Visiting Ein Karem

Visiting Ein Karem

autor iconBy Chaya Valier

Jerusalem tours are rounded out with a visit to Ein Karem (also pronounced/spelled Ein Kerem). Millions trek out yearly to this remote, garden-rich  southwestern Jerusalem village, be it for ancient religious history, quaint, upscale neighborhood environs, music and art, or trendy restaurants and bars. Ein Karem, therefore, is the place to be in Jerusalem for something different.


About a 20 minute drive from city center, Ein Karem is a respite away from the bustle of heavily-trafficked business and tourism centers. Upon arrival, you'll instantly feel this village's specialness, warmly welcomed by the lush greenery and abounding bright flowers making the name Ein Karem ("spring of the vineyard") duly apparent. (Tip: If you're here in January/February, the blossoming almond trees in Ein Karem are a sure draw, but any time of year the vegetation is outright gorgeous.)

Ein Karem can be a half-day trip, or a whole weekend, or even serve as a base for your entire Jerusalem stay. Either way, Ein Karem is a small town setting with yet plenty to do, and all the while you're still in the hills of Jerusalem.

Tour Ein Karem

Join this lovely tour, Following Incredible Stories of Ein Kerem.

Ein Karem Biblical History

Ein Karem has both Jewish and Christian history. Referenced as "BeitaKerem" in the books of Jeremiah and Nehemiah, the area was within the juristiction of the Tribe of Judah, from whom the classification of "Jew" originated.

For Christians, Ein Karem is best known as the birthplace of John the Baptist, and in fact, is considered one of the top Jerusalem tour destinations for Christian pilgrims. The village is home to five churches and monasteries:  The Church of St. John the Baptist (not to be confused with a church in the Old City by the same name), Visitation Church,  the Notre Dame de Sion convent,  the Greek Orthodox St. John convent, and the Al Moskovia Russian monastery (originally called the Gorny Monastery).  Additionally, a focal point is the famous Mary's Well, where it's believed that Mary, miraculously pregnant with Jesus, sat and drank from its spring waters while sitting with Elizabeth, who was miraculously pregnant with John at the same time.

What to See in Ein Karem

One of Ein Karem's draws is its music and art venues. For music, be sure to check out the Eden-Tamir Music Center for chamber music concerts, piano recitals, and the like.  And if it's art you're looking for, just walk around and you'll come upon various galleries from the many artists who've made their home in Ein Karem since its ambiance is ripe for fine art creativity.  The galleries are often open on Shabbat (Saturday).

Speaking of art, just a hop away on the other side of Ein Karem, the renowned Hadassah Hospital houses the Chagall Windows in its synagogue. Check the hours and jaunt over to see these twelve brilliant stained glass wonders, each dedicated to a different tribe of Israel. And to boot, you might even take a tour of the recently renovated hospital grounds, and learn of its many medical feats.

Ein Karem Restaurants

Ein Karem is one of Jerusalem's leading neighborhoods on the culinary scene. Here are some of the top restaurants. In particular, two main drags, Ein Karem Street and Maayan Street offer many restaurants (albeit limited kosher options).

On Ein Karem Street, you'll find Italian fare at Karma, high-class meat at the kosher Charlotte, and exquisite dairy dishes at the kosher Inbal.

On Maayan Street, there are bistros Brasserie, and Milah; Moroccan/French cuisine at Esti & Perla; and Italian at Pundak Ein Karem.

Another highly recommended cafe is Sweet Ein Karem, located on Mavo HaSha'ar Street. This magical place is all about Belgian chocolate and authentic Italian gelato. Everything is freshly made and they even have chocolate workshops so you can actually learn how to do it yourself. A real treat!

In addition to the above restaurants, Ein Karem is replete with all kinds of bars, especially lively for nighttime.

Accommodation in Ein Karem

Whether you're planning a night, a weekend, or a longer stay, Ein Karem is ideal for a more outskirts Jerusalem accommodation.  For instance, you might try  the Alegra Hotel, a 5-star boutique hotel with an intriguing history, or the Notre Dame de Sion Guesthouse for known for its meditative grounds and more simple accommodation.  You can also find many B&B in Ein Karem for a more individual atmosphere. Overall prices are middle to high tier.

Getting to Ein Karem

There is one Egged bus line, the 28, which runs directly to the area, but it doesn't run through the city center. Therefore, you might need to transfer to the 28/28A either by bus or via light rail from the Yafe Nof station. Cabs are easy to hail to and from Ein Karem, and if you're driving, street parking is free.

All in all, Ein Karem is certainly a worthwhile trip to plan with your Jerusalem tours.