If you are seeking a city rich in history, culture and you love exploring whilst on holiday then Jerusalem ticks all of the boxes.
The old city is very small and the four quarters of the city can be explored over one day to see the major sights and tourist attractions, remaining days in Jerusalem can be used to take your time to wander around the city, as you will definitely find something you have missed the first time. I also ventured beyond the old city walls to explore the surrounding areas. What I love most about Jerusalem and Israel in general is there is always a story to tell and something interesting to find out.
Walking from each neighbourhood in the old city transports you into a different culture. Places that are definitely worth visiting when travelling to Jerusalem are the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the site where Jesus was resurrected. Via Dolorosa traces the route Jesus walked to be crucified. Whilst Temple mount is the location for the Dome of the Rock and the western wall, they are a sight to be experienced. The old city also has some beautiful views of the rest of Jerusalem, especially of the Mount of Olives.
I visited Jerusalem in May and the heat was very intense at this time of the year. The old city market was a nice place to get some shade from the sun and do a bit of shopping. The market reminded me of an Arab souk, if you want a bargain be prepared to haggle with the traders, as they love a bit of banter.
If you are heading to Jerusalem you should take your walking shoes, as to get the most out of the city you need to explore it and be ready to part with your coins as it can get pretty expensive buying food and travelling around to other areas. One place definitely worth visiting is the Dead Sea. You cannot come to Israel and not go to the Dead Sea; I spent an afternoon at Kalia beach and lathered myself in the Dead Sea mud, my skin felt so smooth and soft afterwards.
Masada national park is another must see. The park contains the ruins of a palace on top of a mountain with stunning views of the Judean dessert. I spent the remaining time travelling around to different areas; these included visiting Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jericho.
I opted for an Airbnb called sweethome26 for my stay in Jerusalem. The apartment was located in the central area of Jerusalem in the new city and only ten minutes away from the old city. The apartment was five minutes’ walk from Mehane Yehuda market, were by night the food market transforms into an area with trendy little bars and restaurants. Surprisingly Jerusalem really does come alive at night, so after all of the sightseeing this is a cool place to hang out and have a drink. Ben Yehuda Street is another place worth visiting for a bite to eat in the new city.
After visiting so many different areas and sights in Jerusalem my body was definitely ready for some relaxation time. When I travel I like a balance of adventure and a relaxation, as I hate the feeling of returning home from a holiday exhausted. So the last five days of my trip was spent in Tel Aviv, a vibrant modern city by the sea. Tel Aviv is under one hours drive by car from Jerusalem. The city is not too big so three days would be enough time to explore the city attractions and relax.
I stayed in Prima Hotel Tel Aviv, which is a small stylish contemporary hotel that provided excellent service and a great location to travel around the city. The hotel is right across the street from the beach front and this was a major factor when choosing a hotel. Along the beach front area there are a number of different beaches with places to lounge around, play volley ball or even get a massage on a sun lounger. If you are looking for beach life then Tel Aviv has a lot to offer. Frishman beach is a great place to hang out at a beach front bar, top up your melanin, or cool off in the sea. The area has a Miami vibe feel to it and is really popular both during the day and night. At night the city still has a lively atmosphere, especially by the promenade. I spent most nights down by the beach front people watching and eating.
What I enjoyed most about Tel Aviv was the food; the city has a lot of amazing restaurants with a variety of different cuisines. I would recommend visiting the beach front restaurants to eat or get a drink by day or night. London was by far my favourite restaurant to eat by the sea, the restaurant offers a Mediterranean and sea food menu which is slightly pricey, but worth it due to how delicious the food is. I ate at this restaurant a number of times and always left with a food baby.
The best way to explore Tel Aviv is by foot; spend your day strolling around the different areas of the city with an ice cream in hand absorbing the sites and city neighbourhoods. There are also free city tours by bus or walking with a guide provided. Jaffa Port was a nice place to explore to experience the older part of the city by the fishing port. Jaffa Port has winding cobbled walk ways with shops, cafés, and art galleries.
Of course I managed to squeeze in an afternoon of shopping during my stay. Tel Aviv does have the usual generic shopping centre of every major city, but it also has cute little boutiques. If you are looking for unique clothing, bags or jewellery you will definitely find one off designs.
My time in Israel was a mix of great adventure, exploration and chilling. The perfect combination for a holiday.