The Magical Ein Karem: Romance, Nature and Culinary Delights
The Magical Ein Karem: Romance, Nature and Culinary Delights
By iTravelJerusalem Staff
The place is like a perfect postcard of nature and is widely popular among tourists. The green hills, minarets, and forests surrounding Ein Karem make the area an ideal place to spend with a loved one, whether it's an anniversary celebration, a significant date, or just a fun day planned out for your better half. Unlike the busy weekends, Ein Karem becomes a quiet and intimate area that is extremely attractive, especially for couples during the weekdays. If you visit the neighborhood on Tuesday or Wednesday, you'll find plenty of parking, quiet, and a sense of privacy.
Photo: Alex Yampolsky
Indeed, walking around Ein Karem is like stepping into a fairy tale, as you're surrounded by the green forests of the Jerusalem Hills, the minarets of the ancient monasteries, and the quaint allies of the village with their charming guesthouses, boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The atmosphere makes it the perfect place for a romantic getaway, an anniversary celebration, or even a honeymoon.
While Ein Karem is a popular spot on the weekends, we suggest taking a weekday getaway to get a genuine appreciation for its quiet and peaceful nature.
How to Spend a Romantic Getaway in Ein Karem
Stop and Smell the Roses
What sets Ein Karem apart from the city the most (besides the obvious differences in the landscape, at least)? There's no rush. You don't have to worry about cramming as many sites as possible into a small window of time. Ein Karem is all about appreciating the little things that make the village and the area special.
The daytime is perfect for exploring the historical and religious sites of the city, which are often as beautiful as they are significant. For instance, the Church of St. John the Baptist possesses stunning architecture, murals, and a scenic courtyard.
Meanwhile, of all the beautiful places in Ein Karem, the Notre Dame de Sion Monastery is typically considered the most stunning. Located on a western hill, the 19th-century walled compound is the picture of tranquility, with lush grounds full of fruit trees and flowers and a number of vantage points that offer some of the best views in the area.
Soak up the Magic that is Ein Karem
The late afternoon and early evening hours are a magical time in Ein Karem, perfect for an easy hike along the trails that surround the village as the sun begins to set.
It is recommended to start at approximately 15:00 so that you’d enjoy the sunset by the end of the walk. If you turn right from the main street Ein Karem toward Ha'Shaar Street, you'll eventually reach St. John the Baptist Church. John the Baptist is believed to have been born in this church. The entrance to the church and its picturesque courtyard is allowed in the afternoon from 14:30 to 18:00 in the summer (and 17:00 in the winter). Next, return to Ein Karem Street and turn right onto the Derech Ha’achayot Street. It’ll lead you to the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. Established in the 19th century, the convent is considered one of the most beautiful places in the village. It has an archaeological museum, a garden filled with lush fruit trees, and a few high vantage points scattered throughout the complex overlooking the Jerusalem mountains and the village. All you have to do to get in is knock on the doors of the convent and ask permission.
Photo by: Alex Yampolsky
After enjoying the view and leaving the monastery, turn right to Ha’Oren Street and continue until the right to Ha’Maayan Street. If you like, you can stop by another spectacular old church – St John's Church, built on relics from the Byzantine era. The church is available for visitors from 14:30 to 17:45 (in the summer, the activities are completed an hour earlier). After turning to Ha’Maayan Street, you will reach the Ein Karem Spring – the ancient spring where Elisheva (who bore John the Baptist) met her cousin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The chilly spring is the perfect opportunity to rest in the shade of trees or dip your feet in the water. This can be combined with refreshing ice cream from one of the ice cream parlors on Ha’Maayan Street, such as Trezoro Ice Cream Parlor (23 Ha’Maayan Street). The vigilant travelers may continue the way in accordance with the signage for the Church of Visitation, which is located a little further from the main sites. Its walls, decorated with illustrations depicting the life of John's parents, are beautiful for art lovers. The church is open from 14:30 until 18:00 during the summer (and 17:00 during the winter).
After taking the stroll and soaking up the magical atmosphere, don't miss your chance to make the most of the evening by visiting one of the romantic restaurants Ein Kerem has to offer:
Photo: Courtesy of Brasserie
Brasserie is the complete package with an amazing menu of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, a rooftop terrace with an unforgettable view of the valley and hills, and a charming indoor dining area with a romantic atmosphere housed inside a historical building. It doesn't get more peaceful and romantic than enjoying a glass of wine on Brasserie's terrace as the sun sets. Its perfect setting is paired with fine, meticulous food crafted by the chef. The restaurant menu features a variety of French, Mediterranean, and seafood, as well as a selection of meats and fish. The Brasserie's desserts are among the region's specialties and include caramelized popcorn topped with hot chocolate and New York cheesecakes with orange sauce. Special tea infusions, hot sangria, and fine wines from local wineries will help you to enjoy the sunset feeling warm and fuzzy.
Address: 15 Ha'Maayan Street, Jerusalem
Romantic Evenings and Culinary Treasures
After a long day of soaking up the magical atmosphere of Ein Karem, there's no better way to unwind than an indulgent dinner at one of the village's top-notch restaurants that seamlessly combine a romantic atmosphere with delectable gastronomy.
Sweet Ein Karem
Photo: Courtesy of Sweet Ein Karem
Sweet Ein Karem is one of the most interesting culinary attractions to check when you're visiting Ein Karem. We are talking about one place that does it all, and it smells like Belgian chocolate. Sweet Ein Karem is a boutique chocolate factory, store, and ice cream parlor where you can enjoy top-quality freshly made chocolate and real Italian gelato. They also have recently opened a restaurant café for those who are looking for a healthier snack choice. If you're a real chocolate lover, you'd be happy to know that they also have chocolate workshops where you can learn how to make pralines and chocolate truffles all by yourself!
Address: 3 Mevo Ha-Sha'ar Street, Jerusalem
Pundak Ein Kerem is housed in an ancient building influenced by Spanish architecture. The bar is impressive and packed with drinks, and the surrounding restaurant is even more sumptuous. If you’d like to sit inside, you’ll enjoy a unique stone-clad space and a pleasant atmosphere. The courtyard is wide and dimly lit around the tables as darkness descends on the village and the surrounding trees and green hills. The menu is based on Italian cuisine and offers various kinds of pasta and focaccia with varied toppings, alongside meat and fish dishes. For dessert, you may order cakes, creams, and house tarts alongside one of the widest wine menus in the country (lovers of beers, cocktails, and whiskey will be pleased as well).
Address: 9 Hama'ayan Street, Jerusalem
Located atop a hill in a historical building on the main Ein Karem Street, Karma is a castle-like property with a romantic interior, a rooftop terrace, a beautiful courtyard, and a varied menu. Right in the center of the building – a large taboon is installed, where the bread and focaccia are baked and all the dishes slow-cooked to perfection. Every dish that comes out of the taboon is meticulously rich in taste and smell. Karma is a restaurant that puts the dining experience first and each dish is served with a unique twist.
The restaurant's huge windows overlook the spectacular views and the interior is designed in a luxurious and modern style.
If you like, you can go out on the terrace and enjoy a rich wine menu and special Belgian chocolate and waffle pizza from the chef – straight from the taboon.
Address: 74 Ein Karem Street, Jerusalem
Mala Bistro is located in a historic building where a legendary treasure was discovered back when the State of Israel was established. Since then, the place has functioned as a thriving restaurant that brings together local Jerusalem food made from fresh raw materials for a luxurious design and a panoramic view that brings the pastoral of Ein Karem right into the restaurant space. Among the dishes, you will find Mediterranean food and rural dishes alongside gourmet meaty dishes. A rich alcohol menu is available throughout the evening, whether you're a fan of wines, champagne, beers, cocktails, whiskey, or schnapps. The drinks and rustic food combine beautifully with a romantic candlelit dinner.
Address: 1 Hama'ayan Street, Jerusalem
Bonus for those who want to spend a magical night as well
Photo: Courtesy of Alegra Hotel
If you want the services, facilities, and amenities of a 5-star hotel with the intimacy of a bed and breakfast, then look no further than the stunning Alegra Boutique Hotel.
With only 13 rooms, but plenty of public spaces, the Alegra never feels over-crowded, and each and every room is spacious and luxurious. Meanwhile, you'll have access to first-class spa facilities, a serene garden, and a rooftop terrace with a picturesque view.
Address: Ha'achayot Street 13, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem