The western wall & dome of the rock in Jerusalem
 

Above:  Jerusalem's Western Wall & Dome of the Rock...

Below:  The train that gets you there...

  The Tel Aviv to Jerusalem train

Take the train to the Holy City...

To get from Tel Aviv city centre or Ben Gurion airport to Jerusalem, simply hop on a modern air-conditioned train with power sockets & free WiFi, there's no need to resort to a bus.  The comfortable & leisurely train journey through the Judean Hills is a great introduction to Israel and an experience in itself as you're riding the historic Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway of 1892.  This page will help you make this trip and get the most from the journey.

  Practical information - train times, fares & tickets

  Which station to use in Tel Aviv

  What's the train like?

  Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by train - the journey in pictures

  Arrival at Jerusalem Malha station

  The King David Hotel

  Visiting the Old City in Jerusalem

  Jerusalem central bus station, light rail & new fast train

  The Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway of 1892 - a brief history...

  Trains from Tel Aviv to Haifa, Akko & Be'er Sheva

Practical information:  Times, fares & tickets...

Tel Aviv stations...   See location map

There are 4 stations in Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv HaHagana, Tel Aviv HaShalom, Tel Aviv Savidor Center & Tel Aviv University.  The trains call at all 4, so just use whichever is closest to your hotel.  Savidor-Center and HaShalom are the most important stations with plenty of taxis waiting outside when you need them, although HaHagana is closest to old Jaffa.

There's a quick and simple security check at the entrance to all Israeli railway stations, usually with baggage X-ray & metal detector portal.  You'll then go through automatic ticket gates to access the platforms, there's an extra-wide one if you have luggage.

Tel Aviv Savidor station   Tel Aviv Savidor ticket hall

Tel Aviv Savidor-Center station, opened in 1954 on the new north-south line through Tel Aviv, built between the carriageways of the Ayalon Highway to connect the railway north to Haifa with the railway to Jerusalem.

Tel Aviv HaShalom station, exterior   Through the ticket gates

Tel Aviv HaShalom station...

 

After buying a ticket, go through the ticket gates...

On board the train to Jerusalem...

The trains used on this route have air-conditioning, carpet, toilets, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  These Danish-designed trains are the only type which can negotiate the tight curves on the curvaceous line to Jerusalem, which was originally built as a metre-gauge line, but converted to standard gauge (4' 8.5") by the British in 1920.  Travel tips: The best views are arguably on the left-hand side of the train going towards Jerusalem.  There's no catering, so buy a coffee and supplies at the station before you board.

Boarding the train to Jerusalem
 
Train to Jeruslaem at Tel Aviv HaHagana   Seats on an IC3 train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

The journey...

Scenery between Tel Aviv and Lod   Lod station

For the first half hour after leaving Tel Aviv, the train speeds briskly across farmland and the occasional field of olive trees to the old junction station of Lod - one of Israel Railways' few original stations dating from the 19th century.

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train approaches the Judean Hills

After Lod, the train slows as it approaches the Judean hills...

Scenery in the hills   More scenery in the hills

The train now starts twisting and turning through arid valleys and gorges...

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem train snaking through the valleys

You can often see the front or rear of the train from your seat...

More scenery from the train

 

More arid scenery...   Passing another train

It's just a single track - your train may stop in a loop to pass another train.  The train stops at Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, then Jerusalem Malha, the end of the line.

Hills and olive trees

Jerusalem Malha station...  See location map

Jerusalem Malha station is in the southwest of the city near the Malcha shopping mall & stadium, some way from the old city or indeed from the main part of the new city - it's the only real downside of taking the train.  But there will be plenty of taxis waiting at Malha station, and a taxi between Malha station and a hotel near the old city costs around 75-80 NIS (£14 or $21) on the meter or you may be quoted 100 NIS 'fixed price'.  Alternatively, city bus routes 18 & 35 link Malha station to the Central Bus Station.

Trainsto Tel Aviv at Jerusalem Malha station   Jerusalem Malha station, ticket hall

The King David Hotel...

The most famous hotel in Jerusalem and a landmark in its own right, the King David Hotel opened in 1931.  The building was used as the British administrative HQ during the later part of the British Mandate period (1917 to 1948) - indeed, the south west wing was blown up in 1946 by Zionist activists, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing.  Today, it's an excellent luxury hotel with great character - and the breakfast is pretty good, too.  It's just 15 minutes walk from the hotel to the Jaffa Gate into the Old City.  The rooms at the rear of the hotel have views of the old city walls.  There's more information about this hotel at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel and you can check prices & book a room here.  If your budget won't stretch, at least have a drink in the bar...  See location map

Rear of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem   A room at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem

The old city of Jerusalem...

View of Jerusalem Old City from the King David Hotel

The view of the old city from the King David Hotel, looking east towards the Jaffa Gate.  King David's Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper are on the right of this picture where you see the two short towers, although neither the tomb nor the site of the Last Supper are historically likely to be in that location!

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem   Inside the Damascus Gate

The Damascus Gate, outside & in, perhaps the most impressive of the old city's gates...

Souqs of the old city

Wandering the souqs of the old city of Jerusalem, near the Jaffa Gate.

Chruch of the Holy Sepulchre   Site of the cross, Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (above left) with (above right) the alleged spot where Jesus was crucified.  The spot is in an upstairs room because the original hill was levelled, so the foot of the cross would have been 4m above today's ground level.  As its name suggests, the church is also built over the site of Jesus tomb - or rather, one of several candidates for that site.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre.

The Western Wall

The western wall of the temple mount, the holiest site in Judaism.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall.

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem   Oskar Schindler's grave

Dome of the Rock, on Temple Mount...

 

Oskar Schindler's grave...

Bus station, light rail & new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast line.   See location map...

Jerusalem light rail:  Jerusalem's modern tram line is useful for travel between the Damascus Gate of the old city and the Central Bus Station in the northwest of the new city.  You can easily buy a ticket from the ticket machines at any tram stop and hop on, see www.citypass.co.il

Central bus station:  Bus services to towns all over Israel leave from the main bus station pictured below left - it's inside a cheap shopping centre, and surprisingly the buses leave from the 3rd floor as the building backs onto a hill.  There's a security check at the entrance doors to the bus station.

New fast line to Tel Aviv:  The station for the new fast train to Tel Aviv will be located here, indeed, the building is already largely complete behind the hoardings on the opposite side of the road and tram stop from the bus station.  The new train service is due to start in late 2017 or early 2018

Allenby Square:  Just around the back of the bus station in the small & peaceful Allenby Square is the monument to the capture of Jerusalem in 1917, erected by the British in the 1920s and worth a look, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allenby_Square.

Jerusalem central bus station   Jersualem Light Rail - with new fast train station in the background

Jerusalem's Central Bus Station.  The buses leave from the 3rd floor.  The Jerusalem Light Rail tram stop is just out of shot to the right.

 

The Jerusalem tram at the Central Bus Station stop - and behind it, the new station for the fast train to Tel Aviv opening late 2017 or early 2018.

The Jaffa-Jerusalem RailwayA brief history...

The line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was opened in 1892 as the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway, built as a single-track narrow-gauge line (metre gauge) by the French in what was then Ottoman Palestine.  It was converted to standard gauge (4' 8.5") by the British in 1920.  It's had a hard life:  When the Ottomans ran it as allies of the Germans in World War 1, the British blew it up.  When the British ran it as Palestine Railways during the British Mandate period from 1917 to 1948, the Israelis blew it up.  And when the Israelis ran it from 1949 onwards with its starting point switched from Jaffa to Tel Aviv in the 1950s, the Palestinians blew it up.  However, it has survived until today almost against the odds.  Buses and cars on the more direct highway robbed it of much of its traffic, by 1995 there was just one train per day, and by 1998 the track had deteriorated to such an extent that the line was closed for 6 years.  But the track was repaired and the line reopened in 2005 with an almost hourly service and a new Jerusalem terminus at Malha, though less conveniently located than the original station.  The old line is likely to continue running even after the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast line opens in 2017/18 - which should take back all the lost traffic from the buses.  For more information about the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffa%E2%80%93Jerusalem_railway.

Old Jaffa railway station   Old 1920s carriage from the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway

Old Jaffa station still stands, see location map.  The old station (HaTachana in Hebrew) dating from 1892 and used until the 1950s is on the Tel Aviv side of Jaffa old city, near the sea.  It's been preserved, you'll find some exhibits and information here, including a 1920s Palestine Railways carriage, plus shops & cafes.

Inside the old station, Jerusalem   Old station, Jerusalem

Jerusalem's old station also still stands, see location map.  Far more conveniently located than the new Jerusalem Malha station, it's just 10 minutes walk down the hill from the King David Hotel.  This station was in use until 1998, when the line closed due to the state of the track.  It's now a retail & entertainment complex, with some exhibits and history displays, cafes and shops, including a 1920s Palestine Railways carriage.


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