Forget everything you thought you knew about Jerusalem.
The Israeli city once defined by its historical and religious routes is no longer simply a spiritual mecca, but is fast-becoming one of the world’s most talked about year-round holiday destinations thanks to its exciting cuisine, vibrant nightlife and wellness centres. One, perhaps, for the bucket list once the pandemic is over?
Food & Drink
Jerusalem may be one of the oldest cities in the world, but it’s exciting approach to Middle Eastern cuisine is far from stale. Combining an eclectic mix of flavours with international appeal, its unique culinary experience has even captured the attention of the London restaurant scene.
The Palomar, Nopi, Coal Offive, Rovi and Scully are just a few of the capital’s new, high-profile restaurants which opened in 2019 to showcase the best of Jerusalem’s modern-day cuisine.
The London Restaurant Festival has also paid tribute to the Israeli city’s melting pot of flavours, which is an exciting fusion of Middle East meets Mediterranean fare, largely influenced by the cultures of Southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant.
The Natural House
At this unique guest house in Jerusalem, owner Sara Hamo, who is an experienced therapist of many years, offers natural remedies for both body and soul. She has helped many people in their struggle against illness after being diagnosed herself with cancer at the age of 34.
Sara penned the book The Golden Path to Natural Healing and practises and teaches the Kingston Method, which is based on an improved diet, a good night’s sleep at the right hours, and a more robust approach to healthy activities such as walking.
Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre
Located in Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem, in the heart of the city, Akasha is a hidden oasis of calm designed to restore harmony and inner balance.
Enveloped in its own 1,000sq m space (with designer pool) created by architect Piero Lissoni, it’s a luxurious hub for many of the world’s most exciting healing therapies, pampering beauty treatments, and advances in fitness.
The First Station
From Acro Yoga and Pilates, to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and running, there’s plenty to get involved in with the new sports programme at The First Station, which is one of Jerusalem’s major cultural and activities hubs.
Jerusalem’s top spas
Barak Spa – an aromatic and relaxing atmosphere with couples’ spa room
Prima Royale Spa & Health Club – extensive spa treatment menu and surprises!
Inbal Hotel & Spa & Fitness Centre – even has a semi-Olympic swimming pool
Herbert Samuel Spa – intimate and exclusive, with private couples’ jacuzzi
Akasha Spa – with sunbath balcony and organic juice bar
David Citadel Spa – with bamboo beds, white orchids, wine and seasonal fruit
Author Lisa Maxbauer Price shares her top 9 things to do in and around Jerusalem
Eat – The food is amazing, especially the fresh salads. It’s mind-blowing that they can cultivate so many delicious vegetables in the dry desert
Walk – I took a four-hour walking tour of the Old City. My advice is to wear a pedometer. You’d be amazed at how much you walk in this city.
Climb – I wanted to visit the Mount of Olives but it didn’t fit into my schedule. I did enjoy climbing the stairs to the tower at Jerusalem’s YMCA (which is probably the world’s most famous and beautiful YMCA), though, to appreciate the view. Another good vantage point, where you can get a great view of the Old City, is after climbing the cliff at St. Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse.
Hike – I took an excursion into the Negev Desert and hiked to the top of the Masada archeological ruins and former palace of King Herod. There’s a famous “snake” path you can hike, or take the gondolas to the top, where you can enjoy a view of the Dead Sea.
Swim – Swimming in the Dead Sea is its own type of ab workout because you have to engage those core muscles to float and not roll in the water’s buoyancy. The mud is also believed to have purifying and healing properties.
Rock climb – In the Negev desert I repelled rock walls along the Ramon Krater.
Star gaze – We had an expert lead us in a star gazing session–he brought big telescopes and used a laser pointer to help us find everything in the sky. It was so meditative and calming.
Check out the wildlife – I toured Naoh Farm, a goat and sheep farm specialising in eco-tourism, and hiked the Ein Avdat Nature Preserve. I also took a camel ride–another good core-exercise as you try to balance yourself up there.
Walk some more – If you’re covering Tel Aviv, the 3-mile walk along the Mediterranean, between Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa Port is stunning. You can also do a self-guided walking tour of all the Bauhaus-style architecture in Tel Aviv.
Lisa is a nutrition journalist and the author of Squash Boom Beet, a children’s book inspiring families to be brave, healthy eaters.
- Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea
- It’s considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
- The historic city has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times.
For more on holidaying in Israel, go to http://www.en.citiesbreak.com