Jerusalem or J-city (or J-town) as it is called sometimes, is known for its history, archaeology and impressive religious sites. After all, King David, Jesus, the great sultans and so many more chose to live here, there must be something in the air! But Jerusalem is not only about that. It has so much to offer for young people, with a young budget.
Let’s go over some of the coolest:
Where to stay?
Backpacking is not only about being young and cheap, its a philosophy and so much fun. Jerusalem is full of youth hostels in the east side and the west side of the city. You could stay inside the old city walls in a 400 years old Ottoman house, or in a more modern one in the middle of the city center, close to everything.
Abraham Hostel is a rising star in the world of youth hostels, and by right. Located in the city center, just 3 light train stops from the central bus station, lays a world of cool, young, joyful people from all over the world. Some say a hostel is even better than a hotel and we tend to agree. The place features accommodations on several levels, from dormitory to private (so don’t miss it just because it is your honey moon).
If you ever wondered how it feels living in a postcard, the Petra Hostel is the place foryou. Located inside the old city walls it brings you an unbelievable experience of waking up in the 21th century, in the scenery of old Jerusalem. The great plus of the place is the location. It is literally 1 minute away from so much: the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, amazing humus places, the old Jaffa Street market and more… Petra Hostel is full of young tourists and is totally different from the young hostel spirit. On hot summer nights you can sit on the roof top viewing Jerusalem and that is the closest you will get to Alibaba.
What is cool?
In Jerusalem, you might want to try the local nightlife style. some say it even beats the nightlife of Tel Aviv by far, but you will have to check it yourselves. Start your tour in the Sira.
The Sira Bar
Located just 100 meters from the old city walls, the Sira Bar is a local pride. It is totally international and diverse. The music style varies from electronic beats to dub step, reggay and minimal. Almost every night the place features a different D.J. or a band. In the hot summer nights, the place is crowded and everyone is standing outside holding a beer.
Interesting fact: This is the only place that has a Palestinian beer: Tybe.
- The Uganda Bar makes you wonder, if its so cool here, what would have happened if Israel had been established in Uganda like the original plan? This place is very popular in the artists’ scene in Jerusalem. ( J-town has 4 different art academies.) The music is something between experimental to pop and trash and the walls of the place are a constant exhibition. And, if you stay long enough on Thursday night, you might make it to the famous hummus that is brought there from the Old City everyFriday.
Fact: The Uganda is also a mini shop for rare comic books and visual art!
Casino de Paris
Don’t worry, we are still in J-town. Casino de Paris is a very special place that resides in the heart of the famous ‘Mahne Yehuda Market. During day time, the market is full and busy, but at night..
Above the place use to be a night club at the time of the British Mandate. Shaanan Street, the super cool band leader of ‘Hadag Nahash’ decided to make this place alive again. As you would expect, often they have live concerts in the outside, and street parties, too. The crowd is beautiful young people from the neighborhoods around.
Fact: Don’t miss the special menu. The other owner has the best restaurant in the area…
Also a cool place in the “shook” bar scene, small and intimate, and full of character. The famous and most beloved drink here would be ‘arak’ for sure. Are a fan of arak shots before or after your first beer? This is a good place to find out. Its a 30 seconds walk from Casino de Paris and that is good reason to visit them both.
The Avraham Bar is dedicated to the love of music and live performance. Located next to the “shook”, it is a cornerstone that has something wicked to offer almost every night. The music here should be extremly interesting, as it hosts an oriental band that is hard to find anywhere else.
You don’t want to miss the local treat – hummus. Originally hummus is the local breakfast. How exactly? No one knows. One dish of hummus is enough for a good night sleep. Traditional hummus makers wake up at 4:00, make a hummus pot and close the place whenever the pot ends. No refill or remake. Such as these you can find mostly in the east side of the city. in the western side hummus is served as a night munch as well, and what a munch it is..
Ben Sira Hummus
Right next to the the Sira Bar there is the Sira Hummus. The great thing is that they are open sometimes until the little hours, so munch on! Rry the meat hummus, which is basically beef, as it is one of the best in the area.
Pinati means ‘corner’ and so it is, located in the most central corner of the city: Ben Yehuda and King George Street. Pinati is an old school hummus establishment in the city, and often you can see a line of 10-15 people outside waiting to get in. When you are inside though, don’t plan on a 2 hours meal, for soon you will get familiar with the local fraze: “don’t chew, swallow”.
Within the walls of the Old City, resides what many believe to be the best hummus in the world. Lina.
The East Jerusalem hummus is much more sour and different from the western one. If you are there you should try the masabaha as well, and then you are ready for a proper desert.
Address – 42 Akava El Hanaachah, near via Delarosa The Christian quarter, the ancient city Jerusalem
Telephone – 02-6277230
Activity hours: 8am – 3pm
Not far from Lina, Jaafar is the king of sweets. Knafe, baklawa, and more are a proper desert for hummus in the old city. Just don’t ask for coffee. Its not a coffee house here.
Jerusalem has 4 art academies in it, more than every other city in israel. You can expect some wicked stuff going on there and indeed it goes:
At Yafo Street number 23 resides a beautiful gallery of the Bezalel Art Academy. Bezalel was founded over a 100 years ago, way before Israel. It has running shows as well as special events and features mostly modern artists from different art schools, sound, installation, and so on.
Jerusalem Center of Design
Now this is cool. In a great spot, between the city center and ‘Nachlaot’ old beautiful neighborhoods, the city founded a center for modern designers from different disciplines: ceramics, glass, industrial design and visual communication. This place is full of studios and mini shops of original young designers you can find nowhere else!
While you are there, check out:
The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum is no doubt impressive and full. After 5 years of renovations, it features exhibitions in various fields from archeology to modern art. Some of the most exciting artifacts that were found in the ancient Judaean Kingdom are exhibited as well as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls which can be found there. In the modern art collection of the museum you can expect nothing less than the best of the world’s modern art.