This tour is for any visitors to Jerusalem (or locals). This tour will bring you to all the important and well-known touristic sights the Jerusalem has to offer. The tour is designed for the individual, as for groups, with or without a professional guide.
In this itinerary are always alternatives and added sights. Click on More Info or Things to do behind the sigh. Restaurants in the neighborhood of the sights are available in this itinerary each day. Click on Restaurants.
Again I’m sharing guide-information with you, but this time it’s about hotels and hostels in Jerusalem, especially the old city. Most budget accommodation is located in the Old City’s Muslim, Christian and Armenian Quarters or in the city center. Decent mid-range options are thin on the ground, but there are plenty of choices in the top-end category, including atmospheric Christian hospices in the Old City and boutique hotels in the city center.
There are no hotels or guesthouses of note in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. If you want atmosphere, by all means stay in the Old City. But if you are after proximity to restaurants, bars, cafes and public transport, you are much better off staying in the city center, Mamilla or Yemin Moshe. If you have a car you’ll need to stay in the New City or pay NIS 48 per 24 hours for a space at Mamilla Parking near Jaffa Gate.
Room rates can fluctuate wildly between seasons and in response to political disturbances. I have quoted high-season rates in my reviews; these apply from April to June and from September to October, as well as during Easter, Christmas and the New Year.
Before I go, some words about hotels and (especially) hostels in Israel in general and the hotels and hostels in Jerusalem specific and I will be brief. The inside of the hotels in Israel are in general more or less shabby (with exceptions) and compared with anywhere else pricey. Hotels in Jerusalem have the same problem, but the hostels are worse compared with the rest of Israel (with exceptions)! So please, don’t let you be fooled by prices as the means to make a choice in hotel or hostel. The best way to indicate the shabby-state of hotels and hostels are the bedrooms.
City Center Suites
Little House in Rehavia
Golden Gate Inn
7 Kook Boutique Hotel
Hashimi Hotel & Hostel
Romema & Mekor Baruch Allenby
YMCA Three Arches Hotel
Jaffa Gate Hostel
Ecce Homo Pilgrim House
Christ Church Guesthouse
Hotel East New Imperial
Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House
St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse
David Citadel Hotel
Notre Dame Guest House
St George’s Guesthouse
Jerusalem Garden Home
Lutheran Guest House
Citadel Youth Hostel
If you arrive in Jerusalem by taxi or sherut (taxi-bus) and are staying in the Old City, you’ll need to alight at one of the city gates and walk to your hotel. Note that the call to prayer can be a problem for light sleepers in the Muslim Quarter – bring earplugs.
Hashimi Hotel & Hostel (02-628 4410; http://www.alhashimihotel-jerusalem.com; 73 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d US$35/60/95, Map) Slap bang in the middle of the market, this Palestinian-owned hostel imposes a number of rules on its guests (no alcohol, no unmarried couples in the same room, no credit cards, no mixed dorms, no breathing (joking 🙂), etc), but all is forgiven when the newly renovated rooms are inspected and the extraordinary view from the rooftop is admired. Some of the rooms have views of the Dome of the Rock (request 313 or 311). Each of the two dorms has air-con, private bathroom and TV; the one on the 3rd floor has a view. Wi-fi is available in the lobby and on the 4th floor only (buy a SIM to be and stay independent and always have Internet).
Jaffa Gate Hostel (02-627 6402; http://www.jaffa-gate.hostel.com; Jaffa Gate; dm 100NIS, s/d 250/320NIS, with shared bathroom 200/280NIS, Map) Arab-run, this small and friendly hostel has one dorm (sleeping four) and 23 small and very basic rooms (more like extended coffins). There’s a lounge, a small roof terrace with wonderful views and a communal kitchen. Note that Muslim house rules prevent alcohol on the premises, breakfast isn’t served and credit-card payments aren’t possible.
Golden Gate Inn (02-628 4317; http://www.goldengate4.com; 10 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/d/tr 80/250/350NIS, Map) Set inside an atmospheric old home, this family-run guesthouse near Damascus Gate has single-sex dorms and clean rooms with en-suite bathroom, cable TV and air-con. The communal kitchen is spacious and well maintained, and there’s a rooftop with views. Note that wi-fi only works in the lobby and alcohol is forbidden on the premises.
Citadel Youth Hostel (02-628 5253; http://www.citadelyouthhostel.com; 20 St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; mattresses on roof 55NIS, dm 70NIS, d 320NIS, s/d with shared bathroom 180/200NIS, Map) A perfect example of a hostel with unrealized potential, the Citadel is only worth considering if the Abraham, Hashimi and Jaffa Gate Hostels are full. A labyrinthine 500-year-old building with plenty of Jerry-built additions, it offers thin foam mattresses on the rooftop in summer, old mattresses on the dorm beds, cramped and smelly shared bathrooms and overpriced private rooms.
Petra Hostel (02-628 6618; http://www.newpetrahostel.com; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; mattress on roof 50NIS, dm 70NIS, s/d 220/320NIS, Map) Built in the 1820s, this is the oldest hotel in Jerusalem. Some of its illustrious former patrons include Mark Twain and Herman Melville (and me of course). Unfortunately, the antiquated charm counts for little when the hot, stuffy and grubby rooms and dorms are taken into account. Only worth considering if you’re on a very tight budget and don’t mind roughing it.
The only thing still very special about this guest house is the roof! Don’t forget the roof when you are there. And for the price you pay, no complaining.
Austrian Hospice (02-626 5800; http://www.austrianhospice.com; 37 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d/tr €26/76/118/165, Map) This castle-like guesthouse first opened in 1863 and has plenty of heritage features. Rooms are simply furnished but are large and have good beds; three have a balcony and two have air-con (€5 surcharge). Single-sex dorms are in the basement, where there are also squeaky-clean shared bathrooms. The cloistered garden cafe is a popular retreat for guests. The hospice is on the corner of Al-Wad St and Via Dolorosa. Ring the intercom to enter (reception is open 7am to 11pm).
Lutheran Guest House (02-626 6888; http://www.luth-guesthouse-jerusalem.com; St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; s/d/tr €?, Map)(I never managed to get to know their prices. The man kept on talking and talking …) Beyond the heavy steel door are a welcoming lobby, a variety of rooms, a courtyard garden and rooftop reading room and a lounge. Guest rooms are simply furnished but comfortable, and there’s a generous buffet breakfast. From Jaffa Gate, walk down David St, then take the first right up a narrow staircase; the guesthouse is 100m down on the left.
Ecce Homo Pilgrim House (02-627 7292; firstname.lastname@example.org; 41 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/tw US$35/63/106, Map) If staying a few nights in a convent sounds intriguing, book yourself into this 150-year-old pilgrim guesthouse on the Via Dolorosa. The stone walls and dim corridors certainly evoke the feeling of a time gone by, and the rooftop terrace and comfortable reading lounge are lovely. Rooms are simply furnished and can be hot (no air-con). There’s a curfew.
I slept there one time for 5 nights because of a Pilgrim tour in Jerusalem. I lost 5 kg that week, it was so hot. That means that it’s good.
Hotel East New Imperial (02-628 2261; http://www.newimperial.com; Jaffa Gate; s/d US$70/120, Map) Owner Abu el-Walid Dajani provides a warm welcome to his family’s hotel (they’ve owned it since 1949) and can spin some nice stories about its history. The labyrinthine layout can be confusing and B&B rooms are of varying quality; ask for a newly renovated one overlooking the side street, as the others aren’t great. A four-course dinner costs US$20.
Armenian Guesthouse (02-626 0880; email@example.com; 36 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm US$39, s US$97, d US$136, Map) Recently renovated and reasonably priced rooms make this guesthouse in the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate worth considering. There’s no garden and no atmospheric common areas (the things that make the guesthouses run by other religious orders in the city so special), but the very clean rooms are modern with good bathrooms and comfortable beds.
And there are the same beds my grandmother slept in in Holland. Amazing!
Christ Church Guesthouse (02-627 7727; http://www.cmj-israel.org; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; s US$128, d US$194, Map) This wonderfully maintained guesthouse gets high marks for its period atmosphere, multilingual staff, prime location and garden setting. The simply furnished rooms have stone floors, domed ceilings and comfortable beds, and there are lounges where guests can relax over free tea and coffee. Breakfast (included), lunch (20NIS to 60NIS) and dinner (65NIS) are served in the on-site cafe. It’s still quite pricey, and the food is reasonable (except that awful salad)!
The area immediately east of the Old City’s Damascus Gate is predominantly Palestinian and has a pronounced Middle Eastern vibe – street traders hawk their wares to housewives wearing hijab, Arabic music blares from cars, and shopfronts and streets are decidedly less manicured than their often-staid West Jerusalem equivalents. There is a mix of Arab- and multinational-owned hotels here, but few are worthy of recommendation. The Damascus Gate, Shivtel Israel and Shimon HaTzadik JLR stops are close by.
American Colony Hotel (02-627 9777; http://www.americancolony.com; 1 Louis Vincent St; s US$265, d US$310-640, ste US$675- 955, Map) This historic hotel, built in 1902 and now Swiss-run, was a popular lodging for wealthy Westerners in the early 20th century and is still is a destination of choice for many VIPs. There’s a variety of rooms spread across three wings; all are elegant and comfortable, but those in the original building are definitely the best. The breakfast buffet is excellent. The facilities here include a pool, a well-equipped gym, a courtyard cafe, a lobby lounge, a cellar bar and a garden and the black haired receptionist with her smoldering green eyes and hot voice makes you not sleepy.
If you have the budget, this is the hotel to stay when you are in Jerusalem. The one and only.
Jerusalem Hotel (02-628 8982, 02-628 3282; http://www.jrshotel.com; Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; s/d US$160/240, Map) With tile-clad stone walls, high ceilings and antique furnishings, this small and friendly hotel in an 1890s building opposite one of the East Jerusalem bus stations can rightfully claim boutique status. The vine-covered courtyard restaurant is a lovely spot for dinner in warm weather.
I love this hotel, because the rooms are amazing. And their stories are amazing too, especially when you cant sleep.
St George’s Guesthouse (02-628 3302; firstname.lastname@example.org; 20 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; standard s/d US$110/150, deluxe s/d US$150/180, Map) Located on the property of a 110-year-old Anglican church, this tranquil guesthouse has twin guest rooms set around a lovely courtyard garden. Amenities are good – each room has beds with crisp linen, satellite TV and a kettle; the deluxe versions with their stone walls, extra space and modernized bathrooms are worth the extra charge.
Legacy Hotel (02-627 0800; http://www.jerusalemlegacy.com; 29 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; royal s/d US$150/185, executive s/d US$175/195, Map) After changing its name and having a major facelift, the former YMCA hostel in East Jerusalem is looking pretty snazzy. There are two types of room (deluxe and standard), both of which have kettles and cable TV. It’s worth paying extra for a deluxe version as these have larger bathrooms and balconies with views over the Mount of Olives. Facilities include a 5th-floor restaurant with great views over the Old City, a lobby bar and a garden cafe. Guests are given free entry to the YMCA gym and indoor pool in the building next door.
National Hotel (02-627 8880; http://www.nationalhotel-jerusalem.com; As-Zahra St; s/d/tr US$170/200/270, Map)
It wouldn’t win any awards for its design, but this modern hotel near Herod’s Gate has a number of things working in its favor, including good service, free parking and an on-site restaurant with views over the Mount of Olives (no alcohol, though). Wi-fi is available in the lobby only.
The commercial heart of predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, this area is full of sleeping, eating and drinking options but almost totally closes down over Shabbat. The JLR travels down the city centre’s spine, Jaffa Rd, and both the Old City and the Central Bus Station are within walking distance.
Abraham Hostel (02-650 2200; https://abrahamhostels.com; 67 HaNevi’im St, Davidka Sq; dm 114NIS, s 300NIS, d 480NIS, Map) Put simply, the Abraham is an exemplar for hostels everywhere. The best backpacker option in the city (none of the others come close), it’s conveniently located next to the Davidka tram stop, its en-suite rooms are basic but clean, the convivial lounge-bar has an attached communal kitchen and – best of all – there’s a huge entertainment and tours program. Try to be here on Shabbat, when the hostel holds a dinner for up to 40 people (40NIS). You should also take advantage of the free Hebrew and Arabic lessons, enjoy happy hour (6pm to 8pm) at the bar and sign up for at least one tour. The entrance is on HaNevi’im St, near the bus stop.
Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House (02-623 6102; http://www.jerusalem-hostel.com; 44 Jaffa Rd, Zion Sq; dm 90NIS, s 220-340NIS, d 270-360NIS, Map) A fine option for budget travelers keen to base themselves in the city center, this hostel offers clean en-suite rooms, single-sex dorms, a communal kitchen and a rooftop. There’s a healthy traveler vibe, with lots of info tacked onto the walls and plenty of other guests willing to lend free advice. In addition to the main backpacker wing the hostel has a new section in a separate building with private rooms (300NIS).
Many in those rooms tend to separate them from those in the dorms. That’s a pity, because they miss loads of socializing and traveling info.
City Center Suites (02-650 9494; http://www.citycentervacation.com; 17 King George St (cnr HaHistadrut St); d US$130-150, ste US$165-190, economy studio s/d without breakfast US$110/130, Map)
‘Plenty of character, but looking a bit worn’ is a common descriptor for accommodation in this ancient city. And that’s why the existence of this spick-and-span modern hotel should be wholeheartedly celebrated. Spread over two buildings in a conveniently located part of the New City, it offers 38 comfortable rooms with kitchenette; the economy studio is the least impressive. The same owners operate the equally impressive Shamai suites.
Shamai Suites (02-579 7705; http://www.shamaisuites.com; 15 Ben Hillel St; studio r US$140-160, ste US$200-220, Map). What hey call suites are nothing else then normal or ordinary rooms.
Hotel Palatin (02-623 1141; http://www.palatinhotel.com; 4 Agrippas St; s US$110, d US$155, Map) Located near the hub of Jerusalem’s shopping and cafe district, the Palatin has small but reasonably comfortable rooms that are overpriced at the rack rates cited above but can be found at much better prices on booking sites. The friendly service almost (but not quite) compensates for the polyester sheets.
Arthur Hotel (02-623 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 13 Dorot Rishonim St; s/d US$275/325, Map) There are plenty of small hotels in Jerusalem, but few are as well run as this classy place near Zion Sq. Rooms come in many shapes and sizes, but the best are those at the rear of the building (ask for one with a balcony). The breakfast here is impressive, and the complimentary afternoon aperitif is a hit with guests.
The breakfast is really impressive and you can eat a wonder full breakfast with loads of sweets (that’s for me of course). I took a bag with me the last time with a German group. When I talked with the owner last Sunday he asked me if I take a bag with me again, so he could guard his sweets …
7 Kook Boutique Hotel (02-580 8068; http://www.7kookhotel.com; Ticho St; d US$240-380, s without breakfast US$216-342, Map) There aren’t too many boutique hotels in Jerusalem, so the 2014 opening of this well-located example of the genre was a welcome occurrence. Part of an upmarket apartment development, 7 Kook offers four stylish room types – studio, deluxe, family and suite – all of which have comfortable bed, excellent bathroom with tub, espresso machine and kettle.
It’s a beautiful hotel from the inside and outside too.
Harmony Hotel (02-621 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 6 Yo’el Salomon St; s/d US$275/325, Map) A spacious lounge with pool table, books and a fireplace is the major draw at this well-run hotel near Zion Sq, especially during the free afternoon aperitif. There are 50 rooms in total; those on the 1st floor are new and the others are being renovated (opt for a corner one if possible). Free parking is available.
A strange hotel. The interior designers were or color blind or there is something wrong with me. I got the feeling of being seasick.
Notre Dame Guest House (02-627 9111; http://www.notredamecenter.org; 3 Paratroopers Rd; d/tw US$240-290, tr US$290, ste US$450-550, Map) Most of the rooms at this splendidly located Vatican-owned guesthouse have wonderful views of the Old City and the Mount of Olives. The building dates from 1904 and its recently refurbished rooms are a great choice, especially as the guesthouse also has a Mediterranean restaurant with a garden terrace downstairs, and a cheese and wine restaurant on the rooftop.
This so called guest house is pricey, and not family owned, but it’s fancy and well maintained and run. When I slept here during a Catholic tour, I couldn’t sleep the whole night, like I was counting the mosaic above my head. Beautiful guest house though.
Mamilla & Yemin Moshe
St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse (02-673 2401; http://www.scotsguesthouse.com; 1 David Remez St, Yemin Moshe; s US$135, d US$180, tw US$200, ste US$240, apt US$380, Map) St Andrew’s feels like a bit of Scotland transported to the Middle East, stone for stone, nun for nun. Set on a hill overlooking the Old City, with leafy gardens and an imposing stone facade, it has simple rooms and one two-bedroom apartment sleeping four. The more expensive rooms include balconies with a view; those that don’t have access to a large sun deck. All have kettles.
I knew once a Scottish cook, who hated Scotland, but always slept here for some reason. He also couldn’t cook, but that’s my personal opinion.
Mamilla Hotel (02-548 2222; http://www.mamillahotel.com; 11 King Solomon (Shloma HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510- 635, ste US$785, Map) The best location in Jerusalem (near Jaffa Gate, on the edge of the Old and New Cities) is but one of many inducements on offer at this luxury hip hotel. Rooms are large and well equipped, and leisure B&B facilities include spa with steam room and hamam, gym, indoor pool, two bars, cafe and rooftop Italian restaurant.
David Citadel Hotel (02-621 1111; http://www.thedavidcitadel.com; 7 King David (David HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510-634, ste US$1000, Map) Like airports, some large hotels are microcities, populated with different people, housing, businesses and leisure facilities. The 400-room David Citadel fits this description, providing a city within a city for its pampered guests. Rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed (the suites are knockouts), there are three restaurants, and facilities include executive lounge, outdoor pool, children’s play centre, spa and gym.
YMCA Three Arches Hotel (02-569 2692; http://www.ymca3arch.co.il; 26 King David St, Yemin Moshe; s/tw/tr/ste US$200/220/250/290, Map)
This 1933 building is an important local landmark and a decent place to spend a few nights. The hotel’s 56 rooms are simply furnished and could be cleaner; all have twin beds and cable TV. There’s an on-site restaurant, a gym and a pool.
German Colony & Rehavia
Little House in Rehavia (02-563 3344; http://www.jerusalem-hotel.co.il; 20 Ibn Ezra St, Rehavia; s 450NIS, d 600-690NIS, Map)
There’s a boutique feel to this hotel in a restored 1942 stone building. Located in one of Jerusalem’s prettiest neighborhoods (a 1.5km walk to the Old City), it has 28 rooms, a roof terrace, a garden and a strictly kosher dining room where a daily breakfast and Shabbat lunch and dinner are served.
Arcadia Ba’Moshava (02-542 3000; http://www.arcadiahotels.co.il; 13 Yehoshua bin-Nun St; s/d midweek US$240/270, weekend US$270/300, Map)
Opened in 2014 after a major restoration, this hotel occupies a gorgeous Arab-style villa dating from 1935. ‘Ba’Moshava’ means ‘in the Colony’ and its location in a residential street off the Emek Refa’im shopping and entertainment strip is excellent. Rooms are smallish, but that won’t matter, as you’ll spend most of your time in the elegant lounge or leafy garden. The hotel provides bikes for the use of its guests.
Jerusalem Garden Home (050 524 0442; http://www.jerusalemgardenhome.com; 74 Derech Beit Lehem; s/d/tr US$140/185/210, Map)
Run by a friendly couple, this B&B near the German Colony has a real home-away-from-home feel. It offers four rooms sleeping between two and four persons; each has a kitchenette and cable TV. The same owners operate a garden restaurant across the road, where breakfast is served.
Romema & Mekor Baruch
Allenby 2 B&B (052 396 3160; http://www.dahliaandnirbnb.com/ALLENBY-2; Allenby Sq 2, Romema; s 180NIS, d 330NIS, d with shared bathroom 250NIS, Map) One of the most popular B&Bs in Jerusalem, Allenby 2 combines a warm and convivial atmosphere with excellent service. With 11 rooms spread over a few properties, it’s also one of the larger B&Bs in the city. The shared kitchen and location close to the Central Bus Station and JLR line are definite draws. There’s no reception, so call ahead.
Just 12km north of central Tel Aviv, Herzliya is popular due to its fine, clean beaches, marina mall and string of seafront cafes. Named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Herzliya started as a small farming community in 1924 and now consists of two main areas separated by Hwy 2. Map.
Middle-class, suburban central Herzliya, east of the highway, is mainly residential and commercial, while Herzliya Pituach (west of the highway) – a neighborhood of huge villas that’s home to some of Israel’s wealthiest residents – is where the beaches are. Herzliya Pituach is also home to Israel’s blossoming high-tech industry; as a result, modern office blocks are rising up all over the area. Pituach, by the way, means ‘development’.
Apollonia National Park (03-903 3130; adult/student/child 22/19/10NIS; 8am-5pm Apr-Sep, to 4pm Oct-Mar, closes 1hr earlier Fri & holiday evenings) This picturesque coastal park contains the ruins of a Crusader castle that becomes the venue for open-air concerts during summer weekends. There are some stunning views out over the Mediterranean and nearby you can see the remains of a Roman villa and the well-kept 13th-century Sidni Ali Mosque. The park can be reached by a fairly long walk up Wingate St or easily by car from the highway. It is about 3km north of Herzliya Pituach’s main beach, just beyond the small town of Nof Yam.
Herzliya Museum of Modern Art (09-950 0762; http://www.herzliyamuseum.co.il; 4 HaBanim St; admission 10NIS; h10am-2pm Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat, 4-8pm Tue & Thu) Dedicated to Israeli and international contemporary art with an emphasis on political subject matter, this gallery aims to engage as well as entertain.
As you would expect from such an affluent area, Herzliya accommodation consists of luxury spa hotels, but there are many restaurants for all budgets around the marina and on the beach.
Gelateria Siciliana (http://glideria.co.il; 14 Shenkar St; 1/2/3 scoops 15/20/25NIS; noon-midnight Sun-Thu, 11am-late Fri & Sat ) When at the beach, it’s almost obligatory to enjoy an ice cream. And in Herzliya, the best place to do this is at the local branch of the Tel Aviv gelateria.
Derby Bar (09-951 1818; http://derbybar.co.il; Arena Mall; pastas 69-89NIS, mains 99-135NIS; noon-midnight) Attached to the Arena shopping mall next to the marina, this well-known restaurant has an expansive waterside terrace where it serves seafood, fish and pasta dishes. Beer is the usual accompaniment – there are six brands on tap.
Benedict (09-958 0701; http://www.benedict.co.il; 1 Haetzel St; breakfast 39-98NIS; h24hr) The Herzliya branch of the popular Tel Aviv all-day breakfast joint is as popular as its inner-city equivalents. Diners can fill up on eggs Benedict, shakshuka or their choice from an enormous menu.
Agadir (09-951 6551; http://www.agadir.co.il; 9 Hamanofim St; hnoon-3am Sun-Thu, to 4am Fri, to 3am Sat ) A 20-minute walk from the Arena Mall, Agadir sticks with what it does best: tasty meat or veggie burgers with your choice of toppings and sides.
Egged buses 501, 502, 524, 525 and 531 run every 20 minutes to and from Tel Aviv (10.90NIS, 30 minutes). Trains run every 20 minutes (10NIS, 10 minutes). The station is quite a way from the beach, so take a taxi or bus 29 (6.60NIS) to the marina.
The northernmost city in the West Bank, Jenin is home to religious sites, a bustling souq, a unique performing-arts scene and the Arab-American University, but its isolation has traditionally left it off the tourist trail. That’s starting to change, due to the opening of the Jalameh (Gilboa) Border Crossing, just 10km south of Afula, allowing easier access for travelers from Nazareth and Haifa. Map.
What’s so special about Jenin is that it’s a real Palestinian city without being any tourist trap. The prices are cheap, you still can repair your shoes while you wait for 10 shekels, you can drink the original coffee, the people in Jenin and on the streets are friendly for tourists and very much welcome you in their nice, a bit dusty city.
And it’s busy there! Reason is the market and that’s special.On the image above, the man drove my wooden shopping cart. That’s right. When you enter the market, there are several men with a narrow cart offering their services for you. That means that everything you buy, the man will handle it.
He will follow you with his shopping cart and you can do whatever you want, hands free. The price for this service in the market is NIS 5. If you want him to follow you throughout the city center, he charges you NIS 20. The man has a large family at home and he really needs the income. Nice man.
Back to the market, there is the normal vegetable market, the meat market and the second-hand-type-of-market in a way. Visit and you will see. And then there are so many see there, not normal.
Some Israelis today are visiting Jenin to do their shoppings for the week and that means paying about NIS 300 (instead of NIS 1,400 in Israel).
Masjid Jenin al-Kabir & Downtown With its unmissable green roof, Masjid Jenin al-Kabir (Jenin Great Mosque), was built in 1566 on the orders of Fatima Khatun, then wife of the Governor of Damascus. Cross the street and enter a dense network of alleys that form the Old City, today largely occupied by furniture makers, barbers and machinists. Two blocks south of the mosque is King Talal St, which leads to Jerusalem Sq, the main bus station and the Jenin Cinema. It’s fun to wander into the souq, North of King Talal St, which is absolutely bursting with activity.
Freedom Theater (04-250 3345; http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org; h9am-4pm daily) This world-renowned theater group has persevered in the face of difficult circumstances since it was founded in 2006. Its founder, Juliano Mar Khamis, was assassinated in 2011 by masked gunners outside the theater building in the heart of Jenin’s refugee camp and his killer has never been identified. The Palestinian film-makers, actors, photographers and directors who have moved through the theater have also had to put up with significant Israeli restrictions on movement. Despite this, the Freedom Theater holds regular performances in both Arabic and English, and foreign visitors are always warmly received whether there is a show on or not.
Greek Orthodox Church of St George Located in Burqi’in village, this church was built upon the site where it is believed Jesus healed 10 lepers (Luke 17: 11–19). It’s said to be one of the world’s oldest surviving churches (dating to the 4th or 5th century CE) and contains the cave that sheltered the lepers. Service taxis (3NIS) go here from a station about 300m west of the Masjid Jenin. The church is often locked but the caretaker family should be able to unlock the gates for you. In front of the church a shaft has been uncovered that leads to another cave where early Christians took shelter from the Romans. Ask if you can climb down the ladder to have a nose inside.
Canaan Fair Trade (04-243 1991; http://www.canaanfairtrade.com; 8am-5pm Sat-Thu) Located 2km beyond Burqi’in, this newly built olive-oil factory practices fair-trade policy with its olive farmers. A tour of the factory (40NIS) includes a free bottle of olive oil and if you want to get to know the olive farmers, they can set you up with a home stay. A good time to visit is the first Friday of November, when the factory holds its annual harvest festival rooms and a nice kitchen for cooking communal meals. Breakfast is an extra 10NIS. The English-speaking manager is a font of information on the area. It’s opposite the central bus station.
North Gate Hotel (04-243 5700; http://www.northgate-hotel.com; Palestine St; s/d 200/300NIS) The high-end option in Jenin, North Gate has a pool and clean, modern rooms but its location, a 20- minute walk from the Old City and amidst half a dozen unfinished apartment buildings, counts against it. It is one of only a handful of mid range options in the city. Breakfast and WiFi are included in the room rate.
Awtar (Cinema Circle; dishes 20-60NIS; h8am-midnight) Head up to Awtar’s spacious roof garden for a choice of Arabic and Western dishes under the stars. Even on cool evenings, the terrace is packed with groups of men and women drinking, eating and chatting over shisha. Downstairs, the restaurant has bay windows overlooking the street and serves Arab staples as well as pizza, burgers and enormous salads.
Jenin Tourism Office (h10am-2pm Sat-Thu) Don’t be put off by the rather ramshackle tower block that houses this excellent tourism center, opened in 2013 with the aid of funding from the Spanish government. The center has a number of fascinating rooms, which include a timeline of Jenin’s history from 7000 BCE to 2002, touch-screen photography exhibitions and examples of handicrafts. English-speaking staff are a wealth of advice on what to do in Jenin and the surrounding area.
There are frequent buses during the day to/from Nablus for 10NIS. From the north (Nazareth or Haifa), it’s possible to take a direct share taxi from Nazareth or Afula to Jenin, passing through the Jalameh border crossing (open daily, 8am to 5pm). Expect a long delay if you cross with your own car.