With many steep areas and a hectic downtown, Jerusalem is best suited to experienced cyclists. Bike Jerusalem offers rental bikes with downtown pick-up (including helmet and repair kit), while Smart Tour takes some of the effort out of pedalling the city hills by offering electric-bike rental. The tourist office at Jaffa Gate has a list of bike-hire and cycle-tour companies.
Dockless bike sharing, so that riders can pick-up and drop-off anywhere in the city, is being introduced to the city in the near future (possibly late 2018).
Jerusalem is laced with a good network of bus routes (5.90NIS per ride), which cover all West Jerusalem neighbourhoods (and reach into a few in East Jerusalem). Buy a rechargeable Rav-Kav card from any driver or the convenient Jerusalem City Pass – slide the card into the machine next to the driver upon entering (there's a 90-minute window for free transfer between buses and the light-rail line with the card). You can no longer buy a single ride fare from bus drivers.
Most stops have electronic signage accurately indicating the arrival time of various buses. For routes, schedules and transport maps, see www.jet.gov.il.
Be aware that East Jerusalem's bus routes are privately run, and the Rav-Kav card and Jerusalem City Pass, which can be used on most buses in the Greater Jerusalem area, are not valid for East Jerusalem buses. They have their own Rav-Kav card equivalent called a 'Weekly Pass'.
To get to parts of East Jerusalem, such as the Mount of Olives (bus 75, 5NIS), use the Arab bus station located on Sultan Suleiman St, near Herod's Gate. The buses that leave from here are blue and white.
A free shuttle service operates between the First Station complex just north of the German Colony neighbourhood and the Dung Gate with various stops in the Old City. It departs every 20 minutes. It doesn't run on Saturday.
Car & Motorcycle
Traffic congestion is common, one-way streets are a headache, some roads are barely wide enough to pass, drivers are impatient, and parking is painful – consider carefully whether you need a car in Jerusalem.
Paid street parking available to non-residents is marked by a blue-and-white kerb; purchase a ticket from a nearby machine (5.70NIS per hour) and display it on your dashboard. Street parking is usually free in the evening and during Shabbat. Alternatively, register with Pango (http://en.pango.co.il) to locate available spaces and pay for parking through an app on your phone (in some places, your only option is to pay through Pango). Parking fines are applied readily, and cars are towed swiftly if illegally parked.
Driving in the Old City is prohibited. For convenient and secure parking near Jaffa Gate, head to Mamilla Parking, or park at the First Station complex and from there grab the free shuttle service to the Old City.
Taking a ‘special’ (speshel; ie non-shared) taxi can be very convenient but, at times, a bit of a hassle because some unscrupulous drivers overcharge tourists. The best way to avoid getting ripped off is to sound like a confident old hand as you give the street address, including a cross street. It’s almost always to your advantage to use the meter (by law the driver has to put it on if you ask); make sure it is reset to the flag-fall price after you get in. In theory at least, taxis emblazoned with the iTaxiJerusalem logo have pledged to the municipality to provide fair service.
Meter fall is usually 12.30NIS. Between 9pm and 5.30am and on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, the meter fall begins around 15.30NIS. Wait time costs 94NIS per hour. Legitimate surcharges include pick-up at Ben Gurion Airport (5NIS); pieces of full-size luggage (4.40NIS); third and fourth passengers (4.90NIS each); and phone orders (5.20NIS).
Plan on spending between 25NIS and 50NIS for trips anywhere within the central part of town. Ask for a receipt at the end.
Call Hapalmach Taxi, or find taxi services by neighbourhood (and sample fares) on JerusalemTaxis (http://jerusalemtaxies.com). Many locals now use the mobile phone app GetTaxi (www.gettaxi.co.il).
Drivers at Jaffa Gate are notorious for refusing to use the meter and then overcharging or agreeing on a price and then trying to renegotiate once you're in the cab – if you need a taxi from this location, ask the nearby tourist office to call one for you. Drivers waiting next to the Tomb of the Virgin Mary on the Mount of Olives have a similarly bad reputation. If you don't want to get ripped off, you can always make the short walk up the hill to Lions' Gate in the Old City.
Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR; www.citypass.co.il) consists of a single line that runs from Mt Herzl in the west of the city to Heyl HaAvir in Pisgat Ze’ev, in the city’s far northeast. There are 23 stops along the 13.9km route, including the Central Bus Station, Mahane Yehuda Market and Damascus Gate. The service runs every 10 minutes or so from 5.30am to midnight daily except on Shabbat; on Friday services stop 1½ hours before Shabbat begins, and Saturday services start one hour after Shabbat concludes.
Tickets (5.90NIS per ride) can be purchased from the machines (instructions in Hebrew, Arabic and English) at tram stops and must be validated onboard the tram (inspectors frequently check tickets). Multiple journeys can be loaded onto a Rav-Kav card.
Tickets & Passes
Single tickets are no longer available; you must purchase one of the following.
Jerusalem City Pass (63NIS; www.itraveljerusalem.com/jlm-city-pass) The new Jerusalem City Pass, an orange card that many bus drivers and other Jerusalemites might not yet recognise (you'll likely get curious queries), is the most convenient and best-value option if you plan on getting around on public transportation. It includes seven days of unlimited rides on the bus and light-rail system, bus transport to and from Ben Gurion International Airport, and discounts and free access to various Jerusalem sites. Order online in advance and head to the iTravel Jerusalem desk at Ben Gurion upon arrival. You can also purchase the pass on arrival, or at one of the iTravel Jerusalem trucks parked near Jaffa Gate and Mahane Yehuda.
Rav-Kav card This rechargeable card is valid on the light-rail system and all buses within the Greater Jerusalem area. Obtain an 'anonymous' card for 10NIS from any bus driver, or get one for free on presentation of your passport at the Egged desk (open 7am to 7pm Sunday to Thursday, to 2pm Friday) near platform 22 at the Central Bus Station. Pre-load the card with rides (5.90NIS each, no transfers) or passes (per day/week from 13.50/64NIS), and scan it each time you board a light-rail or bus service. Recharge the card at ticket machines by tram stops, on any bus, or at the Central Bus Station's Egged desk.
Both the standard Rav-Kav card and Jerusalem City Pass don't work on the East Jerusalem bus network (02-627-2881), which has its own version of a Rav-Kav card simply called a 'Weekly Pass'. It's an old-fashioned hole-punch card which you purchase on the bus for 5NIS.
One child under five years of age can travel free with every paying customer.