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Getting around Jerusalem

Public transport

The Egged Cooperative (tel: +972 3 694 8888; www.egged.co.il) provides an inexpensive, efficient bus system within Jerusalem. All routes are based out of the central bus station at 24 Jaffa Road. Bus services run daily, except on Shabbat or Jewish holidays. Tickets are available from the driver.

Fares are discounted for children, students, the disabled and seniors. For ease of travel, you can buy a reloadable Rav Kav smartcard, which can be loaded with either a daily or a weekly fare that includes unlimited transport within the metropolitan area.

In addition, a modern light rail (tel: *3686, in Israel only; www.citypass.co.il) runs through the heart of Jerusalem, from Mount Herzl past the central bus station (on Jaffa Street), Mahane Yehuda Market, the Old City (Damascus Gate), to Ammunition Hill on the outskirts of town. It runs daily every 10 to 15 minutes, except for Shabbat hours.

Taxis

Taxis are legally required to use the meter, however, travellers sometimes need to insist it be turned on. You can hail taxis in the street or book them in advance. Dozens of taxi companies ply Jerusalem’s streets, including Hapalmach Taxis (tel: +972 77 333 6368), which offers 24-hour services, including weekends and holidays. Tipping is not usual.

Sherut
An alternative to a taxi or bus is the popular sherut. These shared taxis are minibuses that follow public bus routes; however, they allow you to get on and off anywhere on the journey. Some sheruts run on Shabbat and fares are slightly less than bus fares.

Driving

Driving in Jerusalem is fairly straightforward, although the city suffers from terrible congestion. For sightseeing or getting around the centre, it is recommended you walk, use buses or take the light rail. For access to the Old City, the Karta parking lot near Jaffa Gate is open six days a week.

Street parking is paid through parking cards. You can obtain these from street kiosks, post offices and petrol stations. Kerbside colours indicate where parking is permitted: blue and white mean parking is allowed with pre-paid parking cards only. Visitors should not park where there is any other kerbside colour as parking regulations are rigorously enforced.

Car hire

The majority of car hire companies are located in central Jerusalem, but it is often cheaper to book your car from abroad or online. To hire a car, drivers must be at least 21 years old (although this varies depending on car category) and in possession of a full driving licence with at least two years' driving experience, insurance and an international credit card. Car hire companies will not allow hire cars to be driven into the Palestinian territories.

Eldan (www.eldan.co.il) is the main Israeli car hire company. International companies include Avis (tel: +972 2 624 9001; www.avis.co.il) and Hertz (tel: +972 2 623 1351; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

Despite the hills and traffic, cycling is popular in Jerusalem. Rental companies include Bike Jerusalem (tel: +972 2 579 6353; www.bikejerusalem.com) and Abraham Tours (tel: + 2 566 0045; https://abrahamtours.com).

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Prima Royale Hotel

Outside the Old City and close to Jerusalem’s Downtown Triangle, Prima Royale is an affordable and attractive hotel with one special draw: its goal of introducing guests to Jerusalem’s artistry. Each floor is dedicated to a specific artist, writer, or poet who drew inspiration from the city. Classical music plays in the morning, and jazz serenades you in the afternoon. The breakfast is also delicious.

 

Hashimi Hotel

The Old City’s ‘newest’ hotel is set in a 400-year-old building right in the heart of the Old City. It’s the perfect base to explore the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall and Jerusalem’s many other famous sights. The 40 rooms are spread over three floors and the rooftop terrace overlooks some of the best views in town.

David Citadel Hotel

This modern 385-room hotel is a short walk from both the Old City and the new city centre and is just around the corner from the trendy Mamilla Mall. A standout feature is the terrace overlooking the pool, a great spot to indulge in Israel’s trademark big breakfast while gazing over the city. After a day’s sightseeing, the L’Occitane spa is a tranquil spot for a restorative massage.

Little House in Bakah

Set in a renovated 1930s Ottoman-style mansion in the old Bakah neighbourhood, this 33-room boutique property is big on charm with its high ceilings, arched windows and rustic décor. Rooms are simple and comfortable, and there’s free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee 24/7 and breakfast included. The hotel is just around the corner from the hip cafés of Bethlehem Road and Emek Refaim Street.

Knight's Palace

A former theological seminary with some parts dating back to the 11th-century, this lovely hotel is nestled in a quiet corner of the Muslim Quarter. It is steeped in Old City elegance with vaulted ceilings, arched windows and exposed stone. Despite being close to both the New Gate and Jaffa Gate, its location on a quiet cobbled lane means it is just out of reach of the hustle and bustle. It has comfortable rooms, a nice restaurant and bar, Wi-Fi throughout, AC and cable TV.

King Solomon Hotel

This 5-star in the centre of Jerusalem caters to religious Jewish travellers by offering its own synagogue, a Glatt Kosher menu and Shabbat lights in the bedrooms. The stunning views overlooking the Judean hills make up for the slightly outdated décor. The centrepiece of the lobby is a globe-shaped metal sculpture of Jerusalem by the English-born artist Frank Meisler. The hotel is just 10 minutes' walk from the Jaffa Gate of the Old City.