Home » The Best Museums in Jerusalem (in My Opinion)

The Best Museums in Jerusalem (in My Opinion)

by backpackisrael
17 minutes read

Summer is here, and I’m not a beach person. Instead, when it’s hot outside, I like going to indoor places, especially museums. With over 230 museums all over Israel, the country has the most per capita. In Jerusalem alone, there are about 20 museums, but not all are worth visiting. If you’re coming to the Holy City and would like to go to museums – no matter the season- here are some of the best museums in Jerusalem, at least in my opinion.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no extra cost to you. These links help me keep the website alive and not depend on sponsors! Thank you in advance.

The Tower of David Museum

If I could recommend only one museum in Jerusalem, it would be the renewed Tower of David Museum. This beautiful museum is located inside the Tower of David, an ancient citadel situated right next to Jaffa Gate. The structure as we see it today dates back to the Middle Ages, but its rectangular tower dates back to the 1st century BCE, to the time of King Herod. So, there’s a lot of history in the structure itself.

The museum was reopened in June 2023 and now includes several exhibition halls, each one focusing on a different aspect of Jerusalem:

  • The historical aspectIn the first hall, you can learn about the history of the city from the Canaanite Period until the time of modern-day Israel. The hall includes amazing audiovisuals, touchscreens, and archeological artifacts.  
  • The religious aspect –Three exhibition halls discuss Jerusalem through the eyes of the three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and show how the city is holy to all three.
  • The cultural aspect – There’s a beautiful exhibition hall dedicated to the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holidays celebrated in Jerusalem throughout the year. You can sit down on chairs, look up to the ceiling, and enjoy a stunning audiovisual show showing the different holidays. There are also touchscreens that allow you to learn more about each holiday.

There are some more exhibitions, but in my view, they are less exciting. At the end of your visit, I recommend climbing up to the top of the Phasael Towerthe tower built in the time of King Herodto enjoy one of the most amazing views of old and new Jerusalem (included in my list of beautiful viewpoints in Jerusalem). Please note that there is no elevator to the top of the tower, so those with mobility issues will have a problem going up there.

You can purchase a combined ticket to the museum and the night show. Another option is to register to a guided tour, included in your ticket.

How to get there? If you’re going to the Old City, you can combine a visit to this museum before or after your tour of the Old City. It’s located right next to Jaffa Gate, and the entrance is from outside the walls of Old City. If your hotel is near, you can walk there. If it’s farther away and you’re close to the Jerusalem light rail, you can take it to the “City Hall” station and walk about 5-10 minutes to Jaffa Gate. I recommend using Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.

How long does the visit take? About 1 to 2 hours.

For opening hours and more information, visit the official website of the Tower of David Museum.

The Israel Museum

The next museum on my list is the Israel Museum, one of the world’s leading archeology and art museums, with the most extensive Biblical and Holy Land archeology collection. I like this museum because it features some of Israel’s most important archeological artifacts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Tel Dan stele. I also like it because there is so much to see in it, with its extensive permanent collections and changing exhibitions. So, as someone who lives in Jerusalem, I can always come again and again and find something new.

But if you’re coming from abroad, I think you should focus on three things in the museum – the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept, the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, and the Holy Land Archeology Wing. If you have time and interest, I would also take a look at the beautiful Jewish Art and Life collection. Learn more about the highlights of the Israel Museum.

Please note that due to the war situation, the Shrine of the Book is currently closed to visitors.

By purchasing a ticket to the Israel Museum, you’ll get a 10% discount at the Bible Lands Museum, valid for a week. The Bible Lands Museum is a small museum located right next to the Israel Museum, entirely dedicated to the history of the Near East in the Biblical period. If you’re interested in understanding the different players back then, you might want to take a look in the museum. However, I recommend visiting it on another day than the Israel Museum, because two of them on the same day is a bit too much, at least for me!

Children 17 years or younger can enter free of charge on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so if you are coming as a family with children, aim to visit on one of those days.

How to get there? The Israel Museum is located near the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. From the city center, you can take either bus number 7 or 66 to the “Israel Museum/ Wise” station. Depending on your location, it should take about 20 minutes. Another option is to take a taxi or walk about 30 minutes to the museum. I recommend using Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.   

How long does the visit take? A minimum of 2 hours, but you can spend a full day there.

For opening hours and more information, visit the official website of the Israel Museum.  

Israel Museum Shrine of the Book
The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

Another important museum in Jerusalem is the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, part of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The museum tells the story of the Holocaust, from the start of antisemitism, through the ghettos and death camps, and to the immigration of the survivors to the Land of Israel. There are original artifacts, including photographs, documents, and personal items, as well as videos of survivor testimonies.

I know that there are many Holocaust museums around the world, but this museum is very informative. It’s also special because it is located in the State of Israel, the Jewish state, which was established to make sure that the Jews would be safe and would not suffer another Holocaust.

You must reserve a time slot to visit the museum. Click here to reserve a time slot in the official website. If you do not reserve your visit in advance, you might not be let in. Since April 2024, reservation requires a symbolic service and handling fee of 10 to 15 ILS, so the museum is no longer free of charge. If you come without reservation and there is open space, you can enter the museum for free, but I wouldn’t risk it.

It is possible to rent an audio guide for the museum for 30 ILS per person, but I wouldn’t do that. The museum has plenty of detailed signs in English and Hebrew, and the audio guide doesn’t tell anything more than what they can tell you.

How to get there? The best way to get to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is by taking the light-rail train to “Mount Herzl” station and then walking about 5-10 minutes from there to the entrance.

How long does the visit take? Around 2 hours. It can also take more time if you plan to stop and read everything and watch most of the testimonies. Once, I guided a family that stayed in the museum for around 4 hours.

For opening hours and more information, visit the official website of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

The Begin Museum

This is a lesser-known museum because it can be visited only as part of a guided tour and is mainly visited by local Israelis. But I really liked this museum, so I wanted to share it with you. The museum is located inside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and is dedicated to the life of Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of Israel, who signed the peace agreement with Egypt in 1979.

The visit to the museum is guided by a professional guide who tells the story of Menachem Begin, from his childhood in Poland through his experience as the commander of the Irgun, one of the Jewish underground movements during the British era, to his role as the prime minister of Israel and the signing of the peace agreement. The guide I had was terrific. There are also multimedia shows, documentary videos, and interactive touch screens that only make the experience better!

After the tour of the museum, I recommend going out and visiting Ketef Hinnom, located right next to the Begin Center. This is where you can see burial caves dating back to the First Temple Period. It is also where archeologists revealed the Ketef Hinnom amulets, which bear the oldest surviving text from the Hebrew Bible. You can see those amulets at the Israel Museum, but you can read about them in the signs at Ketef Hinnom. Recently, the site has been renovated and includes several explanation signs. And it’s free of charge!

Click here to book a tour in English.

How to get there? The Begin Museum is located near the First Station. It is about a 30-minute walk from the Machane Yehuda Market, which is the center of Jerusalem. Another option is to take a bus from the city center. There are many lines –  78, 74, 75, 18, and 7. I recommend using Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.   

How long does the visit take? The tour takes about one hour and 15 minutes.

The Museum for Islamic Art

The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in the 7th century. Since then, many Muslim dynasties and empires have ruled the city. Therefore, it makes sense to find the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. If you are interested in Islamic art and culture, this museum is really worth a visit! I’ve visited it several times, mainly for its special exhibitions, which change once in a few months. The permanent exhibitions tell about Islam, the Quran, and art from different Islamic periods and regions.

Another part of the museum is the Watches Collection, which has no connection to Islam but is very interesting! It is the most important collection of rare watches and clocks in the world, assembled by Sir David Lionel Salomons in the early 20th century. A fun fact is that this collection was stolen in 1983 and was found again only in 2006, after the death of the watch robber. Today, they sit in a well-secured vault in the museum and will hopefully not get stolen again.

How to get there? The museum is about a 30-minute walk from the Machane Yehuda Market. If you prefer to get there by bus, you will need to get bus number 17, 19, or 92 from Agripas Street, get off at Aza Street, and then walk about 10 minutes to the museum. I recommend using Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.   

How long does the visit take? Around 1-2 hours.  

For opening hours and more information, visit the official website of the Museum for Islamic Art.  

Watches from the collection of the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem
Some watches from the collection of the Museum for Islamic Art

The Hebrew Music Museum

Another lovely museum is the Hebrew Music Museum, located right in the heart of Jerusalem, next to Ben Yehuda Street. This small museum tells the story of different Jewish cultures from around the world through their musical instruments and music. If you don’t join a guided tour, you get a tablet at the entrance to the museum. You can then walk around the exhibition and listen to the different showcased musical instruments through the tablet.

There’s also a VR experience where you can glimpse into the Holy Temple and listen to the Levis sing and play music on the temple steps. According to belief, the people of the Tribe of Levi were in charge of singing during special occasions in the temple, such as the sacrificing ceremonies.  

How to get there? The Hebrew Music Museum is located on Yo’el Moshe Salomon Street, a 2-minute walk from Ben Yehuda Street in the heart of Jerusalem. If your hotel is in the city center, you can get there very easily. If not, you can use the light-rail train and get off at “Yafo Center” station, a short walk away.  

How long does the visit take? About one hour.

For opening hours and more information, visit the official website of the Hebrew Music Museum.

The Holy Temple Museum

Finally, I want to talk about the Holy Temple Museum, also known as the Temple Institute Visitors Center. The Temple Institute is an organization that is completely dedicated to the different aspects of the Holy Jewish Temple. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE. In the meanwhile, the Dome of the Rock has already been built on Temple Mount, but the guys from the Temple Institute want to rebuild the temple and have restored and constructed many of the sacred items that must be part of this temple. While I do not think we should be planning the construction of the Third Temple, I think it is very interesting to come and visit this museum, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

In the museum, you will pass through several exhibition halls, each telling the story of the Holy Temple and showcasing the items that are integral to the temple. All of the items were created based on thorough research and based on the Biblical text so that they can really be used if and when necessary. Among other things, you’ll be able to see the uniform, of the High Priest, the Table of the Showbread, and the Incense Altar.

The whole tour is accompanied by an audio and visual guide, but without earphones. So, it is required to book your visit in advance to make sure you will be able to hear the explanations in your language. You can find more information and reserve a visit through the official website of the Holy Temple Museum. I have been able to come a few times and enter the museum without prior reservation, so you should be able to do that, too, but then the language might not fit your preference.

How to get there? The museum is located on Misgav Ladach Street in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. It’s located right next to the steps that go down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall. You can visit it as part of your visit to the Old City.

How long does the visit take? About one hour.

Conclusion

There are many museums in Jerusalem, and many are worth visiting. Those which I have mentioned are the best museums in Jerusalem, at least in my opinion, and I hope you’ll have time to visit at least some of them! Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed your visit.

Save this post for later!

If you liked this post or found it useful, please don’t hesitate to like, share or comment (:

If you need any more advice, please don’t hesitate to send me a message on my Facebook page or to contact me at [email protected].

If you’re searching for a tour guide in Israel, I also offer private tours in Israel.

You can also support my work by buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi.  Your support helps me maintain the site and keep creating content about Israel. It’s greatly appreciated!

Yours,

Lior

Share this on your social networks:

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. I'm assuming you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read the Privacy Policy