Where Jesus Walked: Follow Jesus’ Footsteps in the Holy Land Today

By Petal Mashraki
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published October 5, 2021.

Two large wooden crosses against a wall

We are very lucky to know where Jesus walked and where Jesus visited during His lifetime. Now, Christians can visit the Holy Land and follow in Jesus' footsteps.

Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus

Joseph and Mary, pregnant with child, left their hometown of Nazareth and traveled to Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem, to register in a national census. Once there, they sought a place to sleep, but there were no rooms in the local inn. The innkeeper let them stay in the manger, where the animals were kept. The manger was a cave or grotto, and here Christ was born.

Many years later, in the 4th century, the Church of the Nativity was built around the Holy Grotto, and visitors to Bethlehem can worship at this holy site. Today Christian sites in Bethlehem include Manger Square and St. Catherine's Church adjacent to the Nativity Church.

Nazareth: The Place of Jesus' Childhood Years

The Holy Family returned to Nazareth in Galilee, where Jesus spent his childhood and teen years. On a visit to Nazareth today, you can visit St. Joseph's Church, built over a 1st-century grotto home. Christians believe this site to have been Joseph's carpentry and the Holy family home. Not far from here is the Catholic Church of the Annunciation built at the traditional site of Mary's home and the annunciation, when the Angel Gabrial appeared to Mary.

Lost and Found in the Temple of Jerusalem

When Jesus was 12 years old, he visited Jerusalem with his parents and got lost in the city, only to be found in the Temple, in "His father's house," talking with religious teachers. The Temple was destroyed in 70AD, and today Temple Mount is home to the stunning Dome of the Rock.

Jordan River: Where Jesus Was Baptized

Jesus heard that his relative, John, was urging people to give up their destructive ways and was baptizing them in the River Jordan. John said that he was preparing the way for a great teacher. Jesus then left Nazareth and went south into the desert, where he met John by the River Jordan.

John, the Baptist, baptized Jesus on the Jordan River near Jericho, known as Qasr al-Yahud. Today pilgrims can be baptized at Qasr al-Yahud, or at an alternate baptismal site on the Jordan called Yardenit, in Galilee.

Following his baptism, Jesus retreated into the Judaean Desert for 40 days, where the devil tried unsuccessfully to tempt Him to abandon God.

Visitors can travel to Jericho can see the Mount of Temptation.

Jesus' Ministry and Miracles in Galilee

Jesus returned to Galilee, where he based himself in Capernaum (today called Kfar Nahum). He spent the next few years spreading the word of God. It was here in Galilee that he recruited his Disciples and performed more than 40 miracles, including curing a Roman official's son.


Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee (Also known as Qana or Khirbet), associated with the modern village of Kfar Kanna. Today you can visit the Wedding Church in Kfar Kana, built in 1879.

Sea of Galilee

Several of Jesus' disciples were fishermen working on the Sea of Galilee. It was here that Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm.

By the Sea of Galilee is the picturesque Mt. of Beatitudes overlooking the water. It was here that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Today the unique Church of the Beatitudes crowns the mount marking this biblical site.

On the north-western shore, another quaint church marks where Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 in Tabgha near Bethsaida.

Golan Heights

Not far from Capernaum, at the foot of the Golan Heights, is the Kursi National Park, where Jesus performed the miracle of the swine.

Mount Tabor

During this period Jesus took three of his disciples up a high mountain where the disciples saw Jesus surrounded by bright light, and He appeared to be conversing with Moses and the Prophet Elijah. This event is known as the Transfiguration of Christ. Mount Tabor has been identified as the site of the transfiguration, and today you can visit the Church of the Transfiguration on the mountain summit.

Jerusalem: The Last Week of Jesus' Life

The Passover Festival

All four of the Gospels tell us how Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. He stayed the first night in the village of Bethany (Bethphage). In the morning Christ made a triumphant entrance to Jerusalem. This was the beginning of His Passion, celebrated today as Holy Week, which commemorates Christ's suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. Visitors to Jerusalem can join the Holy Week Procession led by clergy of different denominations. The procession on Palm Sunday begins in Bethphage, proceeds down the slopes of the Mount of Olives, across Kidron Valley and into the Old City.

Mount Moriah, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Betrayal

Jesus visited the Temple, which stood on Mount Moriah (known today as Temple Mount) and cleared the Temple of money changes.

Leaving the Cenacle, Jesus withdrew to the Mount of Olives, where he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here he was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Romans. The Garden of Gethsemane has been preserved with its ancient olive trees, and alongside the garden is the beautiful Church of All Nations.

Via Dolorosa: Condemned to Death

Jesus was taken before the authorities and the following day He was brought for judgement by Pontius Pilate. The place where Jesus was condemned to death marks the First Station of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows. There are 14 stations along the Via Dolorosa which meanders along the lanes of Jerusalem's Old City. Each station marks a place where Jesus stopped along the route to Calvary and His crucifixion. You can walk the Via Dolorosa, and visit the small churches along the way.

The Via Dolorosa culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a huge 4th-century church that encompasses the site of Christ's crucifixion at Calvary (Golgotha) and Christ's Tomb. It is a magnificent church and the most important landmark in Christianity.

Walking in Jesus' Footsteps Today

Today you can visit these sacred sites independently or with a guided tour.

While in Jerusalem, you can visit the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus miraculously healed a paralyzed man, and visit the site where Jesus ate His Last Supper in the Upper Room (Cenacle), on Mount Zion.

To really get a feel for the land, and retrace Jesus footsteps in the land of the Bible, you could follow all or part of these two excellent trails:

  • Jesus Trail Starting in Nazareth, this trail passes through significant locations visited by Jesus and ends at the Sea of Galilee.
  • Gospel Trail This is a similar route, of 62km starting at Mt. Precipice and ending in Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).