Ultimate Hipster Guide to Jerusalem

At a Peace Now peace rally/demonstration in Jerusalem

Jerusalem ain’t no Tel Aviv, but I suspect the city is more surprising than you’d first think! Here’s a periodically updated list of my favorite things to do in Jerusalem.

People-watching

  • Western Wall — one of Jerusalem’s most famous tourist sites. It’s a great plaza to sit and soak up the history/religion/strange-awesome-power
  • Zion Square — used to love sitting around here. The pedestrian walkway usually has some sort of buskers or people hawking things so it makes for a nice mix of interesting characters.
  • Pedestrian mall outside Jaffa Gate — Jaffa Gate in and of itself is an interesting place. Tourism office is located right there so there’s lot of people selling bagels and street food, not to mention the people dressed up as ancient Romans selling tours. But the pedestrian mall just outside the Old City is a comfortable place for a walk—especially if you get tired of the brown and winding alleys in the Old City.
  • Mount of Olives — It’s a great scenic overview onto the Dome of the Rock and the Old City of Jerusalem. You can walk up through the Jewish cemetery on the side of the hill as well, if you’re into that. It’s also a great place for a political overview of Jerusalem—many political tours stop here to explain a bit about the complex nature of Jerusalem.

The Western Wall is segregated and makes for some great people-watching from any perspective…Especially at sundown on Shabbat (Friday night) and if you can catch a bar mitzvah, too!

Cool bars & nightlife

  • Mike’s Place — There’s the one in Tel Aviv right on the beach, and this one in J’lem has been open for a year now. Usually live music and a decent burger. Popular with Americans.
  • Hakatze — Every Monday night at 11pm it’s gay/LGBT night with a popular drag show (video!)
  • Uganda — Probably Jerusalem’s most trendy/hipster bar IMO. Amazing music, place is decorated with old records. Awesome vibe. People are usually spilling out onto the streets. 4 Aristobolus Streetwebsite
  • Stardust — pretty cool bar with a nice atmosphere

Food & Cafes

  • Tmol Shilshom — FAVORITE! Love this place. Part bookstore, part cafe, part hipster hang-out. It’s near all the main touristy stuff, but through a back courtyard and up a metal staircase it can be a bit challenging to find. Like a clam oasis in the chaos that is touristic Jerusalem. Love the food, too!
  • Holy Bagels — Right near the Jerusalem bus station, I used to grab a quick bagel here on my way in and out of the city. Very American-style bagels :)
  • Falafel stand at Damascus Gate – this old stand in the Old Town, just near the Damascus Gate is SO YUMMY. And super cheap. It’s hard to miss as it’s right near the beginning of the market.
  • Humus Ben Sira — Really enjoyed this tiny place for their hummus. On a side street and usually crowded.
  • Zuni — A bit of a fancier restaurant than I usually visit, but their food was delicious.
  • Austrian Hospice — this place is a hostel/hotel (I never stayed there, though) but they have a great courtyard and cafe. It’s inside the Old City, maybe a 5 minute walk from the Western Wall. They serve some delicious apple strudel and Viennese style coffee!

A note about politics

I’m no stranger to controversy but I did want to add this to my hipster travel guide to Jerusalem… This city is an incredible, fascinating place with a very long and complex history. There are many nonprofits, NGOs and independent organizations that delve into the politics of Jerusalem today. Many of these even offer tours or informational guides to tourists.

I’d suggest looking them up if you really want to learn about Jerusalem. Sure, you can show up in the city and spend a few days seeing all the holy sites but Jerusalem deserves a bit more attention than just a cursory look. Learn about the city’s current political situation from both Israelis and Palestinians.. Interested in more about the politics of visiting Israel? Read my entry, “Should you visit Israel?

Have something to add? Let me know!

 

 

8 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. I’m happy you enjoyed! Love from Jerusalem!!!!! 3>

  2. that’s one of the most surprising cities I’ve visited and I believe it has a lot of potential to become another hipster paradise, especially with the complex history, politics etc. I loved how much random street art was around the city. And the nightlife on Saturday night was pretty awesome, something I’ve never thought of in Jerusalem!

  3. the austrian hospice has a rooftop terrace too from where you can see the whole old city. it is really worth climbing the stairs. there are even some benches where you can have a rest and enjoy the panoramic view.

    • Oh I definitely missed that the last time I visited but will be sure to check it out on my next trip to Jerusalem. Thanks for the top tip!

  4. I’ll have to save this list when I get to Jerusalem at some point. Sounds like you found some of my favorite activities: people watching, history and food.

    • Some of my favorite activities, too, Suzy. Jerusalem is a surprising city with a lot to offer. Enjoy!

  5. I loved the week I spent in Jerusalem — would love to get back there one day. :)

    • When I first entered Israel, I spent the week in Jerusalem—it’s pretty much what convinced me to stay in Israel for longer…and I ended up staying four months!

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