Jerusalem is a whirlwind of a city. One minute you can be admiring an ancient religious shrine or in an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood that looks like 19th century Europe, but walk down the street and find yourself surrounded by experimental music, hipster bars and underground clubs. The heart of Jerusalem is The Old City, where religions and culture mingle and is home to many of the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Western Wall and the Church of Holy Sepulchre. The Western Wall, also known as “The Wailing Wall,” is one of the most holy of all Jewish sites. Shabbat, Monday or Thursday mornings are great times to visit because you’ll see families singing and dancing in the plaza in front of the wall. The Church of Holy Sepulchre is the most important church for the Christian faith and a popular pilgrimage site. The jewel of Jerusalem is the gold-plated Dome of the Rock, the enduring symbol of the city and one of the most photographed buildings on Earth. As its name suggests, the dome covers a slab of stone sacred to both the Muslim and Jewish faiths.
The City of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem, whose main attraction is Hezekiah’s Tunnel – a 500m long passage of waist-deep water that leads to the Pool of Siloam, where it is said that Jesus healed a blind man. The must-see museums are the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem. The former leads you through 5,000 years of history through archaeology and art, and is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The museum’s Art Garden is exceptionally stunning with works from artists such as Moore, Rodin, Piasso and Kapoor. Yad Vashem is probably the most moving and powerful museum in the world. It is a memorial to the six million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. Mahane Yehuda Market is a melting pot of equal parts authentic Middle-Eastern market and trendy hangout for young people. Downtown Jerusalem has many restaurants and cafes worth checking out. Georgie Pitta is a cool budget joint with good, cheap food served in pita bread or takeaway boxes and drinks. Machneyuda has been the city’s trendiest restaurant since its launch with its “happy food” unique dining experience. Finally, for the best view of the entire Old City, with the golden Dome of the Rock, head to the Mount of Olives. Primetime is when the morning sun is behind you.