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Things to do During Winter in Jerusalem

There’s no denying that things slow down a bit in Jerusalem during the winter, as the sun sets earlier, the temperature drops and outdoor activities become a little less practical. But winter also brings it’s own charms.

The Charms of Winter in Jerusalem

Winter Holidays

There aren’t many of them, but the winter holidays in Jerusalem are quite special.

Hanukkah in Jerusalem (3)

Hanukkah is the 8-day Jewish holiday celebrating victory over the Greek empire over 2,000 years ago. Every night the city lights up with hanukkiahs (special candelabras) in just about every window, and there are public lightings all over town. You’ll also find tons of special events around town and delicious (albeit unhealthy) filled doughnuts called sufganiyot in almost all the bakeries.

santa claus (3)

Jerusalem is also one of the best places in Israel to celebrate Christian, as the Old City comes to life with celebrations, concerts, church services and much more. It’s also only a short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the scene of the nativity, and there are some great Christmas tours to take you there.

Mikes Place for new year

New Year’s eve isn’t the big party in Israel that it is elsewhere, but it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the indulgent menus at some of the fine-dining establishments around town. Afterwards, you can find intimate celebrations at the bars in downtown Jerusalem.

Winter Festivals

Shaon Horef – Cultural Festival 2015 (3)

The two flagship festivals of the winter in Jerusalem are Hamshushalayim in December and Shaon Horef in February. Both last an entire month and involve hundreds of concerts, lectures, exhibitions and more. There are also numerous other smaller festivals throughout the season.

Read more about winter festivals in Jerusalem>>

Refine yourself with some culture

By the Rivers of Babylon_Avi Noam2

There are over 60 museums in Jerusalem, covering everything from art, history, science and more. Of course, there’s the massive, world renowned Israel Museum, but don’t forget some of the more specialized institutions like the Bible Lands Museum, Bloomfield Science Museum and L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, where you can get a deeper understanding of specific topics.

Your Jerusalem Muse: From classical to jazz

The wealth of music in Jerusalem is a bit of a secret, but winter is the perfect time to enjoy a concert in an intimate indoor venue. The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra boasts players who have immigrated from all over the world and perform regularly.  If you’re looking for jazz, rock and other contemporary music, the Yellow Submarine has a concert almost every evening. You can also find free shows at bars like Mike’s Place, Ha-Mazkeka (Shushan Street) and Birman.

Read more about jazz in Jerusalem>>

Feeling Great: Savvy Spas & Swimming Pools in Jerusalem

Photo: Courtesy of Mount Zion Hotel

Photo: Courtesy of Mount Zion Hotel

You might not have expected to see swimming pools and spas in the same list as museums and music venues. But hey – it’s a great way to spend your mini vacation, especially during low season when you’re more likely to have the pool lane to yourself and the spa treatment that much easier to schedule.

You can usually find both at Jerusalem such as the InbalMount Zion Hotel or any of the other luxury hotels in Jerusalem. For swimming pools, you can pay for a daily pass, or get a membership for longer stays. So treat yourself inside and out during your stay in Jerusalem.

Soup for all and for all a good soup

morduch (1)

You know winter’s here when you see renderings of piping hot bowls of soup in every Jerusalem eatery, and it helps ease the pain of summer’s end. The most popular soups around town are probably tomato with vegetable, lentil and of course, Jerusalem’s famous kubeh soup, but if you’re looking for some more exotic flavors try Hamarakiya, a quaint restaurant that specializes almost exclusively in vegetarian soups.

Take joy in your bowl(s) of soup because you’d come during the summer month’s, there’s scant chance you would have been able to enjoy it.

Play in the snow? Maybe!

Jerusalem isn’t known for snowy winters, but there has been a major snow storm every year from 2012-2014. The inclement weather can cause some practical headaches, but the chance to see the city, including iconic sites like Yad Vashem, the Old City and Israel Museum, covered in snow is priceless.