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             Travel Tips for Visiting Israel

 

 

 

  

Best Places To Visit in Israel

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Travel Tips

 

Just a few hints for traveling in Israel

 

Regardless of how you feel about Israel, the question of  Palestinian statehood or any other geopolitical issue related to this section of the world, you will  likely enter this region and travel under the guidelines of the State of Israel.  Travel and security are taken very seriously by the Israeli's and we suggest that you politely comply with all requests from any official representative during passport control or security checkpoints.

For most travelers their entrance to Israel is through Ben Gurion International Airport, located east of Tel Aviv.  Travel to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem can be accomplished by train, bus or taxi (including shared taxi van).  Although rental cars are available in Israel, we recommend that you do not drive due to issues of safety and security.

To Avoids

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 tours.

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.

Shabbat

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.

Shopping

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.

Costs

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.

Food

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.

Maps

We 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.

Our 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 Week

Easter 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.

Additional Resources

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.

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Best Places To Visit in Israel

Jerusalem Guide

Page 1
Tel Aviv
Haifa
Acre
Sea of Galilee
Tiberias
Dead Sea
Eilat

Page 2
Nazareth
Bethlehem
Capernaum
Tabgha
Mount of Beatitudes


Page 3
Caesarea
Masada
Beit Shean
Herodium

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