Jerusalem is perhaps the holiest city in the world, venerated both by Jews, Christian and Muslims. A guided tour of Jerusalem will take you along this eternal city and provide you with a truly unforgettable experience. With so many sacred destinations, historical sites, and political complexities, nothing rivals a private tour of Jerusalem led by one of our expert guides. Setting a private tour guide for Jerusalem will enable you to efficiently discover this Holy City, reaching both its famous landmarks and hidden gems.
Below is a suggested travel guide for a full day tour of Jerusalem.
Start at Mount of Olives and Gethsemane
Our day begins with a stunning panoramic view of the Old City from Mount of Olives Viewpoint. This is one of the most spectacular observation points in Israel. It enables a short introduction, a geographical orientation, a photo opportunity, – and even a camel or donkey ride :-).
Driving down to the Kidron Valley, we will pass by several holy Christian sites. One of these sites is a holy Christian and Muslim place named – Chapel of the Ascension. This site is said to be where Jesus returned to the heavens. Near it is the Roman Catholic Church of “Pater Noster” (Latin for “Our Father”, the beginning of “The Lord’s prayer”). On the road down is another Roman Catholic church named “Dominus Flevit” (Latin for “The Lord Wept”), and beneath it is the Garden of Gethsemane, and Grotto of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and was captures after the “Last Supper.”
Near it, we can also visit the Armenian and Greek Orthodox traditional burial site of Mary the mother of Jesus (Mary’s Tomb) and the site where, by Greek-Orthodox tradition, Stephanus was martyred.
Explore the Old City of Jerusalem
Circling around the Old City’s southern walls, we pass by the Southern Wall Archaeological Park, the City of David, and park by Zion Gate or Jaffa Gate. This is where we start exploring the Old City by foot. In the Jewish Quarter we walk along the re-exposed main avenue of Jerusalem in Roman times, the “Cardo.” We will also pass by the main Jewish Synagogue in the Old City (the Hurva Synagogue) and possibly visit it. We can also visit the “Burnt House,” a Jewish priestly estate destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, or the “Temple Institute,” a Jewish foundation devoted to study the Jewish Temple and its ancient rituals. All leading up to the famous Western Wall.
The Western Wall
The Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing Wall,” is a remarkable ancient wall preserved from the time the second Jewish Temple, some 2,000 years ago. Prayer at the wall and leaving notes in the crevices is a very popular Jewish tradition that leads many to visit. The Plaza in front of the wall is also a popular place for Bar-Mitzvah parties, military ceremonies, and certain national events. The Western wall is a must see and experience for any travel to Jerusalem!
Walk along the Via Dolorosa
In sharp contrast to the Jewish Quarter and its sites, a walk north of the Western Wall leads us into the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Strolling along various juice stands and souvenir shops (the Suq), we eventually reach the Via Dolorosa, the sacred path in the Christian world from the site of the trial of Jesus, to the site of his crucifixion. Assessing the Catholic traditions along the way, we enter the Christian Quarter, and reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a complex built over the traditional sites of Golgotha and the Tomb of Jesus.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Gospels record Jesus being crucified at the Golgotha and later buried in haste in a tomb nearby. Yet three days later his tomb is found open and empty, and various people attest to his resurrection. The empty tomb and the belief of the resurrection of Jesus is the core of Christian faith. As a result, in the 4th century a major church was built over the crucifixion and burial sites. This church, known as Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is a major pilgrimage travel destination for all Christians around the world.
Eat and Shop in the Old City
Besides grabbing some hummus for lunch along the way, we can also appreciate the many souvenir shops within the market of old city (the Suq). While many offer souvenirs that are really manufactured in the far east, some do sell local, authentic and unique items. Our favorite is Photo Elia, a third generation Armenian owned photography shop that sells rare and old photos of Jerusalem. Another unique experience is scouting for some special fabrics at Bilal Fabric Store. You might also enjoy shopping locally made Armenian style ceramics at one of the Armenian Ceramics Workshops. Finally, many of the souvenir shops in the Christian Quarter offer locally produced olive wood artworks, and antiquities.
Discover Western Jerusalem
Happy and tired, we head back to the car. On our way we pass by the Tower of David, a complex first built by King Herod in the first century BCE. If you happen to stay in Jerusalem, the “Tower of David” offers a great night show (“Tower of David Night Spectacular“).
If driving back to Tel-Aviv, time permitting, we can drive along the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, or by the “Capitol Hill” of the state of Israel, in western Jerusalem. Here you can get to see the parliament building (the “Knesset”), theSupreme Court Building, and the Israel Museum (which is mostly famed for holding the worldly renown Dead Sea Scrolls).
Another option is a drive to the new location of the American Embassy in Jerusalem. If you love scenic views, near it, is a great view from a kibbutz towards Bethlehem, Alternatively, we can set a short visit to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, which nowadays is under Palestinian control.
Finally, perhaps the most fun way to end the day, is bar-hopping or fine dining in the lively Mahane Yehudah Market.