Israel is a country with enormous cultural wealth and one of the most prominent destinations in the Middle East. I suppose that if you have are reading this publication it is because you are planning to travel to this interesting country, so next I am going to provide you with a practical guide to travel to Israel, so that you do not miss any important detail. Let’s get started!
BEST PERIOD OF TIME TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL
As it happens in Spain:
- High season: summer (especially, August)
- Mid season: spring and fall
- Low season: winter
In our case, we traveled in January 2020, that is, low season and the truth is that I think we made the best choice. Why? Because there were few tourists, the prices were affordable and, above all, because it was neither cold nor hot, the weather was great. In fact, we took a pair of jackets that we barely used. Even in our passage through the south, we wore short sleeves.
In addition, when talking with locals, they told us, that sometimes in summer the heat is unbearable and I suppose that both prices and the number of tourists increase during that time too.
DOCUMENTATION AND MONEY
The following requirements are for Spanish people, but I guess that it will be the same or almost the same for most of the rest of the countries:
The only document needed to enter Israel is the passport with a minimum validity of 6 months (counted until the final date of the trip).
No visa is required for stays of less than 3 months.
When you pass the border, you do not get your passport sealed, but they give you a separate paper, which you need to keep throughout the stay in the country, since sometimes they ask for it when renting a car, etc. In addition to being necessary to show it at the airport when catching the return flight. This fact plays in our favor since, for example, they would not let us into Iran if our passport had an Israeli stamp.
Regarding money, there are 3 aspects to consider:
- 1€ = 3’83 ILS
You can pay by card in most of the places, but it is always good to take some cash with you, especially to pay at street markets and other stores of the same style, where cash is the only option. There are ATMs almost everywhere.
- Do not forget to bargain at the streets markets.
In case you find it interesting, here you have the link to the post where I talk about the travel budget to Israel:
Next, I share a map where you can see on a more visually way all the sites that, from my point of view, are essential to visit when traveling through Israel, either because of its beauty or its history. In addition, you can also find the information about the accommodation and restaurants that I recommend the most (below I talk about them again).
Continuing with this practical guide to travel to Israel, is the turn of gastronomy. Those who know me better know that I love food so much, so I have written a special post where, in addition to talking about typical Israeli food, I have recommended a number of places where to try it at the best price and quality. Check it out by clicking on the following link:
HOW TO MOVE AROUND ISRAEL
INTERIOR OF CITIES/TOWNS
I strongly believe that the best way to discover a city or a town is by getting lost through its streets. It’s OK to keep in mind some exact spots where to go, but when we are pigheaded, I think we miss hidden treasures halfway. That is also why I recommend going everywhere on foot and with the mentality of “let’s see what we find”, instead of “there are x km left to reach the destination”.
It is true that sometimes we are in a hurry or carrying heavy luggage on our backs, so going on foot is not the best option. In this case, in Israel there is a good public transport service at a very affordable price.
Due to the Shabbat festivity, from Friday to Saturday at noon, most public transportation does NOT work. In addition to this, in order to make use of it inside Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, it is necessary to buy a rechargeable card, which can be bought in most kiosks in the cities.
BETWEEN CITIES AND TOWNS
There are three options:
- Rental car: faster and more comfortable, but on the other hand, more expensive. After our experience, it is the option that I recommend the most when traveling long distances. It increases the budget a bit, but the comfort and flexibility it provides you, makes it totally worthwhile.
- Public transport: slower, but much cheaper. The impossibility of opting for this alternative during the Shabbat must also be taken into account. I would recommend going for this option when moving in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv if needed.
- Taxi: unless the price is set in advance (as when we visited the West Bank by taxi), I do not recommend this option at all, if you do not want to run out of money so fast.
Fortunately we made great choices when deciding where to sleep. We tried to choose the best value options as we had a low budget, but we also wanted to stay in good quality places. Here you have the names of all of them:
I would like to make special mention to Stay Inn Hostel. It was definitely the best accommodation of the whole trip: cheap (€ 19 per night per person), clean, new, good located (10 minutes away from the Old City on foot), helpful staff, comfortable beds, well equipped, nice decorated and, above all, with a great backpackers atmosphere.
When in Tel-Aviv, we did Couchsurfing (it was such a good experience). Even so, if I had to recommend some accommodation that was not excessively expensive and that had a cool backpacking atmosphere, it would be Abraham Hostel. The day we were leaving the city, people working in that hostel let us keep our backpacks in their facilities for a few hours. Our first impression of the place was great. It was full of people between the age of 20 and 35, everything was so clean and decorated on a very cool and alternative way, there was a terrace with beautiful views and from what we have seen in photos, its rooms are spacious and well equipped.
Security may be one of the factors that most set people back when it comes to traveling to Israel, especially from what you see on the news. After my own experience, I must say that I was safe at all times and did not see myself in any dangerous situation. Israel is one of the countries in the world with the most powerful army.
Sandra and I traveled to Israel in January 2020. It was a very tense moment, since recently there had been a conflict between the US and Iran, which could indirectly influence Israel. Despite reconsidering the trip, we decided to move on with it and the truth is that we couldn’t make a better decision.
As a curious fact, all Jewish, Russian and Circassian citizens over 18 years of age have to do mandatory military service. So, especially in cities like Jerusalem, it is very typical to find armed soldiers in the streets.
Despite considering that Israel is a safe country, I recommend signing up in the Travelers’ Register of your country. We never know what can happen to us wherever we go, so it is better to be controlled.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION IF YOU TRAVEL TO ISRAEL
- LANGUAGE: 72% of the population speaks Hebrew and 21% Arabic. Even so, most people speak English, especially those whose jobs are related to tourism. In our case, we had no problem at all when trying to communicate.
- INTERNET: you can buy a SIM card in order to have internet wherever (there is no roaming for European terminals). In our case, we decided not to buy a card since there was Wi-Fi network in most of the places we visited, even in the streets of some cities, such as Tel-Aviv and Eilat.
- TIPS: between a 10% and a 15% tip should be given. It is a way of qualifying the quality of the service provided .
- HEALTH: no previous vaccination is needed. In addition, the Israeli health system is very good, but in case something happens to you and you don’t have any insurance, it may end up being quite expensive. So, I recommend choosing a good travel insurance like that of Mondo (Here I leave a 5% discount for you to safe some money).
Here ends this practical guide to travel to Israel. Do not hesitate to write any messages or doubts in comments and/or directly to email@example.com. I will be so happy to read them and be of any help to you. Greetings dear travelers!