Top 10 Things to Do in Jerusalem – Part 1

Jerusalem Old City.

The Old City of Jerusalem

I love lists like this, where people list the top things to do in a certain place. But I find that often those lists are just a rehashing of the tourist sites you can find in any Lonely Planet, Let’s Go or Fodor’s Guide. And other times they list a number of places that barely scratch the surface of the location.

So I wanted to do something a bit different with this post. This is not a list of ten places to visit in the Holy City of Jerusalem. This is going to go a little bit deeper. I want to give you some things to do so that you really get a feel for what life in Jerusalem is like. So I have chosen ten categories of things that will help you feel like a Jerusalemite while also seeing, smelling, hearing and tasting everything that my wonderful city has to offer!

Due to length, I’m splitting this post into 3 parts. Now, in no particular order…

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Top 10 Things to Do in Jerusalem – Part 2

Jerusalem Summer Street Fair. Live Band.

A band playing at one of Jerusalem's Friday afternoon summer street parties.

For the first three entries in this post: Jerusalem Top 10 – Part 1

Continuing the list:

4. Get Some Culture

Jerusalem has a thriving cultural scene, full of great music, art and crafts. And especially through the summer season (which really lasts about half the year here), there are tons of festivals that can satisfy myriad interests.

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Top 10 Things to Do in Jerusalem – Part 3

Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

The Shrine of the Book at Jerusalem's Israel Museum

Back to Jerusalem Top 10 – Part 2

And now the final entries:

8. Go to a Museum

(Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a clever title for this one!)

I’m not sure who keeps statistics on such things, but I’ve heard that Israel has more museums per capita than does any other country in the world. (Okay, when adding links I found that these guys apparently keep such statistics, or at least report them.) And whether or not that is true, Jerusalem definitely has some of the most significant museums in this country that is full of them.

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A Practical Post on Changing Money

Jerusalem Yaffo Money Changing Dollar Shekel Euro

The best I found in 5 minutes of looking.

One of the common issues that any traveler needs to address is exchanging money from his home country for the local currency. I think most people that go through this procedure basically accept in advance that they will be ripped off, and just take that loss as part of the cost of their vacation.

While it is true that there is a high chance of losing money during such transactions, a very little bit of effort can save you a drop of money, and might at least make you feel as if you are not a complete freier (for an explanation of that Israeli slang term, see this post from my comedian friend Benji Lovitt).

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International Tourism Conference – Jerusalem – Part 1

Israeli Prime Mininister Binyamin Netanyahu addressing the International Tourism Conference - Jerusalem 2011

PM Netanyahu: We need more tourists than people who live here.

This week I am attending the first International Tourism Conference being held in Jerusalem’s Binyanei HaUmah Convention Center. Focusing both on the changing opportunities and challenges in the global tourism industry, as well as on the unique attractions of Israel (and Jerusalem in particular) as a tourist destination, the conference has drawn hundreds of participants from around the world.

With panels on topics such as “The Role of Media in Generating Tourism,” “The Impact of Technology on the Tourism Industry,” and “Branding Cities,” the conference features politicians such as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat alongside media personality Chris Matthews (“Hardball with Chris Matthews”), MTV International founder Bill Roedy and museum directors from around the world.

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Jerusalem’s Archaeological Surprises

archaeology, Malha, Malcha, Jerusalem, Israel, Middle Bronze, village, foundations

Malha Mall archaeological site -- a village from about 1800 BCE

Construction in Israel is always a difficult endeavor. In a country with as long a history as ours is, every time a spade or backhoe touches earth, there is the chance (or even the likelihood) that you will come across finds of archaeological significance. And when you do, construction grinds to a halt until the archaeologists can come in and examine the finds, determining whether they are significant, and whether construction can even continue there at all.

In recent years, building expansions have uncovered an ancient church at the site of a modern prison and an ancient cemetery near a hospital. In both cases, the building plans were halted until solutions could be found. Sometimes the archaeological site will be preserved at the location so people can see the finds in situ — where they were found, and construction will be abandoned. Other times, they will be covered and preserved underground, with the construction proceeding above the site. And sometimes the material will simply be removed and catalogued for later research.

I’ve recently visited a few of these types of sites, all within the boundaries of modern Jerusalem. It is yet another reason why I love living here. I am constantly surprised by the history and archaeology that you practically trip over every time you walk around this magnificent city.

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Israel Tourism News Roundup

Israel Ministry of Tourism logo. Tour guide. Eshkol. grapes.

Logo of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

I’m going to try to start doing regular posts where I summarize recent news stories with relevance to the tourism industry in Israel. These might have to do with plans the Tourism Ministry is making, events or news about hotels or airlines, or anything that might affect the tour guiding business directly. If any of you come across relevant news stories that you think I might not have seen, please feel free to forward my way! Thanks! And as always, I’d love to hear any responses or opinions in the comments section.

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Thoughts on Tourism in Israel’s Future

Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, seen from Manger Square (photo taken from Wikimedia Commons, by Wayne McLean)

One of the questions that I face as I prepare to become a licensed tourguide here in Israel relates to the future of this great country. Uncertainty is a key word that describes the situation of Israel’s future, and it makes preparing for my future career all the more difficult. It also makes my preparations more emotional, while I also delineate between my hopes for my career and my hopes for Israel’s future as a country.

A few recent news stories, that seem narrowly focused on specific laws that affect the industry, instead made me think more about what my career may be like in a future Israel. And they also made me think about what I’d like it to be like.

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Sample 1-Day Jerusalem Itinerary

The Catholicon (Greek Orthodox sanctuary) of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

One of the fun things that I do as I prepare to become a tour guide in Israel is practice! It helps me learn to plan a tour, make it flow seamlessly and learn such things as timing, reading the audience, use of visual aids and organization of material. So it is really a very necessary aspect that, while not an official part of my tour guide studies, I still take quite seriously.

A few weeks ago, I took two women around for a day-long walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem (mostly). They were two friends, one of whom was Jewish and one of whom was Christian, though neither was particularly religious. The Christian was here on her first trip to Israel, while the Jewish woman lives here, though not in Jerusalem. My goal for the day was to expose them to the sheer wealth of history that fills Jerusalem, as well as show them the diverse cultures and religions that are found here. Ultimately, I wanted them to see what a beautiful, complex and historic city I live in. I thought it might be interesting and useful to describe the itinerary we had for the day.

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Stas v. Turkey: Why All the Uproar?

Israel Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Michael Feigin)

The news story that has most recently gotten all of the anti-Israel complainants in an uproar is this one, quoting Israel’s Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov as calling for a boycott on Israeli tourism to Turkey. This came in response to Israeli news reports that said Turkey had classified Israel as a threat to regional security (though apparently various reports used different terminology for the same apparent move by Turkey). The web has plenty of blog posts and I’ve seen tons of tweets in my Twitter feed that have made this seem like a horrible thing for Misezhnikov to have said.

My question: why all the uproar?

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