Which airlines fly to Israel?
More than 80 airlines operate flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport (known simply as Tel Aviv or TLV). Five airlines operate as many as ten flights a day nonstop from North America to Tel Aviv (Air Canada, Delta, EL AL Israel Airlines, United, US Airways).
Isn’t Israel a long way away?
Not nearly as far as you may think: just 10 hours from New York (it’s quicker to fly from New York to Israel than from New York to Hawaii!), or 14 hours from Los Angeles. There are about ten nonstop flights a day from North America to Israel, on Air Canada, American Airlines/US Airways, Delta, El Al Israel Airlines and United. Plus you can connect to Israel through dozens of European cities.
With around merely 40 rainy days a year on average, Israel is known for its sunny disposition, yet keep in mind this is a 4 season country. Summers are long, lasting from April to October and the height of heat and humidity is usually around July-August. Fall and winter last from November to March.
The southern city of Eilat enjoys nearly 360(!) sunny days a year, making it the hottest city in Israel (no pun intended).
For more accurate information:
The Israeli Meteorological Service: www.ims.gov.il
Temperatures can vary widely so just pack for the “right” weather and you’ll be fine. Seasons overlap of course, but general guidelines are:
Summer (Jun/Jul/Aug/early Sep): Temperatures in the high 80º’s, 90º’s. Tel Aviv, and Tiberias will be hot and humid (like New York or Miami). Jerusalem is dryer and cooler, particularly at night. Masada and Eilat are extremely hot (110º+!)…but dry. There won’t be a drop of rain.
Shoulders (late Mar/Apr/May/late Sep/Oct/Nov): Daytime temperatures will be very pleasant: 75º-ish in most of the country (but hotter at the Red and Dead Seas). Jerusalem will be in the 70º’s, 50º’s in the evening. There’ll be some rain – nothing torrential.
Winter (Dec/Jan/Feb/early Mar): Winter weather can fluctuate. Some winters are mild and sunny, some severe and overcast. There’s often heavy rain and, in January and February, even snow sometimes. It’ll probably be in the 50º’s, 60º’s most places, but in Jerusalem and the Galilee in the forties, and cold at night.
What to pack?
Israel is a modern, developed country, and you can purchase virtually anything you need during your stay, including clothing, cosmetics, and hygiene products.
If you are visiting Israel during the summer you will need lightweight clothing – short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts, shorts, sandals, beach shoes and a bathing suit. It’s also a good idea to pack a sweater or jacket, since nights in the mountains and the desert can be cool.
If you are visiting Israel in the winter, you will need warm clothing, a coat (preferably a raincoat as well), good shoes, an umbrella, gloves, a scarf and other warm clothing. Weather in Israel is not cold as it is in Europe, but days can be rainy and cold.
It’s a good idea to bring a small bag for day trips. If you are traveling to Eilat or the Dead Sea, it’s a good idea to bring a bathing suit, since it is warm enough to swim there even in the winter.
Sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses are essential items throughout the year.
If you are planning on hiking, you will need good shoes and a lot of water, either in a canteen or in several bottles. You will need a sleeping bag, tent, and camping equipment only if you are planning on sleeping outdoors. Most youth hostels supply sheets and blankets.
Like almost everywhere in the world, casual is the “rule” for everyday sightseeing. Bring good walking shoes or sneakers and “layers.” Israelis (especially women) like to be “elegant casual” on evenings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some religious shrines require modest dress (arms and legs covered, and, occasionally, no pants for women).
Israel’s national language is Modern Hebrew and the formal languages are Hebrew and Arabic. English is the main language for foreign communication, spoken and understood by most.
A substantial number of Israelis have a different mother tongue and you will find many languages spoken by the general population here including: Russian, French, Spanish, Amharic and many more.
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
We wouldn’t urge you to come if it wasn’t. Every year between 3 and 4 million tourists vacation in Israel – and apart from those who fall in love with an Israeli – or with Israel – they all go home again safe and sound. The planes of 90+ airlines wouldn’t fly to Israel if it weren’t safe.
I hear there is a security interview before my flight…
If you are flying EL AL Israel Airlines (or from Europe on Arkia Israel Airlines or Israir), please know that the security precautions taken by Israeli airlines are the stuff of legend and the envy of the world’s airlines. On check-in for your flights you will be asked a variety of questions during a security interview. Some of the questions may seem un-PC, intrusive, irrelevant or repetitive. Just answer truthfully, go with the flow and don’t lose your cool. Remember, the questions are designed to protect you and your fellow passengers. When you leave Israel, the departure process is identical to that outlined above for all airlines.
Can I combine my visit to Israel with Jordan and/or Egypt?
Absolutely. There are regular flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo and Tel Aviv and Amman. Or you can go overland: crossing between Israel to Egypt at Eilat/Taba, or between Israel and Jordan at the Eilat or the Sheikh Hussein Bridge south of the Sea of Galilee. You will need a visa for Jordan and Egypt, but U.S. and Canadian citizens can obtain these at the frontier crossing. Citizens of other countries should check with their local Egyptian and Jordanian consulates for visa requirements.
What if I want to visit another Arab country?
Go ahead. Like many European countries, Israel no longer stamps visitors’ passports, so your passport does not indicate that you were here.
Can I visit the Palestinian Authority?
Visiting Bethlehem is perfectly simple, and thousands of visitors to Israel do it every day. You can either take a tour (check with your hotel concierge) or take a cab to the Jerusalem/Bethlehem crossing and take a Palestinian cab into Bethlehem. Crossing from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is direct, easy and no prior authorization is required.
Please note to take your passport with you, you’ll need to present it to re-enter Israeli-controlled territory.
It’s recommended to double check your car rental insurance before your visit. If your visit in the Palestinian Authority isn’t covered you might prefer to hire a driver or visit with a tour group.
For more information about visiting areas outside the Israeli responsibility please contact the IDF Public Relations office.
Do I need to receive any special vaccination before my trip to Israel?
Not at all. Israel is an entirely western country with an advanced level of hygiene, health care, diagnosis and medicine that is the envy of much of the world and on a par with the best of North America and Western Europe.
Can you drink tap water in Israel?
Absolutely: tap water in Israel is safe and delicious. But, you will also find bottled mineral water everywhere. (It’s important to make sure you drink a lot, especially if you are walking, hiking or exercising during hot weather.)
What about health, medicines, vaccinations?
Israel is an ultra-modern country with the world’s highest number of doctors per capita, and a health and hospital system that is the envy of the world. No vaccinations are required to visit Israel (unless you have recently been in an area where there have been epidemics of yellow fever, cholera or ebola). You can buy most standard over-the-counter equivalent of North American drugs in Israel. You can also bring supplies of your standard prescription drugs with you. (If you need to bring syringes and vials of medicine – bring along a letter from your doctor attesting to your needs, just in case.) If you need to see a doctor in Israel, check with your hotel concierge. Travel insurance (including medical coverage) is always recommended for all foreign travel.)
MONEY AND CURRENCY
The Shekel; you’ll find it abbreviated as NIS (New Israeli Shekel).
On arrival in Israel, it’s a good idea to use your bank-card to withdraw some Shekels from the ATM in the arrival-halls at Ben Gurion – or change small amounts of dollars/or travelers’ checks at a bank or your hotel. There are ATM machines all over Israel and credit cards are widely accepted.
What credit cards are accepted?
You can use your ATM card to obtain Shekels at ATM’s throughout Israel. You can also use American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards at most Israeli hotels, restaurants and stores.
What taxes can I expect to pay in Israel?
The Vat (Value Added Tax) in Israel is 18%. It’s already included in most prices in Israel. VAT is waived for tourists at hotels, tour companies and car rental agencies. Like in Europe and elsewhere, tourists can receive a refund of the VAT they paid on purchases when departing the country, the refund program and the purchase amount in one tax invoice including V.A.T. must exceed ILS. 400.
The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz.
The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pinholes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs.
Most hotels have free Wi-Fi in the lobby, and some hotels provide it free in the room. Many cafes and restaurants offer a complementary Wi-Fi service.
Since September 2013, Tel Aviv offers a citywide free Wi-Fi network which provides 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the city.
American cell-phones that work overseas will work in Israel too. Israel is 6 or 7 hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA depending on the season.
Using your cell phone in Israel
If you have an international plan, your cell phone may work in Israel, please check with your local provider.
Rent a cellular phone in Israel
You can rent a phone when you arrive at any time during your visit.
What is the country code to dial to Israel?
Upon arrival in Israel, visitors go to passport control and must present a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their departure.
Please note, Israel has incorporated a new and modern technological system instrumental in meeting the needs of the various Immigration, security, Airport and Tourism authorities as well as providing the tourist with the credentials necessary to prove his visa status without stamping the passport. At a press of a button, the Border Control station will print a card including the principle details of the traveler as in the first page of the passport. The card will also depict the date of arrival and visa information. This card is called The “Electronic Gate Pass”.
The “Electronic Gate Pass”
In accordance to section 13 of the law regarding entrance to Israel of 1952, an official inspector or police officer can request identification and proof of legal status in Israel. With this in mind, at a press of a button the Border Control station will print a card including the principle details of the traveler as in the first page of the passport. The card will also depict the date of arrival and visa information. This card is called The “Electronic Gate Pass” and it is a new and modern technological system instrumental in meeting the needs of the various Immigration, security, Airport and Tourism authorities as well as providing the tourist with the credentials necessary to prove his visa status. The “Electronic Gate Pass” replaces the system whereby passports were stamped. At the airport, this card allows the traveler to exit the arrival terminal without further delays.
The Gate Pass is an official form of identification while in Israel. We ask all tourists to keep the card at hand at all times as proof of their status.
Arrival by Air and Land Crossings – Incoming travelers continue to the passenger luggage area after having their passports inspected. Carts are at their disposal. From there, they continue to customs control and to the airport exit.
The tourist is asked to keep the card at hand at all times.
General information regarding the laws and policies of the Customs Authority can be downloaded:
Please make note that travel through Allenby Bridge Crossing has specific limitations and directives. For example, visitors passing through the Allenby Bridge between Israel/Jordan may carry no more than the cash value of 2000 Jordanian Dinars.
Customs and V.A.T. for Tourists:
Aside from Allenby Bridge Crossing, and for all other Gateways including airports, the following tourist guide is relevant for visitors as defined by the Customs and Tax Authority:
Please note: there is a two-lane customs transit system, one green and the other red, at Ben Gurion Airport and the various Crossing Points. Visitors who do not have goods to be declared may go through the green lane at the exit from the passenger arrival hall.
Extension of Your Stay
Your visa can be extended (fee required) at the Ministry of the Interior office closest to you, please call their call center at: *3450 or dial 12223450.
Israel is a small country, which makes getting around fast and convenient. Taxis are common in Israel for urban and interurban travel and can be flagged in the street or booked via phone or designated international apps such as GetTexi.
The main forms of public transportation are busses and the national train service both offering a convenient, reasonably priced means of travel to nearly every destination in the country.
Train Information Services: www.rail.co.il / Telephone: 08-6831222 or *5770
Busses Information Services: www.bus.co.il / Telephone: 1-900-72-1111
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths in the central bus station in each city or town, or from the driver. Most of the bus lines do not run on Shabbat or on Jewish holidays. Service ends on Friday afternoon and resumes Saturday evening.
Students are entitled to discounts on intercity bus lines. To receive a discount they must present an international student card when purchasing tickets.
Smart ride card – Rav Kav
Tourists can purchase an Anonymous Rav Kav Card. It can be purchased on board for a small fee, and then can be reloaded with a regular Multi-Ride or Single ticket, usually within the region offering a 20% discount.
Tourists cannot use a Personal Rav Kav Card which has all the passenger’s personal details and is for citizens.
– The Rav Kav can be used to pay for the transportation of several passengers.
– The fee of a child is like an adult.
– The Rav Kav can be used in a region and not between regions unless specifically reloaded for the desired routes.
– In some areas, it is possible to get daily unlimited rides within that region only.
Israel is a small country, and for this reason, it is only worthwhile to consider flying between Eilat and Tel Aviv. Several companies operate flights from Eilat to Ben Gurion Airport, or Sde Dov in north Tel Aviv. Airfares are reasonable, but are higher than bus fares.
There are also private companies that operate special flights from anywhere in the country upon request.
Renting a Car
Most international car rental companies and local companies have offices in the large cities and at Ben Gurion Airport. It is recommended to reserve a car in advance from abroad.
To rent a car in Israel the driver must be over 24 years of age, and must hold a valid international driver’s license and an international credit card.
Israel has an extensive road system and clear signage in most places (in Hebrew, English, and Arabic).
Driving in Israel
The minimum driving age in Israel is 17 and the driving side of the road is the right. Speed limits are 30 to 50km/h in cities, 80-90 on freeways, 130 on highways and Route no.6. Safety belts are obligatory, and if you’re enjoying a night on the town, keep in mind there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving so find a designated driver and enjoy safely.
Highway 6 operates as an electronic toll road with no barriers at entrances or exits and no traffic lights which allows for uninterrupted trips. Advanced computerized information systems installed along the highway include electronic tollgates, identify vehicles, categorize types of fees (subscription or unregistered) and calculate the number of highway sections each vehicle travels. Every trip is automatically tabulated and invoiced. Drivers enjoy a rich, convenient, and safe traveling experience with a speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour.
Tourists renting a car will be charged via their credit card. Please inquire with the rental company the conditions and tariffs.
Most Rent a Car companies do not offer insurance for the areas in the West Bank under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Tourists wishing to drive with rented cars into the areas of the Palestinian Authority are recommended to secure appropriate insurance.
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the Jewish holy day of the week observed every Saturday. Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday evening.
- All public offices are closed on Shabbat, as are banks, most stores and businesses; throughout Israel there is a growing number of shops open on Shabbat.
- In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) do not operate on Shabbat.
- Most non-kosher restaurants are open on Shabbat.
- It is recommended to check in advance if you are planning on visiting a specific location.
- Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.
Are all the restaurants in Israel kosher?
Not all of the restaurants in Israel are kosher. Places offering kosher food usually display a kashrut certificate granted to them by the local rabbinate. Most hotels serve kosher food, as well as some restaurants. But there is no binding law. So if kashrut is important to you, you must check it out at each separate place where you dine.
Travel Tips for Singaporeans Visiting Israel
If you are holding a Malaysian passport, sorry, you cannot enter Israel. For Singapore passport holders, we do not require a visa. However, request for the Israeli custom officers to stamp on a special piece of immigration paper available at Israel airport instead of stamping directly on your passport. This is because an Israel passport chop may cause difficulties getting into and/or be refused visas to Islamic countries, such as Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan for your subsequent travels.