When staying in Jerusalem, there are many enjoyable activities for all ages that are within a reasonable distance. I have provided a list of trips, many of which I can vouch for from experience. This is not a full list as there are many places to go and I will constantly be updating the list.
Check out the following articles for lots of exciting day trips in Israel!
by Avigail Rasol | October 22, 2020
Tiyulim in Hebrew, hikes in Israel are both bountiful and beautiful. Given Israel’s great weather, hikes are possible nearly all year round, allowing you to have a pleasurable experience in nature almost at your fingertips. Below, I provide you with a guide to some wonderful hikes in and around the Jerusalem area, so that you can throw yourselves into the great outdoors without even having to look further than this article.
Har Eitan (Sataf Forest)
Sataf Forest is a rich area that offers a number of different hikes, one of which is Har Eitan. Har Eitan is an extremely popular and easy hike, spanning 8 kilometers and lasting about 2.5 hours. The hike leads around the summit of a mountain, providing beautiful views — a full 360-degree panoramic view spanning from Modiin and Tel Aviv to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The width and ease of the road also allows for bikers and joggers, though the area is most prominently used for hiking. There are plenty of trees along the trail, providing a modest amount of shade for the days that seem to be (but are not!) too hot for hiking.
To get here, drive to the Sataf parking lot and then walk back down the road on which you entered. This brings you to the beginning of the hike. The path along the hike is clearly marked, and the hike goes in a circle, making it impossible to get lost once you’ve started.
Shvil HaMa’ayanot, “Springs Trail,” located along the Shvil Israel, the Israel Trail, is another beautiful, yet brief, hike. It spans just 3 kilometers, 1.5 kilometers each way (it is not a loop). As evident by its name, there are several – seven, exactly – ma’ayanot (springs) along the trail. Some are too shallow to swim in while some are deep enough to wade in, making this hike appropriate for even the hottest summer months, especially as it is lined with beautiful pine, oak, carob, and olive trees that provide ample shade. There are also plenty of caves and tunnels along the way, making for a fun adventure to take your children on. The hike begins on the road that leads between Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem and Moshav Even Sapir.
Winter River at Nahal Refaim
This is an intense hike, fit only for seasoned hikers and adventurers. It’s also only for those who are lucky enough to be in Jerusalem after several days of really solid rain. This is because the winter river at Nahal Refaim is an extravagant river that only flows in the wintertime and after heavy rain. This hike is located in Begin Park, right next to Ein Kobi. You should park in the same place that you would park for the Kobi Ruins walk, and then take the red trail down into the rocks and trees. It’s about a kilometer in each direction (to the river and back), and is one of the most loved and regarded hikes near Jerusalem.
Shvil Nofi Nahal Katval
Shvil Nofi Nahal Katlav, also known as the Schuster trail, is a rather small trail, located in American Independence Park in the Nes Harim area. It spans about 2 kilometers but is a perfect oasis of beauty and solitude. To get to this hike take route 3866. You can park at חניון נחל קטלב, the Nahal Katlav parking lot, and walk via Waze or Moovit directions to Bar Behar. The hike begins here, at a popular cafe spot in the forest. As you follow the path to the trails on the right hand of the shop, you’ll notice a red and white trail marker which indicates the beginning of the small loop that you will hike for the next hour or so. The trail is lined with rocks and trees, allowing your kids to feel as though they are really exploring, but not exploring so much that the hike is difficult for them to manage. The views along the hike are stunning, especially during sunrise and sunset, and there are a number of spectacular wildflowers (depending on the season) along the way. There are also a number of different resting spots along the area, most notably tree log benches that hide under canopies of oak trees, allowing you to rest in the shade on hot summer days, or even to picnic as a break during your hike. For a slightly longer hike, follow the path on the left-hand side of Bar Behar. This is where the red trail officially begins.
Sataf to Ein Kerem
This is another hike located in the magnificent Sataf Forest. This hike is located along the Israel Trail and requires two cars. Park one car at Sataf and the other at Ein Kerem, at the dirt lot near Ein Kerem Agricultural School. Starting at Sataf, follow the signs downhill to Jerusalem, a path along which you’ll find beautiful views as you walk to Nahal Sorek, a wide, flat valley that leads towards Ein Kerem. Here, the nahal route splits off from the Israel Trail. Eventually, Nahal Soeek meets up with Road 395.
This is yet another hike located in the Sataf Forest. It begins on the Har Eitan trail (see the first hike listed above), and quickly turns to the right at the sign for the Israel Trail. At the turn, the trail can be difficult to manage at the turn, as it descends rather steeply and the loose dirt and rocks can make it slippery and tricky to navigate, but the trail quickly evens out and brings you to a flat jeep trail. Once you get to the flat trail, cross the two-lane highway that is Road 395 and head into Kibbutz Tzuba. Here, leave the Israel Trail and enter the Kibbutz. Once you’re inside, pass the park and follow the signs to Ein Tzuba, clearly marked. At the large factory building, turn right and follow the red path into the vineyards of the Tzuba Winery before eventually arriving sat the green trail. Keep your eyes open so as to not miss the spring, which is the highlight of this hike. This hike is a special one, lined with vineyards just outside of the trail and a grove of trees with picnic benches along with it.
by Avigail Rasol | October 15, 2020
Ma’ayanot (natural water springs) in Israel are so abundant that they deserve their own article. Ma’ayanot are a hot spot in the spring and summer months, but are accessible and pleasurable year-round. Though a car is helpful to access many ma’ayanot, there are countless springs that can be traveled to by bus, usually requiring a number of transfers, making the cooling factor of the natural water all the more rewarding and delightful. In this article, I’ve done the research for you, providing you with a number of ma’ayanot in and around the Jerusalem area, so that any time you want a quick dip, the information is right at your fingertips.
Sataf, located in the Jerusalem hills near the neighborhood of Ein Kerem, is one of Jerusalem’s
most popular ma’ayanot. Located in the beautiful Jerusalem Hills, it is easily accessible by
public transportation, making it a hotspot for kids and teenagers without cars, but is very family- friendly as well, frequented by families looking for a quick and cool weekend dip. During the daytime, you’ll find Sataf to be filled to the brim, but the afterhours, from 5pm and on, are particularly pleasant and serene. It is a particularly cold ma’yan, making it a stellar choice for the blazing summer days when a cool-off is necessary,There are some very shallow springs, perfect for young children, and some more adventurous and exciting ones, like a giant crater- style spring for adults to jump into. Sataf also provides nice and easy hikes with a total of five hiking trails, as well as a location nice for barbecues, making it an even more fun adventure. Sataf is just a ten-mite drive from the outskirts of Jerusalem, through the beautiful roads of the Jerusalem Hills. To get to Sataf by car, you can take Route 395 from Ein Kerem. You can entire the site from the Sataf Junction, where the roads that come from Mevaseret Tzion, Tzuba, and Ein Kerem intersect.
Lifta (Mey Neftoach)
In past days an Arab village, Lifta officially became a natural reserve in the mid 1980’s. The
spring is also identified with “Mey Naftuah” – the biblical site, making it not only a fun experience, but a holy one as well. The ma’ayan is used not only for pleasure, but is also frequented as a mikvah. Lifta, like Sataf, is ideal for a family hike as well, running a distance of only about 4.5km and taking a total of two hours round-trip. It is even possible to walk with a light stroller (albeit difficult). Lifta is by far Jerusalem’s most accessible ma’ayan, only a 10 minute walk from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, making it easily accessible by public transportation — just take any bus to the Central Bus Station, of which there are plenty, and walk. To drive to Lifta, simply enter “Lifta” into Waze, and park at the Lifta Parking Lot (חניון ליפתה). Its accessibility leads it to often be packed with visitors, but as with Sataf, the later hours of the day prove to provide you with some more room in the water.
Ein Lavan is a beautiful ma’ayan, enormous and filled with clear, clean water, located in the
Jerusalem mountains. Although it, like Sataf and Lifta, can get crowded, it’s expansiveness
makes it unlikely that it will feel full, regardless of how many people are wading in the beautiful
water. There is not one but rather two large pools, one deep and one less so, making it an
experience fit both for adults and for children. Ein Lavan is adjacent to the Biblical Zoo, located in the Malcha neighborhood of Jerusalem, making it another easily accessible ma’ayan. It is easy to find from the zoo’s parking lot, and is easily accessible by bus as well (just take any route that travels to Malcha).
Ein Sharig, Ein Tamar, Ein Azi
If you’re looking for a full day of ma’ayanot, swimming, and adventuring, this is the place to go. These three ma’ayanot come as a set, located right by moshav Ein Sapir in Jerusalem. Ein Sharig is the closest ma’ayan to the parking lot — an approximately 3-minute walk. It is a
relatively small and shallow spring, a bit crowded during peak times but a beautiful, peaceful oasis during less busy time. A canopy of trees covers the ma’ayan, providing a perfectly shaded spot for the hot summer months. Continue down the green path for approximately 20 minutes, an easy walk with a stunning view of Hadassah Ein Kerem and the Jerusalem Mountains, and you’ll arrive at the second ma’ayan, Ein Tamar. Named after Tamar Natan, who was killed in 1996 on a trip to Bolivia at the age of 21, the spring is charming and peaceful, dressing with antique stones and accompanied by nice picnic tables. Finally, continue on a 5-minute walk from Ein Tamar and you’ll arrive at Ein Azi, two small pools about 50 meters apart. One is slightly submerged in the ground, and the other is a true wonder. It is almost an infinity pool, with a stunning view of the Jerusalem Mountains. To arrive at these ma’ayanot, drive towards Even Sapir. About 600 meters after the south turn from Road 396 (below Ein Kerem Medical
Center), there is a bend in the road from which a wide dirt path emerges. Here there is a double
white line, so you have to continue a few hundred meters to the settlement and turn around there. The dirt path goes into a parking lot, where you should leave your car. From the parking lot, continue on the green path for about 100 meters, until you see a large group of trees on the left (approximately 50 meters away), where Ein Sarig, the first spring, is located. Continue on this path for another 50 meters and then turn right to get to the beginning of the route to the Uzi and Ein Tamar ma’ayanot.
Once known as Ein Tapah, Ein Dvir, a smaller spring than the ones listed above, sits to the
north of Jerusalem, just by the town of Givat Ze’ev. Benches line the ma’ayan, allowing visitors to take in the beautiful view of Jerusalem’s hills, and a serene feel fills the air around the ma’ayan. As the area is rather open and there aren’t many trees for shade, it is not
recommended to visit this site during the summer months, unless you plan to spend the entire time in the water. The Ein Dvir ma’ayan is a short walk from the parking lot — 1.4 kilometers, just barely a hike. The water in the pool is deep, providing a pleasant swim for adults. If coming by car, drive to Kibbutz Amiad and park your car in the gas station. Cross the road so that you are on the opposite side of the kibbutz, and behind the bus stop, you will see a gate. Follow the road beyond this gate and you will arrive at the spring in about 15-20 minutes.
Forty five minutes from Naan, in the heart of the green mountains of Jerusalem, hides a cold
and clear spring inside of an ancient cave carved into the mountain. Stone steps lead to the spring, which is cool and apt for immersion in the hot summer days. Surrounding the spring are beautiful olive, almond, and terebinth trees. This ma’ayan provides not only a pleasant swim but also an awesome experience, as you swim inside of a cave. You can walk to the end of the tunnel and watch the spring water spring out of a rock, making this a cool adventure to take your kids on. The diameter of the spring spans a few meters, and the water relatively is shallow and clear, allowing one to comfortably sit and wade in it, but not to dunk deeply. Outside of the cave, there are another two pools and a picnic area, making it a perfect spot to have a picnic lunch with your kids after a satisfying dip in the ma’ayan.
Historical Day Trips in the Jerusalem Area
by Avigail Rasol | October 8, 2020
One of the beauties of living in Israel is the amount of exploration that one is able to do within the country. From experiencing the beauty of ma’ayanot (springs), to the depths of history, to the bountiful nature that the country has to offer, it’s impossible to run out of things to do and places to explore within the country. Surrounded both by wildlife and being the center of the country’s history, living in the Jerusalem area offers you the ability to experience all of these adventures without having to travel more than an hour. In this article, I offer you a list of some of the city’s, and surrounding cities’, most fascinating historical attractions, giving you the opportunity to soak in the country’s rich history without taking more than a day off of work!
Ir David (City of David)
Ir David, the City of David, is located just outside of the Old City in Jerusalem and takes visitors
on a journey back to the Second Temple period. The story of Ir David began over 3,000 years
ago, when King David settled in Jerusalem and established it as the unified capital of the 12
tribes of Israel. Today, Ir David is one of the most well-maintained historical sites in Israel,
revealing some of the most fascinating archaeological finds of the ancient, biblical world. The
City of David allows for riveting explorations both above- and under-ground. Through the City of David official organization, you can book a tour that takes you through the entirety of the rich city. It begins with a stunning observation point overlooking Biblical Jerusalem. It then takes visitors through archaeological excavations that span thousands of years of history, including the First and Second Temple periods. The tour then continues to the Gihon Spring, the major water source in historical Jerusalem. Those looking for an added level of adventure can choose to journey through King Hezekiah’s water tunnel, trekking through water that sometimes runs knee-deep. The total time length of the tour is 3 hours. Fees range from 28 NIS for entrance (14 NIS for children and senior citizens), to 62 NIS for a guided group tour, to 575 NIS for a private tour. The site is easily accessible through public transportation and by car/cab.
Ir David official website: https://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en
Tour information: https://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en/tours/city-david/city-david-tours-biblical-
To book a tour: call 077-9966-72
Herodium National Park
Herodium National Park is a fortress that is the palace and gravesite of King Herod, also known as Herod the Great, who ruled over the Herodian kingdom in the first century BCE. It is a wonderfully grand and stunning structure. There are a number of different attractions in the park, ranging from Lower Herodium, a complex that includes the ruins of the palace; Mount Herod, a partly man-made mountain which houses the remains of the palace; Herod’s tomb; escape tunnels; and more. The park is located outside of Beit Lechem, approximately a half hour from central Jerusalem. Visitors are able to take an archaeological tour of the park and visit the tomb and the palace. On Fridays, you can join a free guided tour.
Herodium park: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/herodium-park/
Kfar Etzion is one of the oldest kibbutzim in Israel. It is a religious kibbutz located in the south West Bank, originally founded in 1927 as a farming community by the name of Migdal Eder. It was destroyed in 1929 by Palestinian rioters, and subsequently rebuilt as Kfar Etzion. It was then destroyed again in 1948, the day before the Declaration of Independence, during the famous Kfar Etzion massacre, and re-established yet again in 1967. Kfar Etzion offers a visitor’s museum that documents the history of the kibbutz and tells the story of the Kibbutz’s destruction during the 1948 Massacre. The museum provides an incredibly moving experience, and shares a piece of Israeli history that is generally underrepresented. Kfar Etzion is approximately a 20- minute drive from Jerusalem.
Herod, a partly man-made mountain which houses the remains of the palace; Herod’s tomb; escape tunnels; and more. The park is located outside of Beit Lechem, approximately a half hour from central Jerusalem. Visitors are able to take an archaeological tour of the park and visit the tomb and the palace. On Fridays, you can join a free guided tour.
Hevron (Cave of Machpelah)
Hevron, one of the holiest cities in Jerusalem, is located 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem, an
approximately 1-hour drive. Hevron holds the resting places of the biblical patriarchs and
matriarchs (Ma’arat haMachepla) — Adam and Eve, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka,
and Yaakov and Leah. It is the world’s most ancient Jewish site. Hevron itself is also a
fascinating city to visit, as it is one of the most highly tense and fraught political situations in
Israel. This makes it a dangerous place to visit on one’s own, and one should bring along a tour guide when planning a visit to Hevron.
Some tour guides option for visiting Hevron:
More comprehensive West Bank tour (including Hevron)
Hevron tour by local Jewish resident:
Kever Rachel is located near the northern entrance to Beit Lechem, approximately 15-20
minutes from central Jerusalem. It is the burial site of Rachel, one of the four matriarchs in the
Bible. Kever Rachel is a site frequented both for its historical depth and also for prayer. As with Hevron, it is advisable to travel to Kever Rachel in a safe way, either with a tour guide or with a group, or during peak times, when there are many other travelers there (for example, on Rachel’s yahrzeit). The tomb is generally open 24 hours a day, and while it is typically
accessible to all visitors, large groups may have to coordinate their visit with Israeli security.
One should dress modestly when visiting Kever Rachel, and women should be prepared to
cover their head upon entry (there are head scarfs provided at the site). The best way to get to the site is by car, as buses do not run directly to the Kever.
More information on visiting Kever Rachel