Attractions Nearby Jerusalem, Day Trips and Excursions
There are a number of world-famous attractions just a short distance from Jerusalem, a number of which are just a matter of minutes away. Bethlehem is a mere 10 km / 6 miles from Jerusalem and as the official birthplace of none other than Jesus of Nazareth, as well its strong connections with David, King of Israel
, this small town is simply a 'must see' and its attractions are not to be missed at any cost.
The ancient city of Hebron can be found to the south of Jerusalem and within the 'West Bank', where its caves have become an important holy attraction, being reputedly the burial site for both Adam and Eve. Also worth considering as day trips are the caves within the Ein Gedi National Park, the historic sights of Jericho, and the Mediterranean allure of Tel Aviv.
Israel's number two city after Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is to be found approximately 60 km / 37 miles to the north-west and on the Mediterranean coastline. Tel Aviv is an exciting city and its northerly district is particularly wealthy, having grown up around the Yarkon River. The city's metropolitan centre is likely to be of most interest to tourists, with various attractions and shops. The Yafo port district is especially notable, for it is said to be here that Jonah began his long journey, where he famously ended up inside of big whale. Apart from the beaches, other highlights within the city include the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Eretz Israel Museum, and the elevated Azriely Lookout, which provides awesome panoramas of the city centre.
Abu Gosh is a much-visited Arab town and is located roughly 10 km / 6 miles to the west of Jerusalem, along the highway leading to Tel Aviv. The biblical site of Kiryat Ye'arim, Abu Gosh is known for its cuisine, particularly its 'hummus'. A number of important attractions are here, such as the Crusader, the Church of Notre Dame de l'Arche de l'Alliance, and the bi-annual Abu Ghosh Music Festival, which takes place here each spring and autumn.
The Christian community of Bethlehem is amongst the world's oldest and a number of famous religious events are said to have taken place within the town, or close by. Many of the attractions within Bethlehem therefore tend to be religious within their nature, with the Church of the Nativity being especially famous. Other sights to see include the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine, the Grotto of the Nativity, the Mosque of Omar, Manger Street, Manger Square, the busy market (souq), and the Shepherds' Fields, where of course the shepherds once watched their famous flocks.
Sited directly west of the Dead Sea and south of Jerusalem, Ein Gedi resides next to Masada and is best known for its natural caves and plentiful springs. One of the main attractions here is the Ein Gedi National Park, which was established in the early 1970s and stands on the easterly side of the Judean Desert, where it is rich is native Israeli flora and fauna. Also of interest is the beautiful Botanical Garden, which covers around 25 acres/ 10 hectares and is home to almost 1,000 different plant species from all around the globe. Those who are religious may recognise Ein Gedi for its biblical appearances, while sun-lovers will simply want to come here to soak up the rays on either the Ein Gedi Public Beach or the Hamai Zohar Public Beach.
Hebron is linked to Jerusalem by regular buses (no. 160) and makes for a very recommended excursion. Tourists regularly visit Hebron to explore its 'Cave of Machpelah' (Cave of the Patriarchs), which has become a major attraction within the city and is topped by a large religious building actually built for the infamous King Herod, some 2,000 years ago.
Located to the east of Jerusalem, the small city of Jericho can be a little difficult to get to, with limited connections, although well worth any effort. Jericho is steeped in history and contains some very popular attractions, including the Tell es Sultan mound overlooking the Ein Sultan spring, and Hisham's Palace. If you have the time, take a journey onboard Jericho's very scenic cable car ride, which is actually the longest in the world and heads to the Quruntul mountain, where the views across the Jordan Valley are quite breathtaking.
The city of Ramallah is one of the most alluring of all the cities in Israel's region known as the 'West Bank'. Just 15 km / 9 miles to the north of Jerusalem, Ramallah is extremely well placed for a day trip and its nightlife attractions draw many visitors throughout the year, particularly at the weekend. If you are able to come to Ramallah for the day, look out for the 'Hisbeh' market, the old churches and mosques, the Mukataa compound and tower, and also Yasser Arafat's mausoleum.