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Your 48-Hour Guide to Visiting Jerusalem

June 29, 2019
8 min read
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Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities in the world. A tangle of Jewish, Christian and Muslim neighborhoods, the city is a powerful example of harmony and an important stop during any trip to Israel. After taking a 10-day tour of the nation, we compiled our perfect itinerary for a two-day visit to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem. Photo by Lori Zaino.

Getting to Jerusalem

It's easy to get to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) — it's just a 45-minute drive away. It's possible to do a day trip from Tel Aviv (a one-hour drive) if you don't want to spend the night there, as you'll be able to see most of the main attractions in the Old City. But it'd be impossible to cram everything in to just 24 hours, so we recommend spending at least two days.

TPG Tip: You may run into traffic on this route, so be prepared for a longer ride if you head there during peak times.

Where to Stay in Jerusalem

Our team bedded down at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, which has a beautiful, bright lobby and in-room amenities like Ahava products and Nespresso machines. The hotel lacks a proper gym (it's currently under construction) and a pool, so if that's important to you, you might consider the King David Hotel Jerusalem instead. The hotel's grounds are immaculate, covered with rose bushes and greenery, and the historic property also has a large, inviting swimming pool.

Both properties cost upwards of $500 per night (the Waldorf starts at $515 while the King David is closer to $570) and are available through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program. If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion Card you can earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. By booking through the FHR portal, you’re entitled to benefits such as guaranteed late checkout, a room upgrade when available, daily breakfast for two people and more. (The unique property amenity at the Waldorf is a $100 food and beverage credit, while the King David offers travelers who book through Amex FHR a complimentary dinner for two.)

The King David. Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

TPG Tip: It's important to note that both hotels are Kosher, meaning that on Shabbat (from Friday at sundown to sundown on Saturday) dining options are limited to cold foods and instant coffee. The elevators may also run slower as a few are designated Shabbat elevators that stop at every floor automatically. Offsite, you'll be able to get breakfast and other meals during Shabbat at many non-Kosher spots.

What to Do in Jerusalem

The Wailing, or Western, Wall.

Jerusalem has so much history and culture, it can be difficult to know where to start. But you'll want to head first to the Old City. The Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall (also known as the Kotel in Hebrew), is a special place to visit at any time of day — but especially so during sundown, when people come to pray.

The wall, separated into two distinct areas for men and women, is believed to be the holiest site in Judaism. Write your wish on a small piece of paper and slip it into one of the wall's crevices, always making sure to be respectful of those praying. Plan to wear modest clothing (there are shawls available for women and hats for men, free of charge), and prepare to walk through security upon arrival.

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Touring the Kotel tunnels — the underground portion of the Western Wall — is especially interesting. Navigate the subterranean passages as you learn about the history of the wall.

Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

Another highlight is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, home to the Foundation Stone and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Via Dolorosa. Photo by Lori Zaino.

Walking along the Via Dolorosa will take you past all the Stations of the Cross. The final stations end at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, considered one the holiest spots in the world for Christians. It contains the spot where Jesus was said to be crucified as well as his empty tomb.

Exploring the different quarters of the city will also give you a feel for all the different cultures that coexist here, so make sure to walk through the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.

Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

Beyond the walls of the Old City, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The 45-acre campus includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Museum of Holocaust Art, the Hall of Remembrance, outdoor memorials, sculptures and more. It's a powerful and incredibly somber experience, but one no traveler should skip.

Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

End your visit with a trip to the Mount of Olives, which offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. The hill, which was once covered in olive trees, has more than just views. A long history of biblical events are said to have happened here.

TPG Tip: Make sure to reserve your tour of the Kotel Tunnels in advance, as they only operate with pre-booked tours and slots fill up quickly. Note that the Temple Mount is closed to tourists on Fridays, Saturdays and during Muslim holidays. Arriving at the other attractions, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, early in the morning will ensure you beat the crowds and the heat.

Where to Eat in Jerusalem

Breakfast at Kadosh. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin.)

Israeli food is absolutely delicious, and there are great spots all over Jerusalem where you can enjoy the cuisine. For breakfast, go to Café Kadosh where you can find classic shakshuka (a savory baked tomato-and-egg dish) and sugary pastries.

Desserts at the market. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/TPG.)

Not only is the Machane Yehuda market an amazing place to wander around, snap photos and little bites along the way, but it's also home to some seriously awesome, no-frills restaurants like Azoura for hummus or Rachmo for Kurdish food — just be prepared to wait in line.

Cocktails and cuisine at Mona. Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

For a chic dinner, head to Mona. The eclectic cocktails and farm-to-table cuisine will wow you, and the patio is perfect for an intimate gathering.

Seafood at Chakra. Photo by Nicky Kelvin.

Satya offers typical Israeli fare, but with a gourmet Mediterranean twist. The chef, Ilan Grossi, was previously at Chakra, another great dinner spot (especially if you're looking for a scene).

TPG Tip: Eat as much as possible, and try everything at the market. We promise, you won't regret it.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees