Scenic Drives around Jerusalem: Discovering the Countryside
When one thinks of Jerusalem, the bustling city in the heart of Israel, images of ancient historical sites, religious landmarks, and vibrant markets often come to mind. However, just a short drive away from the city center, a whole different world awaits. Jerusalem’s countryside is a hidden gem, boasting picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and breathtaking views that are best explored via a scenic drive. In this blog post, we will take you on a journey through some of the most spectacular routes around Jerusalem, allowing you to discover the beauty of the countryside.
1. The Jerusalem Mountains Loop:
Embark on a circular route that will take you through the Jerusalem Mountains, offering stunning vistas and encounters with local rural communities. Begin your drive by heading west from the city, passing through the historic Ein Kerem neighborhood. Enjoy the picturesque village atmosphere, visit the Church of the Visitation, and indulge in some Middle Eastern delicacies at one of the local restaurants.
Continue your journey towards the village of Abu Ghosh, known for its medieval monastery and famous hummus joint. Take a moment to savor their renowned recipe before hitting the road again. As you drive deeper into the mountains, you will witness breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside, dotted with olive groves and vineyards. The route will lead you back to Jerusalem, completing a memorable loop through the scenic Jerusalem Mountains.
2. The Judean Desert Adventure:
For those seeking a more rugged and adventurous drive, the route through the Judean Desert is perfect. Head east from Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. As you descend below sea level, the landscape dramatically changes, transforming into a barren desert with towering cliffs and deep canyons.
Drive along the Dead Sea coast, marveling at the stark contrast between the turquoise waters of the salt lake and the barren, rocky hills surrounding it. Witness the mesmerizing phenomenon of the floating Dead Sea, and if you dare, take a dip to experience the extraordinary buoyancy of the water.
As you continue your drive, you will pass by ancient desert monasteries, such as St. George Monastery. Perched on a cliff, this iconic structure offers a glimpse into the life of the Byzantine monks who once inhabited these secluded places.
To complete your Judean Desert adventure, drive through the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. This oasis in the heart of the desert is known for its beautiful waterfalls and lush vegetation, providing a striking contrast to the arid surroundings. Take a leisurely hike, cooling off under the cascading waterfalls, before heading back to Jerusalem.
3. The Hills of Jerusalem:
For a more leisurely drive through the countryside, explore the hills surrounding Jerusalem. Start your journey by heading north towards the biblical town of Bethlehem. Visit the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, before continuing your drive through the serene landscapes.
Pass by the picturesque town of Ramallah, home to vibrant markets, coffee shops, and cultural attractions. As you wind through the olive-strewn hills, you will encounter stunning viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the entire region.
Continue towards the village of Beit Jala, known for its beautiful churches and breathtaking lookout points. Take a moment to appreciate the tranquility of the countryside before returning to Jerusalem, having experienced the enchanting beauty of the surrounding hills.
In conclusion, Jerusalem’s countryside is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Whether you prefer a scenic drive through the Jerusalem Mountains, an adventurous journey through the Judean Desert, or a leisurely exploration of the hills, the countryside offers a perfect escape from the bustling city. So, hop in your car, roll down the windows, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Jerusalem’s countryside. Happy driving!