GoJerusalem's list of top free or cheap things to do in JerusalemHey, times are tough out there. You're lucky enough to be in Jerusalem, or on your way, but maybe you don't want to spend like Montefiore every day that you're here. GoJerusalem understands. To help you make the most out of the city with minimal hemorrhaging of your hard-earned shekels, we've compiled a list of things you can do for pocket change or less. Save your money for what's important, like eating hummus three meals a day, and check out our definitive list of what Jerusalem has to offer for cheap.
Strolling and outdoor activities
* Take in the view of the Old City from the Haas Promenade (pictured), and wander the park's terraced, wooded walkways.
* Play a pick-up game of soccer or basketball in Gan Sacher - the athletic fields are always hopping, and Israelis are friendly and welcoming, if competitive.
*Walk the ramparts around the Old City and continue into the Old City to explore the Arab Market, the Jewish Quarter, and of course, the Western Wall.
*People watching: Grab a chair or a bench and watch the world (and the people of Jerusalem) go by (pictured) while enjoying an early evening breeze – click here for recommendations for some top people watching spots.
* Enjoy a run, stroll, or picnic along the recently renovated Train Tracks which run through the southern part of the city.
*Take a stroll through the hills of the picturesque, venerable neighborhood of Ein Kerem.
* Wander through the alleys of Nachlaot, one of the oldest neighborhoods in western Jerusalem.
*Walk through the Wohl Rose Garden, a beautifully manicured botanical display, in the government quarter, behind Sacher Park.
* Get your asina in gear with free yoga lessons at Independence Park every Wednesday. (Come winter the classes move indoors and there’s a small fee – call Doron Mor, for further details and updates: 054-333-4021.
* Take the kids to the mifletzet, a strange and much-beloved sculpture-cum-playground apparatus.
*Parks and Playgrounds: Spend a quality few hours with the youngsters at the extensive kiddie playgrounds and play spaces at Liberty Bell Park, Teddy Park, and Independence Park, which includes an expansive, newly renovated and impressive playground.
*Tuesday afternoons are free for kids at the Israel Museum – good to keep in mind when planning family culture outings.
*Families with young children can take the tots to be entertained by the puppet theater savants at the Train Theater's "Story Theater" series for 15 NIS.
*During school vacations and throughout the summer, the indoor mall at Alrov Mamilla Avenue, the Jerusalem Mall (Malcha), and the Hadar Mall all offer free activities and performances for children, including arts and crafts, lego building, and live appearences by Israeli kids celebrities.
*Head down to the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall (pictured) and watch street performers dance, demonstrate capoeira, play human chess, busk, sing inscrutable missionary songs in Korean, or any number of interesting things.
*Alrov Mamilla Avenue has art exhibits on display throughout the year (pictured), and there are often street performers as well. Plus, it offers impressive views of the nearby Old City.
*See the work of Jerusalem's finest up-and-coming visual artists and crafts-people at the Bezalel Art Fair every Friday.
*The towering Great Synogugue is a sight to behold, and visitors can also enjoy the large private collection of mezuzot in the foyer. Shabbat prayer services often feature a live professional choir – if you’re planning on attending, keep in mind that head coverings are required and women and men sit in separate sections.
*Bookworms will enjoy a visit to the National Library (Givat Ram), which holds the largest literary collection of Hebraica and Judaica, including many one-of-a-kind and pricelessly rare antiques. Even non-bookworms can enjoy the building, provided they like art: the Library is home to artist Mordecai Ardon's fantastic stained glass windows depicting the kind of abstract Kabbalistic imagery that perfectly complements the library's deep well of Jewish history.
*Browse through the eclectic (mostly English-language) bargain racks at funky bookshop Sefer v'Sefel.
For Nature Nuts:
* The Jerusalem Bird Observatory is an acre of prime real estate nestled between the Knesset and the Supreme Court. The observatory is ripe with bird watching opportunities 24 hours a day, and often hosts special free activities and tours.
*The incredible Hebrew University Botanical Gardens have one of the best bonsai collections you'll see anywhere - plus a lot more
*The courtyard of the Natural History Museum is a beautiful oasis of trees, flowers, a small pond, a community garden and a nursery.
Yearly events and festivals:
* Some of the city’s big name festivals offer free entrance to some or all of their offerings. Cultural bites is a yearly free offering at the Jerusalem Arts Festival, following the main performances nightly at the Jerusalem Theater. Entrance to several other festivals, such as the the Old City Music Festival (March-April), the Light Festival (June), and the Jerusalem Knights Festival (Fall), all in the Old City, is free of charge as well. In the winter, Hamshushalayim, a yearly city-wide cultural festival in the late fall, offers more free culture than you can shake a falafel at.
* The end of summer doesn't have to be sad - the festival celebrating it every year at the Jerusalem Theatre is cheap and a whole lot of fun.
*If you’re lucky enough to be here for any of the major Jewish holidays throughout the year – there’s at least one for each season – the city is jam packed with free excitement for the whole family.
Over Passover, Poalim Bank usually sponsors free entrance to most museums. On Passover and Sukkot, you can get blessed by the Priests at the massive Priestly Blessing ceremony at the Western Wall. Sukkot also brings with it the annual Jerusalem Parade in the City Center and the massive Safra Square Sukkah, boasting a different theme each year and free activities and performances. Chanukah is a great opportunity for Chanukiah (Chanukah candelabra) tours, whether guided or free-style. Don’t forget Purim and Independence Day, where there are prime opportunities for partying over a 24 hour period – and many of them free.
Cultural and historical sites
* Yad Vashem is a stunning museum - and being state-run, it's absolutely free.
*Free Museum Day comes once every spring - if you're in town, don't miss your chance to see, say, the Israel Museum (pictured) for free.
*Several other museums and galleries are open to the public free of charge – these include The Jerusalem Artists House, the Ticho House, the Rockefeller Museum, and the Museum of Psalms.
* Check out local edgy art at the Barbur gallery, where community gardening, movie screenings and all kinds of other cool things are always happening.
*Wander the halls of power - take a tour of the Knesset (pictured).
*Take in the newly rebuilt Hurva Synagogue, the Old City's newest (sort of) piece of iconic architecture.
*Walk through the City of David and see the real old city
*Polish off a plate of some of Jerusalem's best hummus (pictured) for pocket change at Abu Shukri.
*Israelis have got the balanced-meal-in-a-pita thing down with the country’s favorite national dish: falafel (pictured). A filling meal of pita stuffed with salad, falafel balls and other add-ons can be yours for around 16 NIS.
* Head to the top of the Austrian Hospice for one of the best views of the Old City rooftops, and treat yourself to a helping of what is probably the only authentic apple streusel in the country at the Austrian Hospice Cafe.
* Haggle with vendors for kibbutz-fresh fruits and vegetables at the Machane Yehuda shuk (pictured).
Music and Nightlife
* Khanal'e, the Khan Theater's in house café-bar, hosts nightly live shows and jam sessions, with a focus on giving exposure to the next generation of local musicians – all performances are free of charge!
*Hip downtown restaurant-bar Nocturno has a Wednesday night live music series – entrance is just 30 NIS with discounted alcohol available at the bar
*At Colony the live music is on Thursday nights, and the entrance fee is just 30 NIS as well. The popular bar and fusion restaurant hosts ensembles playing in a variety of styles -rock, jazz, Israeli, cover bands, and more.
*Jerusalem's best underground DJs regularly spin at Sira - buy a beer or two, and you've earned a spot for the night.
*In the summer months, enjoy the Front Stage line of Friday street parties, where Jerusalem's nightlife set makes regular daytime appearances in droves.
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