Jerusalem is at its busiest in July and August when Israelis take their holidays and head for the city. Not only are hotels and attractions crowded, but some hotels also add a surcharge to their rates. Jerusalem is also very crowded during school holidays.
Hotel prices are also very high during the Passover (early April) and Sukkoth (late September–early October) holidays. At the same time, services are curtailed and many Israelis go away for Passover. Hotel reservations for Passover should be made in advance (around 4 months) and flights to Jerusalem should be booked well ahead (around six months to a year).
Travellers should expect flights to Jerusalem to be at their most expensive during the peak months.
The month of May and early to mid-September mark off season periods in the city and are pleasant times to visit. Cheap flights to Jerusalem are also more likely to be found during the less popular off season months.
If you prefer cool weather to dry heat, November through March is a good time to plan a holiday. Many travellers prefer to visit during these months, although this is the wettest time of the year.
Jerusalem is one of the most sacred cities in the world and serves as the Holy Land that gave rise to the three Monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus, it is no surprise that those travelling there seek out not only the pleasures of a holiday, but also the possibility of some enlightenment on a spiritual plane.
Stepping off the flight in Jerusalem can pose as a culture shock for some – this modern city in ancient Israel is full of people running to catch buses, hail taxis and fight traffic on their way to work, temple and school. But even in this “new” Jerusalem, history is reverent.
Travellers visiting Jerusalem inevitably find themselves in the “Old City” – the walled section of this city where most of the sights are situated. Here, holidaymakers can find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem; the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), where Jews come to pray and visitors can leave notes between the cracks of the wall’s stones; and Mt. Zion, the burial place of King David. By night, the city comes alive with concerts, nightclubs and restaurants raging until the wee hours of the morning.
Jerusalem is generally very sunny and has two distinct seasons: winter and summer. Mid-summer highs are in the 30s Celsius with low humidity. Winter temperatures drop to the single digits and it can get cold enough to snow.It rarely rains May through September. Even though November through March are rainy, many travellers prefer the cooler temperatures.
Jerusalem has extensive bus routes which provide service from early morning to around midnight. Service stops half an hour before sunset on Friday and the eve of a religious holiday, then resumes after dark on Saturday. There are discount cards such as the kartissiyah (eleven rides for the price of ten) and hofshi-hodshi (a month of unlimited travel on urban buses).
Taxis can be hailed, called, or picked up at a taxi stand or major hotel. Drivers are required to turn on their meters, but many claim the meters are broken — you need to negotiate a fare or find another taxi. Fares increase 25 per cent at night and on Shabbat.
Shared taxis are minivans or minibuses that seat 7 or 12 passengers. Shared taxis usually follow public bus routes, but take alternate routes to avoid traffic. Passengers can get on and off at any point. Both drivers and passengers are impatient with dawdlers, so board quickly.
Bicycling is becoming more popular, and there is ongoing construction of a bike path around Jerusalem. However, finding a rental bike is difficult.
Driving is difficult and finding parking a challenge. Fortunately, between walking, taxis, and buses, you probably won’t need to drive.
The main airport for flights to Jerusalem is Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV), which is located 25 miles (40 km) northwest of the city. There is a taxi rank at Terminal Three of the airport where you can book taxis into town.