Culture, Markets, Cafes, Museums: The Best of Jerusalem

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Jerusalem is undoubtedly one of the world’s most historical cities and while each person has a different motivation for visiting, this guide highlights some of the attractions that is sure to interest the bohemian traveler.

Local Market

There are a few different markets throughout Jerusalem but the most notable are The Old City market and Mahane Yehuda market. During the day, the bazaars are uncomfortably crowded but foot traffic dies down in the evening. Many of the vendors sell similar items and of course some are classically touristy souvenirs but it is possible to dig a little deeper to find more authentic items. For fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, fish, meat, cheeses, spices, wines and clothing, Mahane Yehuda is your best bet.

Garden of Gethsemane

Whether you are religious or not, the Garden of Gethsemane, located near the Mount of Olives is a peaceful and beautiful garden where one can reflect on his surroundings or contemplate the history of the Old City. If you are traveling solo, it might be worth it to find a friend or two to either split a taxi up there or walk together to the garden. I was instructed by the local tourism office to walk through the main market and I ended up getting followed by an Arab man – not to draw stereotypes but it was less than an ideal proposition.

Cafe Culture

Like many global cities, cafe culture is a popular way of life in Jerusalem. The trendy cafes are generally located in the New City on Jaffa Street (the main road). The weather in Israel is warm and it rarely rains, making outdoor eating and drinking quite common during all hours of the day and night. Prices tend to be higher here, as street food stands are less frequent and many cafes offer fancier decor.

The Israel Museum

It hardly rains in Israel so there is no use saving this museum for a rainy day. The vast collection of art, archeology, sculptures and antiques can easily keep one entertained for hours. I definitely recommend beginning with the Model of Jerusalem followed by the exhibit devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The sculpture Garden goes along the outside of the museum and is often overlooked yet is extremely well done. There is even a Botero sculpture, making this bohemian very happy.

National Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust

Revisiting the traumatic history of the Holocaust may not be your ideal way to spend your afternoon but the exhibits definitely deserve at least two hours. The memorial and museum is pretty extensive and there are guides on site who can tailer their tour to your specific interests. The Children’s Memorial is particularly moving and the overall design of the building is meant to resemble the claustrophobic feeling that the Jewish people experienced during this period in history.


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