We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Israel Ministry of Tourism-Jerusalem Office

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
37,588 posts
38 reviews
Save Topic
Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

On Tuesday, I finally made it to Jerusalem. As always I stopped in at the Tourism Office to see what new brochures etc. were available. I also had my new i-pad so I wanted to check out the guided walks I had heard about.

Going in a gentleman helped me to download the app. (note, it is an iphone app, not an ipad app, yet it works on the ipad! ) While I was waiting for it to download I commented that I may just have to move in –heat and free wifi what more can I want. He laughingly told me, I could only stay until they “threw me out” I came back with—you can’t do that, I’ll write about you on Trip Advisor. (He had NO idea who I was or the fact that I was a TA regular)

He then said, if I write on TA then I should warn people about the commercial tourist office next door to the official Ministry of Tourism office. From some of the horror stories we heard, and from my own visit I agree.

So…..when you enter the Jaffa Gate the first office you come to is commercial. They will SELL you maps and sell you tours. They will also rent audio guides. They will provide a hard sell to get you to spend money( I went next door and received it too) They will NOT tell you about the availability of any free tours. There is also a question about the commission charged by their ATM machine. It seems to be very very expensive and out of line.

The Official Israel Ministry of Tourism office does NOT charge. The apps are free, the maps are free, the advice is free and they are very knowledgeable –about the whole country, not just Jerusalem. While waiting for my walking tours to download, I can hear them responding to questions ranging from free tours to how to get to the airport to how to travel up North.

IN summation, use the REAL Tourism office. It has a sign hat says Ministry of Tourism, it has a free wifi sign, it has the Menorah that is the Israeli symbol and it has the Ministry of Tourism symbol (two people carrying grapes) It is # 3 and best of all, it has people who want to help you find what is best for you, not which item carries the most commission.

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
17,555 posts
87 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Thanks for sharing - this is very helpful info.

Gippsland, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
Level Contributor
6,652 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Great info. Thanks for sharing all that. I knew there were two tourism offices next to each other but couldn't remember which was the official one.

There are heaps self- guided tours of Israel you can download for iPad and iPhone. You find them in the App Store on the iPad or iPhone. (Or in the Android market or similar for other smart phones). Many are free, and some give you a free outline but you pay if you want to be told the route snd be guided there using gps. The iPhone apps usually work on the iPad but they may appear small in the middle of the screen. Often you get the option to double the size (it says x2 at the bottom right hand corner) but pictures are occasionally a bit blurry if you do that). At some stage, if I get time, I will post a list of the ones that are the most helpful. I think I have downloaded a good majority of the free ones over the past 5 years and a few paid ones. But for anyone reading this who wants to find them... Just do a search in the iPhone/iPad App store for 'Jerusalem', 'Tel Aviv', or 'Haifa' and search through the results. If you alter the category at the top to "travel" that should help.

Rdglady, since you are using an iPad it will automatically search for iPad apps. That will narrow the choice you get because more people would use an iPhone for tours so they tend to be made for that.. There is another option on the top line to change the search from "ipad only" to "iPhone only". That should give you better results for walking tours.

For other tourist information on Israel and for maps there are Apps that cover all of Israel without giving tour options. Doing a search for "Israel" under the travel section usually brings those up. For specific areas you can try searching for individual cities, but there are only a limited number of cities in Israel that they have done apps for and occasionally they are only in Hebrew.

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
37,588 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Heather--yes, I know I had to change the settings on the ipad--the man in the Israel Ministry Of Tourism helped me. I am sure the other office --their solution would have been to SELL me an audio guide. I also did NOT yet use the tours, when I do--I'll report back here--but from opening them I can tap the pictures to 1/2 screen and use my fingers to spread them to full screen--so it works fine!

There is also a map with the tour and it asks to use my location, so I do not know if it will guide me step by step. However, there isn't necessarily wifi all throughout the tour so to have gps assistance you would need a cell hookup--which I do not have.

Edited: 10 January 2014, 04:50
Gippsland, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
Level Contributor
6,652 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

There are iPhone app tours which allow you to download all the info plus a map and don't require the use of GPS. You just have to work out on the map where you are. Others do require GPS and they show you where on the map you are and guide you to the next location. If you don't have a SIM card in your iPad then one with GPS directions may not be the best one .... But every brand of app is different and those using them can always ask people they meet where the next location is if they get stuck (though I am sure you will know already).

When you have done the tour they recommended can you give us an update on how you got on and also the name of the app?

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
37,588 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

The App is called Jerusalem Old City, When it is on your smart device you then have the ability to download any and all of the following:

Jerusalem in the First and Second Temple Period

The Jewish Quarter

From Mount Zion to the Jaffa Gate

Marketplaces in the Old City

Ramparts Walk, Southern Section

Ramparts Walk, Northern Section

Jerusalem in the 2nd Temple Period--Accesible Tour

The Temple Mount Compound--Accessible Tour

In the footsteps of Christian Sects

Mount Zion to Jaffa Gate-Accessible Tour

Via Dolorosa --Accessible Tour

The Herodian Quarter

The Jewish Quarter -Accessible Tour

The Temple Mont Compound

Via Dolorosa tour

As you can see, I may try one or two --but some of them take multiple hours ( they tell about how long because they can have 10-20 stops! --I won't be back in Jerusalem for a few weeks--but while a private guide is always best, These have to be better than spending 160NIS for an audio guide from the first "tourist" store!

edited to add: I just realized that not only does it have a picture of every stop but they also have the transcript of the audio--so multiple people, can read--and you have a free "souvenir' to help you remember what you information overload brain forgot! -:)

Edited: 10 January 2014, 08:27
Gippsland, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
Level Contributor
6,652 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

That is a good app. The only disadvantage I see with it is when you download an individual tour you automatically download everything - picture, written guide and audio guide. It would be nice if there were an option just go download the written guide and the pictures. Since the words are a transcript of the audio it would save a lot of mb of space. There are a good number of tours on that app.

I really agree that it is a much better option than a purchased audio guide. I have downloaded heaps of similar apps and many highlight different places. They are really good value for trip planning before going to Israel because they give some idea of what is available to see.

Of course although they are good and a wonderful aid for those of us who try to economise, having someone like Oreets or Chana to guide through the same area would give a much richer experience. :)

P T
Leduc, Canada
2 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Greetings;

I am wondering if you have any say in what happens at the many tourist sites in Israel. I have been blessed to have gone several times to Israel, but I am noticing a change. Several sites that we wished to visit were closed or off limits because a Mass was going on. Here's my problem: Many 1000's of people spend a small fortune to come to Israel (the once in their life time trip) and have come from great distances to see and experience these sites. Personally I don't think its right that one group (Catholics) can shut down a site because they want to celebrate mass. They can do that in other places or, have the Israeli Tourism authorities declare that Masses can only be done from noon to 1:00pm or at night. It's really bugging me that this is happing more and more,

Having said this I also want to make an official complaint against the Greek Orthodox priest who "guards" the tomb in the church of the Holy Sepulcher. He was very rude to my guests from Canada, and is taking bribes, letting people in while other are waiting for a long time in line. He is a corrupt priest and needs to be replaced. He has really bad people skills. The other is the priest in the church of saint Anne's. He was extremely rude to our group prohibited us from singing. He also insulted us with condescending words about our group being Canadian. That man needs to be replaced as well. I don't know if it is in your authority to do something or not, but perhaps you have the connections that others can address these issues.

Sincerely

PT.

Edited: 25 March 2014, 15:03
Cincinnati, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
14,781 posts
212 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

We have no authority over any of that. We, in fact, have no authority over anything. This is a volunteer, information-sharing site, and that is all.

Churches are churches, for worship, not tourists. You're never going to have a government limit times when a Mass can be celebrated (and if they did, that is called a dictatorship!). Any house of worship -- church, synagogue, or mosque -- is going to be about worshiping God first. If tourists can visit, that's great -- but wholly secondary to why that house of worship exists. In short, I think your expectations on that score are totally unwarranted.

As for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I have no doubt that untoward things can happen there. Its history is not pretty in some respects -- including fist fights among priests and in other centuries, actual killings. But neither you nor we are going to dictate anything there.

Douglas Duckett

Tel-Aviv
Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv
Level Contributor
10,033 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Sorry to hear that you had unpleasant experiences. However this is a travel forum - we are all volunteers and have no official position. You can write letters of complaint to the Ministry of Tourism but I doubt that the govt is willing to interfere in the internal arrangements in any church or mosque because of the political sensitivity. You should write to the various Christian organizations in Jerusalem; perhaps others can suggest suitable ones.

Jerusalem, Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
2,660 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Israel Ministry of Tourism—Jerusalem Office

Hello "P T" from Canada and welcome to TripAdvisor!

Regarding your unwelcoming experiences with those 2 priests, you can submit your complaint directly to Israel's Ministry of Tourism: (you can also submit a complaint about the Catholic mass)

Avivaa@Tourism.gov.il

Aviva is the person in charge of tourism complaints in the ministry.

Only you can submit your complaints, since only you (and niether of us) have witnessed the situation.

By the way, are you a tour guide?

Amos