Everything You Need to Know Before Coming To Israel

So you finally made the decision to fly, told all of your friends, bought new luggage, and you’re so excited you can barely sleep at night. Does all this mean you’re ready for your Israel trip? Almost! You will be just as soon as you finish reading the following list.


When to Come


Weather-wise, there’s almost no wrong time to visit Israel. While the most comfortable months are between late March to mid May, really any month makes for a good trip. Some will just be warmer than others and though they’re not prohibitively hot, try your best to avoid July and August.


In terms of holidays, it's important to know that Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur (known as the Jewish “High Holidays”) will shut the country down for two and three days in early and mid September, respectively. During this time restaurants, shops, and supermarkets will all be closed. Unsurprisingly, in true capitalist fashion, everything is more expensive during this time. Hanukkah, on the other hand, serves as a wonderful time to visit as everything is open and the entire country is aglow with warm and joyous light.


Shabbat


Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest that occurs every week from Friday evening to Saturday night. Your awareness of this day highly depends on where in Israel you find yourself, since all the restaurants and supermarkets in secular Tel Aviv remain open while may places in the more religious Jerusalem will be closed. Public transportation won’t run in either city so expect to use taxis on Saturdays, though you can always walk through the Old City of Jerusalem where everything except the Jewish Quarter will be open.


Shabbat is also a great time for a scenic drive - both up the north coast to the Galilee or Golan and down south to the Negev - with a rented car or a tour guide (who drives).



Safety


All in all, Israel is a safe country with a very low crime rate. That being said, there is an old political conflict that sometimes impacts residents of the Middle East. It’s very important to remember, however, that tourists are not targets and are not part of the conflict. In the unlikely event of unrest, Israeli police are well-trained in de-escalation and keeping the public safe, so you’re definitely in good hands.


For the most up-to-date information on the political climate it's always best to consult your country’s embassy or consulate before your trip. We too, of course, are here for any questions you may have.


Tour Guide


Deciding whether or not to hire a tour guide is a decision that depends mostly on your travel style and, well, budget. It can definitely be helpful to have a professional build and guide you through a fascinating itinerary, but most of Israel’s famous sites can actually be toured without one. The one time we insist on you hiring a guide, however, is for at least one of your days in Jerusalem. The place is so complicated and rich in history (and has so many delicious food spots you wouldn’t otherwise know to look for) it definitely warrants the investment.



Transportation


While the most convenient method of transportation is having access to a private car, there are several train lines that are both easy to take and very helpful to know about, mainly the direct lines between: the airport and Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Haifa. You can learn more about the train system at https://www.rail.co.il/en.


Busses are always an option too, though they are usually less direct and take longer than trains. Read more about busses at https://www.bus.co.il/otobusimmvc/en

Please note that in order to get on most trains and busses you will need a RavKav, which is a plastic card that works similarly to a metrocard. Learn more about RavKav at https://ravkavonline.co.il/en/.


Money


The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) though US Dollars and Euros are sometimes accepted. You can exchange your money at Ben Gurion Airport or at any bank, post office or licensed currency exchange shop. Credit cards can be used almost everywhere, though it's always best to have some cash on you for emergencies.


It is customary to tip waiters between 10 and 15 percent and there is no need to tip taxi drivers.


Don’t Forget

  • Make sure you have the right visa and paperwork

  • Bring travel adapters to fit Israeli sockets (type C and H). The standard voltage here is 230 V.

  • Always have a shawl in your bag since you’ll be visiting many holy sites where its best to dress modestly

  • Sunscreen!


So, now that you’re an Israeli travel expert, the only thing left to do is remember to come open-minded and ready for adventure; for the new and enticing foods you’ll discover, for the interesting and friendly people you’ll meet, and for the trip of a lifetime!





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