Exploring Jerusalem with Kids

 

 

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pin
Jerusalem
, Israel, is a Middle Eastern city holy to three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A unique city filled with diverse neighborhoods and ethnicities, it has been the subject of political disputes and wars throughout the centuries. A fascinating destination to explore, the city offers exciting educational and fun opportunities for families to discover. For families wishing to introduce their kids to a city rich in history, culture, and art here are our top five places to visit.

 

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pin wall

The Western Wall

Known as the Kotel and situated in the Old City of Jerusalem, this is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also the most popular tourist attraction in Israel with over a million visitors yearly of all religions and cultures. Jewish pilgrims have come here since the fourth century to pray and place handwritten prayers into cracks between stones. These pilgrims weep because of the destruction of the Temple – giving it the other name of the Wailing Wall.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pillar

 

This wall is all that is left of a building erected by King Herod 37 years before the Common Era. It is a popular place for boys to have their Bar Mitzva – Judaism’s coming-of-age ceremony. In more recent years girls have their Bat Mitzva celebrations there too. Furthermore, it has become customary for soldiers who are in the Israeli armed forces to have their swearing-in ceremonies there too.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location can get crowded. Parents should keep this in mind for children who might have a problem with groups.
  • The Kotel is a religious location. Parents need to teach their child to be respectful of those on pilgrimage here.
  • Exploring Jerusalem with Kids rocks

Yad Vashem

Situated on the Mt Herzl, this is the second most visited tourist attraction in Israel. Nine underground galleries display photos, artifacts, and testimonies as well as show videos relating to the Holocaust. Visitors walk through the galleries depicting life before this dark period of history, during the atrocity, and stories of survival.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids garden

At the Children’s Memorial, one can hear the names of about 1.5 million children read out in the background, so their existence is never forgotten. The memorial candles flicker and give the impression of a million stars in the darkness providing a somber and moving experience.

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, Yad Vashem is not open to children ten and younger.
  • It is also not recommended for children under thirteen. Parents should use discretion to make sure their child can handle the mature content of this national memorial.
  • It is advisable to give children an overview of what to expect because of how graphic the material is at this location.
  • Parents should make sure their children are respectful as they move through the exhibits.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids alley

City of David

Likely the oldest section of ancient Jerusalem, the City of David is where travelers can take their children to see history come alive. It is now an archaeological site that relays the story of battles and victories, revealing how people lived thousands of years ago. Travelers can walk the Shiloh tunnel, carved from each end through almost 583 yards of solid rock – an incredible scientific feat, especially for that period.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids tunnel

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Kids interested in history will enjoy exploring this location.
  • The Shiloh tunnel is dark and incredibly small in some places. Children who have problems with tight spaces or darkness might not want to walk through this tunnel.
    Exploring Jerusalem with Kids greek church

Israel Museum

Travelers who want to see everything that the country’s national museum has to offer should budget at least one full day for this unusual and fascinating place. Covering a distance of 31 square miles, it houses various collections, displays, and findings.

There is the archaeology wing arranged in a chronological journey with pottery, glass, jewelry, and ancient writings. Visitors can see a scale model of the city of Jerusalem from before the year 66 in the Common Era. This model gives visitors a good idea of what Jerusalem looked like before its destruction by the Romans.
Exploring Jerusalem with Kids views

The museum has a whole building called the Shrine of the Book dedicated to housing and preserving the oldest Biblical manuscripts ever found, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is another wing for Fine Art and an Art Garden. The museum features a Youth Wing dedicated to promoting education and coexistence between Arab and Jewish children and they offer workshops throughout the year which attract locals and tourists alike.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This place is a mostly non-interactive museum. Parents should make sure kids know what they can and can’t touch.

The Shuk

The Machane Yehuda market is an old and famous landmark dating back to the Ottoman Empire. It used to be exclusively open-air but after undergoing renovations and upgrading over the past few decades, it now also has covered stalls and restaurants.

 Exploring Jerusalem with Kids market

 

Apart from all the vendors selling their fresh produce, amazing fruit and vegetables with all colors and fragrances, there are also ready-to-eat pastries, shawarma, falafel and other street food stalls. One can even buy freshly barbecued meats served with salads and pita bread with hummus and tahini to take home.
Exploring Jerusalem with Kids yard

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a great place for children with autism to practice haggling.
  • The market is usually crowded. The crowds can overwhelm kids with noise sensitivities or those who are claustrophobic.
  • The Shuk offers self-guided tours, including the option of a tasting tour.

 

Top Family Friendly Sites to Explore in Israel

The country of Israel, though barely a speck marked on world maps is a land that appeals to tourists of all religions, all countries and  all walks of life. Whether you like wildlife, history, archeology, geography or culture; you are guaranteed a unique sensory experience.
So, for those who have never visited as well as those busy planning their next trip; here is our top ten family friendly items to scratch off your bucket list.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel cesarea
Caesarea 

Located halfway between the coastal metropolises of Haifa and Tel Aviv, this Mediterranean city has a long history.
It predates the renovations by Herod the Great, and it is considered one of his masterpieces. Herod named his great work after the Emperor Caesar Augustus 63 years before the first millennium CE.
In the National Park, you can see remarkable ruins of what was once an elaborate port city comprising luxury dwellings with mosaic floors, store rooms, communal baths, open squares that were marketplaces, foundations of an undersea harbor, and an amphitheater which is still used today for open-air concerts. A pleasant tactile experience is being able to climb on all the ruins, stand in various parts of what was a palace and look out at the azure seas, visualizing what it was like over 2000 years ago.
Children of all ages like climbing the horses and chariot sculpture in the Hippodrome while imagining themselves racing in the Roman times. Our son got a kick out of discovering the ancient public toilets where you sat in a long row and could chat with others while doing your business.

 

Akko

For intrigue, mystery and adventure, this UNESCO  world heritage site on the Mediterranean coast, just north of Haifa must not be missed. With a fascinating history dating back to the Phoenicians and including the Israelite, Greek, Roman, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and even the Knights Templars occupations, there has been continuous habitation in this port city since the Bronze  Age.
You can imagine that with so many different types of cultures dwelling there from age to age, the archeology is fascinating. It is all preserved so well!
To do this city justice, make use of the Visitors Center. They will no doubt you all about the perfectly preserved Turkish bathhouse, the Templar Fortress built in the 1300’s and extensive tunnels that you can explore that even go under the sea!
If you or your child is claustrophobic or scared of the dark like ours, skip the tunnels and explore the colorful market in the Old City where you can take in all the sights, sounds, and aromas instead. Our son loved the hummus and shish kebab stands as well as the different sweets offered at the various stalls.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel tel aviv

Nazareth Arab market

Situated about 15 miles from the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth is home to many archeological, historical and religious sites, so there is no shortage of tourists, archeology students, and pilgrims throughout the year.
With a population of over 50,000, it is a thriving hub with lots to offer. Our favorite spot is the Arab market that has more or less stayed the same for many decades.

The atmosphere is friendly, and overall it provides a more pleasant experience than the markets in the Old City of Jerusalem as it is smaller and more contained
With winding alleyways, stone paving and arches, aromatic fragrances, brilliant colors, visual and the auditory hustle and bustle; this old-world open-air market feel like a journey back in time.
It is a good way to introduce your children to a new culture.
Voted by our son with autism as the best outdoor market he has seen, it offers a plethora of spices, fruit, olives, vegetables, clothing, and souvenirs that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Rosh Hanikra

At the northwestern most point of Israel, sharing a border with Lebanon, there is an amazing geological phenomenon that reminds people of the UK’s Cliffs of Dover.

At the Rosh Hanikra nature reserve, one can get a ride down the cliffs in the shortest but steepest cable car in the world to explore the grottos, caves and tunnels in the chalk rock, and enjoy the swirling, splashing, turquoise Mediterranean up close.
Geared towards visitors from all over the world, one can now watch a short documentary, enjoy the benefit of a tour guide and even eat at the restaurant overlooking the azure waters.
There is a souvenir shop and various activities like bike rides and hiking trails making this a worthwhile and affordable destination for children and adults alike!

The ground inside the caves is pretty slippery so make sure you bring a pair of closed well fitting shoes for your kid to walk in especially if he or she have motor coordination difficulties.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel beach

Masada

From the introductory movie to visiting the museum, to exploring the palaces and cisterns, Masada being one of the top tourist destinations in Israel is not to be missed.
Taken from the Hebrew word meaning “mountain fortress”; this iconic, flat-topped geographical feature near the Dead Sea, really lives up to its name.

There are many myths and legends associated with Masada but what is known for a fact is that the palaces, cisterns, storehouses, bathhouses and many other archeological finds were constructed under Herod the Great. The very well preserved ruins and mosaics have been reconstructed in places, and many more discoveries have been made in recent years.
Children and adults can enjoy the magnificent view of the Judean Desert as they hike up via the Snake Path or catch a ride in the cable car like we did. If you are visiting in summer, make sure you bring hats, sunscreen, water bottles and own fans if your child is temperature sensitive.

 

Dead Sea

Israel has some unique features and extraordinary phenomenon-the Dead Sea being one of them.
Named the Salt Sea since antiquity, it is a remarkable marine body known best for the ability to make swimmers buoyant. Adults and Children find that a lot of fun!
The water seems syrupy and viscous from the extremely high salt content but be aware that any small cut or nick in the skin will sting a lot (our son found that out the hard way!)
If your child is adventurous and wants to try something new – there is special mineral mud on the banks that vacationers like to smear all over their skin. When it is dry, you wash it off in the Sea or the showers on the rocky beach.
After you ‘swim’ in the sea you can check out the souvenir stores where they sell beauty and health treatments made from the various Dead Sea products.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel jerusalem

Haifa – Baha’i Gardens

Another treasure on the UNESCO World Heritage list not to miss is this extraordinarily beautiful, sculpted, terraced botanical display – Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors every year coming to see the geometric designs and exquisite attention to detail in organic form, it is a holy place for pilgrims to the Baha’i religion as well as a preservation site for nature and historical features.
The Gardens are on a slope in the middle of Haifa, and the panoramic views are spectacular. There are 19 terraces with stairs leading to the gold dome shrine at the very top. Our son loved gawking at the exquisite gardens and counting them while looking at the Galilean Hills in the north and the Mediterranean Sea in the Haifa Bay.

 

Eilat

At the southernmost tip of the country, touching the Gulf of Aqaba, is the holiday resort city of Eilat; a vibrant place with so much to offer, especially for children. It is famous for its stunning corals and sea life which you can see on a glass-bottomed boat or with a snorkel and goggles.
There is a dolphin reef, an underwater observatory including a submarine ride and special feeding times for various sea creatures(which both our kids loved!)
Moving away from the water there is a promenade, families can explore with cycle trails, dozens of stalls selling their wares and even street artists that can sketch your portrait on the spot.
The city also offers camel and jeep rides through the mountains, an IMAX theater, a Biblical theme park, a few malls and retail parks and multiple options for accommodation from Youth Hostels to Boutique hotels.

If you wish to venture outside the city for short day trips, I recommend the bird watching and ringing station ( Israel is on a bird migration route of birds on their way to and from Africa and Europe) and Timna Park where you will find the oldest copper mines in the world.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel views

Jerusalem

There is so much to see, do and experience in this very ancient city that trying to describe it in a few sentences doesn’t do it justice.
Whether you and your children are interested in history, archeology, architecture, culture, arts, science or gastronomy, Jerusalem is the place to go. It features museums, mosques, mausoleums and markets; botanicals gardens, churches, synagogues, forests and even a zoo, so if your touring time is limited, you will have to plan carefully!
This city is important to many various religions, so there are throngs of visitors throughout the year from all over the world to the holy sites for feasts and festivals.
If this is your first time going; make sure you put the Israel Museum, of to the Old City’s  Western Wall and  Church of Holy Sepulchre as well as the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem on your top spots to see.

Tel Aviv-Yafo

This vast metropolis on the Mediterranean coast has a reputation for being the city that never sleeps.
It has sun, sea and surf with white, sandy beaches but it doesn’t stop there. As the business capital of Israel, it is very tourist friendly with museums, restaurants and entertainment available across the spectrum for young and old.
Tel Aviv is famous for its Bauhaus style buildings which gained it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003,s o you should take a leisurely stroll in the ‘white city’ district and admire the architecture.
The city offers great spots to explore with kids like the Old Railroad Station (Hatachana ),t he Joshua Gardens, the Old Port and, of course, the bustling Carmel Market.
Not to be missed is the town of Jaffa with its ancient history and active flea market .

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel pool

Pin It on Pinterest