Great Runs in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, and a religious center for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The city is also a major tourist site. The well preserved Old City (east Jerusalem), while not even 0.9 km sq., is the location of the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock, the Garden Tomb, and the al-Asqua Mosque. The western part of the city is where the bulk of the residents live, and is home to Israel’s main government buildings.

We would not consider Jerusalem a major running city. You’ll see fewer joggers there than many other world cities. We would not recommend running in the Old City. The streets are narrow, crowded, and for reasons of religion and respect, running in the Old City might not be appropriate.But there is some good running to be had in Jerusalem! One can piece together a good ‘tourist’ run of some of the major sites, using busy Hebron Rd. as an anchor, and heading up to Hebrew University and Mount Scopus. This is part of the Jerusalem Marathon route. There is also a wonderful Promenade (Tayelet), with great views of the Old City. The best off-road run is the Rekevet, which is a 3.5 mile ‘rail trail’ accessible from the central part of Jerusalem. The best green spaces for running are the centrally located Sacher Park, and the Jerusalem Forest, which is a few km west of the Old City and has some good running trails and roads.

Jerusalem is well served by buses. A new light rail system runs to Mt. Herzl (a good running spot), and to Jerusalem.

A few particular notes. We also recommend to be careful about running in certain neighborhoods, for both safety and religious respect concerns. Please consult a guide book or speak with your hotel concierge. Also, Jerusalem is crowded and busy with cars, and some roads have narrow sidewalks or no sidewalks at all. Use caution.

  1. Tourist Run
  2. Promenade (Tayelet)
  3. Reveket (Rail Trail)
  4. Jerusalem Forest
  5. Sacher Parl

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The Routes

Tourist Run

7 mile Loop. Start: Hebron Rd. at First Station near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. MAP

This is a tour of some of Jerusalem’s tourist highlights, without going directly into the Old City. Some of it is along busy roads, which have lots of cars, but also sidewalks. Our 7 mile loop begins at First Station (old train station), near the Meneachem Begin Heritage Center. Follow Hebron Rd. north, toward the Old City. At about 1 mile, reach the Tourist Information Center at the Tower of David. Soon after, a mix of the old and new: Mamilla Mall, a fancy shopping mall, just outside the Old City/Western Wall. There are good views along here. Just short of 3 miles, see Ammunition Hill on your left. Soon after, get off Hebron Rd., to do a tour of Hebrew University and Mt. Scopus, using the route of the Jerusalem Marathon (Churchill St. to Martin Buber St.). There are opportunities to get off the main road here to see more of the campus or explore Mount Scopus.

The route returns through the trails of Zurim Valley National Park, and Brigham Young University of Jerusalem. Pass by the Rockefeller Archeological Museum and the Garden Tomb on the right, and head through Damascus Gate to conclude the tour.

Promenade (Tayelet)

4 miles ONE-WAY. Cobblestone in parts. Start: northern end at Naomi St. off Hebron Rd., 0.5 miles from First Station. southern end at Ala”r St., near U.N. HQ

This is a beautiful path/promenade (called the Tayelet, in hebrew) with terrific views of the Old City. The surface is cobblestone, at the outset so runners should be aware. It is an off road path that goes for nearly 1.5 miles. On the western side, it starts just off Hebron Rd. at Bulgaria Square/St. Clair Monastery, and is called the Gabriel Sherover Promenade. The promenade heads southeast and turns into the Goldman Promenade, which is paved, at Trotner Park. The promenade ends at Ala”R St., near the U.N. headquarters.

Reveket (Rail Trail)

3.5 miles one way. Off road, paved. Start: northeastern terminus at Beit Lethem Rd., near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center; southwestern terminus near the Malha railway station.

The Rekevet is a former railroad track turned into a bike and pedestrian path. It is one of the better off-road running options in Jerusalem. It runs bout 3.5 miles one-way. The northern terminus is at First Station, just south of the Old City, and heads southwest to the Malcha Mall and train station.

Sacher Park

3.4 miles LOOP. Start: nothern part of park, near Kraft Stadium. Ben Tsvi St.

Sacher Park (Gan Sacher) is Jerusalem’s largest park and is very centrally located, about 3km west of the old city. Enjoy the fields and various trails. We have mapped a 3.4 mile route, which starts near Kraft Stadium. It’s about 1.5 miles from the nothern to the southern part of the park. The western part of the park has some important sites: The Monastery of the Holy Cross and the Israel Museum, and then passes by the Knesset (Israel Parliament) and the Israel Supreme Court on the western side of the park.

Jerusalem Forest

Various options, see below. Access: The entrance is from Beit Hadfus Street near the Angel bakery and the gas station. Another entrance is from Moshav Beit Zayit. There is frequent bus service from Jerusalem to Yad Vashem, and light rail service from Jerusalem to Mt. Herzl.

The Jerusalem Forest is a lovely green space 6km west of Jerusalem, covering about 2 km sq. Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and the Tzippori Recreation Center are also located in the forest. The forest contains pine and cypress trees, as well as Palestine oak, terebinth, carob, olive, fig, pomegranate and other species of Mediterranean woodlands and orchards that used to cover the slopes of the Judean Hills.

This is a good running spot if you’d like some green space and shade, near Jerusalem. There is a combination of narrower walking trails within the forest, most notably the 4km long Cedar Trail loop. There are also some trails and roads popular with biking that are good for running, such as the Yosef Weitz-Ottawa Road (4 mile loop), and the roads/trails between Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl (about 3km). Note that some of the roads are narrow and do not have sidewalks. Another good route is the the Yad Vashem-Yefe Nof Road, which road goes from Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem to the Zippori Center and from there to the Yefe Nof neighborhood, to Pirhei Hen Street. About 3–5 km, depending on exactly how you do it.

Another option is to start at the Forest entrance, from Yad Sara (which is on the corner of Herzl Street) to Yad Vashem through the dirt path or road below the dirt path. This green trail offers runners dramatic views of Ein Kerem and the Calder Scuplture. Once out near the entrance to Yad Vashem, runners can loop back through Har Hertzl, Israel’s military cemetery.

Note: Out of respect, please do not run in or near Yad Vashem.

Weather and Climate

Jerusalem has a Mediterranean climate, but moderated by its altitude. It’s pleasant nearly year-round for running. Summers are warm to hot, with high temps 80–85F (26–29C). Winters can be cool, with average highs in January around 54F (12C), and chilly evenings, around 4C. Temps occasionally go below freezing. Snow is rare. Winters can be rainy. Summers are very dry with virtually no rain between May and October. Jerusalem’s weather is much more pleasant than Tel Aviv’s in the summer.

Stay

Jerusalem is a major tourist destination, and there is a good selection of hotels. The best hotels and most centrally located are in the Downtown Triangle and off Hebron Rd. (Rt. 60) near the Old City. Try to stay in this area to be close to the best running routes in Jerusalem. There are no hotels in the Old City.

Stores, Group Runs, and Events

There are not any dedicated running stores in Jerusalem that we are aware of. You are likely to find running necessities in one of the two major malls in Jerusalem: the Malcha (Azrieli) Mall (near the Malcha Train Station) and the Mamilla Mall (near the Old City).

The running scene in Israel continues to grow and there are many running events in different parts of the country.

Article on Israel’s most important running events.

Jerusalem Marathon. March. This has become a major international marathon event, with 30,000 runners. There are also 5k, 10k, and half-marathon options.

Jerusalem Night Run. Has been run annually. Running at night in Jerusalem is special.

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