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Things to do in Jerusalem

Become an expert in the local plonk

Winemaking is a centuries-old tradition in the region, yet only in recent years have Israeli-made wines begun to make an impact internationally. There are several wineries in the vicinity of Jerusalem that offer tours and tastings. The Israel Wine Tour (www.israelwinetour.co.il) will put together an itinerary to please the most ardent aficionado.

Discover Israel’s past through a dusty old lens

Saba’s Little Museum (www.funinjerusalem.com/saba-museum/) uses ordinary objects to tell Israel’s story: toys cars, vintage radios, even the lowly suitcase. You’ll find proprietors Saba Yaacov and Savta Debbie on hand to give you a tour of the museum and the country they represent with such pride.

Hire a bike

If you’ve indulged in a few too many shwarmas, a bicycle trip in the Judean Mountains surrounding Jerusalem is a good way to work off some calories. Recommended operators include Bike Jerusalem (tel: +972 2 579 6353; www.bikejerusalem.com) and Abraham Tours (tel: + 2 566 0045; abrahamtours.com).

Revel in birdsong at JBO

A prime plot in the middle of Jerusalem might not be the obvious location for the Jerusalem Bird Observatory (tel: +972 2 653 7374; http://natureisrael.org/JBO) but it’s a true ornithological oasis. Located next to the Israeli parliament (Knesset), it’s fully accessible and open 24 hours a day. Guided tours are available by appointment.

Zoom across the mountains in an ATV

If you prefer four wheels to two, take to the Judean Mountains in an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle). The landscape is ideal for zooming across hills, splashing through streams and generally getting your tires dirty. The folk at Jerusalem ATV Adventure Tours (+972 50 773 3355; www.traktoronim.com/) will rent you some wheels.

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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.

King David

Situated in an elevated position, this landmark hotel is one of Israel's most luxurious and prestigious hotels, boasting a guest list of world leaders, royalty and celebrities. The majestic King David was built in the 1930s and has all modern facilities, with fine views towards the Old City. It’s also a historic building in its own right – in 1946 when used during the British mandate as the British Army HQ, it was the scene of a dramatic anti-British bombing by militant Zionists.