Spoiler alert: There’s much more to keep you busy in Jerusalem than religious sights and museums.
When you think of Jerusalem’s ancient stone walls, religions and relics, you might find it a bit hard to imagine a city of young people, which organizes popular festivals all year round, and boasts a world class list of bars, clubs and restaurants.
It’s true, both history and religion have shaped the city, and people’s perception of it, but in recent years the huge influx of young immigrants from around the globe has transformed it into a hub of activity with something for everyone.
The center of town, including Nachlaot where our apartments are situated, is packed with art shops and galleries. If you’d like to do more than browse, you’re also able to take classes in painting, pottery and various other art forms at the Jerusalem Studio School, where they offer potential participants a free introductory lesson.
Tel Aviv is no longer the only place in Israel to experience incredible nightlife. The center of Jerusalem is buzzing from sundown to sunrise, and you are spoiled for choice with incredible clubs and bars just a short walk from our apartments. Aside from the Shuk, which has become a very popular place to hang out with tons of live bands and bars, a few notable places to check out would be Sira, Toy Bar, Yellow Submarine, Gatsby and Mike’s Place. If you’d like to get an introduction to the best of Jerusalem’s nightlife in one evening, you might like to grab tickets for the local pub crawl.
People have come from all over the world to make Jerusalem their home, and they’ve brought the best of the world’s cuisine with them. There’s no better place to get a taste for fresh exotic foods than in the Machane Yehuda market (AKA The Shuk) which is just a few steps from our apartments. The Shuk even offers a “Bite Card” for 99 shekels which allows you to sample a variety of foods from different vendors. Aside from this you’ve got tons of delicious street food options, as well as top notch restaurants all over the city, and various options for local cooking workshops in English.
There’s always a festival going on in Jerusalem, and most of them are very popular with both locals and tourists alike. Whether it’s the wine festival, the beer festival, live music or art, the municipality makes it a priority to keep Jerusalem’s social calendar packed with a variety of affordable events to keep us coming back for more. The Top Israel Interns team always makes sure you’re up to date on what events are coming up next so you don’t have to worry about missing out.
If you’re interning in Israel for a summer or semester, and plan to enjoy all the amazing food at your fingertips, exercise might be a good idea. There are tons of options of the regular Pilates, Crossfit and Zumba variety, but there are also more interesting options like pole dancing, Krav Maga, and belly dancing to choose from. If you want something free, head down to Gan Sacher (a park, only 5 minutes from our apartments) on a Tuesday evening for free yoga, or on Saturday if you want to join a game of football.
Jerusalem lurves its craft markets. Just around Nachlaot, 3 different weekly craft markets come to mind. Now you’ve got malls and department stores close by, but who wants to shop like that when you can enjoy a little open air and a huge cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice while you browse? You’ll also notice that Jerusalem is big into its second hand vintage clothing, so if you’d like to get experimental with your wardrobe and sample some interesting gear, this is a fun place to start.
So there’s more than history and religion to Jerusalem, but you can’t deny it’s a major part of what makes the place so unique and special. If you’d like to get informed, but stay entertained in the process, there are some spectacular shows which run all year round, that give you a rundown of the history while keeping you 100% entertained. A couple of must-sees are the Tower of David Light Show, and the Time Elevator.
The Top Israel Interns program often includes an opportunity to volunteer, but that’s not stopping you from using one of your free mornings to do some good, and at the same time meet some new people. Jerusalem is packed with different volunteer opportunities, all in close proximity to our apartments. One great idea is to swing past the Hineni Humanitarian Restaurant, where they serve hundreds of daily meals to people in need. The address is 18 Shlomtzion Hamalka street , you can call them on 02-624-3407.
Grab a partner, or a few of your housemates, and head over to one of Jerusalem’s eight “Escape Rooms”. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it is a game where you are trapped in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles to escape within a set time limit. The various rooms offer different scenarios where you need to escape: bank robberies, Mossad operations, terrorist attacks etc.
We teemed these two activities together because they’re both in Gush Etzion, and it could be a great way to spend a Friday morning. You can easily catch a bus from Central Station to “The Gush”, an area just south of Jerusalem, which is known for its beautiful scenery and hiking trails. While berry and cherry picking is reserved for the month of June, wine, and its consumption, is thankfully not seasonal!