Destinations / Israel

What to do in Jerusalem on Shabbat

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If your Israel itinerary has you spending Shabbat in Jerusalem, it can be difficult to figure out how to spend your time. Here are some fun ideas for what to do in Jerusalem on Shabbat to makestay the most of your time!

What is Shabbat?

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. It’s a time of family, a time of joy and a time of rest.

It’s also a time of limited commercial activity in some parts of Israel and no public transportation anywhere.

Shabbat will have the greatest impact on your travels if you plan to spend it in Jerusalem, where nearly everything is shut down. There are plenty of good day trips from Jerusalem if you end up in that situation, but if you have some flexibility it may be easier to arrange your schedule so that you’re not in Jerusalem.

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What to do in Jerusalem on Shabbat

Shabbat in Jerusalem can be amazing but also frustrating if you haven’t planned appropriately. There are so many closures (or reduced hours) that it can be difficult to figure out how to spend your time effectively.

Keep in mind that there’s no public transportation, so it’s easiest if you still have your rental car. If not, there are plenty of excellent guided tours below that run on Shabbat.

The following recommended activities are available on Shabbat. You can find more information about all of these options in 3 day Jerusalem itinerary, Jerusalem day trips and Jerusalem with kids.

Holy City tour

11 AM – 3 PM
See all four quarters of the Old City and sites that are holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Reserve your spot here

The Israel Museum

Israel, Jerusalem, Israel Museum, the Shrine of the Book fountain

10:30 AM – 4 PM
Fantastic archeology collection, beautiful sculpture garden, unique life-size synagogue interiors from around the world… and of course the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Book advance ticket here

Day trip to Masada, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea

7:15 AM – 4 PM
Guided tour that visits Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea.
Reserve your spot here

Best of the West Bank tour

Historic Bethlehem

7:30 AM – 6 PM
Includes Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and more.
Reserve your spot here

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Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve

8 AM – 5 PM
Nature Reserve 30 minutes from Jerusalem, requires a car. Guided bilingual tour.
More information here

Yemin Moshe & Bloomfield Garden

Montefiore windmill on the route to the Old City

Open all hours, free to walk through the lovely Yemin Moshe neighborhood that was the first outside the fortified Old City walls.

Jerusalem Zoo & Jerusalem Aquarium

10 AM – 5 PM
Perfect for a Shabbat afternoon in Jerusalem with kids! The zoo is entirely outdoors and the aquarium (next door but a long walk) is entirely indoors.
Zoo info here
Aquarium info here

Shai Seltzer goat farm

2 PM to see the goats return from pasture, open the rest of the day to enjoy the house-made cheeses
30 minutes from Jerusalem, requires a car
More information here

Visit Abu Gosh for authentic hummus & kanafe

30 minutes from Jerusalem, requires a car

Go to the beach in Tel Aviv

If you still have a rental car or want to hop in a sherut (shared ride van), you can spend Shabbat with the many secular Israelis frolicking in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Restaurants in Jerusalem open on Shabbat

Most restaurants in Jerusalem are closed on Shabbat since they can’t cook food. But there are some that either aren’t kosher or that serve food that has been prepared during the day Friday; it’s either offered cold or can be warmed in a Shabbat oven that stays on at a low temperature.

Alternatively, you can join an Israeli family for an authentic Shabbat dinner!

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