Tips & Advice for Traveling to Masjid Al-Aqsa
Travelling to Masjid Al Aqsa in the near future? Here are some tips and information on common questions we get asked about.
If you are part of a large/main group then a coach will be provided to transfer you from the airport to the hotel. After collecting baggage, proceed to Gate 24 (signposted) where the coach will wait for all the group members to leave together.
For those travelling on their own or in a smaller group, there are a number of options. The popular option is to take the airport shuttle service to Jerusalem, which can be found at Gate 2; directly in front of you as you leave the baggage area. The shuttle is like a minibus, taking 10-12 passengers at a time and departs only when full (so you may wait 10-15 mins). It costs 64 Shekels per person and is the most practical option. The driver will drop you off to wherever you request. Golden Walls is a very famous hotel which all the drivers are familiar with. If for any reason they are unaware of the hotel, ask for Damascus Gate; the hotel is directly opposite.
Alternatively you can take a taxi; the taxi rank is just beside the shuttle pick-up point. Taxis are fast and private but very expensive, costing around 300 shekels, plus a few extra for luggage. The journey from Tel Aviv is 40 miles and takes roughly an hour. Taxis work best for small groups of 5-6 people and are then more cost effective than the shuttle; ask for a 6 seater taxi at the Taxi Rank.
The cheapest option is the 485 Bus which leaves the airport every hour, on the hour, 24 hours a day from Sunday-Thursday, from 12am to 2pm on Fridays, and 12am to 7pm on Saturdays. It costs 16 Shekels per person and drops you off at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. However you’ll then need to take a taxi from the Bus Station to the hotel (3 mile journey).
The newest and cheapest option is the Train from Terminal 3 (there’s a free airport shuttle from all terminals to terminal 3) at Ben Gurion Airport to Yitzhak Navon Station in Jerusalem. The earliest train leaves at 06.31am, and runs every 30 mins; the last train leaves at 19:31. The journey lasts approximately 25 mins. It costs approximately 5 shekels. Once you arrive at the Station in Jerusalem, catch a tram (approximately 10 shekels) from outside the station to Damascus Gate; from here the hotel is opposite. Alternatively take a taxi (approximately 20-30 shekels) to the hotel.
Golden Walls hotel is just outside the old city walls at the Damascus Gate. It’s a very famous hotel and known by all the locals and drivers. It is roughly a 10-13 minute walk to Masjid Al-Aqsa from the hotel via Herod’s Gate (shorter and more direct but more stairs) or Damascus Gate (slightly longer but flatter, much busier and livelier with shops/stalls etc). Check out the hotel here
Men and women can all do Iitikaaf in Masjid Al-Aqsa, although we do not recommend women to do so, as there is no set sleeping place for them; previously when women travelling with us tried Iitikaaf in Al Aqsa, they had a very unsettled and difficult experience.
As the entire compound is Al Aqsa, you may wander anywhere within the grounds and still be in Iitikaaf! Men generally sleep in the Marwaani Masjid (one of the 5 masjids within Al Masjid Al Aqsa.
There is no registration process for Iitikaaf, just make your way to Aqsa with your necessary belongings and bags after Asar on the 20th fast, as this will be the 21st night of Ramadhan, the 1st night of Iitikaaf.