Alternative Jerusalem guide

(Last Updated On: 28/02/2020)

Traveling teaches me a lot of humility. And recently it showed me how wrong I was about the places I’ve been visiting, how my image before arriving has nothing to do with how the destination really is. It was exactly the same story with Jerusalem. The only thing I could think of was the spiritual atmosphere and the ultra orthodox Jews storming through the narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, running for the prayer at the Western Wall. These were actually true but they were just the very small part of the city that turned out to be so much more complex than I’ve ever thought. And while the Old Town, with its elevated vibe, is all about the history, the religions and the different cultures the rest of Jerusalem is completely different. I found it exciting, lively and fun loving and I enjoyed this surprisingly cool face of alternative Jerusalem big time. You should plan at least 3 days in Jerusalem to enjoy it all too!

Abraham Hostel – best place to stay at in Jerusalem

The center of (my) stay in Jerusalem was Abraham Hostel – an institution of its own, well known around the world for the best atmosphere and various events taking place there each evening. Recently it was named 5th best hostel in the world and I can definitely see why! The place is huge but the rooms are well separated from the common area, the heart of the social life. It occupies the whole first floor and it reminded me a lot of loft apartments. Everything is in one place – the kitchen, sofa/hammocks to chill out, pool table, bar, board games corner… It’s not hard to meet fellow travelers, buddies to explore Middle East with or possible friends for life in such surroundings.  Most of the people who stay in Abraham Hostel hang out in the common area. Everyone is chatty and friendly and within a minute you find yourself talking about travel and life over a cup of tea or drink.

To bring people closer Abraham Hostel organizes various events in the evenings. From cooking class to Hebrew lessons, from Sunday night concert to Thursday travelers stories… But my favorite one was Friday Shabbat dinner. I attended it twice and it was a special evening each time, with around 100 people celebrating it together, both hostel guests and staff. Before the dinner itself there are preparations in the kitchen and everyone is welcome to join and help. It was so much fun to be part of this small community and it made you feel important when you have a task to do (in my case it was cutting 20 or so eggplants ;)). During the dinner itself first there’s a small speech about Shabbat, the tradition and the celebrations and then it’s time to eat! There’s a lot of food prepared, around 20 different dishes to try and each of them is delicious! Shabbat dinner is also a great way to meet new people as you share a table with 20 fellow travelers and that gives a perfect opportunity to chat – usually it lasts till late evening.


Alternative Jerusalem: the art

Jerusalem was surprisingly full of contemporary art and street art. OK, maybe there wasn’t as many of it as in other places (like Tel Aviv street art) but for some reason I didn’t expect this in such a spiritual place. But again, only the Old Town is like that, the rest of the city is just a normal place. I just wish I had more time to look around for street art as the pieces I’ve stumbled across were pretty good. There were also some galleries and cool art installations around, like the bikes with lamp or fan attached (that start working as soon as you pedal a little bit) or various globes showing the earth.


Jerusalem nightlife

The night life in Jerusalem was really good as well! Abraham Hostels organizes a pub crawl on Wednesday night and judging from the pictures it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately I wasn’t in Jerusalem on that day but with my new awesome friends we went out on Saturday night and that was crazy! We visited four different places (including a gay bar – apparently there’re two of them in the city, another thing I wouldn’t have expected there) and each of them was full! There were lots of alleyways that hid couple of hip, funky places so the choice of pubs was pretty good. The Jaffa Street itself, a main road crossing Jerusalem and leading to the Old Town, was packed with people as well, heading from one bar to another or just grabbing a late night snack. After the quite day of Shabbat where nothing was working and everything was closed that was a really nice change. The only downside of going out in Jerusalem (and Israel in general) are the high prices – a beer usually costs around 25ILS (7$ / 6€ )


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Cool places in Jerusalem

Besides the pretty good night life Jerusalem has a lot of nice places to hang out in the daytime. There’re numerous cozy cafes, bakeries and delicious falafel shops that offer cheap and amazing food. When you feel like having a relaxing day, away from the bustling busy Old Town, Jerusalem offers a lot of opportunities for that and the best place must be Machane Yehuda Market (located just few minutes away from Abraham Hostel). If you’re looking for some vegan food this vegan Jerusalem guide by Amelie is your best source of information!

There’s one more place that I actually didn’t visit when I was in Jerusalem but according to my good friend Ondra I would love it big time. The First train station, located close to the Old Town, now serves as a place for both locals and tourists to hang out in numerous restaurants, cafes, galleries or a food market. I’m a huge fan of alternative spots and industrial spaces turned into hip areas, not to mentioned anything connected to the railway, so this newest hotspot in Jerusalem is on my must visit list next time I’m there (I have no doubts there will be next time!)

Is Jerusalem on your bucket list? Does it seem like a city you’d enjoy? Would you like to discover alternative Jerusalem?

During my visit to Israel for most of the time I’ve stayed in Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem and I can say it was the best hostel I’ve been to! It’ll be hard to beat that! Here you can book you a place to stay in Abraham Hostel If hostels are not your thing take a look at other accommodation options in Jerusalem.

If you think of visiting Israel or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


alternative jerusalem pin (1)       alternative jerusalem pin (2)

Note: My trip to Israel was in partnership with Tourist IsraelAbraham Tours and Abraham Hostel. As always I’m keeping it real and all opinions are 100% mine. / Some of the pictures used in this post were taken by my friend Ondra.

love, kami 2

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  • Reply
    04/11/2016 at 16:27

    Israel is definitely a country I want to visit! I don’t know what to expect but I’m sure it’s absolutely great and gorgeous :)

    • Reply
      04/11/2016 at 22:51

      It really is! I was so surprised with Israel, I didn’t expect such a great place! I hope you will go there soon!

  • Reply
    01/11/2019 at 18:48

    There are also places with nice scenery(and suitable for hiking) in Jerusalem.

    • Reply
      07/11/2019 at 15:16

      thanks for the tip.

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