Visit Off-season or Stay in Hostels
Photo courtesy of Abraham Hostel Jerusalem is a very touristy place all year round. After all, it is the center of three of the world’s most practiced religions. However, January and February are relatively comfortable in terms of tourism. This means that you will be able to get cheaper rates on your accommodations. Now, you may be thinking: "Yeah, but it's winter." The thing is that winter here is not so bad, especially if you’re coming from Europe or North America. All you need is a good coat or jacket and you're all set. Another good way to save some money on accommodations is by staying at hostels. Some hostels offer beds in dorms for as low as $20 a night! If you're traveling in a group, then you can just book the whole room for your group. And if you're traveling solo, then it's a great opportunity to meet people, socialize, and make the most of your trip. The hostels usually have a kitchen, a lounge area, a bar, and a beautiful rooftop. Quite honestly, they tend to be the coolest places in town.
Some hostels & hotels to check out:
Abraham Hostel - dorms, private rooms, family rooms, kitchen, laundry, bar, lounge, rooftop tours, activities. Great location. Jerusalem Hostel - dorms, private rooms w/ balcony, rooftop, kitchen, dining area, computer stations. City Center. Little House in Bakah. If you're looking to treat yourself a little bit while you're here, check out this intimate hotel. The prices are affordable, the location is beautiful, and the facilities are absolutely amazing. Value hotels in Jerusalem >> Hostels and guesthouses for youngsters >> Value hostels and guesthouses >>
Get local - go to the market!
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism One of the best ways to save money on trips is by cooking your own food. Unless your accommodations are all-inclusive, there is no reason why you should be eating out 3 times a day if you're travelling on a budget. Go to the market or the supermarket - just like the locals do! One of the great things about Israel is that healthy food is not very expensive. You can literally buy kilos of vegetables that will last you 3-4 days for the price of eating one meal in a cafe. Nuts, milk, cheese, poultry, and bread are all cheap and affordable as well. Meat is a bit pricy, though. Restaurants in Mahane Yehuda market >> Mahane Yehuda market nightlife >>
Eat Real Middle Eastern Food
Now, while cooking your own food is important and will save you lots of money, you still have to eat out and try the great Middle Eastern and Israeli food that Jerusalem has to offer. Lucky for all the budget travelers out there, real local food is delicious and relatively cheap. So what should you be definitely eating? Falafel in a pita ($4-$6), Shawarma ($9-$11), Hummus ($7-$10), Sabich ($5), and Shakshuka ($12-$15). You should also try the regional sweets: baklava, knafeh, halva, kataif, malabi pudding, and sachlab. Another super cool thing that Israel can be proud of is its bakeries. Jerusalem is no exception. You will see lots of bakeries making bread and pastries on the spot and you can just grab a paper bag or box and fill it with all the salty and sweet goodies the world has to offer. The salty pastries are called burekasim (from the Turkish word bureka). It’s a small pastry filled with mushrooms, potatoes, cheese, spinach and so on. The sweet ones have different fillings as well. You’ll find tiny butter/chocolate croissants, pastries with cheese, apples, cinnamon, and more. Four-or five of these pastries are great with your morning coffee and are only around $4 - $5. It's fresh, it's local, and it's completely affordable. Bon appetite! City Center restaurants >> Home cooking in Jerusalem >>
Save money on Attractions
Photo courtesy of the Jewish Quarter PR Jerusalem is first and foremost all about history so you should definitely visit some archeological and historic sites. Let's start with the Old City. Instead of just walking around looking for museums, ancient synagogues, and attractions to visit, we would suggest taking advantage of the Jewish Quarter 4 Sites Offer. You basically get entrance to 4 Jewish Quarter historic sites for the price of 1 ticket. The great thing about it is that they actually offer THE sites you want to visit: Hurva Synagogue, Roman Cardo, Herodian Quarter, and the Jerusalem Archeological Park. Now if you're looking to explore some modern history, you should visit one of Jerusalem's most popular and important museums, the Yad Vashem - the world's holocaust remembrance center. Admission is free and it’s a must-see not only for those in Jerusalem but for people all around the world! Museums in Jerusalem >> Top Jerusalem Attractions >>
Look for free festivals, events & exhibitions
Photo courtesy of the Festival of Light PR There is always something happening in Jerusalem, and more often than not the really cool and trendy things are actually affordable and sometimes absolutely free. From music, poetry, and light festivals, to fitness classes at The First Station and alternative reality exhibits on the street. Once you know the dates of your trip, check out the free events happening during your visit. Note that some events have both free and non-free activities, so make sure you check the event highlights. Some links to help you plan:
- Upcoming Events in Jerusalem
- Free Events in Jerusalem
- What's Happening Today
- What's Happening This Weekend
Explore the Nature of Jerusalem
Photo courtesy of the Gazelle Park and Ricky Chen O.k. now this is something that not a lot of tourists do. If you're traveling on a budget, you should be exploring the nature that surrounds Jerusalem. Why? Because it's lovely (and free)! The area of the Judean Mountains is perfect for hiking. There are loads of fresh air and so many beautiful landscapes, springs, magical trails, and historic and biblical sites. Seriously, every piece of land you're walking on is a piece of history. This is the Holy Land - explore it! So where should you go? The Jerusalem Forest and the Gazelle Valley Park are good places to start. If you're more into big urban parks, Sacher Park is one of the best places to visit with 40 acres of lawns, walking paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds. Get more info on Things to Do in the Jerusalem Hills >>
Shop & Haggle at the Old City
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Visiting the Old City is absolutely mandatory. So is shopping for souvenirs, clothes, bags, jewelry, and whatnot. However, the Old City can be tricky, especially when you're a tourist. Remember: you must haggle, but you have to know how to do it properly. The number one rule in haggling: treat vendors kindly. If you hear a price that is clearly too high for the product, try to avoid telling the vendors that they are liars and the item is overpriced. Instead, do this. Say you're holding a beautiful set of porcelain plates, and you ask "how much is it?". They tell you it's 200 NIS. Look at it, say "no, it's expensive" and then say "100 NIS". Yes, you have to start that low so you can meet each other halfway. Keep on pushing the "it's really beautiful but expensive" line until you get your price. If you see that the vendor is not haggling with you, put the item back and just start walking away. Two things might happen: the merchant might chase you and start reducing the price - that's great. Or they might just let you go. And that's also o.k. because you'll probably see the same products 2-3 stores down the road. Another thing you should be cautious about is the currency - 15 NIS can magically turn into $15 just because you're a tourist. Also, don't limit your shopping expedition to Jaffa Gate and the Western Wall area - this area tends to be extremely touristy and, therefore, expensive. Go to Damascus Gate and Salah a-Din Street and enjoy local prices. Don't forget to eat there too! Get to know the Old City of Jerusalem >>
Walk, Walk, Walk
Jerusalem is a very walkable city, especially the parts most frequented by tourists. The City Center, the Old City, the beautiful and historic neighborhoods that were built outside the Old City walls, such as Nachlaot and Mishkanot Sha'ananim, are all within walking distance of each other. The weather is usually nice and suitable for taking long walks and exploring the city or even just getting from one place to another. This way you're saving on transportation while seeing more of Jerusalem. Note that Jerusalem is a hilly city and therefore you want to have comfortable shoes - no flip flops and definitely no high heels! Looking for guided tours? Look no more!
Get the JLM - Jerusalem City Pass
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Anyone who is visiting Jerusalem on a limited budget should get the new Jerusalem City Pass. There are 2 types of cards: one that covers public transit, museums, and tourist attractions for $63 and one that does not cover public transit but covers admission to museums and tourist attractions for $36. So what's in the card? A round trip bus ticket to/from Ben Gurion Airport-Jerusalem, a 7-day pass to all public transit (busses, light rail), free entry to 3 of Jerusalem's top tourist attractions and a free visitor's guide and city map. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Considering that a light rail/bus ride is a bit more than $1.5 and museum tickets range between $10-$25, we would say it's a pretty good deal. Another great advantage is that the pass helps you plan and organize your trip, and that's super important when you're trying to see more and pay less. Get the JLM pass here! So here they are – our 10 most important tips and tricks to help you plan your vacation in Jerusalem and enjoy this beautiful city without a care in the world!