Top Jerusalem Vacation Itineraries
Planning your trip to Jerusalem? Our passionate and in-the-know travel team have put together recommendations for vacation itineraries (1-3 days) to guarantee a life-changing visit to Jerusalem. Rest assured Jerusalem offers something for every age group, religion, subject of interest and style of traveling, and we’ve divided up our recommendations accordingly into the following categories below:
– Experienced travelers
– Long weekend or city breaks
We plan to offer itineraries for families, backpackers, archaeology and history enthusiasts, adventure-seekers, outdoor and nature lovers and the LGBY crowd soon so stay tuned.
To make your experience as convenient, smooth and pleasant as possible, each of the outlined travel itineraries depart from your hotel in Jerusalem.
Experienced Travelers – Jerusalem Vacation Itineraries
Seasoned world travelers who are planning to travel Jerusalem will probably want to see as much as possible in their time available. Below are three possible itineraries that provide a broad overview of the city of Jerusalem as well as rich insight into many of the city’s main attractions.
Day 1 – Jerusalem’s Highlights
8am: After a lovely breakfast at your hotel, travel approximately 15 minutes to the top of the Mount of Olives.
8:15am: Enjoy a beautiful view of the Old City and learn about the main landmarks of Jerusalem.
8:45am: Descend to the Church of Dominus Flevit, visit the Garden of Gethsemane and Mary’s Tomb (the earlier you can enter the better as it gets extremely crowded).
10am: Enter the Old City from Lion’s Gate, which is just a short walk to the famous Via Dolorosa and Christian Quarter.
10:20am: Enter the Christian Quarter and then visit major landmarks that include the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (a must for Catholics), Garden Tomb (revered by Baptists), and much more.
12:30pm: Take a refreshing break at Muristan Square for lunch and enjoy mouthwatering, authentic hummus and other local fare.
1pm: Continue via the Muslim Market and head towards Mount Zion via the Jewish Quarter.
1:30pm: Admire Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion and explore the history while standing at what is considered the Room of the Last Supper (where Jesus Christ is said to have eaten his last meal).
2pm: Make your way to the Armenian Quarter, visit the British compound, and learn about the fascinating local Armenian community.
3:30pm: Leave the Old City via Jaffa Gate. Walk through upscale Mamilla Avenue, the lovely open-air shopping avenue as you return to your hotel to put your feet up.
6.30pm: Enjoy dinner at one of the recommended restaurants in the city center of Jerusalem before heading to the Night Spectacular at the Tower of David, a stunning 40 minute light and sound show. There are two daily shows, so check availability online before you go.
8pm: Take in the Night Spectacular and then round the day off with a stroll at Mamilla Avenue or a drink at Mamilla Hotel’s Rooftop bar with its gorgeous views.
Day 2 – Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem
8am: Depart from your hotel towards Mount Zion, a short walk away from the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Kotel (Jerusalem Western Wall) and go on the hour-long tour of the Western Wall Tunnels (make sure to make reservations in advance).
10am: Head to the City of David to experience remains of the citadel where a dynasty of Judean kings once ruled.
11:30am: Make your way to the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Burnt House and Broad Wall, enjoy souvenir shopping or grab lunch at the popular Rova coffee shop overlooking the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock.
1pm: Travel by car or bus from Mount Zion towards Yad Vashem, the renowned Holocaust museum for a two-hour tour.
3pm: Head to the Israel Museum, rated one of the top 10 museums in Israel and in the world.
5:30pm: Go back to your hotel to relax before dinner at the hotel or before heading out for dinner in the city. Check out our event calendar to find events of your choice taking place in Jerusalem.
Day 3 – Explore the Dead Sea and Masada
Day three is all about revitalizing and recharging in the unforgettable landscape of the Judean Desert, Dead Sea and Masada. You’ll want to get an early start to make the most (and an even earlier start for those hoping to take in the glorious sunrise at Masada).
7:30am: Leave your hotel and head towards Masada, which is about an hour and a half drive along the Dead Sea.
9:15am: Tour Masada for up to two and a half hours, depending on how much history you are up for.
11:30am: Recharge with lunch or snacks at Masada before traveling to the shoreline of the Dead Sea. Read more about the various Dead Sea beaches here, which are between 10 minutes and one hour away from Masada traveling north towards Jerusalem.
12pm: Relax at one of the Dead Sea beaches. Remember to drink plenty of water, use sun protection cream and not to dive headfirst into the water.
3pm: Make your way back towards Jerusalem. If you can, it’s worth stopping at Ein Gedi reserve to see wild rams and other wildlife. Read more about the reserve here.
6pm: Arrive back at your hotel in Jerusalem.
Long weekend or City Break – Jerusalem Vacation Itineraries
Those planning a long weekend in Jerusalem will be happy to hear that there are dedicated packages available as well as hotels and restaurants that offer specific discounts. We’ve outlined various itineraries below but recommend that you check out all the information and benefits in the city break booklet on our site.
The weekend Jerusalem vacation itineraries below are from Thursday afternoon till Saturday evening. Since most flights arrive in Israel on Thursday after midday, you can expect to arrive at your Jerusalem hotel around 3 or 4 pm, which conveniently happens to be the common check-in time for hotels in Israel.
Day 1 – Thursday afternoon – evening
5pm: After you’ve settled in to your hotel room, have checked out the view and that the bathrooms are clean, it’s time for some light exploring of Jerusalem. We recommend you walk around and enjoy dinner in the city center on Jaffa Street, Ben Shetach Street or bustling Ben Yehuda Street.
6pm: Just a short walk away from the city center is the Mamilla shopping avenue strip, where you can window shop and take in unique views as you head towards the Old City.
6:30pm: Visit the Austrian Hospice in the Muslim Quarter. The café offers unbelievable views of Jerusalem, famous apple strudel cake and German coffee.
7:30pm: Head to the Night Spectacular, a mesmerizing sound and light show that will give you a feel for the history of Jerusalem. Remember to buy tickets online before going.
9pm: If you have the energy, Jerusalem nightlife is at its most vibrant on a Thursday night. Visit some of the special bars in the city center (all within walking distance from the Old City). Some top picks include Barood, Dublin, and the Toy Bar. Read more about the highlights on the Jerusalem nightlife scene.
If you are looking for a more relaxed evening in Jerusalem, you may want to consider a Jerusalem Bakery tour that visits the famous traditional Orthodox bakeries of Jerusalem. The tour only takes place on Thursdays! Check online for availability or email us if you are interested in a special departure.
Day 2 – Friday
Friday’s are special in Jerusalem, with the fervent preparations for Shabbat, special Christian walks in the old city and more. We recommend that you start your day at the local and colorful Mahane Yehuda market place before the crowds arrive.
8am: Depart from your hotel, and arrive at the Mahane Yehuda market after just a 5-10minute drive.
8:15am: Have your cameras ready to capture the market’s vibrant colors and people. Get a coffee and freshly baked pastry delicacy (bureka or rugalach), or for the healthier inclined, grab some energizing fresh juice at Uzi-Ely before continuing towards the city center of Jerusalem.
10:15am: Head towards the Old City along Jaffa Road, making a stop to visit two small hidden cultural treasures on your way: the Museum of Psalms for some Kabbalistic art and the esteemed Anna Ticho House.
12pm: Enter the Christian Quarter of the Old City via New Gate. Walk the ancient cobbled narrow streets towards the Franciscan Church and continue walking along the Via Dolorosa until you reach the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (be prepared to wait in line).
1:30pm Enjoy lunch at Muristan square. You may want to check out the list of Old City restaurants on our site to get a better idea of what is available.
2:15pm: Continue to the Armenian Quarter, where you can hear traditional Friday mass around 2:30pm.
4pm: Those of you who are Catholic will not want to miss the Friday Via Dolorosa Walk of the Cross that departs from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at 4pm. Then, head back to your hotel to refresh as there is still more to enjoy in Jerusalem on Friday evenings.
6:40pm: Depart via taxi to the Western Wall to experience a mass “Kabbalat Shabbat” service, vibrant prayers and dancing to usher in Shabbat, along with approximately 30,000 Jews. By 7:15pm the area can become very crowded so try to come beforehand. Find out more ways to get to the Old City and the Kotel.
8pm: Friday evenings in Jerusalem are family dinner evenings so the city is calm but there are several restaurants open that offer a magical atmosphere. Check out our lists of restaurants and nightlife venues open on Shabbat.
Day 3 – Saturday
Saturday is a great day to explore the Old City and other historical landmarks in Jerusalem as most Jewish institutions are closed in honor of Shabbat and there is far less traffic. In addition to the suggested itinerary below, you can also enjoy free walking tours in English provided by the municipality departing from Safra Square.
10am: Enjoy a late start and leisurely famous Israeli breakfast at your hotel before departing to the Mount of Olives.
10:20am: Take in a great view of all of Jerusalem’s landmarks from the Mount of Olives and descend towards the Church of Dominus Flevit, Mary’s Tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane.
12pm: Make your way to Mount Zion, where you can visit Dormition Abbey, the Last Supper room (also known as David’s tomb).
1pm: Stroll over to the Armenian Quarter for lunch. The Armenian Tavern or Bulgorghi are both excellent options and are located on your way out of the Old City.
2pm: A good time for an Israeli siesta, or a visit to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that is open until 5pm.
5pm: Take a short taxi ride to visit the First Station, a new buzzing cultural and entertainment area with a couple of places open on Shabbat. Learn more about Jerusalem’s First Station.
7pm: Enjoy a delicious dinner out in Jerusalem. Check out more information on all Jerusalem restaurants here. You can also take a look at our event calendar to see what takes place on Saturday nights in Jerusalem.
Wishing you a memorable vacation in Jerusalem.
Even so, interested in tours?
If, despite your independence, you are interested in considering organized tours, check out our complete list of Jerusalem tours.