More than 3.5 million people visit Israel each year with the majority of them flocking to the country’s capital – Jerusalem. Widely recognized as the holiest place in the world, Jerusalem’s rich history, culture and beautiful archaeological sites draw people to the city. With more than 200 attractions including 60 museums, you won’t run out of things to do and see during a visit to the Holy Land. The city has something for everyone, respectfully blending its 3,000 year history with current cultural experiences, festivals, and sporting events.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Jerusalem and took advantage of every moment to experience as much of the city as I could. Here are my five family friendly must do’s in Jerusalem:
Undoubtedly Jerusalem’s most popular attraction, The Old City tops the list of must do and see places for this fascinating city. It’s the home of the holiest sites for Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions. Make sure to allot enough time to explore all four quarters (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian) and experience the unique history each holds with in the old walls.
The Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock are the must-see’s on this must-do list. I suggest site-seeing with a licensed guide who can share interesting details, facts and traditions that might otherwise be missed to enhance the experience. Guides can also advise on any religious restrictions (i.e. only Muslims are allowed inside the Dome of the Rock), attire, and etiquette.
Spectacular is the perfect word to describe this captivating sound and light show. I saw the show my first night in Jerusalem and it set the bar high for my upcoming days. The 45 minute show tells the history of Jerusalem with brilliant images and music presented on the the walls of the outdoor Citadel courtyard.
After a full day of walking The Old City it was a nice change of pace and scenery to hop on a Segway and take in the gorgeous sites of Jerusalem from a different view. It was my first time rollin’ on a Segway and I loved it. We moved around the hillside stopping to take pictures and take in more of Israel’s complex history from our Smart Tour guides. Definitely a fun, family-friendly way to keep kids (and adults) entertained and engaged. Safety was a priority and the Segways were easy to use.
The Israel Museum is the country’s largest and one of the world’s most acclaimed art and archaeology museums appropriately featuring biblical and holy land treasures. It’s home to the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Holyland Model of Jerusalem.It also boasts a youth wing for kids.
The Jerusalem Marathon just celebrated its fifth year and attracted more than 26,000 participants to run in seven different races. A beautifully scenic and challenging course (hills anyone?), the event is well-organized and offers a distance for all ages and race levels. I tackled the half marathon – along with 5,000 other runners including Jerusalem’s Mayor, Nir Barkat.
If running is not your thing, the city hosts several cultural events throughout the year including the Sounds of the Old City Festival (during the same time as the marathon); an International Film Festival in the summer, and the Sacred Music Festival in the fall.
For more information about Jerusalem, visit www.itraveljerusalem.com