Before travelling to a new country there are always a few things you need to know before your departure. This will help you avoid any bad surprises and maximizing your moments while there. Below, I created a list with the things I do consider you need to know before travelling to Israel.
The visa always depends on your citizenship so you need to check this even before buying your ticket. You need to figure it out which kind of visa you are entitled for e.g. visa on arrival, eVisa or if a stamped visa is required prior your departure.
For me, as a Romanian citizen I had free visa on arrival, so quite simple and straight forward! The only bad part is the long queue you’ll need to attend to get the visa once you’ll arrive there and be prepared for a mini-interview (like the scope and the duration of your visit).
Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages in Israel, but don’t worry, people do speak English almost everywhere.
You can pay by card in the majority of the places, even in the market. Anyway, some places do requires cash.
If you have Revolut or N26 are great to be used while travelling thanks to the good conversion rate – if you don’t have one just order it, it’s free – check here.
I personally used my French sim card as Israel was in the list of countries with the same ‘European Union’ benefits. This allowed me to use up to 25 GB abroad.
If you don’t have a data plan which includes Israel, you can purchase a sim card from the airport or from the town. Anyway, you’ll have internet anywhere you go so you don’t have to worry about.
Time: GMT +2
Best time to visit
Between Oct-June is the best time to visit Israel as the weather is generally good all over the country.
We personally went in November which was the best timing for “swimming” in the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. The Mediterranean started to be just a little cold but you can still enjoy it if you don’t actually expect a very warm water like us.
An advice for you: make your plans according to Shabbat and not the opposite, to not ruin your itinerary!
Shabbat is the holy day for Jewish people, the rest day, which is the equivalent of Sunday for Christians. It starts on Friday afternoon before the Sunset and ends on Saturday evening after the Sunset – with the majority of the business coming back to life on Sunday.
During this time, there are 39 activities which shouldn’t be done (e.g. handling money, using motorized transportation, using electricity, sewing, do business, etc.). So, you’ll also be impacted because public transportation is not operating during Shabbat, excepting the taxis, restaurants / shops are closed (excepting for places managed by non-Jews people), many hotels will refuse to check you in during Shabbat – so check this point in advance.
The good part is that you can skip this experience by planning a visit to a Muslim dominated city as they don’t apply this rules e.g. Nazareth, Bethlehem, Haifa, Akko, etc. or stay in Jerusalem visiting the open places in the Christians or Muslim sites.
If you are coming by plane, most probably you’ll arrive in Ben Gurion airport, which is the main airport of the country. It is located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, closer to Tel Aviv.
Well, Israel is quite a touristic destination and thanks to this the flight tickets are quite accessible – because are many flights from different companies operating each day.
For example, you can see how much we paid for our flights from different departure points:
- Bucharest – Tel Aviv
- Operated by Wizz Air, direct flight, 89€
- Tel Aviv – Paris
- Operated by Aegeans, with one change in Athens, 127€
- Paris – Tel Aviv, return flight
- Operated by Aegeans, with one change in Athens, 198€
Internal transportation & prices
You can visit both countries, Israel and Palestine, by public transportation as it is well-developed all across the regions.
Anyway, if you rent a car you can travel faster and also go to remote places. Just take into account that in big cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa you really don’t need a car. A parking space is hard to find and on top of this it’s expensive.
We used trains to go from Akko/Acre to Haifa and then to Tel Aviv. Check the railway map as you can reach a few more places by train apart from this ones.
We used buses to commute between all the other places not mentioned above by train.
Is not like I recommend you to do this, because you never know what can happen so it’s always better to not risk your safety.
Anyway, we done in a few places across the Sea of Galilee and was fine, we had some very nice experiences, we met some very nice people.
Accommodation and prices
The accommodation can influence a lot your overall spending for the trip. So, it’s up to you how much money you want to spent and which kind of conditions you’d like to have. Below, are the prices we paid for 2 adults/night:
- Airbnb, entire flat, 3 nights – 159€
- Aman Hostel, double room with common bathroom, 2 nights – 280 ils
- Waleed Hostel, 2 beds in female dorm, 1 night – 115 ils
- Bercik Hotel, double room with private bathroom, 1 night – 198 ils
- La Casetta Guesthouse, private room with bathroom, 2 nights – 400 ils
- Motel Jaffa, double room with bathroom, 1 night – 180 ils
- Motel Aviv, double room with bathroom, 2 nights – 415 ils
- Blue Hotel, double room with bathroom, 1 night – 50€
- Tel Aviv:
- Amigos Hostel, double room with common bathroom, 1 night – 200 ils
- Tel Aviv:
- Airbnb, studio, 2 nights – 133€
Total amount of money spent
If you are wondering how much money you’ll need I would say it depends a lot on you and your requirements. For example, we spent 3000€ in two, for 16 days. We could have done it even cheaper or more expensive, there is always a choice.
At the time of our visit, the conversation rate from euro was 1€ = 3.90 ILS ( or NIS New Israeli Shekel).
Eat & Drink
Well, the food is really good and there are so many choices across the country. Do not miss the hummus, pita, falafel, shaworma and the fresh juices – I do recommend the pomegranate juice, it’s absolutely delicious!
To conclude, this are all the things that popped up in my mind to mention right now. If there is something I missed and you’d like to know, leave a comment below and I will reply!
Meanwhile, you can read more about Israel and Palestine here.