Tips for your trip to Israel
Israel is a small warm country. You can find here everything you wish for – mountains and seas, desert and snow, culture and fun, and any kind of activity you like.
Here are few useful tips for your trip to Israel.
Israel is located between three continents and has a bit of each – the European windy midlands, the African desert and heat and Asian chilly mountains and winds.
The proximity to the Mediterranean Sea combines all these to a stable and nice weather all year long – there is no “bad season” to visit Israel.
For more information about the weather in Israel >>
Landing and security
When landing in the airport, you will notice a strict security. Don’t let that bother you – Israel needs it to ensure national security and to discourage any malicious intent.
When arriving to Israel you might be questioned about your origin, family and intentions by a courteous officer. Answer only the truth – you have nothing to hide and you have not done anything wrong. If you have a reserved place to stay or friends and family in Israel, their details may shorten the process. After, you are free to enter the border of Israel and take your luggage. You won’t even have to wait any longer for it, thanks to a very advanced security technology.
Unlike the impression you might get at the airport, or the impression you have already got from the media, Israel is one of the safest countries and surely the safest place in the Middle East, especially for tourists. During your trip you might notice a big amount of security forces such as police, army and entrance security checks – these are all normal and assigned to ensure your personal and national security, day and night.
The Israeli coin is the “Shekel”. The smaller coins (0.1 of a shekel for example) are called “Agorot”.
We recommend changing money ahead since Euros and Dollars are not accepted.
Most places will accept international credit cards (Diner’s is rarely accepted) but it will be charged extra for exchange commission plus a fee.
ATM’s can be easily found at any big city and in most gas stations. Luckily most of them operate in English and some even in Russian and French.
If you would like to exchange money in Israel you could do it in the airport’s exchange, though the commission is usually a bit high. Banks are the less recommended for exchange.*
* There is also the Post-office bank which operates almost as a regular bank but the exchange rates are much more attractive.
Here you can find some of the exchanges and ATMs >>
The public transport in Israel includes busses and the national train. Because of the Shabbat, public transport does not operate from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening. If you have to get somewhere to Shabbat, make sure to make your trip during Friday morning or early noon. Another option is to take a taxi – they operate all year long except Yom Kippur.
If you choose to travel by a taxi, ask for a counter (“Mone” in Hebrew) – that way you can be sure the driver will not try to fool you.
Tip: use “GetTaxi’ or “Uber” smartphone apps for ordering a taxi easily from any location across Israel.
Planning your trip
Check if your trip includes official holydays in Israel. In those days usually public transportation is limited and the lodging prices are much higher, though you may find many special activities you won’t find in any other day of the year.
Note that on some national holidays, as Remembrance Day, all stores and businesses are closed early and you might find a difficulty in purchasing food and necessities.
Israel has a variety of lodging options in any location across the country. The most popular are Tel-Aviv, Eilat and Jerusalem.
Choose your accommodation by the location/s you plan to visit and your budget – it is possible to find a fine location for a good price if get a bit out of the center.
Remember that Israel is small and the distances are not big – you can easily get from one side to another in a few hours.
Here is list of hotels and lodges in Israel to help you choose the best for you >>
In bars and restaurant you will be expected to tip the waitress or the bartender, as in most of the western world. The customary tip is 12-15% of the account (service is not included by law). It is given to the server after getting your change back, or just left on the table (or in the paying case if given). If you pay with credit card, in some places you might ask to add it to the account’s charge.
If you got a horrible experience it is not a mandatory to tip, but if you got an extra service it would be nice to extra-tip the person – most of waitresses and bartenders earn a minimum wage and those tips are part of it.
The best places to buy fresh food are outdoor markets – the merchandise is daily fresh and the prices are very attractive. In most markets you will also find goods and original gifts.
In big malls you will find plenty of fashionable boutique stores and well-known brand stores. Out of sale dates clothes are a little pricy comparing to Europe or the US, so you will probably prefer shopping at season’s peak – that’s when stores begin their final sales.
Before big holydays you may also find attractive sales.
The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs as well.
If the voltage in your homeland is different, we recommend bringing with you an international transformer with multiple adaptors.
As we have mentioned the strict security checking when arriving to Israel, so it is at leaving. Arrive 3 hours before flight to make sure you will be on time. Worst case, you will enjoy an extra hour at the duty-free…
Enjoy your trip to Israel and have a pleasant journey!