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!
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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.
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 (I’ve read that Tel Aviv is a street art heaven) 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.
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!
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:
- Adventure in off the beaten path Israel
- Old City of Jerusalem – where religions and cultures collide
- Reasons to visit Nazareth
- and more!
Note: My trip to Israel was in partnership with Tourist Israel, Abraham 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.
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