As the sun sets over the stony hills of Jerusalem, the mountain air cools and people head out for a chat over a drink, a live show or a party in one of the local bars. Jerusalem’s nightlife culture is more on the hippy, relaxed side and you’ll find many people hanging out along the pedestrian streets and along the beautiful Yaffo Street and the train hums by.
This underground alternative nightlife tour takes you to five underground bars in Jerusalem which like to keep it simple where it’s more about the culture and the people and less about being seen.
Before heading out keep in mind the following tips: dress down, dress warm (except in the heat of the summer), be prepared for the smoking (many bars still allow smoking inside) and, most importantly, enjoy!
At Besarabia you’re invited to see what happens when Russia meets Jerusalem. Located in the City Cellar, Besarabia is literally underground. The bar is run by immigrants from the former USSR and is known for its very homey and friendly vibe. They host jam sessions and open mics every Monday and Wednesday (respectively) and their specials at the bar are liqueurs flavored on-site (such as ginger, horseradish or fruit).
34 Ben Yehuda St. (down the outdoor stairs to the City Cellar)
Sunday-Thursday & Saturday: 8pm-3pm
4 Ben Sira St.
● Sunday-Thursday: 4pm-3am
● Friday-Saturday: 2pm-5am
Sira, a long-standing landmark in Jerusalem’s nightlife scene, encompasses the irony of “underground” combined with popularity. Retaining its avant-garde edgy feel, the bar is split into a few rooms with a couple of old arcade games in one, a DJ stand with a small dance space in another and a bar in yet another.
At Sira enjoy alternative music, outdoor seating on warmer days and, at the bar, Israeli and international beers as well as hard liquor to your liver’s delight.
Hamazkeka (translation: The Distillery), is a non-profit venue, founded in 2014 with the goals of giving exposure to local musicians and offering high-quality concerts at symbolic prices. This Jerusalem bar is a bare-bones kind of place, with a cave-like interior and a simple bar with a friendly bartender. The venue attracts everyone from the young creatives looking to hear the latest edgy experimental music, to an older crowd out for a night of jazz. There is live music most nights – some are free and others have an entrance fee of around 30NIS (around $8).
When the famous bar Uganda closed in 2015, a group of friends decided to take over the space and experiment making it into an independent project and platform for local alternative artists. 2000 functions as a collective and they host events a few times a week which include DIY meetups, animation screenings, experimental live music and there is almost always an exhibition on the walls. You never quite know what you’re going to find there but whatever it is, you know it’s grassroots and made in Jerusalem, so what else could you ask for?
The Cassette (Hakaseta), Jerusalem
Hakaseta (The Cassette) is a tiny alternative bar sandwiched between Hataklit (The Record) and Videopub, the city’s only gay bar. Hakaseta keeps things simple with a variety of beers (including one Czech beer on tap) and whiskey. The bar’s patrons stay late into the night and the later the hour, the more surreal the vibe. Expect experimental music, fringe edgy art exhibitions and interactions with fellow patrons. And if you’re hungry, feel free to bring in a serving of french fries from the Chipser bar next door.
Viva la JLM nightlife!
- 1 Horkanus St.
- Sunday-Thursday & Saturday: 8pm until they’ve had enough
Friday: 2pm until late into the night