As a general rule of thumb, Israeli tour guides are some of the most accomplished on the planet because each must be officially licensed by the Ministry of Tourism, and the licensing process is an extremely rigorous one. In fact, many guides have to study for several years before attempting the licensing test. That means that even less expensive tours are always led by people who are extremely well versed in history.

 one practical note: on any guided tour that includes holy places, you must dress modestly. This means no shorts (men or women), no sleeveless shirts or blouses, and women should have a head covering handy.

Guided Walking Tours-Free, and usually quite interesting, walking tours of the Old City are offered by an outfit called Sandeman’s New Jerusalem Tours. They leave from in front of the Tourist Information Office at Jaffa Gate daily at 11am and 2pm. Since the guides are relying entirely on tips for the payment, they do their best to present their information in a compelling fashion. The 2-hour tour covers all four Old City quarters.

For a more in-depth tour, various commercial concerns run programs that emphasize the city’s history and archaeology. Most of these are 3-hour excursions in small groups with other visitors—but remember, you’d need a long, very full day to really get an idea of all the city’s quarters and traditions. Archaeological Seminars Ltd. (tel. 02/586-2011), will guide you through the Jewish Quarter, Temple Mount, the Temple Mount excavations, the City of David (Ophel), or the Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City. Tours run Sunday to Thursday and cost NIS 28 for adults, NIS 14 for children. For information on schedules, various itineraries, and the chance to “Dig for a Day” at an archaeological site, consult their website or call.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.