The Holy city

Located just 1,5 hour away (around 70km) from Tel Aviv, you can reach the city either by car or by train.

This post is not long enough to describe all there is to see in Jerusalem. I should dedicate an entire page to it. You could stay there 5 days without getting bored. Meanwhile, these are already some hints of what to do (beside the obvious), where to stay and where to eat in Jerusalem.

The atmosphere has nothing to do with Tel Aviv. But then, Tel Aviv is not Israël. It’s a bubble of freedom. Here, it’s all about religious fervour, history and multi-ethnicity cohabitation.


Where to stay

The American Colony, iconic hotel outside the walls, in East Jerusalem. Simply gorgeous. The cellar bar is a legendary meeting place for diplomats and journalists who like to discuss regional politics. When the weather is good, having breakfast in the patio is such a divine experience. A word of advice: though super charming and beautiful, if you choose a room located in the main historic building with a view on the pool, you have to know that you will be awaken at night by the Muaddin who calls for the prayer. The minaret of the mosque is almost at the corner of the pool …

Austrian Hospice, inside the walls, in East Jerusalem, on via Dolorosa. Sleep in a historic pilgrim house (rooms are good but no frills) with a Viennese Café (I know a bit quirky but great!) and a beautiful garden. It’s a fantastic experience to sleep in the old city. Go on the roof for one of the best view on the old city. No car can reach the hotel. You will have to park outside the Damascus gate. From there, it’s just a short walk (but you will have to carry your suitcase!). You can also just have a drink there if you need a break.

Mamilla Hotel, stunning design hotel, just outside the walls, in the Jewish part of the city. It has a roof terrace with a fantastic view on the old city. Worth it even just for a drink. It’s located at the end of the Mamilla avenue that runs from


Where to eat

At noon, there are lots of small eateries selling falafel sandwiches in the old town. Great for the taste (I like them a lot) but bad for the figure… The same with hummus, a cult dish in this part of the world. For the best, head to Lina, an institution joint, in the Christian Quarter (Al Khanka Street). If you want something healthier, directly from the Mahane Yehuda market (which is worth a visit by the way if you like markets), go for Machneyuda, 10 Beit Yaakov (I love their website! Click on the tomato for the vibe). Fantastic! But closed in the evening, and outside of the old city.

For the evening, try one of these. The first 2 are in walking distance from the hotels mentioned (maybe from the American Colony, it’s a bit far, for the return, take a cab):

Lara, 3 Shimon Ben Sheta, a bistro type restaurant serving Israëli food with a twist. The chef is Lior Hafzadi.

Noya, 3 Shlomtsiyon HaMalka, in an elegant venue, you’ll eat gourmet Israeli and French cuisine with a background of jazz music.

Mona, 12 Shmu’el ha-Nagid, Machneyuda’s sister. A hip, smart restaurant/bar witha n Italian touch.

The other possibility is to head to the First Station (see below): I liked the restaurant called « Kitchen Station ».


What you should see, beside the classics (Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall,…)

 The Israël Museum. It is composed of various interesting buildings among which an iconic one, with its distinctive design, the Shrine of the Book, host of the Dead Sea scrolls. Don’t miss the sculpture garden. Beside their collections, they also feature interesting temporary exhibitions. Last time I went, there was one on the American artist James Turrell (I love what he does with light!) and a fantastic retrospective of the traditional clothing worn by Jews throughout the Middle East and even India in the 19th and 20th Century, displaying for instance traditional Jewish bridal costumes from Iraq and Yemen. Impressive. It’s still on until January 3, 2015!

Yad Vashem. the Holocaust Memorial. Poignant. A remarkable scenography and architecture. The Hall of Names and the Children’s memorial are particularly moving.

The Western Wall tunnel. It’s a tunnel dating back from the King Herode period that runs along the Western Wall, under the old city, deep down. Good to know if you suffer from claustrophobia. It reveals the remains and the foundation of the Second Temple and gives an insight on the building methods used. This tunnel is also the most sacred place in the Jewish faith as it gives access to the closest place to the Holy of the Holies, located under the Dome of the Rock on temple Mount. It’s a chunk of History with layers of different eras: Jew, Roman and Ottoman.

The First Station. the old train station converted into a hub for culture (art galeries) and foodies. A cool place.

From there you can also go to Bethléhem (just next door but take information because it’s in Palestinian territory and you’ll have to pass the West Bank Barrier or the Wall) and Masada. But that’s another story…


Did you know that Jerusalem has its own syndrome? Each year, roughly a hundred of tourists suffer from the “Jerusalem syndrome” (you see on Youtube), triggered by too much fervour. For them, experiencing their faith in Jerusalem is simply too overwhelming Maybe you’ll see them. Some are dressed in white robes, preaching public sermons or declaiming religious verses. Some recover, others never…



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