luxury destination in the style of Rodeo Drive. The chic promenade features 140 upscale businesses, including many fine restaurants as well as eateries for those on a budget. alrovmamilla.com
- Best educational experience: Situated atop beautiful Mount Zion, Jerusalem University College offers an extension program for 85 Christian universities and seminaries across the U.S. People of all ages can also come to campus for two- and three-week classes taught by notable professors of archeology, Biblical geography and Jewish history. juc.edu
Where to Eat:
- Versavee Bistro. If you’re looking to fill up on shawarma (a meat-filled pita), this is a great place to do it. Don’t forget to stop by the espresso bar and try some tea with fresh mint. Jaffa Gate Square, Old City. versavee.com
- Jacob’s Pizza. Located in the Christian Quarter just inside Jaffa Gate, you’ll find some of the best pizza in Jerusalem. You may even be served personally by the friendly owner, Jacob. 17 Latin Patriarchate St. jacobspizza.com
- Burgers Bar. If you get a little tired of hummus during your stay and have a sudden craving for fast food, a delicious burger from Burgers Bar should do the trick. Located in the Jewish Quarter, there are long lines at peak times of day, so get there early. 12 Tiferet Israel St.
Most establishments inside the Old City are closed on the Sabbath from Friday night at sundown until Saturday night at sundown.
Where to Stay: