In the planning stages of a trip to Israel and worried about all the things you might not know about? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Here are some of the most important details that will ensure you have a seamless and rewarding vacation in Israel.
When is the Best Time to Visit Israel?
Israel boasts an average of 300 sunny days a year, so you would be forgiven for thinking you could visit at any time of year. Yet it’s important to know that for rewarding tours, some months are better than others.
During the winter, from December 21 to March 20, you will experience some rain and wind, especially if you’re on the coast.
Temperatures are noticeably colder in elevated destinations, like Jerusalem, and in the north of the country. Occasionally, it even snows!
In the summer months (June 21 to September 22) the weather is very hot and humid, with temperatures around 35C (95F) and even above 40C (104F) in July and August.
Generally, the best time to visit Israel is between April-June or September-November, when the heat is more bearable.
High tourism peaks occur around the Easter holiday in April, the summer months, and Christmas. If you wish to avoid peak crowds, it’s best to avoid these popular holiday periods.
What Should I Pack?
The one obvious yet often-forgotten item – a bathing suit!
Even during the winter months, swimming in the Dead Sea is still enjoyable as the desert region boasts much warmer temperatures.
During the summer, you’ll definitely want to go for a dip in the Galilee, Mediterranean, and Red Sea!
If you’re visiting in winter, be sure to pack a few layers like sweaters, a raincoat, or a light jacket. Comfortable shoes or hiking boots are a must for those who want to explore on foot as much as possible.
Packing a scarf or head covering is also a very good idea: you may need it when you visit holy sites, where covering your head, shoulders, or knees may be mandatory.
Will My Hair Dryer Work?
Good news for all Europeans – yes, it will!
Israel uses the European two-prong plug and runs on the same 220 voltage.
For any non-European electronics, you’ll need an adapter. If your electronic devices do not run on 220 volts, you will also need to pack a travel converter.
How Do I Get Around Once I Arrive?
Getting around the cities or the entire country is fairly easy with public transportation.
You can travel by train, bus, or communal taxi-vans called monit sherut, all of which operate within and between cities.
Download the Moovit app to make getting around a breeze.
In Tel Aviv, you can also rent bicycles by the hour to take in the city sights from a different perspective.
Is Israel Safe?
Many visitors to Israel are surprised by how safe they feel here, some even say it is safer than their hometown or country!
Seeing young boys and girls in army uniforms, carrying around weapons, may be confronting to the unaccustomed but this is nothing to be concerned about.
It is also normal to have your bag checked when going into a public office or space, like a mall, museum, bus terminal, or holy site.
Will I Be Able to Communicate With Locals?
Although Hebrew and Arabic are Israel’s official languages, almost everyone here speaks English fluently.
You’ll also find that all road signs are in English, and you can certainly ask for English menus at most restaurants.
You’d be surprised at how multilingual Israel can be, especially in cities like Tel Aviv, Netanya, Jerusalem, or Ashdod, where there are large international communities. Expect to hear a lot of French, Russian, and German spoken too.
How Much Money Should I Bring on Tour?
Hmmm…that really depends on how much you want to spend.
Israel is not as cheap as you might imagine, however, prices are comparable to some Western European countries.
Of course, there are always cheaper options, like ‘street food’ for lunch or dinner. A shawarma or falafel will be a much cheaper (and possibly even tastier!) option for those wanting to save money while traveling.
Credit cards are widely accepted, but be sure to have cash on you, regardless.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Indeed, there is.
The Israeli work week is based around the Sabbath, or day of rest, which runs from Friday evening until Saturday evening.
Many places like malls, businesses, offices, and restaurants are closed during this 24hr time-period.
However, you will likely find cafes, restaurants, corner stores, or grocery shops that open on Saturdays, especially in Tel Aviv.
Public transportation is also unavailable during this time-period every week, except for the monit sheruts, which run 24/7, 7 days a week.
The same extensive business closures apply to Jewish holidays, most notably Yom Kippur, which normally falls around the end of September or early October.
During this holiday, everything is closed and even cars will not drive for a period of 24 hours.