How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Jerusalem

How does one go about planning the perfect weekend in Jerusalem?

That’s easy find an attractive German, have him follow you to Jerusalem and then explore the city together. However if you can’t do that here is an easy to follow list of great things to explore while in Jerusalem!

THURSDAY

First I went to Masada early Thursday morning. NO I mean early. I did a sunrise hike.

MY SUNRISE HAD NO SUNRISE

The hostel I was staying at organizes many tours. I was picked up at 2:30am and driven to the bottom of Masada. This is a tough hike. I have a lot of difficulty with stairs but thankfully there were railings most of the way up. But fair warning it is steep and it is the same climb down.

There is a cable car for those who can’t hike. It doesn’t open until 9am.  The top of Masada is an old fortress that King Herod built so he could see his enemies coming. If you don’t need to see the sunrise then you can easily access it from the top.

Afterward we went to Ein Geidi which is a nature preserve and I checked out some of the waterfalls. This is also a bit hilly but not nearly as tough as Masada. If you want a beautiful hike but don’t want the excess that is Masada, Ein Geidi is a nice substitute.

Then it was time for the dead sea. Sadly the dead sea is drying up quite rapidly due to problems with the environment. The shore used to reach much further and will only continue to dry up if conscious efforts aren’t made to protect it.

Since my tour was so early I was back at my hostel by 2:30pm to eat lunch, shower and take a nap. It is the perfect way to pack a lot into a small amount of time.

My gentleman suitor was arriving in the early evening.I had no idea what we were going to do but I had magic pulsing thru my blood in anticipation of spending the weekend with this wonderful person.

EVERY STALL HAS GRAFFITI ART

He arrives just before dinner and we decided to spend the evening in the Mahane Yehuda Market. This market is just a short walk from where we are staying and it is a great place to do a variety of things. This market is a must see in Jerusalem because in the day it is your regular food market. You want mushrooms? Olives? Cheese? This is your place.

At night the produce stalls fold up and the bars and restaurants open up. It transforms into a popular nightlife destination for locals and any tourist lucky enough to find it.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE FOOD MARKET

We ate at Pasta Basta and shared a bottle of wine. After we were tipsy but not ready for the night to end. We chose from one of the many bars inside the market and settled into a beer garden. We talked until we were drunk and exhausted. We connected in a way that I feel is so rare in my real life yet consistent on the road.

FRIDAY

We headed to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum and Memorial. If there is only one museum you visit in Jerusalem, this is probably the one you should go to.

Perched high on top of Mt. Hertzl. The view from the top is beautiful and fitting for a memorial of this type. We spent a few hours wandering thru the exhibits and discussing what we saw. It is easy to spend 3 or more hours here. The exhibits are extensive and there are a lot of unique memorials scattered around the premises.

VIEW FROM YAD VASHEM

After boarding the wrong train back we went on a food tour with Bite Mojo. It is a self guided food tour. It walks you thru neighborhoods and then you take the time you want to explore and eat. It is a great concept because you do everything at your own pace. You are not slowed down by a group and it provides all the background on each stop!

Then we found ourselves back at the market but this time to buy supplies to cook that evening. We were going to make the Israeli dish Shakshuka!

I don’t know how often you have cooked with someone but it can be an incredibly intimate experience even in a hostel kitchen filled with other people. We were so in sync as we chopped, sauted and cooked eggs.

We enjoyed our creation with wine and challah.

***It should be mentioned that cooking on Friday night and staying in is optimal because it is Shabbat on Fridays and everything closes once the sun goes down. Especially in Jerusalem all restaurants close. The  Abraham hostel also provides a Shabbat dinner but we had done it the week before.

SATURDAY

We booked a full day tour of the West Bank with Abraham Tours,stopping in Jericho, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

PALESTINE IS BEAUTIFUL

It was probably the best day of the entire trip. I really enjoyed Palestine. I knew very little about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and I still don’t know the full scope. What I learned that day changed my mind about a lot of things ( that is another blog post).

JERICHO EXCAVATION

Jericho is the oldest known city. They uncovered the original walls thru excavation and continue to dig for more. If you are into history, Biblical or other, it is a great place to spend some time. As you head to Jericho you stop at the river Jordan to see where Jesus was baptized.

Ramallah has a wonderful market and the Yassar Arafat tomb and museum.

Bethlehem is more obvious but you get to visit the Church of the Holy Nativity. Along with lots of Banksy graffiti and his new hotel which had just opened there, The Walled Off.  A political stance on the way he feels about the conflict no doubt as a lot of his art is commentary on just that.

THE WALL BETWEEN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL

It is a full day tour and well worth the money. You get to visit all three cities plus few other minor stops along the way.

For more information on Abraham hostels and Abraham tours check out them out here!

Whether you have someone to explore with or are doing it solo these were some of my favorite things I did in Jerusalem.

Have you been to Jerusalem? Did I miss anything on my perfect weekend?

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