A 4D3N itinerary to Jerusalem for First-time Visitors

A 4D3N itinerary to Jerusalem for First-time Visitors

Visit ancient relics of the Old City of Jerusalem, fall in love with amazing landscapes at the Judean Desert and stay afloat at the Dead Sea.

Jerusalem is a beautiful and historically-rich city that everyone should definitely experience at one point in their lives. The Middle Eastern city promises you friendly people, spectacular architecture and mouthwatering food. Known as the Holy Land to Christians, Muslims and Jews, this city houses many old sites believed to have accommodated characters in the bible. Even if you’re not religious, it is still supremely fascinating to explore and step into the ancient past as you walk old, beaten streets and study the way of life here.

Not sure where to go and what paths you should tread while you’re in Holy Land? Fret not, because we have prepared a 4D3N itinerary that packs in all the must-see and dos!

Day One

Begin your day by having a scrumptious and hearty breakfast at cafe Bezalel. This Israeli cafe is popular among locals and offers a spread of pastries and sandwiches at reasonable prices. Do try their coffee here, which is known to be remarkable. Costing roughly NIS 75 for a main and a drink, this place offers quality food at affordable prices, coupled with a nice, homey ambience. After your ravishing meal, it’s time to step into the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago. You ready? Let’s go!

Mount of Olives

From Cafe Bezalel, take a 40-min bus ride to the foot of Mount of Olives. To get to the top, you will need to ascend a steep slope up 400 feet, which takes approximately half an hour. If this journey proves too strenuous for you, simply take a cab from Cafe Bezalel to the top of Mount Olives instead! For those of you who aren’t used to steep hikes, the latter option is definitely more suitable for you.

Once you’re at the top of Mount of Olives, you will be blessed with a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Jerusalem, from its old ancient buildings and streets to the other places of interests. This is where you can soak in Jerusalem’s beauty as you admire her awe-inspiring structures. Since you won’t get to appreciate such a sight anywhere else, don’t forget to snap some photos as well.

Jewish Cemetery

Image credit: Berthold Werner

Next, walk down the hill as you will get to stop at multiple points to appreciate different attractions. One such place you must see is the Jewish cemetery. Present since 3,000 years ago, this cemetery is the resting ground of over 150,000 Jews and continues to expand year after year. Many Jews believe that when the Messiah returns to Earth in the future, those buried here will be first to be raised to life again.

Tomb of Virgin Mary

Image credit: WomEOS

A two-minute walk from the Jewish cemetery lies the Tomb of Mary which is the resting site of the Virgin Mary. This is the place where Mary was believed to have been taken up body and soul to heaven, and many visit this place out of reverence.

To get to the Abbey of the Dormition’s basement,  where Mary is believed to have ascended to heaven, you must walk down 47 steps into a well-adorned cave. In the process, you will pass by the tomb of Mary’s parents and Jesus’ father, Joseph. Whether or not you’re a believer, it’ll truly be an interesting and enriching time exploring this cross-shaped cave and the tombs of these biblical figures!

Basilica of Gethsemane

Image credit: Svetlana Grechkina

Another short walk away from the Tomb of Mary, the Basilica of Gethsemane is a landmark you can’t miss. Begin by walking through the garden of Gethsemane, where you can spot olive trees that are nearly 1,000 years old! Many believe that this is the garden Jesus had prayed in before getting taken away to be crucified, an event extremely significant to Christians all over the world.

As you step into the Basilica of Gethsemane, do take a moment to appreciate the beautiful stained glasses and the light that streams through them. This basilica was built in 1924 from the donations of twelve different countries, hence its alternative name – The Church of All Nations. Spot the twelve domes that represent the countries which funded the building of this basilica and admire the different paintings around this place of worship.

Old City of Jerusalem

It’s now time to step into the Old City of Jerusalem, which has been around since the 11th century BCE. Split into four quarters – Muslim, Jewish, Armenian and Christian, this small 1km square city is filled with an endless number of activities.  you’re now famished, don’t worry because there are plenty of eateries in the Old City that will leave you very satisfied!

Western Wall

Image credit: Marek69

Embark on your Old City adventure by entering the Zion Gate and visit the Western Wall. During the war with the Romans in 70 CE, the second temple which was in place then was destroyed, leaving only this western wall intact. You’ll come face to face with a magnificent wall that has been around for over 2,000 years!

Additionally, this place is the most religious site in the world for the Jews. At the Western Wall, many will pray and write their intercessions on paper before placing them into the cracks of the wall. If you want to be part of this experience, why not pen down your hopes and slip them into the wall as well? Guaranteed, it’ll be a memorable time for you.

Arab Souk

Image credit: Timeout

Nestled between the Christian and Muslim quarter, the Arab Souk is the best place for tourists to snag some trinkets and curious to take home. A buzzing marketplace since the Ottoman era, the Arab Souk promises visitors a vibrant atmosphere and a whole variety of goods to see and buy. From colourful scarves to daily necessities, one will constantly be amazed by the colour and life of this market. You can also see how the locals interact as you bargain for deals. Bonus: Things here are relatively cheaper too!

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Image credit: JLascar

Move on to the Christian quarter and you’ll arrive at this beautiful church! Believed to have been the spot where Jesus the Nazarene had risen from the dead, the Holy Sepulchre was erected in commemoration of possibly the greatest event of human history (at least to the Christians).

This church truly lives up to the phrase of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Despite its small and almost-shabby exterior, the Holy Sepulchre has a remarkable interior housing over 30 chapels and places of worship! Established in the year 335, this shrine carries meaning and a long-standing history worth learning about.

Dinner at The Eucalyptus

End your day with a sumptuous dinner at the Eucalyptus. This restaurant is a short walk from the church of the Holy Sepulchre and serves quality kosher food adapted from biblical scenes. Taste traditional food less commonly found that has been “resurrected” in this restaurant. The Eucalyptus, although slightly pricier, ensures visitors a peaceful ambience, extraordinary food and friendly staff.

Day Two

Temple Mount

Image credit: Timeout

Begin your second day by visiting Temple Mount. This complex is a plaza above the Western Wall and can be entered via the Mughrabi Gate. The Temple Mount is of utmost religious importance to the Muslims, as they believe that it is the spot where Abraham, a biblical figure, sacrificed his son to God.

This is where many inter-religious disagreements had taken place and is hence an interesting place to visit and learn more about its significance to the Israelis. Do remember that the area is open only at certain times of the day so you may want to go early to queue up to ensure entry.

Dome of the Rock

Within the Temple of Mount lies the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine that can be spotted from afar, with its golden dome which stands out in the sea Jerusalem’s pale, off-white buildings. While the Temple of Mount is open to all visitors to roam about, only Muslims are allowed to enter the dome.

As you walk around it, admire the beauty of this temple as you observe the intricate designs and structure of the dome. Do remember to wear appropriate clothes when visiting, as a form of respect for the Islamic religion and the people who practice the faith.

Lunch at The Quarter Cafe

Located near the Temple of Mount, The Quarter Cafe is a great place to cool down after walking in the sweltering heat for hours. This is the restaurant which gives customers a great view of the Temple Mount and serves huge portions. This Kosher Dairy Restaurant offers a wide range of salads, which are nutritious and refreshing.

Mahane Yehuda Market

Image credit: Annaspies

Next, step into one of Israel’s most popular markets, the Mahane Yehuda Market. Accessible by a bus ride or by foot, this market is a haven for foodies out there! Known as Jerusalem’s largest and oldest market, this hectic place has hundreds of vendors selling a variety of things from fresh produce to delicious pastries. Here, visitors can witness the way of lives of these Israelis and also taste some local delicacies that will leave you wanting more!

When walking the streets of Mahane Yehuda Market, don’t forget to try some of their local delicacies including their halva and burekas. If you have a sweet tooth, head on to Marzipan Bakery for some chocolate rugelach! This little store is famous for their thick and rich chocolate pastry – perfect as a cheeky snack!

Tower of David Museum

Image credit: Wayne Mclean

After a memorable time at the market, it’s time to visit the Tower of David, an impressive citadel dated back to the Ottoman times. Situated near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, this place is a walking distance from the Temple Mount and the perfect go-to for history buffs out there.

Step into the past as you appreciate ancient architecture and get a sense of how people lived in those times. Visit the Tower of David Museum as well, where you can study ancient artefacts from thousands of years ago. This museum promises you a comprehensive 4,000 years of Jerusalem’s history and also brings you across different times under different rulers. Come and see for yourself which King was the most competent among them all!

Night Spectacular

Image credit: Tower of David

Truly living up to its name, The Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum offers a thoroughly exciting forty minutes of your life, by telling you the story of Jerusalem through a light show. Not just any simple light show, The Night Spectacular is accompanied with upbeat music, 3D technology and multiple types of equipment to make your experience unforgettable and thrilling.

The Night Spectacular will bring you through Jerusalem’s history, including the wars she fought and the rise and fall of multiple kingdoms. Talk about making learning fun! The Night Spectacular will indeed hook you and keep you on your toes throughout the whole forty minutes.

A standard adult ticket which includes entry to the museum and the Night Spectacular costs 70 NIS.

Dinner at Tala Hummus and Falafel

Your stomach will be grumbling by this time and it’s time to fill that empty belly with Israel’s staple foods – hummus and falafel! Just a stone’s throw away from the Tower of David, Tala Hummus and Falafel is famous for its fragrant and tasty dishes. Open till late, this is the place for tourists looking to try Israel’s local favourites at its best. A must-order here is the chicken shawarma, a cone-shaped rotisserie stuffed with hot and piping (and did I mention absolutely delectable?) roasted chicken slices.

Day Three

Dead Sea

Image credit: Anglo List

On your third day in Jerusalem, it’s time to venture out into the wilderness by visiting the famous Dead Sea and Masada. Just a one-hour bus ride from Jerusalem Central Bus Station, these attractions in the Judean Desert may well be the highlight of your trip to Jerusalem!

Begin your time at the Judean Desert by soaking yourself in the Dead Sea at Qerim Beach. This lake is the lowest point on earth and is so salty that the only form of life it is able to support are the throngs of tourists who visit to experience floating in its hypersaline waters.

The Dead Sea is also known for its healing and mineral-rich properties, with its salt commonly used for cosmetic purposes. Want to beautify yourself? Simple find a muddy surface and slap the thick and luscious mud all over yourself.  Not only will you get amazingly soft skin after your mud spa, you don’t have to pay a single cent!

Masada National Park

Image credit: National Guard

After a morning of fun in the sun, hop on a short bus ride towards the Masada National Park. Masada is one of the most popular tourist sites in Israel, and with good reason. This fortress overlooks the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert, promising a picturesque sight that will leave visitors in awe.

Have your lunch here at the National Park’s restaurant before moving on to other activities in Masada. There are a variety of activities visitors can partake in while they are here, including hiking to the top of the plateau (via the snake path), riding camels on the Judean Desert and visiting what’s left of King Herod’s palace. You will surely have a unique and fun-filled time here at the Masada National Park; don’t forget to hydrate yourself regularly. After all, you’re in the middle of a desert engaging in multiple programmes throughout your day here.

After your time at the Masada National Park, you’ll probably be too tired for anything else. Take a bus back down to Jerusalem and have a quick dinner in the city centre before calling it a night.

Day Four

On your final day here at sunny Jerusalem, it’s time to visit the most important Israeli institutions located at Givat Ram. Here, you will step into modern Israel and also visit museums that will open your eyes to new insights and experiences. Get ready for an educational and emotional day as you walk the streets of Givat Ram.

The Knesset

Image credit: Chris Yunker

Start your Givat Ram journey by visiting the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament building. Although the Knesset looks unassuming from the outside, this building is vital in Israel’s politics, being the place which passes laws and appoints leaders. Join a guided tour and step into the Knesset as you learn more about what goes on within the building as well as Israel’s democracy. For budding politicians, this is for you.

Israel Museum

Image credit: Stephanie Matthiessen

After your excursion around the Knesset, take a short walk to the Israel Museum, which is this country’s biggest and most important museum. Costing 54 NIS for adults, this museum promises you invaluable lessons and amazing sights you definitely shouldn’t miss.

Established in 1965, the Israel Museum houses an array of collections that appeal to different people. From ancient artefacts to fine art pieces, there is plenty to see and do here. This is the museum that embodies Israel’s history and culture and is certainly where you can discover more about this middle-eastern country than you’ve ever known before.

Lunch at Modern

Image credit: Modern Website

Grab your lunch at Modern, a fusion restaurant located within the Israel Museum. This place is known for being inventive, combining traditional food with modern flavours (and doing great at it!). Here, you are assured a hearty meal jam-packed with flavours and spices that will make you fall in love! Modern is also loved for its hospitality and kids’ menu catered to the taste of young children.

Bible Lands Museum

Image credit: Laliv Gal

If the Israel Museum was not sufficient in teaching you about the bible and its origins, step into Bible Lands Museum just across it. The entrance fee for this museum is 10 NIS and you get to learn more about the characters of the bible and how they lived. This is also the museum to catch ancient exhibits, which are in some ways more outstanding than those in Israel Museum.

While many place emphasis on visiting the Israel Museum, Bible Lands Museum is indeed a hidden gem that promises you a fruitful time.

Yad Vashem

Image credit: (top) Stella’s Mom (bottom) Jonas SK

End your time in Jerusalem by taking a trip to Yad Vashem, a memorial for victims of the Holocaust. Here, visitors can learn more about the treatment the Jews received during the world war around Europe and the sufferings they bore. This place honours the Jews who stood against the Nazis and recognises notable non-jews who fought to protect the oppressed from impending genocide.

Yad Vashem will truly tug at your heartstrings, as you walk through the times of the Holocaust and sympathise with the Jews. Admission to this museum is free-of-charge and only requires an open heart and mind. Don’t forget to bring some tissues as well!

So there we have it, a comprehensive 4D3N itinerary for first-time visitors of Jerusalem. From exploring the Judean desert to walking around ancient ruins, your time in Jerusalem will definitely be one of fun, adventure and learning.

About Author

Brenlyn Ng
Brenlyn Ng

Brenlyn is an avid foodie who seeks to taste the most delicious of foods from all around the world. She also loves rollercoasters and hopes to visit every theme park possible. Being a child at heart, Brenlyn holds a distant dream of becoming a Disney princess one day.


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