Jerusalem tours and excursions

Jerusalem tours

Bus tours

The Egged National Bus Co-operative and United Tours, 9 Coresh Street, are the main operators of coach tours in and around Jerusalem (and from the city to other parts of Israel). Similar tours can be arranged through numerous smaller private companies. A good introduction to the city is Line 99, a hop-on, hop-off circular bus tour. The Abraham Hostel now offers many excellent tours in and around Jerusalem at very reasonable prices.

Telephone: (02) 650 2200; (03) 920 3992.
Segway tours

Segway tours are an excellent and low-energy way of seeing large parts of Jerusalem, and have become extremely popular in recent years. There are now several companies offering tours outside of the Old City in areas such as the Armon Hanatziv Promenade and the area around the Knesset (government buildings).

Walking tours

There are dozens of different walking tours that can be joined in Jerusalem, some of the most popular and worthwhile being in around the Old City. Leaflets and information on the many government and private tours can be found at the Tourist Information Center, Jaffa Gate, Old City. Recommended companies include Zion Walking Tours and Sandeman’s New Europe Jerusalem Tour. The tourist office also hires out audio guides, for self-guided walking tours.

Telephone: (02) 627 7588.

Excursions from Jerusalem

Bethlehem

Situated just 12km (7 miles) south of central Jerusalem, the town of Bethlehem lies just across the 'Green Line' in the West Bank, and is fully under Palestinian control. It is an interesting excursion if security considerations make it possible. 

Bethlehem is known worldwide among Christians as the birthplace of Jesus Christ and in Judaism as the burial place of Rachel, wife of Jacob. This was also the birthplace of King David. Bethlehem is therefore of great importance to Christians and Jews alike, but the population of this once-Christian town is today 88% Muslim. In the fourth century, a cave was selected as the exact place where Jesus was born and the Church of the Nativity erected over the site. The church is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ornate and atmospheric medieval church, standing along one side of Manger Square is the focal point for any visit. The Cave of the Nativity is reached by going down some steps inside the church and a star on the floor shows where Jesus was supposedly born.

Ein Gedi, Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 400m (1,200ft) below sea level and is a unique geological phenomenon. Its extreme salinity and abundance of minerals not only makes it very buoyant but its waters are considered to heal many skin and medical conditions. The Ein Gedi Resort offers a chance to float in the Dead Sea, and relax in its sulphur pools.

The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is a natural desert oasis. Waterfalls, streams and pools make it a lovely walking destination.

Both can be reached by bus 421, 486 and 487 from Jerusalem.

Telephone: (08) 659 4221.
Masada

Situated on a mountain top overlooking the Dead Sea, Masada National Park was the scene of the final Jewish resistance against the Romans and King Herod’s earlier Palace. The Jewish zealots who fled to Masada realised they faced imminent defeat and, rather than surrender, committed suicide. The extensive ruins include Herod's Palace, the synagogue, the fortress and an elaborate bathhouse.

Masada lies on Route 90 south of Ein Gedi. Approaching from the east the ascent is by cable car, or walking the Snake Path. From the west there is a 20-minute climb to the top.

It is open Saturday to Thursday 0800-1700 (1600 Oct-Mar) and Friday 0500-1500. Masada can be reached by bus 421 and 486 from Jerusalem.

Telephone: (08) 658 4207.
Tel Aviv

Although a mere one hour’s drive from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv couldn’t be more different. Where Jerusalem in devout and historic, Tel Aviv is secular and young. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, the city is vibrant and fun-loving. Bars, cafés and restaurants are permanently busy, it is home to world-class museums and art galleries and has a laid-back atmosphere like no other Israeli city. With its new buildings and thriving weekend social life, it stands as a complete and refreshing opposite to Jerusalem.

Telephone: (03) 521 8214.
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