Saturday is one of the best days of the week to go on a free tour in Jerusalem. Most of the city shuts down and doesn’t start opening again until late Saturday evening so there is very little foot and vehicular traffic. It’s also a good chance to explore some of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods (for detailed tour listings by type, go to www.itraveljerusalem.com).
Several types of three-hour-long Saturday tours depart at 10am from Safra Square (24-26 Yafo St., 02/531-4600, free).
- The Explore Ethiopia Tour explores Eliezer Ben Yehuda’s old neighborhood (he was instrumental in reviving the Hebrew language) and also goes through the Russian Compound, Beit Anna Ticho, Ethiopia Street, Bnei Brit Library, and Beit Tavor Street.
- The German Colony Tour takes you through the neighborhood built by German Templars at the end of the 19th century and includes a route from King David Street down through Emek Refaim Valley.
- The Hanevi’im Tour takes visitors through the history of Hanevi’im Street and its ties to the British, Germans, Italians, and Ethiopians. Some of the buildings on the tour help tell the stories of famous leaders, ambassadors, doctors, poets, artists, and hermits.
- The Kidron Valley Tour explores the burial grounds of the Second Temple period, the Kidron River and its streams, and the story behind four rock-hewn graves here. The route goes through Jaffa Gate, the Jewish Quarter, Dung Gate, Kidron Valley viewpoint, and Kidron Valley proper.
- The Muslim Quarter Tour takes you from Damascus Gate in the Old City to the Western Wall.
- The Rehavya Walking Tour includes national institutions in the Rehavya neighborhood, including a monastery and the President of Israel’s home.
- Sandeman’s New Europe Free Jerusalem Tour meets just inside the Old City’s Jaffa Gate by the tourism information stand (8:45am and 11am Fri., 8:45am, 11am, and 2pm Sat.-Thurs.). Look for the guides in the red Sandeman’s T-shirts; guides might encourage you to tip them.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Jerusalem & the Holy Land.