Travel in or near Gaza or along the Lebanon border is not recommended due to the
tensions that can flare near these locations.
Travel in the West Bank should be taken only with the understanding that the
current, relatively peaceful situation is fragile and capable of changing at
a moments notice.
Sea excursions off the coast of Israel, especially near Gaza, can be
dangerous due to the Israeli embargo and we recommend that you avoid these
Check with local news sources or your county's embassy before traveling in
the Palestinian Territories.
Israel is not easily discoverable by the independent traveler and we
recommend that you see the country as part of a tour group led by a company
with a reputation of being experienced in Israel travel. Another approach
is to hire a knowledgeable guide to direct your exploration of Israel.
Although the country has a modern highway system, we do not recommend
driving in Israel. Note that Israel and the Palestinian Territories have a complex and
potentially volatile relationship. Let someone else do the navigating so
that you can sit back and enjoy the trip.
The seventh day of the week is a Jewish holy day. In the Jewish calendar
days are counted from the sunset of one day until the sunset of the next
day. Shabbat begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening, but the
exact times are determined locally. . Many stores close at 1 in the
afternoon on Friday including most restaurants. Some restaurants will reopen
on Saturday night, while others will remain closed until Sunday. In
addition, some streets may be closed and public transportation services may
be closed or running on reduced schedules. In general, Shabbat is a
quiet day for those who observe it and the pace of life in every section of
Israel slows during this period.
Other rules apply at Passover and other religious days, so be sure to ask for
clarification on these practices from a local source.
Shops are usually open from 8:30 to 1, closed mid-day
and reopen from 4 to 7. These hours are usually observed Sunday
through Thursday. On Fridays most stores are open only 830 to 1 and closed all day Saturday. Although you will find shops that stay open all day Monday through
Thursday, these are usually an exception.
Traveling in Israel is relatively expensive compared to European travel,
at least if you want to stay in better hotels and eat at the best
restaurants. Inexpensive meals can be found in many locations and you
can always buy groceries to get by, but note that most food markets are
closed during Shabbat and religious holidays. On some religious holidays,
you may not be able to buy dairy or other products.
While you will have no problem finding good quality food during
your visit, you should be aware that Kosher meals predominate in some
locations. In addition, due to religious influences, you will not find
pork products available in Israel. Finally, Orthodox Jews make
a distinction between fish and seafood. Fish that have scales can be
eaten by the Orthodox, but sea food (such as crabs, mollusks, lobsters, etc)
are not consumed. You should be aware of these types of food-related
issues if you will be eating with Israeli acquaintances and let them take
the lead in suggesting where and what to eat.
MapsWe use Google Maps
as the base for our Israel map. Unfortunately, the data Google make
available to ThereArePlaces (and others), does not contain the same detail
as the map of Israel available at the Google Maps website. In the case of
its Israel map, the licenses that Google has with its data providers
prohibit it from sharing that data with third-parties, such as
ThereArePlaces. As a consequence, our map of
the best places to visit in Israel has a background comprised of a
medium quality satellite image, that provides limited cartographic detail. You may prefer to use our standard map of Israel that can be found on the top left of the
first page of
our Israel Guide.
Jerusalem Map, shows the location of
the best places to visit overlaid on a satellite image to help you understand
the layout of this area and its attractions. In addition, zooming the
image will help you gross details of many of the attractions.
If you choose to buy a print map of Israel or Jerusalem, MAPA, has
fine maps available for purchase.
Travel During Easter WeekEaster week in the Old City is a
special time and one that is very popular with Christian visitors.
Remember that the Easter date observed by western Christians does not
coincide with the Easter date of the Eastern Orthodox Christians, so you may
find crowds when you are not expecting them.
On both dates the city is more crowded than you might expect. In
fact, the narrow streets of the city are so crowded in places that you will
literally pushed from place to place by the masses. In addition, the
Israeli government's notion of crowd control is quite authoritarian.
During our visit, the officials decided that the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre was too crowded and simply closed access to it for the rest of the
day and pushed everyone down Via Dolorosa. Due to the flow of the
crowd, we were unable to turn around and were nearly carried out of the city
before we could change direction.
The official tourism website of Israel is
GoIsrael. It provides additional details on the best places to
visit in Israel that we recommend, as well as information on places that did
not make our list.
For country facts on Israel, as well as travel information related to visas,
driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related
information, see this page on
Israel Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State
Department. Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the
information provided to be useful when planning a trip to Israel.
Use the back button to return to your previous location or the index on the right-hand edge of this page to select other destinations in Israel.
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If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.