Thursday, December 8, 2022
Israel travel guide - Travel S helper

Israel

travel guide

Israel, formally known as the State of Israel, is a nation in the Middle East, located on the Mediterranean Sea’s southeastern coast and the Red Sea’s northern shore. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, and Egypt to the southwest. Within its relatively limited size, the nation has geographically varied characteristics. Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial and technological hub, whereas Jerusalem is the declared capital, despite the fact that Israeli authority over Jerusalem is recognised internationally.

The United Nations General Assembly approved a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine on 29 November 1947. This established the boundaries of new Arab and Jewish nations, as well as a portion of Jerusalem to be governed by the United Nations under an international system. The British Mandate over Palestine was scheduled to expire at 12 a.m. on 14 May 1948. On that day, David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist Organization’s executive director and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, proclaimed “the creation of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” which would take effect upon the mandate’s expiration. The proclamation made no mention of the new state’s boundaries. The next day, neighboring Arab armies attacked the old British territory and battled Israeli troops. Israel has since fought numerous wars with surrounding Arab nations, occupying the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula (1956–57, 1967–82), a portion of Southern Lebanon (1982–2000), the Gaza Strip (1967–2005; still regarded occupied after 2005 disengagement), and the Golan Heights. It included the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem under its jurisdiction, but not the West Bank. Efforts to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have been fruitless. However, Israel has successfully negotiated peace accords with Egypt and Jordan. Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem is the world’s longest contemporary military occupation.

Israel’s population, as defined by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, was projected to be 8,541,000 people in 2016. It is the world’s only state with a Jewish majority, with 6,388,800 people, or 74.8 percent, identifying as such. Arabs, with a population of 1,775,400, are the country’s second biggest group of nationals (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). Sunni Muslims constitute the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs, including a sizable number of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the remainder are Christians and Druze. Arameans, Assyrians, Samaritans, Armenians, Circassians, Dom people, Maronites, and Vietnamese are other minorities. Although the Black Hebrew Israelites are undergoing a gradual process of assimilation, they remain mostly permanent residents rather than citizens. Additionally, Israel is home to a sizable community of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia, including illegal migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

Israel identifies itself as a Jewish and democratic state in its Basic Laws. Israel is a representative democracy that operates under a parliamentary system, employs proportional representation, and adheres to universal suffrage. The prime minister is the head of government, while the Knesset is the legislative body. Israel is a developed nation and a member of the OECD, having the world’s 35th biggest economy by nominal gross domestic product in 2015. The nation benefits from a highly trained workforce and is one of the most educated in the world, having one of the highest rates of people with a tertiary education. The nation boasts the greatest quality of living in the Middle East and Asia, and one of the world’s highest life expectancies.

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Israel - Info Card

Population

9,563,420

Currency

New shekel (₪) (ILS)

Time zone

UTC+2 (IST)

Area

20,770–22,072 km2 (8,019–8,522 sq mi)

Calling code

+972

Official language

Hebrew

Israel | Introduction

Geography

Israel is located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered on the north by Lebanon, on the northeast by Syria, on the east by Jordan and the West Bank, and on the southwest by Egypt and the Gaza Strip. It is located between 29° and 34° north latitude and 34° and 36° east longitude.

Israel’s sovereign territory (as defined by the 1949 Armistice Agreements and excludes all areas seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War) is about 20,770 square kilometers (8,019 square miles), with two percent of that area being water. Israel, on the other hand, is so small that its exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean is twice the size of the nation. The entire area under Israeli law, which includes East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is 22,072 square kilometers (8,522 square miles), whereas the total area under Israeli authority, which includes the military-controlled and partly Palestinian-governed West Bank, is 27,799 square kilometers (10,733 sq mi). Despite its small size, Israel has a diverse landscape, ranging from the Negev desert in the south to the interior lush Jezreel Valley, Galilee and Carmel mountain ranges, and the Golan Heights in the north. The Israeli Coastal Plain, which runs along the Mediterranean coast, is home to 57% of the country’s population. The Jordan Rift Valley, located east of the central highlands, is a tiny portion of the 6,500-kilometer (4,039-mile) Great Rift Valley.

The Jordan River flows from Mount Hermon via the Hulah Valley and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on the planet’s surface. The Arabah continues south till it reaches the Red Sea’s Gulf of Eilat. Makhteshim, or erosion cirques, are unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula. Ramon Crater in the Negev is the world’s biggest makhtesh, measuring 40 by 8 kilometers (25 by 5 mi). According to a study on the Mediterranean basin’s environmental condition, Israel has the most plant species per square meter of any of the basin’s nations.

Tectonics and seismicity

Tectonic movements within the Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system created the Jordan Rift Valley. The DSF connects the African Plate to the west with the Arabian Plate to the east, forming a transform boundary. The Arabian Plate includes the Golan Heights and all of Jordan, whereas the African Plate includes the Galilee, West Bank, Coastal Plain, and Negev, as well as the Sinai Peninsula. As a result of this tectonic configuration, the area has a high level of seismic activity. The whole Jordan Valley section is believed to have ruptured many times, including during the most recent two large earthquakes along this structure in 749 and 1033. The slip deficit that has built up since the 1033 incident is enough to produce a Mw7.4 earthquake.

The most devastating earthquakes that we are aware of happened in 31 BCE, 363, 749, and 1033 CE, or about every 400 years on average. Every 80 years, destructive earthquakes with significant loss of life occur. While there are strict construction regulations in place now, and newly built structures are earthquake-safe, as of 2007, the majority of Israel’s buildings were older than these regulations, and many public buildings, as well as 50,000 residential buildings, did not meet the new standards and were “expected to collapse” if exposed to a strong quake. Given the region’s unstable political status and the presence of important holy sites, an earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale may have disastrous repercussions for global peace.

Climate

Israel has a broad range of temperatures, particularly in the winter. The climate in coastal regions like Tel Aviv and Haifa is characteristic of the Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and long, scorching summers. The climate of Beersheba and the Northern Negev is semi-arid, with scorching summers, mild winters, and fewer rainy days than in the Mediterranean. The southern Negev and Arava regions have a desert climate, with hot, dry summers and moderate winters with few rainy days. In 1942, in Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan river valley, the hottest temperature on the Asian continent (54.0 °C or 129.2 °F) was recorded.

Mountainous regions, on the other hand, may be windy and chilly, with places of 750 meters or higher (the same height as Jerusalem) receiving at least one snowfall per year. Rain is uncommon in Israel from May through September. Due to a scarcity of water, Israel has created a number of water-saving methods, such as drip irrigation. Israelis also utilize solar energy to take advantage of the abundant sunshine, making Israel the world leader in solar energy usage per capita (practically every house uses solar panels for water heating).

Due to Israel’s position between the temperate and tropical zones, between the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east, the nation has four distinct phytogeographic areas. As a result, Israel’s flora and wildlife are very varied. In Israel, there are 2,867 plant species that have been identified. There are at least 253 imported and non-native species among them. There are 380 nature reserves in Israel.

Demographics

In 2016, Israel’s population was projected to be 8,541,000 persons, with 6,388,800 (74.8%) Jews according to the civil administration. Arabs made up 20.8 percent of the population, with non-Arab Christians and individuals with no faith recorded in the civil register accounting for the remaining 4.4 percent. Large numbers of migrant laborers from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa, and South America have arrived in Israel during the past decade. Because many of them are in the nation illegally, exact numbers are unclear, although estimates put the number at about 203,000. Approximately 60,000 African migrants have reached Israel by June 2012. Approximately 92 percent of Israelis reside in cities.

When compared to other nations with significant immigration, Israel’s population retention rate has been approximately the same or higher since 1948. Jewish emigration from Israel (called yerida in Hebrew) is characterized by demographers as moderate, although it is often highlighted by Israeli government departments as a significant danger to Israel’s future.

In 2009, approximately 300,000 Israeli citizens resided in West Bank settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel, as well as pre-state colonies in towns like Hebron and Gush Etzion that were re-established following the Six-Day War. In 2011, East Jerusalem had a population of 250,000 Jews. The settlements on the Golan Heights are home to 20,000 Israelis. There are approximately 500,000 Israeli settlers in all (6.5 percent of the Israeli population). Approximately 7,800 Israelis resided in Gaza Strip communities until the government removed them as part of its 2005 disengagement plan.

Israel was founded as a Jewish homeland and is often referred to as a Jewish state. The country’s Law of Return gives Israeli citizenship to all Jews and those of Jewish heritage. Over three-quarters of the population, or 75.5 percent, are Jews from various Jewish origins. Around 4% of Israelis (300,000) are Russian descendants of Jewish ancestors or family members who are not Jewish according to rabbinical law but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Around 76 percent of Israeli Jews were born in the country, while 16 percent came from Europe and the Americas and 8% came from Asia and Africa (including the Arab World).

Jews from Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well as their descendants born in Israel, account for about half of all Jewish Israelis, including Ashkenazi Jews. The remainder of the Jewish community is made up of Jews who left or fled Arab and Muslim nations, as well as their descendants, including both Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. Intermarriage rates among Jews are above 35%, according to recent research, and the proportion of Israelis descended from both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews is increasing by 0.5 percent each year, with over 25% of schoolchildren currently coming from both groups.

Religion

Israel is a key portion of the Holy Land, which is important to all Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze, and the Bahá’ Faith.

According to a sociological study of Israeli Jews over the age of 20, 55 percent identify as “traditional,” whereas 20 percent identify as “secular Jews,” 17 percent identify as “Religious Zionists,” and 8% identify as “Haredi Jews.” By 2028, Haredi Jews are projected to account for more than 20% of Israel’s Jewish population.

Muslims are Israel’s biggest religious minority, accounting for 16 percent of the population. Christians make up around 2% of the population, whereas Druze make about 1.5 percent. Most Christians and Jews regard Messianic Judaism to be a type of Christianity. The Christian community consists mainly of Arab Christians, but it also includes post-Soviet immigration, multinational foreign workers, and Messianic Judaism adherents. Many other religious groups, such as Buddhists and Hindus, have a presence in Israel, albeit in tiny numbers. The Orthodox rabbinate considers approximately 300,000 of Israel’s more than one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union to be non-Jewish.

The Old City of Jerusalem, which includes the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is of particular significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians since it is home to landmarks that are central to their respective beliefs. Other holy sites in Israel include Nazareth (the site of the Annunciation of Mary in Christianity), Tiberias and Safed (two of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities), the White Mosque in Ramla (the shrine of the prophet Saleh in Islam), and the Church of Saint George in Lod (holy in Christianity and Islam as the tomb of Saint George or Al Khidr).

The West Bank also has a number of additional holy sites, including Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the birthplace of Jesus and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Bahá’ World Centre in Haifa houses the Bahá’ Faith’s administrative headquarters as well as the Báb’s Shrine; the faith’s founder is buried in Acre. Apart from maintenance workers, there is no Bahá’ community in Israel, despite the fact that it is a popular pilgrimage destination. Following stringent regulation, Bahá’ staff in Israel do not preach their religion to Israelis. The reformist Ahmadiyya movement’s Middle East center lies a few kilometers south of the Bahá’ World Centre. Its mixed-race neighborhood of Jews and Ahmadi Arabs is the country’s only one of its type.

Language

Israel’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic. The most widely spoken language is Hebrew, with Arabic being spoken by 20% of the population.

The most widely studied foreign language in Israel is English, which is taught in schools from an early age. Almost everyone you encounter on the street will be able to converse in English with you. All street and road signage (as well as many others) have both English and Hebrew and Arabic names.

In the 1990s, massive immigration from the former Soviet Union attracted a significant number of Russian-speaking immigrants. Romanian, French, German, Polish, Amharic, and Spanish are among the other languages spoken in Israel, reflecting the various ethnic backgrounds of Israelis. Yiddish, an Eastern-European Germanic Jewish language, is spoken by some of the elderly and ultra-orthodox members of the community. In central Israel, foreign laborers from China, the Philippines, Thailand, and other Asian nations may be seen everywhere. In transportation hubs, like as the Tel Aviv central bus station, you may hear a mix of a dozen languages whether riding buses, trains, or strolling.

Words of Arabic provenance are frequently used in Hebrew slang. “Walla?” for example. “Yalla!” (Is that correct?) (Come on, let’s get moving! ), “Sababa” (excellent), “Akhla” (excellent), “Sachbak” (friend), and a slew of others. Military language, which is second nature to many Israelis, has a big influence on street discourse.

The majority of foreign television shows and films are produced in the United States, and they are nearly always shown in their native language with subtitles. Only children’s shows are subtitled in Hebrew.

Internet & Communications

By phone

Israel’s international country code is +972.

  • 01x numbers are international access codes when calling abroad from Israel. also available “00”, and “+”.
  • 05x numbers are cellular lines or mobiles.
  • 07x numbers are for landlines operated by VoB and VoIP technologies.
  • 0x2 numbers are used for Palestinian land lines.

When calling within Israel, you can either dial the number exactly (without spaces or hyphens, and replacing the “+” symbol with the international access code), or you can dial the number as it appears in Wikivoyage (without spaces and hyphens and replacing the “+” symbol with the international access code) (optional). When the party being called is in the same country as the caller, internationally dialed numbers are looped back at the base station) from mobiles (you can keep the address book “universal” – when all numbers are noted in full E.164 format) and many landlines (or replace the “+972” part with a single leading 0).

When dialing +972 2 345 6789 from inside Israel, for example, dial 02 345 6789 or +97223456789 as-is, or 0097223456789.

Please bear in mind that the assignment of dialing codes to specific businesses may be incorrect, since subscribers may retain their phone number even if they leave or change phone providers. New 050 numbers, for example, are assigned to the Pelephone business, but customers may transfer carriers and retain their 050 number even if they get service from Cellcom, which is typically recognized by the 052 code.

Cellphone rentals and prepaid phone service

You may hire a cellphone for usage in Israel either before or after your trip from a number of companies (a short Google search will give you plenty of such vendors)

Renting a smartphone with a sim card included is sometimes less expensive than renting only a sim card. Israel Phone Rentals, for example, provides the benefits of a sim card rental without the hassle of bringing your own phone to Israel.

You may purchase a SIM card if you have a GSM phone with no SIM lock.

Prepaid SIM cards are sold across Israel at Pelephone (Talk & Go), Cellcom (Talk Man), and Orange (bigtalk) phone shops. Pelephone, Cellcom, or Orange will have a kiosk or store in almost every retail center.

Roaming with your own device

Israel now supports all available networks, including GSM/UMTS (Pelephone, Cellcom, and Orange), CDMA (Pelephone), and iDen (Pelephone) (Hot Mobile, gradually being phased-out). In any event, you should verify with your carrier ahead of time regarding roaming options and device compatibility. Otherwise, turning off data services, particularly any automated update/download of your email, is a good idea. Otherwise, you may be in for a rude awakening when you receive your next phone bill! Many shops near major tourist attractions, including your accommodation, sell local SIM cards.

Public payphones

There are many public phones strewn around, most of which lack a booth (just a phone on a pole). Hotels, post offices, major bus terminals, and railway stations all provide public phones. These phones utilize a Telecard, which is now a scratch-off pre-paid calling card that works exclusively with pay phones and can be bought at post offices and certain shops (the original Telecard was phased out when the final factory that produced it closed down), as well as regular calling cards. Some phones, such as those found in hotels and post offices, also take credit cards. Because more devout Jews tend to frown on modern mobile phones with Internet access and other features, public phones are extremely popular in Jerusalem and other Jewish-religious regions.

A map of public phones is available (click the Google link on the site), although it may be incomplete or out of date.

Privately owned pay phones that allow (outrageous) payment in coins and/or credit cards may also be found. When requested, most storekeepers will provide their own phones (for the aforementioned exorbitant price), regardless of whether or not a (far cheaper) public phone is just 10 seconds away.

In general, if you approach an Israeli waiting at a bus stop and ask, “Efshar sikha?” they will respond, “Efshar sikha?” They are likely to let you use their phone if you ask, “Can I make a call?” Because most mobile phone plans provide unlimited calling, they are not charged for this.

Internet

Mobile internet is less expensive than in the United States, and it is suggested that you utilize it in conjunction with your mobile phone plan.

Although free Wi-Fi is available on buses and in cafés, it is not ubiquitous.

Newspapers

The Jerusalem Post is an English-language daily newspaper produced in Israel. The Times of Israel is a newer Jerusalem-based online daily that publishes in English, Arabic, French, Persian, and Mandarin (Chinese). Ynet, Israel Hayom (today), Globes, and Haaretz are among the other major Israeli newspapers have an English language component on their websites. Vesti (Russian: еcти) is the most widely read Russian-language newspaper in Israel, while Panorama and A-Snarah are two prominent Arabic newspapers. Where there is a need, local newspapers in various languages may be provided.

Radio / TV

  • The radio station “IBA world” transmits in a variety of languages, including English, Russian, and Spanish. It may be heard on 100.3MHz, 100.5MHz, 101.3MHz, and 101.8MHz FM frequencies. Local culture and news are included on the show.
  • “IBA news” is a daily English-language television newscast that airs on “Channel 33.” (Israeli Arabic channel).
  • i24news is an online television channel that offers a variety of programs concerning Israel. There is an English version, as well as Arabic and French versions.
  • Almost all television channels broadcast all programs in their original language, with Hebrew subtitles (sometimes with additional Russian or Arabic subtitles). Shows for young children that are dubbed into Hebrew are the most frequent outliers.
  • Other Israeli radio stations often air interviews and entire radio programs in English at random.

Economy

In terms of economic and industrial growth, Israel is the most advanced nation in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. Israel’s high-tech boom and fast economic growth are mainly due to the country’s high-quality university education and the creation of a highly motivated and educated population. It became a member of the OECD in 2010. On the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the nation is rated third in the area and 38th globally.

It boasts the world’s second-largest number of startup businesses (after the United States) and the most NASDAQ-listed companies outside of North America. According to the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, Israel was rated 17th among the world’s most economically developed countries in 2010. The Israeli economy was rated first in the rate of research and development center investments, as well as the world’s most resilient economy in the face of disasters. The Bank of Israel was rated #1 among central banks in terms of efficiency, up from eighth position in 2009. Israel was also rated first in the world for trained labor supply. The Bank of Israel has foreign-exchange reserves of $78 billion.

Apart from cereals and cattle, Israel has become virtually self-sufficient in food production due to intense growth of the agricultural and industrial sectors over the last decades, despite limited natural resources. Raw materials, military equipment, investment products, rough diamonds, energy, cereals, and consumer items were among the $77.59 billion in imports to Israel in 2012. Electronics, software, computerized systems, communications technology, medical equipment, medicines, fruits, chemicals, military technology, and cut diamonds are among Israel’s most popular exports; in 2012, the country’s exports totaled $64.74 billion.

Israel is a pioneer in the field of solar energy development. Israel is a world leader in water conservation and geothermal energy, and its advancements in software, communications, and life sciences have drawn parallels to Silicon Valley. Israel is also rated first in the world in terms of R&D spending as a proportion of GDP, according to the OECD. Israel has a strong track record of developing profit-driven innovations, making it a preferred destination for many corporate executives and high-tech sector titans. Intel and Microsoft established their first foreign R&D centers in Israel, and other high-tech multinational companies such as IBM, Google, Apple, HP, Cisco Systems, Facebook, and Motorola have also established R&D centers there.

Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company of American billionaire Warren Buffett, purchased Iscar, an Israeli business, for $4 billion in July 2007. It was Berkshire Hathaway’s first acquisition outside of the United States. Since the 1970s, the United States has provided Israel with military help as well as economic support in the form of loan guarantees, which currently account for almost half of Israel’s foreign debt. In terms of net external debt (the entire value of assets vs. obligations in debt instruments owing overseas), Israel has one of the lowest foreign debts in the industrialized world, with a surplus of US$118 billion in December 2015.

In Israel, working days are either Sunday through Thursday (for a five-day workweek) or Friday through Sunday (for a four-day workweek) (for a six-day workweek). Friday is a “short day” in Shabbat observance in areas where Friday is a work day and the majority of the population is Jewish, typically lasting until 14:00 in the winter or 16:00 in the summer. Several suggestions have been made to align the work week with the rest of the world, such as making Sunday a non-working day while increasing the working hours on other days or replacing Friday with Sunday as a work day.

Tourism in Israel

With a record 3.54 million visitor arrivals in 2013, tourism is one of Israel’s main sources of revenue. Historical and religious attractions, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, and ecotourism are all available in Israel. Israel boasts the most museums per capita of any country on the planet. The Western Wall and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s tomb were the two most visited locations in 2009, with Masada being the most popular paid tourist destination. Jerusalem is the most visited city, while the Western Wall is the most visited landmark. The United States attracts the most tourists, accounting for 18% of all visitors, followed by Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Most-visited cities

Jerusalem

With 3.5 million tourists visiting each year, Jerusalem is the most visited city in the world. It is the declared capital and biggest city of Israel, if the territory and population of East Jerusalem are included. It is one of the world’s oldest cities. It is a sacred city for the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and it is home to many historical, archaeological, religious, and other attractions.

West Jerusalem was mostly constructed after Israel’s establishment in 1948. The following are some of the local tourism attractions:

  • The Temple Society’s German Colony is a vibrant blend of architectural styles.
  • Mea Shearim, founded in the eighteenth century and populated mostly by ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews, has retained its Eastern character.
  • Yad Vashem is a Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.
  • One of the four most visited Christian pilgrimage sites in Israel is Ein Karem, the reputed birthplace of John the Baptist.
  • King David’s traditional resting site, Mt. Zion.
  • The Hebrew University is located on Mt. Scopus, which stands at 2710 feet above sea level and provides a panoramic view of the city. From this vantage point, you can see both the Temple Mount and the Dead Sea.

Although it was annexed in 1980 under the Jerusalem Law, East Jerusalem was conquered by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and is regarded to be under Israeli occupation by the international world. It’s where you’ll find:

  • The Armenian Quarter, Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, and Jewish Quarter are the four historic quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City. The Temple Mount (Arabic: Haram ash-sharf, Noble Sanctuary), which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was formerly the location of the old Temple in Jerusalem, with only the Western Wall at its foot surviving.
  • The Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley: with its observation point, the Tomb of Absalom, and other Jewish tombs and burial sites going back 3000 years, as well as churches such as Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations, Dominus Flevit, and the Church of Maria Magdalene (Russian orthodox church). The Tomb of Jesus has been suggested at a number of sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is usually recognized as the location of the Tomb of Jesus. Golgotha, the adjacent hill where Jesus was crucified, has also remained a mystery. The City of David, just south of the Jewish Quarter, is home to ancient digs such as the Siloam Tunnel.

When it comes to marketing Jerusalem to foreign visitors, the unresolved status of East Jerusalem has created problems. The UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled against a series of Israeli Ministry of Tourism advertising campaigns that included pictures and information on tourist spots in East Jerusalem in 2009, 2010, and 2015. “The status of the occupied territory of the West Bank is the subject of much international dispute,” the advertising authority wrote in its ruling, “and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of East Jerusalem featured in the image was part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.” Israel’s Ministry of Tourism issued a statement rejecting the decision, claiming that the billboard offered “basic, factual information to a potential UK tourist.” The 2009 decision also contained condemnation of Israel’s depiction of Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest metropolis and a cosmopolitan, cultural, and financial global hub, with 2.3 million visitor visits in 2013. With a population of 3 million people, the city’s larger area is the most populous. A UNESCO world heritage area of Bauhaus architecture may be found in Tel Aviv. Jaffa, a neighboring medieval city, is enjoying a tourism boom. Tel Aviv was named one of the top ten beach towns in the world by National Geographic in 2010.

Locals refer to Tel Aviv as the “city that never sleeps” because of its thriving nightlife scene. Out magazine dubbed Tel Aviv “the homosexual capital of the Middle East.”

Safed

Safed is one of Judaism’s four holy towns, and it is here that most of the Jerusalem Talmud was composed, as well as kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). It is well-known for its craftsmen. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is buried in neighboring Meron.

Many natural reserves and historic sites, including old synagogues, are located around the city.

Akko

  • Old City and its Knights Hall
  • (Bahá’) Bahá’u’lláh Shrine, Bahá’u’lláh’s last resting place as well as a Unesco world heritage historical town.

Haifa

  • Carmel
  • (Bahá’í) Shrine of the Báb, its terraces, and the Bahá’í World Centre and the buildings (a Unesco world heritage).
  • Stella Maris Monastery
  • Tel Shikmona
  • Cave of Elijah
  • Mahmood Mosque

Tiberias

Tiberias, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee, is one of Judaism’s four holy towns.

The house of Saint Peter in Capernaum, Tabgha, and the Mount of Beatitudes.

Nazareth

  • Nazareth is regarded as Israel’s “Arab capital.”
  • Visit the old city of Nazareth and historical places around the city.
  • Jesus’ hometown, as well as the location of many of his claimed miracles and deeds.
  • Many churches, including The Church of the Annunciation, the Middle East’s biggest Christian church structure. It is said to be the location where the Archangel Gabriel foretold the impending birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary in Roman Catholic tradition (Luke 1:26-31).
  • The Jesus Trail, a network of hiking trails linking numerous locations from Jesus’ life and ministry, begins here.

Beersheba

The patriarch Abraham is credited with establishing Beersheba. The Negev desert’s regional capital. It’s a good place to start if you want to see the Ramon Crater or the UNESCO-listed Nabathean Incense Route (Shivta, Avdat, Mamshit).

Eilat

Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, is a hot, sunny year-round tourist destination on the Red Sea coast. The Eilat Mountains, which are comparable to those in Sinai and include trail routes for trekking, are a popular location for skin and scuba diving, with equipment for rent on or near all main beaches. There are also wildlife such as dorcas gazelle, rock hyrax, striped hyena, and Nubian ibex can be found. Camels, Kings City, and the Eilat Underwater Observatory Marine Park are among the many attractions of Eilat.

Ashkelon

Ashkelon is a city located between Gaza City and Ashdod in Israel. The city provides a variety of hotels and Mizrahi Jewish eateries, as well as a special Arak drink known as Arak Ashkelon.

Tel Ashkelon is a large archaeological site with remains dating back to the Canaanites, Philistines, Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, and Crusaders.

There is no active pilgrimage site in Ashkelon, but it was one of the places where Husayn ibn Ali’s head was held before being transferred to Cairo. The mosque was destroyed in 1950, but a small compound was built on the site in 2001 for Shia Islam pilgrims from India who visited the site. There is also a well believed to be one of Abraham’s wells by Muslims and Christians alike.

The sand dunes between Ashkelon and Ashdod, as well as between Ashkelon and the Gaza Strip, are famous tourist destinations in this region.

Landmarks outside cities

Masada

Masada is an ancient fortress in Israel’s Southern District, perched atop an isolated rock platform (similar to a mesa) on the eastern border of the Judaean Desert, with a view of the Dead Sea. Between 37 and 31 BCE, Herod the Great fortified Masada and constructed mansions for himself on the mountain. According to Josephus, the Roman Empire’s siege of Masada towards the conclusion of the First Jewish–Roman War resulted in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families who had taken refuge there. Arad lies 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Masada. Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Israel’s second most visited tourist destination, behind Jerusalem.

Caesarea

The amphitheater and hippodrome, where live classical and popular music performances are often performed, as well as the port from where St. Paul was carried as a prisoner to Rome, are among the Roman and Crusader remains in Caesarea’s old city. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel.

Beit She’an

Scythopolis (Beit She’an) was a Roman Decapolis city. One of the Middle East’s biggest archaeological sites.

Beit She’arim

Beit She’arim National Park was an old Jewish necropolis with numerous Jewish graves with important symbols such as animals and the menorah, as well as a Jewish city and remains of an ancient synagogue.

Biblical Tells

In Israel, there are about 200 biblical Tells. Tel is an archaeological site formed by ruins of human settlements, not by nature. The biblical tales date back to the Bronze Age and are found at ancient towns referenced in the Bible. Tel Hazor, Tel Megiddo, and Tel Be’er Sheva are the cities selected, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These hotels also feature some of the world’s oldest water systems. Jerusalem, Tel Arad, Tel Gezer, and Tel Lachish are some of the other biblical sites in Israel.

Nahal Me’arot prehistoric caves

Mount Carmel’s human evolution sites – Nahal At Mount Carmel in Haifa, Northern Israel, Me’arot Nature Reserve is a place of human evolution. It contains four caves: Me’arat HaTanur (also known as Tabun Cave), Me’arat HaGamal (also known as Camel Cave), Me’arat HaNahal (also known as Stream Cave), and Me’arat HaGedi (also known as Stream Cave) (the Young Goat Cave). In 2012, UNESCO declared the site to be of universal significance. The site has traces of ancient man’s habitation as well as a unique first burial.

Negev Incense Route

The Negev Incense Route is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located between Jordan’s Petra and Palestine’s Gaza. The Nabataeans built many fortresses and caravanserai, but are best known for their four important cities of Avdat, Mamshit, Shivta, and Haluza, which are all located on this important trade route.

Ancient Synagogues

Many historic synagogues from the Second Temple Period and Byzantine-Muslim eras may be found in Israel, which is the birthplace of Judaism and the cradle of Jewish history. Capernaum, Magdala, Masada, Anim, Susya, Bar’am, Gush Halav, Beit Alpha, Hukok, Nabratein, Ein Gedi, Herodium, Gamla, Umm el Kanatir, Caesarea, Hamat Tiberias, and a number of others are among the synagogues.

Avshalom Cave

Avshalom Cave, also known as Soreq Cave or Stalactites Cave, is a 5,000-square-meter cave on the western slope of Mt. Ye’ela in Israel’s Judean Hills, renowned for its high stalactite concentration. Some of the cave’s stalactites are four meters long, and some have been dated at 300,000 years. Some stalagmites collide with each other to create stone pillars.

Mount Karkom

Har Karkom (“Saffron Mountain,” also known as Jabal Ideid) is a mountain in Israel’s Negev desert, halfway between Petra and Kadesh Barnea. A number of historians have proposed Har Karkom as the Biblical Mount Sinai, based on the fact that the Israelites traveled through the Sinai Peninsula in a fairly straight path towards Petra. Following this hypothesis, Emmanuel Anati explored the mountain and found that it was a significant paleolithic worship center, with shrines, altars, stone circles, stone pillars, and over 40,000 rock carvings covering the surrounding plateau.

Although Anati supports identifying Har Karkom with Mount Sinai based on his findings, the pinnacle of religious activity at the location may date from 2350 to 2000 BC, and the mountain seems to have been abandoned between 1950 and 1000 BC; the exodus is often dated from 1600 to 1200 BC. Scholars, on the other hand, have found no archaeological evidence to support a date of 1600-1200 BC. Anati, on the basis of additional archaeological findings, dates the Exodus to about 2300 BC.

Tel Ashkelon

Tel Ashkelon is a large archaeological site with remains dating back to the Canaanites, Philistines, Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, and Crusaders.

Beit Guvrin

Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a national park in central Israel, 13 kilometers from Kiryat Gat, containing the remains of Maresha, one of Judah’s most significant cities during the First Temple period, and Beit Guvrin, known as Eleutheropolis during the Roman Empire. Many Muslim saints are buried in the region, with Prophet Muhammad’s friend Tamim al-Dari being the most well-known. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014.

Crusader fortresses

Acre, Caesarea, Belvoir Fortress, Montfort Castle, Arsuf, Atlit Fortress, Sepphoris, Chateau du Roi, and others are among the remains of Crusader strongholds in Israel. Arsuf also contains the adjacent Sidna Ali Mosque, which is still in operation and houses the grave of a Caliph Omar relative who perished in the Battle of Arsuf.

Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee is home to many Christian and Jewish holy shrines. The Jewish holy shrines are in Tiberias (click to see the sites), and the Christian sites are outside Tiberias, some of which are archaeological sites. The sites include Magdala, Capernaum, Tabgha, and the Mount of Beatitudes. Other archaeological sites include Kursi, Hippos, Hamat Tiberias, Tel Bet Yerah, and others. It also has a flora and wildlife collection.

Arbel

Mount Arbel is a national park featuring a castle, synagogue, and cliff hiking near the Sea of Galilee. The stronghold was constructed on the cliffs of the mountains by Jewish zealots and later by Fakhreddine II in the Ottoman era. The ancient synagogue was established in the 5th century and lasted a small bit when the Islamic period began. The Horns of Hattin, renowned for his Islamic victory against Saladin at the Battle of Hattin, are located nearby, as is the shrine of Prophet Shuaib, Maqam al-Nabi Shu’aybis, the holiest place for the Druze religion, where the Druze have a large Ziyarat every year in April.

Rosh Hanikra

The Rosh HaNikra grottoes are enormous caverns carved out of soft chalk rock by tidal action. It’s around 200 meters long in all. With certain connected segments, they split out in different ways. Previously, the only way to get to them was by water, and only expert divers were allowed to go. Visitors may now ride a cable car down to view the grottos. Nearby, there is a kibbutz called Rosh HaNikra. Nahariya, an Israeli city, lies approximately 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Rosh HaNikra. To enter the grottoes, you must ride a cable car. The Cable Car is just a short distance from the Lebanese border.

Makhteshim of the Negev desert

A Makhtesh is a geological landform found only in Israel’s Negev desert. A makhtesh is defined by high walls of resistant rock that surround a deep confined valley drained by a solitary wadi. The valleys have little vegetation and soil, although they do feature a varied fauna and flora, as well as a range of various colored rocks. Makhtesh Ramon is the most well-known and biggest makhtesh. Makhtesh Gadol, Makhtesh Katan, and Mount Arif are three other makhteshim. The Makhtesh is a unique geological region.

Tzippori

Tzippori, also known as Sepphoris, was a historic Jewish town featuring a synagogue, homes, baths, water tunnels, and a crusader castle, among other things. It was also the location of Anne and Joachim’s home.

Nimrod Fortress

Nimrod Fortress is a large Ayyubid stronghold that serves as an excellent example of Ayyubid fortifications during the Crusader era.

Hula Valley

Hula Lake Park, also known as Agamon HaHula in Hebrew, is situated in the Hula Valley’s southern section, north of the nature reserve. It was created as part of a restoration project for the JNF. In the early 1990s, severe rainfall caused section of the valley to flood again. The decision was made to develop the surrounding region while leaving the flooded area alone. Thousands of migratory birds have made the new location their second home in the fall and spring. The lake is one square kilometer in size and is dotted with islands that serve as protected bird breeding grounds. It has become a significant stopover for migratory birds on their way from Europe to Africa and back, as well as a popular birding destination. Lake Hula is a stopping place for tens of thousands of cranes traveling from Finland to Ethiopia every winter, according to Israeli ornithologists. Farmers in Israel put food out for them to prevent them from destroying crops near the lake.

Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi is a unique natural reserve renowned for its large population of friendly Nubian ibex and rock hyrax, as well as waterfalls and ancient discoveries. Ein Gedi is a desert oasis that is a must-see for anybody looking to unwind and get away from the scorching Judean Desert. It is situated near the Dead Sea and is a must-see.

Keshet Cave

A large natural arch in Israel’s Upper Galilee that was formerly a cave but was destroyed due to geological causes over time. Today, just the arch remains and is used as a famous tourist destination for professional trekking.

Museums

Israel has the most museums per capita in the world, with millions of tourists each year, with over 200 museums.

  • Israel’s main museum, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, receives 800,000 visitors each year.
  • Jerusalem’s Tower of David – Museum of Jerusalem’s History
  • Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial
  • Tel Aviv Museum of Art
  • Diaspora Museum
  • Haifa Museum of Science and Technology

Restaurant culture

Since the 1990s, Israel has established one of the most dynamic restaurant cultures in the Mediterranean area, serving to both visitors and residents as part of its hospitality sector, which includes hotels, restaurants, and vineyards. Israeli chefs, hotel owners, sommeliers, and vintners get excellent professional training, and top hotel chefs have worldwide education and experience.

In Israel, there are hundreds of restaurants, informal eateries, cafés, and pubs serving a diverse variety of foods and culinary styles. Aside from Middle Eastern specialities, restaurants provide a diverse range of ethnic cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Russian, Ethiopian, Balkan, Thai, Chinese, American, and fusion cuisines.

Falafel stands or kiosks, which also sell extras such French fries, fried eggplant, salads, and pickles with the falafel, and the hummusia, which specializes on hummus and offers just a limited variety of extras, are examples of typical Israeli eating establishments. The Misada Mizrahit (literally, “Eastern restaurant”) is a low-cost restaurant that serves a meze of salads, followed by grilled meat with French fries, fried kibbeh, and simple desserts, whereas Steakiyot are restaurants that serve a meze of salads, followed by skewered grilled meats, particularly meorav yerushalmi and kebabs, or sometimes by kibbeh

Cafés are popular in cities and serve as gathering spots for both socializing and doing business. They often offer coffee, tea, fruit juice, and soft beverages, as well as baked pastries and sandwiches, and many also serve light meals. Most feature outside seating to take advantage of Israel’s pleasant weather, and Tel Aviv’s café culture is especially well known. Tea is frequently offered at cafés, ranging from simple brewed Russian-style with sugar to tea with lemon or milk, as well as tea with mint from the Middle East (nana). In Israel, there is a significant coffee culture, and coffee is served in a variety of forms, including instant (nes), iced, latte (hafu), Italian-style espresso, and Turkish coffee.

West Bank tourism

Israel has been in charge of tourism in the West Bank since the occupation began in 1967. Territory that had previously been off-limits to Israeli residents was now open to tourism, and Israel built a slew of facilities in these areas, as well as East Jerusalem, to attract both Israeli and international visitors. Despite this, Israeli residents are usually prohibited from visiting areas of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority. In a Joint Committee on Tourism, the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s tourism ministries collaborate on tourism in the Palestinian territories today.

  • Bethlehem – Rachel’s grave is here, as well as the birthplaces of King David and Jesus. In 2008, 1.3 million visitors visited the city. The Church of the Nativity, a church constructed over the cave where Jesus of Nazareth is said to have been born, The Manger Square, Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, Solomon’s Pools, and the Salesian Cremisan Monastery are all popular tourist attractions in the city and surrounding areas.
  • Herodium – Herod the Great constructed this fortification. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is in charge of it.
  • Hebron – According to Jewish and Islamic tradition, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is situated in the second-holiest city in Judaism. Before David relocated the capital to Jerusalem, it was also the capital of the Kingdom of Judah.
  • Jericho – In the first three quarters of 2008, tourism surged by almost 42.3 percent as passage between PA-controlled regions and Israel became less limited.
  • Qumran – The Dead Sea Scrolls were found at this ancient Jewish location. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is in charge of it.
  • Nablus – Joseph’s Tomb and Jacob’s Well are located in Shechem, which is also known as Shechem.

Golan Heights tourism

The Golan Heights were seized by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, and the international community recognizes them as Syrian territory occupied by Israel. Israel imposed civilian law to the area in 1981, an act that was declared illegal and invalid by the United Nations Security Council.

The Golan may be split into two halves for visiting purposes: the north, which contains the most of the tourist attractions, and the south, which has the administrative center. Travelers are advised to hire a vehicle or join an organized trip. Some visitors choose to hitchhike across the area, despite the fact that it is slower. Bed and breakfasts or zimmers are the most common kind of accommodations.

In the Golan, Israel’s first ski resort was built. Israel built nature trails and other tourist attractions to further cement its influence in the area and attract visitors. Because so much of the Golan’s soil is unsuitable for agriculture, many of the Israeli settlements built there centered on tourism as a source of revenue.

  • National parks dot the Golan, offering a diverse range of trekking opportunities. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is responsible for the majority of them. When properly designated and walled off areas are ignored, land mines from past conflicts constitute a threat.
  • During the winter, the Mount Hermon ski resort is quite popular. This is the Golan’s first Israeli ski resort.
  • The Golan Heights Winery is a major producer of wine in the region. A visitor’s center and excursions are available at the winery.
  • Katzrin, Gamla, Nimrod Fortress, Rujm el-Hiri, and Umm el Kanatir archaeology

Seas and lakes

Mediterranean coastal strip

Sunny beaches and hotel resorts.

Dead sea

The world’s deepest hypersaline lake and the lowest point on the Earth’s surface, known for its buoyancy and therapeutic properties.

Red Sea

Sunny beaches and hotel resorts, a popular SCUBA diving and water sports destination

Sea of Galilee

  • Sunny beaches and hotel resorts
  • Important Christian and Jewish holy sites
  • Many archaeological sites.

Dive tourism

Eilat is situated in the Gulf of Aqaba, which is one of the world’s most popular diving destinations. The coral reefs off the coast of Eilat are still relatively clean, and the region is known as one of the best diving spots in the world. Annually, around 250,000 dives are conducted off Eilat’s 11-kilometer shoreline, with diving accounting for 10% of the area’s tourist revenue. Furthermore, since many of these reefs are close to the coast, non-divers may easily access the Red Sea’s reefs. SCUBA diving conditions are excellent all year, with water temperatures ranging from 21 to 25 degrees Celsius, little or no currents, and clear seas with an average visibility of 20 to 30 meters.

Medical tourism

Israel is becoming a prominent medical tourism destination. 15,000 foreigners visited the nation for medical treatments in 2006, bringing in $40 million in income. Good natural resources, a steady, pleasant temperature all year, a developing medical system, and beautiful places that have a soothing impact on patients are all benefits of Israel for health tourism. For a variety of reasons, medical tourists flock to Israel. Some are from European countries where some processes are not accessible, such as Romania. Others travel to Israel, most frequently from the United States, to get high-quality health care at a fraction of the cost they would pay at home, for both operations and IVF procedures. Other medical tourists go to Israel to explore the Dead Sea, a world-renowned therapeutic destination. The Israel Ministry of Tourism has teamed up with a number of professional medical service companies to raise awareness of Israel’s medical capabilities.

Entry Requirements For Israel

Visa restrictions
Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen prohibit passports carrying stamps or visas from Israel because to the continuing Israeli–Arab conflict. Other Islamic nations, such as Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and others, may also make it difficult for you to enter and/or deny visas. This is no longer an issue, since Israeli passport control no longer stamps visitors’ passports in most instances. Passport control issues special entrance cards to tourists arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport under a new procedure. If you enter or leave Israel by land, be aware that a stamp from a land border crossing or a neighboring nation with Israel will be considered proof of your travel to Israel, and you may be refused entrance to any of these countries.

Visa & Passport

For up to three months, foreign citizens of the following countries/territories may visit Israel visa-free: all European Union member states, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Macao, Macedonia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United States, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

According to the US Department of State, if you are suspected of overt and unlawful actions, are of Arab ancestry, Muslim, or a political activist, you may be subjected to further questioning, searches, and/or denial of entry if they are not satisfied after interrogation. It is important to note that citizenship in one of the nations mentioned above does not ensure admission. Immigration officials are free to make their own decisions.

German people born before January 1, 1928, must apply for a visa ahead of time. If you were not significantly engaged in persecution during the Nazi period, you will be granted this visa, which will be valid for the duration of your passport’s validity.

For several Arab countries, allowing its people to visit Israel is a crime. Even if you are an Arab-born citizen of a European or North American nation, entering Israel may have repercussions when you return home.

Keep in mind that many Arab and Islamic nations refuse admission to anybody who has visited Israel. If you arrive by air or water and want to visit Arab countries with the same passport, request that the Israeli immigration official stamp a second piece of paper. They are often willing to do this, depending on the circumstances. Then you won’t be refused admission by any of the Arab countries listed above. If you enter Israel by land, however, this may not be enough: in the most paranoid countries (notably Syria and Lebanon), your passport will be examined not only for Israeli stamps, but also for stamps from neighboring countries from Israeli land border crossings such as Taba (Egypt) and Arava/Aqaba (Jordan). At Israeli border crossings, they will also look for baggage labels (or their residue) attached to the rear of passports. You’ll need to apply for a second passport in this instance, which will enable you to have an Israeli stamp on one passport and go to Arab countries on the other. Check with your own embassy.

Although Israeli Customs and Immigration officials may be wary of visitors from Arab nations, you are unlikely to encounter much more than lengthy, repeated, but courteous interrogation. If you have stamps from other Arab nations in your passport, you should expect to be pulled aside (without explanation) and ultimately questioned, depending on the circumstances. It may take anything from 10 minutes to many hours to complete this task. The important thing to remember is that if you have nothing to conceal, you should have nothing to fear, apart from the inconvenience of questioning. It is considerably more probable that you will be held for interrogation in Ben Gurion airport if you are a young backpacker, particularly if you go alone. When you go up the escalators from your aircraft, there is a “selection committee” of two security officers waiting for you, and they will not hesitate to stop you if you seem suspect. They are less likely to disturb you if you dress well or seem to be a member of another group or family.

If you’re in Israel on a tourist visa (B2) and want to extend your stay, you may do so for a nominal charge at the Ministry of the Interior Visa office. To find out where the nearest office is, contact the Ministry of Interior Call Center at +972 2 629-4666. Citizens of most European and North American countries may also renew their visas by crossing into Jordan and returning through the Arava border crossing near Eilat, or crossing into Egypt and returning via Taba.

How To Travel To Israel

Get In - By plane

Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (IATA: TLV) is Israel’s major international airport, serving both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is about 40 kilometers from Jerusalem and 12 kilometers from downtown Tel Aviv. This airport is where the majority of tourists visiting Israel arrive. The entire description may be found in the article.

Ovda (IATA: VDA) is Israel’s second international airport (used mainly by charter airlines) and serves the south of the country, mostly Eilat.

Get In - By boat

Traveling to Israel by water is quite tough. Louis Cruises and Salamis Cruises are the major operators on the route from Limassol, Cyprus, to Haifa, Israel. These are cruise services, so they don’t promote one-way prices. However, if you’re persistent and they have room, they may be prepared to transport you for about €150-170 if you show up at the port office on the day of departure. Both businesses seem to start and discontinue cruises on short notice, so check with your local travel agent.

Israel’s main maritime ports are Haifa and Ashdod, assuming you can get a ride on a ship. Marinas at Herzliya (north of Tel Aviv), Ashkelon (south of Ashdod), Haifa, and Tel Aviv are used by private yachts.

Get In - By road

There are land routes to Israel from both Egypt and Jordan. Due to the ongoing conflicts between Syria and Lebanon, there are no land access between these nations. Border crossings feature comparable security procedures as airports.

Jordan has three border crossings with Israel: the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge (the quickest and busiest route between Amman and Jerusalem); the Jordan River (in the north); and the Arava/Yitshak Rabin Bridge (in the south) (2 km from Eilat). If you respectfully ask the immigration officials (both Jordanian and Israeli) to stamp a separate piece of paper, they will generally do so. Using a succession of buses, it’s pretty simple to cross. You will not be issued an exit stamp for Jordan if you cross the King Hussein Bridge, and you will not be stamped upon re-entry if you want to return.

You may enter Israel with no proof on your passport if you seek your Israeli stamp on a different piece of paper and get that document stamped on the way out. However, requesting no permanent stamp in your passport is a “red flag” for immigration officials, and you may be held and questioned at long at the border. If pressed, explain your request by stating that you want to go to a non-Arab country with Israel limitations, such as Malaysia. Mentioning West Bank locations in your schedule will also raise suspicion; it’s better not to mention Palestine at all when traveling across the border.

The Taba Border Terminal, in Eilat, is where you may cross the border from Egypt. Take bus number 15 or a cab from the terminal to Eilat. With the exception of Jewish Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Muslim Eid al-Adha, the terminal is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week (Feast of the Sacrifice).

For insurance reasons, Israeli rental vehicles are not usually allowed across borders; furthermore, it may not be wise to travel through Arab nations while displaying an Israeli license plate.

Get In - By bus

The King Hussein bridge connects Amman with Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Nazareth on a daily basis. For further information, call (+972 4 657-3984). If you don’t have a group, you may take a cab from Amman’s north bus station (JOD5 apiece for four people sharing; if you don’t have a group, either wait for one or pay JOD20 and travel alone). After passing Jordanian customs, a separate JETT bus will transport you over the border to Israeli customs for a nominal charge, after which a Palestinian bus operator will transport you to Jericho and Ramallah. A shared cab will transport you to Jerusalem from Ramallah.

If you have more money to spend, Matzada tours (Tel +972 2 623-5777) and Aviv tours (Tel +972 36 041811) provide buses from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Cairo (USD95–110 one trip). At the border, you’ll still have to change buses.

(Note: Matzada excursions should only be used at your own risk! They outsource the Egyptian leg of the trip and do nothing to assist if anything goes wrong. Because the Israeli business failed to pay the Egyptian corporation, at least one Matzada group from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem was allegedly detained for 7 hours at the Taba Border – Egyptian side.)

How To Travel Around Israel

Israel’s transportation system is cutting-edge and smart. It is safe and simple to travel across the nation. Israelis are always ready to assist a lost visitor, so don’t be hesitant to seek directions or assistance from strangers.

Shabbat (Hebrew: ), or the Sabbath, is another important consideration for travelers. Travel may be difficult and costly from Friday sunset to Saturday sundown. The majority of national buses do not operate on Shabbat. It will depend on the city for inner-city bus travel. Bus service will be available in Haifa, Nazareth, and Eilat on Friday night and Saturday. There will be limited taxi service, and drivers may request a price premium, particularly on Friday afternoon. Many people will be on the move in preparation for Shabbat, thus traffic will be worse on Friday afternoon. Travelers should budget additional time for their journey. This is also true in the days leading up to public holidays.

Troops often utilize public transportation to go to and from their posts, thus seeing a bus or train full with soldiers (some armed) is not unusual. Due to weekend leave, anticipate increased congestion on Thursday evening and Friday morning, and extremely high crowding on Sunday mornings until approximately 10:00 a.m. (due to soldiers returning to their bases).

*8787 or 072-2588787 (for phones without access to *star numbers) is the (official) national call center for public transportation information (also accessible in English). Except for the normal call-price, there is no charge.

Get Around - By Bus

For Israelis and visitors alike, buses are the most popular mode of public transit. The cheapest method to move across Israel is by bus, which is also the safest and most dependable mode of transportation. All public bus routes in Israel, save those to and from Eilat, are free for Israeli military, thus passengers will often encounter armed soldiers on buses. Egged (pronounced “Eh-ged”) (Hebrew: ) is Israel’s biggest bus operator, having been founded in 1933. Egged is responsible for 55 percent of the country’s public transportation routes. Intercity buses usually start and finish their journeys at major bus terminals, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. If you’re not sure where to exit the bus, seat near the front and ask the driver for assistance. The majority of drivers, as well as the majority of passengers, are eager to assist.

There are a few extra considerations to make if you want to go to Eilat by bus. Egged buses do not have bathrooms, and the journey to Eilat from the northern towns may be lengthy. It takes around 4.5 hours to go from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, 5 hours to get from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and up to 6 hours to get from Haifa. It’s common to take at least one 15-minute break at a rest station along the way. There will almost always be a location where you may buy refreshments and use the restroom. Keep in mind that if you do not return to the bus on time, the driver will depart without you.

Riding a city bus may be a whole other experience. Finding the appropriate bus route or business may be challenging if you do not speak Hebrew. When riding an inner-city bus, ask for assistance from others around you. If you’re starting your inner-city bus trip at a bus terminal, ask for assistance.

Google Maps provides bus travel directions in Israel, however the arrival and departure times are estimates. Apps like Moovit and Effo Boos, which are in Hebrew, offer more precise statistics.

Get Around - By Sheirut

A Sheirut is a cab that can accommodate more than four passengers (the usual capacity is ten). A driver may follow a planned route or carry a group of people from one place to another based on demand, depending on the conditions. A Sheirut may be summoned from anywhere, but it’s especially easy to find outside of large bus terminals.

They’re typically faster than buses, and they’ll stop at any point along the way (not just predetermined stations). The cost of the trip is determined by the duration of the journey and is not negotiable. Drivers may wait until their Sheirut is full before starting their trip, so bear in mind that if you are the first or leaving at a low-traffic hour, you may have to wait a long time.

When going from a major bus terminal to a nearby town or suburb with a specific goal in mind, this mode of transportation is ideal.

Get Around - By Train

Israel’s rail system has undergone a significant expansion and modernisation effort in recent years. In general, trains are faster and more pleasant than buses. Train stations, on the other hand, are often less convenient than bus stations.

Israel Railways currently operates intercity lines from Nahariya to Beer Sheva via Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion Airport; suburban lines from Tel Aviv to Binyamina, Ashkelon, Kfar Sava, Rishon LeZion, Modiin, and Bet Shemesh; and intercity lines from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv via Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion Airport. Between Beer Sheva and Dimona, there is also a suburban line.

Tel Aviv has four railway stations, Haifa has six, and Beer Sheva has two, all of which provide convenient access to the city’s many districts.

During peak travel periods, trains operate 2-3 times each hour, and at least once an hour during off-peak hours. Trains operate through the night on the Nahariya-Haifa-Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion Airport-Beer Sheva route. Trains after midnight, however, only stop in Haifa at the Hof Hacarmel station, in Tel Aviv at Merkaz (Central), and in Beer Sheva at Merkaz (Central). After midnight, all other Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, and Haifa stations shut. It’s also worth noting that trains only run on weekdays (there are no trains from Friday afternoon till Saturday evening). Trains, in fact, arrive many hours earlier on Friday than buses.

A rail route connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem through Ben Gurion Airport is presently being built (the line now serves the airport and Modi’in; the Jerusalem extension is expected to be completed in 2018). For the time being, the only train connecting Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem is sluggish and stops at the out-of-the-way Jerusalem Malcha station. It is, however, Israel’s most beautiful train trip, and the region it passes through is often referred to as “Little Switzerland.”

In the winter, following a rare severe snowfall, Jerusalem may be shut off from the rest of the nation by road for up to a day, leaving the train as the sole means of communication between the capital and the rest of the country. The Ottoman Turks constructed the line from Istanbul to Jerusalem in 1892. The line is not frequently utilized due to the lengthy travel time and awkward placement of the Jerusalem Malcha stop. However, during the vacation season, these trains may get overcrowded.

Get Around - By taxi

In Israel, taxis are extremely prevalent. A normal Israel cab is often referred to as special to distinguish it from a shared taxi (sherut) (using the English word). Unless the passenger agrees to prefix a fee, the driver should utilize the meter both within and outside cities (in Hebrew, moneh). However, consenting to go off the meter is nearly always in the driver’s advantage. There are surcharges for calling a taxi by phone (5.00 as of January 2013), luggage (4.2o per piece), more than 2 passengers (4.7o (fixed), children under the age of 5 are not taken into account), toll-routes, and hailing a taxi at airports or seaports (5.00, Sde Dov airport, and Haifa seaport – 2.00).

Drivers have been known to attempt to defraud visitors by failing to switch on the meter at the start of the trip and then arguing about the amount at the conclusion. Unless you know how much the trip should cost and can strike a bargain, it’s better to explain that you definitely need the’moneh’ to be activated before you depart. If you refuse to pay despite the meter never being turned on, some drivers may get very nasty or even aggressive if you are caught off guard. It’s preferable to attempt to avoid this scenario, but it’s better to pay and learn than to save money and risk an unpredictably escalating problem. An effective method of redress is noting the taxi’s number (which is plainly visible on the exterior of the vehicle) and calling the local taxi authorities.

Taxi drivers in Israel do not demand a gratuity, and you should not expect one either. Furthermore, they are more inclined to round the fare down than up to the closest shekel.

All Israeli cabs are numbered, and if you request it, they will print an official receipt on printers connected to their meters, which is quite useful if you are traveling for business.

From Ben Gurion Airport, you may take a cab to virtually every city in Israel. All cabs from the airport are owned and operated by the Hadar (national), Nesher (Jerusalem), and Amal (Haifa region) businesses. The cab line moves quickly, and the attendants, despite their gruff demeanor, are willing to assist. The taxi stand is located on level G, just across from exit gate 03. It is not recommended that you take a random cab that is not affiliated with these stations unless it has been pre-ordered.  Trains and buses, on the other hand, are considerably less expensive.

Get Around - By thumb

Israel is renowned for being one of the easiest locations in the world to hitchhike. The majority of important intersections have a shelter and are brightly illuminated at night. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the people and engage with them. A sign may be beneficial (put a blank piece of paper inside a plastic sleeve, and with a dry-erase marker you have a reusable hitchhiking sign). Instead of a thumb, you extend your hand, 1 or 2 fingers extended, pointing towards the road while hitchhiking. 1 or 2 fingers should point to the ground for brief rides. While traveling through the region, drivers may gesture downwards, suggesting that they would not make a suitable long-haul trip.

Hitchhiking is more common in rural regions, especially sparsely inhabited locations like the Golan Heights with little transport service, than in urban areas.

In Israel, like in much of Europe and the Middle East, the British Foreign Office considers hitchhiking to be dangerous. This advise is just for visitors; it is not intended to be a remark on the safety of hitchhiking for locals or to be unique to Israel.

Local residents on the West Bank depend largely on hitchhiking as a mode of mobility. Because most settlement gates are guarded by IDF troops, almost every vehicle will pull over and offer you a ride. Nonetheless, hitchhiking is only safe between Jewish settlements/cities or a few well-known and well-defended intersections; any other route is particularly hazardous, since Israeli hitchhikers have been abducted and killed by Palestinian extremists while waiting for a ride in the past.

Get Around - By car

Road system

Israel boasts a sophisticated highway system that connects all of the country’s attractions.

There are a lot of road signs, and they frequently accompany city names (rather than compass directions). As a result, rather of seeing signs for Road 1 West and Road 1 East, you’ll encounter signs for Road 1 Jerusalem and Road 1 Tel Aviv. In general, you should follow the name of the biggest city in the direction of your goal, even if it’s not indicated. When driving from Haifa to Beer Sheva, for example, you must travel south, which means you must follow signs pointing to Tel Aviv. As you get closer to Tel Aviv, you’ll notice signs towards Beer Sheva. It’s important to inquire for the name of an exit as well as the exit immediately before it while obtaining instructions.

The majority of roads are assigned numbers based on their direction and importance. Odd numbers are assigned to east-west routes, whereas even numbers are assigned to north-south highways. The most important national highways are given one or two digit numbers, whereas the least important local roads are given four digits. There are exceptions to these principles.

Driving regulations

In Israel, traffic is driven on the right side of the road. The majority of traffic signs and rules are standard and similar to those seen in Western Europe. Highway signs are typically written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, although they may also be written in Hebrew and English alone. Because signs in three languages (Hebrew, English, and Arabic) are often overloaded with information, just the destination’s name is printed in text, and the kind of destination is represented by a pictogram. Each traffic light usually has an arrow on top, and the traffic light then regulates movement in the specified direction, with a green light ensuring that all competing traffic is forced to stop at a red light. All directions are controlled by lights that do not have arrows above them. Stop is always indicated by a red light. At a red light, turning right or left is absolutely prohibited. Because competing traffic always confronts a red light, even if there are no arrows, there is no turning left or right when yielding to opposing traffic (however, this is not always the case with pedestrians, particularly when turning right). The green phase is preceded by a red+yellow combo phase, as it is in many other nations. A flashing green light signals that the yellow light is going to appear, although it is typically only seen on highways with speed restrictions of at least 60 kilometers per hour.

White road markings are used to distinguish vehicles moving in the same direction as well as traffic moving in opposing directions. Yellow lines highlight the road’s outside borders (do not cross them unless you’re stopped at a shoulder), whereas orange or red lines indicate road maintenance zones or a recent modification in road signage. Roundabouts (traffic circles) are frequent; one gives way to vehicles already in the circle. All-way stop signs, such as those seen in the United States, Canada, and South Africa, do not exist. After coming to a full stop, all stop signs compel vehicles to yield to all opposing traffic.

From November to March, intercity roads require headlights to be switched on (even during the day). Motorcycle riders must use their headlights at all times of the year. In all seats, seat belts must be worn at all times. It is illegal to talk on a mobile phone without using a hands-free system. When exiting a vehicle on the shoulder of a highway, it is mandatory to wear a luminous vest to increase visibility. The reflective vest must be kept in the passenger compartment of the car at all times, not in the trunk. Such a vest is required by law to be provided by car rental businesses, and it is typically found within the glove compartment.

Curb marks imply parking restrictions:

Parking regulations are indicated by curb markings:

  • Red and white – Parking is banned in the red and white zones, but this regulation is often broken outside of weekday business hours. However, just because others are doing so does not guarantee that your vehicle will not be penalized or towed.
  • Red and yellow – These colors are reserved for certain vehicles, such as buses at bus stops.
  • Blue and white – Parking is only permitted with the purchase of a parking permit from a machine. Parking tickets must be bought at a local kiosk or a mobile payment method must be utilized if a machine is not available. Blue and white markers are limited to residents exclusively in certain locations, such as portions of Tel Aviv, even at night. The exact limitations will be listed on a sign at the street’s beginning, typically in Hebrew only.
  • Red and Grey – These areas are designated for homeowners, although they may only be available at certain hours as indicated by signage.
  • Grey – Unless a parking sign at the start of the roadway demands payment or limits parking, grey – areas are free to park in.
  • Black and While – When no other colors are used, black and while are used to indicate curb visibility.

As a general rule, red denotes no, grey indicates a possibility, and blue confirms payment. Don’t park in disabled zones with foreign markers, either.

The metric system of measuring is used in Israel. In residential zones, the default speed limit is 50 km/h; on intercity highways without a physical separation median between opposing lanes, the default speed limit is 80 km/h; and on intercity roads with a physical separation median, the default speed limit is 90 km/h. All major freeways (marked by the standard blue European motorway sign) have a speed limit of 110 km/h by default; however, speed limit signs with a lower limit (typically 90 km/h or 100 km/h) are used to restrict the speed on these routes in reality. Only one motorway, the toll route #6 (Cross-Israel Highway), now permits speeds of up to 110 km/h in most parts.

Speed and red light cameras are widespread, and police presence on the roadways is usually high. For speeding enforcement, both radar (usually fixed) and LIDAR (laser, hand-held) are used.

The blue lights on police cars on active duty may be turned on for the length of their journey. Unlike other nations in the “First World,” this is not an indication that you are about to be pulled over in Israel. If they do, they’ll either use their siren or a megaphone to tell you to come to a complete stop on the shoulder. The brand of the vehicle is typically included in a spoken request, even though it is normally done in Hebrew. It’s a good idea to follow through.

Toll Highways

Highway 6 in Israel is an electronic-toll highway with no toll booths. License plates and/or electronic tags are used to identify vehicles that use it, and invoices are delivered to the vehicle’s registered owner.

The cost is calculated based on the number of road segments used:

The minimum fee is for three segments (even if you drove through less segments) on the major stretch (from ‘Iron interchange to Sorek interchange), while the maximum price is for five segments (even if you drove through more segments).
Because it is not part of the main portion, there is a separate special fee on the northern stretch (one segment from ‘Iron interchange to Ein Tut interchange).

The southern portion (from the Sorek interchange to the Ma’ahaz interchange) is free.

There are many subscription options available. Route 6 trips are frequently subject to a fee, so check with your rental company about how to pay for them.

The Carmel Tunnels are a series of four tunnels that run under the Carmel mountain, two in each direction with the Neve Sha’anan junction in between. The price is dependent on how many segments you utilize (1 or 2 segments). On this route, there are toll booths.

The Fast Lane to Tel-Aviv is a 13-kilometer length of highway that runs from the Ben-Gurion airport junction with Route 1 to the Kibbutz Galuyot exit, Tel Aviv’s second highway exit. To keep traffic moving smoothly, the fee is set by the number of cars entering the lane. The highest toll is $85; however, most people pay considerably less.

Licensing information

In Israel, all drivers must have a valid driver’s license. International driver’s licenses and international driver’s licenses are accepted. Motor vehicle drivers must be at least 17 years old, and insurance is required. Starting at the age of 16, you may ride a motorbike or scooter. A driver’s license is also required for two-wheel vehicles! In Israel, all vehicles must pass an annual safety inspection, with the month and year of the next inspection displayed on the front windshield. A new rule mandates that every vehicle be equipped with a yellow fluorescent vest at all times. The cops might theoretically stop you at any moment and demand to see it. You must wear the vest if you come to a complete stop on the side of the road and must exit. It’s a good idea to double-check before you depart since all rental vehicles should have one. It’s worth noting that the police in Israel have the authority to stop you while you’re driving for any reason; most often, they do so for license checks. Vehicles with a shabby appearance are stopped much more often.

Safety issues

The number of people killed in car accidents in Israel is comparable to that of other European nations and less than half that of the United States. Israeli drivers, on the other hand, are renowned for being aggressive and impatient. If you opt to drive in Israel, keep this in mind and exercise care. Expect other drivers to fail to yield when they should and to disregard your right of way, particularly if you exhibit reluctance. On two-lane intercity highways, be particularly careful while overtaking other cars. Many lower-traffic intercity routes lack a physical separating median, whereas most large highways have. Also, be very careful while driving in the Negev desert, where most highways have just two lanes for fast-moving traffic and journeys may take hours in the heat. Traveling on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, should be done with caution, since roads tend to be quieter and attract quicker, and sometimes more dangerous, vehicles. Take extra caution in the winter when it rains and the roads are very slippery. The oil/grease and other chemicals that have collected on the road all summer are dissolved on the first wet days of autumn, making them more hazardous.

Car rental

Most major international vehicle rental businesses, such as Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Sixt, as well as numerous Israeli firms, such as Eldan (Israel’s biggest car rental company), Traffic, and Tamir, which delivers and picks up your rented car. Car2go offers hourly vehicle rental, with automobiles accessible near railway stations and other major places.

If you do not have a visa, you will be charged VAT for your vehicle hire (for example, if you entered via Allenby and avoided the stamps, although the paper will do). In addition, the Israeli government mandates costly insurance on rental vehicles, which may cost up to $20 per day.

If you want to see more than the two dozen or so well-known tourist attractions in Israel, get a private/rental car and hire a professional tour guide. The tour guide will cost about $200 each day, plus the cost of the car. They can take you to almost 1,700 more places that package tours or aimless personal travel miss.

Destinations in Israel

Regions in Israel

Israel is divided into many distinct areas, with scenery ranging from the coast to the mountains, valleys, and deserts, as well as everything in between. Each area of Israel has its own distinct charms outside the towns and cities. The metropolitan cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are very much their own regions; nevertheless, Israel’s regions are as follows from north to south:

  • Galilee(Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee)
    The Galilee area is divided into two subregions: the Lower Galilee, which is marked by low hills separated by valleys, and the Upper Galilee, which is marked by high mountains (the highest of this region is Mount Meron).
  • Northern Jordan Valley (Kinarot Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Beth Shean Valley)
    The Sea of Galilee, Israel’s biggest freshwater lake, and the Beth Shean Valley, situated between the Gilboa mountain range and the Kingdom of Jordan, are both part of this region.
  • Jezreel Valley and the Gilboa mountain range
    The Jezreel Valley is a vast valley that runs from the coastal plain in the west to the Jordan Valley in the east, and is bordered on the north by the Lower Galilee and the south by the mountains of Samaria. The Gilboa mountain range, which stretches for approximately 18 kilometers, is bordered on the east by the Samarian highlands of the West Bank, on the east by the Beth Shean Valley, and on the north by the Jezreel Valley.
  • Carmel Range
    A mountain range in northern Israel that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the south-east. This area is home to a number of towns and villages, as well as Haifa, Israel’s third biggest city.
  • Israeli Coastal Plain (Northern coastal plain, The Sharon plain, and the Southern Coastal Plain)
    A planar area extending along the Mediterranean coast that is the most developed section of the nation and home to about 70% of Israel’s population. This area is distinguished by sandy beaches and a Mediterranean climate. This region is home to numerous cities, towns, and villages, as well as Tel Aviv, Israel’s second largest city.
  • Jerusalem Hills
    A mountainous area in the country’s center that is really a sub-region of the Judaean Mountains. This area includes Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, as well as the country’s biggest metropolis. (The eastern half of the city lies in the West Bank.)
  • Shfela
    The rich, hilly hinterland bordered on the west by the Coastal Plain, on the east by the Judaean Mountains, on the north by Samaria, and on the south by the Negev.
  • Southern Dead Sea Valley
    The portion of the Dead Sea that is not situated in the West Bank. The Dead Sea, which is fed by the Jordan River, is the lowest place on the planet (427 meters below sea level as of early 2013).
  • The Negev, Southern Judaean Mountains, Southern Judaean Desert, and the Arava Valley
    The Negev region is a desert area in southern Israel that contains the Ramon Crater, among other things. The southern portions of the Judaean Mountains and the Judaean Desert (the northern parts are in the West Bank) are sandwiched between the West Bank and the Negev areas. The Arava Valley is a portion of the Great Rift Valley situated between the Dead Sea in the north and the Gulf of Eilat in the south, forming part of the boundary between Israel and Jordan to the west and east, respectively.

Cities in Israel

  • Jerusalem — Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, and it has been holy to three faiths for millennia: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
  • Tel Aviv — The White Metropolis, a landmark of Bauhaus architecture and home to the majority of foreign embassies, is located in Tel Aviv, the country’s and region’s most dynamic city.
  • Eilat — Eilat, Israel’s window on the Red Sea and a thriving resort city, is known as the “Goa of the Middle East.”
  • Beer Sheva — Beer Sheva is the Negev region’s de facto capital.
  • Haifa — Haifa is the biggest city in northern Israel and Israel’s third largest city. It is situated near Haifa Bay on Mount Carmel. In 2008, the city’s Baha’i World Center was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Akko (Acre) — The most holy Baha’i place is Akko (Acre), an old town with a historic harbor.
  • Nazareth — Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, is today Israel’s biggest Arab metropolis.
  • Tiberias — Tiberias is a contemporary tourist town on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee with a historic past.
  • Safed (Tzfat) — Safed (Tzfat) is a fascinating city full of artists and mystics, as well as the home of ARI, the founder of the Kabbalah school of thought.

Other destinations in Israel

  • Old City of Jerusalem – The Old City of Jerusalem is a walled enclave inside the contemporary city of Jerusalem of 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 square miles). It is a significant tourist destination for visitors of many faiths and countries who come from all over the globe to see its sacred sites, which include the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to name a few. In 1981, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Old City of Acre – Acre’s Old City is one of the world’s oldest port cities. In 2001, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Sea of Galilee — The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s biggest freshwater lake and the home of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Dead Sea — The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth and a sea of hypersalinated water that keeps humans floating.
  • Jezreel Valley — The Jezreel Valley is a vast, mostly rural inland valley that stretches from east of Haifa to the Jordan Valley.
  • Judean Desert — The Judean Desert is a harsh, dry terrain with many hills and valleys.
  • Bahá’í Gardens and World Center – The Bahá’ Gardens and World Center are the spiritual heart of the Bahá’ Faith and are home to the Báb’s Shrine and Terraces. Haifa, Israel’s northernmost city

Prominent national parks in Israel

  • Masada, high above the Dead Sea on a plateau, was the site of the Zealots’ last stand against the power of Rome. In 2001, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Ein Avdat is a popular hiking destination with a stunning steep canyon.
  • Caesarea National Park is an old Roman city that still has most of its original structure.
  • Beth The Shean Valley is the heart of the Jordan River Valley in the north.
  • Belvoir Castle is the ruins of a Crusader fortress atop a hill on the Galilee’s eastern border.
  • Nimrod Castle is the ruins of a medieval fortress situated 800 meters above sea level in the northern Golan Heights.
  • Rosh Haniqra is a series of magnificent caves situated on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, near the northern border with Lebanon.

Prominent nature reserves in Israel

  • Ramon Crater is a 40-kilometer-long crater-like landform in Israel’s Negev desert, and the biggest of three comparable craters. It has some spectacular desert views.
  • Mount Hermon is a mountain in Israel that is partially inside Israel and half within Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli top of the mountain is 2,224 meters above sea level, making it the country’s highest point. The Hermon natural reserve has a total area of 76,250 hectares. The majority of the nature reserve is contained inside a military zone (except for Hermon Ski resort and the Banias springs area at the slopes of the mountain which are popular visited destination).
  • The Carmel Range is a tiny but varied range of hills located immediately south of Haifa.

Disputed Territories

  • Golan Heights
    North-east of the Sea of Galilee, there is a mountainous region. Israel occupied the territory in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, although Syria claims it. The UN does not acknowledge Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. In the area, Israeli law is in effect.
  • West Bank and Gaza Strip
    The West Bank, to the east of the Jordan River, and the Gaza Strip, to the southwest along the Mediterranean coast, are two physically distinct areas. Internationally, no country recognizes it as a part of its territory. As a consequence of the Oslo Accords, the West Bank gets government services (security, medical care, etc.) from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, or a mixture of the two, depending on the specific area. Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip.

Accommodation & Hotels in Israel

From camping and hostels to 5-star luxury hotels, Israel offers a wide range of lodging choices. In general, accommodation in Israel is comparable to Western standards, both in terms of price and service. Hotels in Israel do not have star ratings yet, therefore be aware that if you see them, they were given by the hotels themselves.

  • The Israel Hotel Association (IHA) is the umbrella group that represents Israel’s hotels. The IHA has around 350 members, ranging from Metulla in the north to Eilat in the south.
  • The Israel Youth Hostel Association manages a flourishing network of youth hostels across the country.
  • ILH – Israel Hostels is a network of 40 self-contained hostels, guesthouses, and resorts for independent travelers.
  • A growing number of kibbutzim now provide bed and breakfast accommodations as part of their services.
  • A handful of private residences (particularly popular in northern areas) rent rooms (commonly known as “zimmer”, from the German word for room).
  • There are a lot of 3-4 star hotel chains in Israel.
  • Israel has a significant number of boutique hotels, including one major chain.
  • Several Bedouin settlements dot the Negev Desert, providing shelter and an unique desert experience. Depending on the camp, you may be able to ride a camel.
  • Most King beds at hotels are really two smaller beds put together, which may be separated if required, due to a Jewish religious ban on couples sharing a bed during specific times of the woman’s menstrual cycle. If no other options are available, two tourists who are not in a romantic relationship may reserve a hotel with one King bed and then divide it into two individual beds.

Cities in Israel

  • Jerusalem — Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, and it has been holy to three faiths for millennia: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
  • Tel Aviv — The White Metropolis, a landmark of Bauhaus architecture and home to the majority of foreign embassies, is located in Tel Aviv, the country’s and region’s most dynamic city.
  • Eilat — Eilat, Israel’s window on the Red Sea and a thriving resort city, is known as the “Goa of the Middle East.”
  • Beer Sheva — Beer Sheva is the Negev region’s de facto capital.
  • Haifa — Haifa is the biggest city in northern Israel and Israel’s third largest city. It is situated near Haifa Bay on Mount Carmel. In 2008, the city’s Baha’i World Center was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Akko (Acre) — The most holy Baha’i place is Akko (Acre), an old town with a historic harbor.
  • Nazareth — Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, is today Israel’s biggest Arab metropolis.
  • Tiberias — Tiberias is a contemporary tourist town on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee with a historic past.
  • Safed (Tzfat) — Safed (Tzfat) is a fascinating city full of artists and mystics, as well as the home of ARI, the founder of the Kabbalah school of thought.

Other destinations in Israel

  • Old City of Jerusalem – The Old City of Jerusalem is a walled enclave inside the contemporary city of Jerusalem of 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 square miles). It is a significant tourist destination for visitors of many faiths and countries who come from all over the globe to see its sacred sites, which include the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to name a few. In 1981, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Old City of Acre – Acre’s Old City is one of the world’s oldest port cities. In 2001, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Sea of Galilee — The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s biggest freshwater lake and the home of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Dead Sea — The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth and a sea of hypersalinated water that keeps humans floating.
  • Jezreel Valley — The Jezreel Valley is a vast, mostly rural inland valley that stretches from east of Haifa to the Jordan Valley.
  • Judean Desert — The Judean Desert is a harsh, dry terrain with many hills and valleys.
  • Bahá’í Gardens and World Center – The Bahá’ Gardens and World Center are the spiritual heart of the Bahá’ Faith and are home to the Báb’s Shrine and Terraces. Haifa, Israel’s northernmost city

Prominent national parks in Israel

  • Masada, high above the Dead Sea on a plateau, was the site of the Zealots’ last stand against the power of Rome. In 2001, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Ein Avdat is a popular hiking destination with a stunning steep canyon.
  • Caesarea National Park is an old Roman city that still has most of its original structure.
  • Beth The Shean Valley is the heart of the Jordan River Valley in the north.
  • Belvoir Castle is the ruins of a Crusader fortress atop a hill on the Galilee’s eastern border.
  • Nimrod Castle is the ruins of a medieval fortress situated 800 meters above sea level in the northern Golan Heights.
  • Rosh Haniqra is a series of magnificent caves situated on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, near the northern border with Lebanon.

Prominent nature reserves in Israel

  • Ramon Crater is a 40-kilometer-long crater-like landform in Israel’s Negev desert, and the biggest of three comparable craters. It has some spectacular desert views.
  • Mount Hermon is a mountain in Israel that is partially inside Israel and half within Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli top of the mountain is 2,224 meters above sea level, making it the country’s highest point. The Hermon natural reserve has a total area of 76,250 hectares. The majority of the nature reserve is contained inside a military zone (except for Hermon Ski resort and the Banias springs area at the slopes of the mountain which are popular visited destination).
  • The Carmel Range is a tiny but varied range of hills located immediately south of Haifa.

Disputed Territories

  • Golan Heights
    North-east of the Sea of Galilee, there is a mountainous region. Israel occupied the territory in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, although Syria claims it. The UN does not acknowledge Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. In the area, Israeli law is in effect.
  • West Bank and Gaza Strip
    The West Bank, to the east of the Jordan River, and the Gaza Strip, to the southwest along the Mediterranean coast, are two physically distinct areas. Internationally, no country recognizes it as a part of its territory. As a consequence of the Oslo Accords, the West Bank gets government services (security, medical care, etc.) from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, or a mixture of the two, depending on the specific area. Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip.

Things To See in Israel

Israel is home to some of the world’s most renowned religious sites, and its territory and major attractions are sacred to millions of people of many religions. The gold-plated Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the al-Aqsa Mosque are all located inside the fortified Old City of the country’s magnificent but contested capital Jerusalem. The renowned Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological treasures as well as masterpieces by Picasso, Rodin, and Matisse, is also located in the city. Despite its somber subject, Yad Vashem, the world’s biggest Holocaust museum, is equally stunning. Bethlehem, the renowned Biblical birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, is administratively part of the Palestinian Territories but is just a short drive away.

Tel Aviv, which is vibrant and contemporary, has a totally different vibe. Although the city’s vibrant nightlife and youthful vibe are its primary draws, it also has a number of excellent museums. If you go south down the Tel Aviv promenade, you’ll arrive at old Jaffa, which is now a suburb but was once a major port city. The beautiful verdant Bahá’ Gardens and the World Center with the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb are not to be missed in Haifa.

Israel’s many attractions are not confined to its contemporary cities. Consider going to Masada, a hilltop stronghold in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea that is a draw in and of itself. Allow time to stop at Caesarea National Park on your route to Haifa to see the Roman archaeological ruins and beautiful sea vistas. Allow time in the north to visit the lush regions of Galilee, which have beautiful scenery and a plethora of historically significant sites. Visit Nazareth, as well as the biblical and brilliant blue Sea of Galilee, which divides the contested Golan Heights from delightful places such as Tiberias, which offers beautiful vistas and ancient sites. The well-preserved Roman remains of Beth Shean are also in Galilee and well worth a visit. The seaside village of Akko, another World Heritage Site, beautiful Zikhron Ya’akov, the oasis of Ein Gedi, and the Timna Valley are just a few of the many additional locations you may wish to see.

Things To Do in Israel

A significant number of Israel’s main attractions are situated outside of the country’s major cities:

  • Hike in the woods, but remember to follow these essential rules.
  • The Israel National Route is a 940-kilometer-long designated recreational trail (hiking or cycling) that runs from north to south.
  • The Jesus Route is a 65-kilometer hiking trail that links important Christian sites in the Galilee. It runs from Nazareth to Capernaum.
  • Rappelling or offroading in the Negev on the Nativity Trail, the route that Joseph and Mary used to travel from the Sea of Galilee to Bethlehem
  • Parks and Reserves in Israel are a must-see. These locations are typically well-maintained and overflowing with beauty and history, and they often provide explanatory materials and maps in English and other languages.
  • Hermon Snow Resort is a great place to go skiing (available only in mid-winter)

Food & Drinks in Israel

Food in Israel

While many of Israel’s famous dishes are characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine, the country’s cuisine is as varied as the people that populate it. Food in Israel is usually of extremely high quality, and immigrants from all over the globe have contributed virtually every genre and kind of cuisine to the country. Food that is kosher is readily accessible. Even eateries that do not have Kosher certification observe certain Kashrut rules to some degree. Paying is extremely prevalent at sit-down restaurants with servers; not tipping is frowned upon in sit-down restaurants, although it is recognized as a signal of poor service.

It is customary to allocate 10% to 15% of the total budget (or more for exceptional service). A generous tip of 20% is considered generous. In Israel, it is no longer allowed to include a service fee in a bill, and it should not be paid. Restaurants have started collecting a “security charge” of about 1-2 dollars per guest in recent years. This charge is not required, and it is usual to request that it be deleted from the bill, which you should do. The majority of establishments accept credit cards, but not personal checks.

Despite the fact that falafel and hummus do not originate in Israel, the Israeli population considers them to be national cuisine. Falafel is made out of falafel balls, which are tiny fried balls of mashed chickpeas and/or fava beans eaten with hummus-chips-salat (hummus, French fries, and vegetable salad) and tahini inside a pita bread. More salad options are typically available, and you may stuff your pita with as much as it can hold. It’s typically the cheapest meal (between $10 and $15), plus it’s vegetarian (and often vegan).

Half-servings are also available (“chat-TZEE mah-NAH”). If you’re unsure which falafel restaurant to visit, choose one with a steady stream of customers, since falafel balls taste best while they’re still warm. Hummus is a popular dip prepared from garbanzo granules and a variety of ingredients (such as olive oil, raw garlic, lemon juice, and tahini) that is often served on pita bread. Hummus may be covered with chopped lamb, fried chicken breast, and a variety of additional toppings such as cooked masabacha grains, shakshuka, ground beef, pine nuts, fried onions, mushrooms, and more at restaurants that specialize in Hummus (often referred to as “hummusiot”).

Shawarma, sliced turkey or lamb meat served within a pita, or its bigger cousin lafa, with hummus-chips-salat, is another popular choice. Many additional foods will fit in your pita, such as Me’orav Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite mix), which contains a variety of offal meats, or Schnitzel, a batter-fried chicken breast that is reminiscent of the Viennese original.

The Iraqi sabich, a pita bread filled with a hard boiled egg, batter-dipped deep fried eggplant, hummus, tehini, potatoes, and salad, is another famous street dish.

Kosher food

The ancient Jewish kosher food regulations have had a big impact on Israeli cuisine. The term kosher refers to everything that is permissible under Jewish religious rules, such as food laws. Among other things, kashrut demands full separation of meat and dairy meals, plates, and utensils; only some kinds of fish are kosher, while most’sea foods’ are not; meat must be slaughtered ritually; and all foods must be cooked under strict supervision. Local rabbinical authorities provide kosher restaurants and hotels with a valid, dated certificate; kosher eateries shut for the Sabbath. Because of the meat-and-milk limitations, kosher eateries are labeled either (b’sari, “meat”) or (b’sari, “milk”) (chalavi, dairy). Dairy eateries will also offer fish (which is not considered meat under Jewish law) and egg products. If you see cheeseburgers or pizzas with meat toppings at a kosher restaurant, you can bet they’re prepared with soy or other meat or cheese replacements.

Because most of Israel is secular, both kosher and non-kosher meals and restaurants may be found. In Arab regions, restaurants seldom follow kosher regulations (unless they cater to a mixed clientele), although they often follow Halal laws (the Muslim equivalent).

Most hotels in Israel are kosher, thus breakfast is dairy, and you won’t be able to obtain milk for your coffee or butter for your bread at lunch or dinner (although soy milk and spread are common substitutes). Most large supermarkets offer exclusively kosher goods, although non-kosher supermarkets and convenience shops have sprung up in recent years, thanks in part to the influx of secular Jews from the former Soviet Union. When it comes to restaurants, things differ depending on where you go: in Tel Aviv, a significant percentage of eateries are non-kosher, while in Jerusalem, almost every restaurant is kosher. Keep in mind that eateries that are open on Shabbat cannot be certified kosher. So, although some restaurants offer kosher cuisine without being certified, this does not mean that every establishment claiming to do so is speaking the truth.

The kosher McDonald’s restaurants are one of the attractions for practicing Jewish (and other) visitors. It’s worth noting that the majority of the branches are not kosher, so double-check before purchasing. Burger Ranch, an Israeli burger franchise, has kosher locations. Pizza Hut locations in Israel are kosher and will not sell meat-topped pizzas, while Domino’s locations are not kosher and will provide a toppings menu identical to their Western locations.

One complication with obtaining kosher food is that some scam artists have discovered that selling phony kashrut certifications is a lucrative business. As a result, anybody seeking for kosher food should look for a certificate from a recognized kashrut organization or a certificate from the local rabbinate.

In Modern Hebrew, the word kosher is pronounced kasher, whereas the Hebrew word for “fitness” is Kosher (in Israel, gyms are known as kheder kosher, i.e. fitness room). The roots of the terms are the same: kosher food is food that is “fit” for observant Jews to consume.

Dietary restrictions during Passover

During the seven days of Passover, leavened bread (hametz) — defined as any grain product that has come into touch with moisture and therefore begun to ferment — is prohibited. Some Jews extend the prohibition to include grains and beans. Matza, the notoriously dry and tasteless flatbread, is the most common bread replacement, and you can even buy a matzoburger from McDonalds during Passover.

Prominent local snacks

  • Krembo is a popular Israeli chocolate dessert. It is a combination of the words KREM and BO, which mean “Cream” and “In it,” respectively. It’s made out of a round cookie with cream (usually vanilla, but there’s also a mocha version) on top, everything encased in a chocolate shell. Krembos are fragile and are wrapped in aluminum foil. Due to their propensity to melt in hot temperatures, they are seldom seen in the summer.
  • Bamba is a famous peanut butter-flavored snack that is one of the most popular snack foods in Israel. Because they consume Bamba as children, Israelis have a low incidence of peanut allergies.
  • Bissli is a famous wheat snack that comes in a variety of tastes, including onions, Falafel, and BBQ.

Ethnic food

Many diverse culinary traditions were introduced to Israel by Jews who immigrated from all over the globe. Most of them are currently only available at a few specialized places, so go through the chapters and ask around. Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish), Bulgarian, Turkish, North African, Iraqi, Iranian, and other ethnicities are among the choices. Excellent local Arab food is also available in regions with significant Arab populations, namely in the north of the nation and around Jerusalem.

One dish, on the other hand, is well-known across the Jewish Diaspora. It’s a stew that’s been cooked for several hours over a low fire in Europe and the Middle East and North Africa, and it’s known as Cholent in Europe and Chamin in the Middle East and North Africa. It is typically a Shabbat meal, since it is forbidden to start a fire or cook on the Sabbath. Meat (typically beef or chicken), legumes (chickpeas or beans) and/or rice, eggs, and vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and carrots are all common components. Chamin is available in delicatessens on Friday and is offered at certain restaurants on Saturday.

The majority of Israelis like instant coffee and will order it in restaurants and retail establishments. This coffee is often of excellent quality. Israelis, on the other hand, enjoy a café culture. While popular concoctions like “botz” (mud) coffee, also known as “cafe turki” or Turkish coffee (an inexpensive extra-finely ground coffee, often spiced with cardamom, cooked on a stove and served unfiltered/unstrained), the coffee culture in Israel has refined and the quality has drastically increased in the last couple of decades. Most coffee beverages now use high-quality espresso instead of instant coffee.

There are a number of well-known local coffee chains as well as many small coffee shops. Many Israelis like just sitting and talking with friends while drinking their café latté (the most popular coffee in cafés). Sandwiches and salads are also good options for a light supper. Aroma is Israel’s biggest coffee chain, and their coffee is excellent. There are three sizes of sandwiches to select from, as well as three kinds of bread. Arcaffé is a bit more costly, but some claim their coffee is superior. Elite Coffee, cafe cafe, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Cafe Hillel are some of the other chains (of which some branches are Kosher dairy). Israelis dislike American-style coffee, and Starbucks flopped badly in Israel owing to the locals’ perception of its coffee as inferior.

Vegetarians and vegans

In Israel, vegetarians and vegans should have a simple time eating. Many restaurants offer solely dairy cuisine according to “kashrut” (kosher laws), which makes them popular among vegetarians. Be warned that fish is often served at these establishments. Vegan eateries may also be found in certain areas of the nation. In the Galilee, Amirim is a vegetarian/vegan town with numerous eateries. “Israeli Salad” (also known as Arab or Chopped Salad) is a finely diced tomato and cucumber salad. It’s extremely common and may be found almost anywhere that serves meals.

Drinks in Israel

In Israel, the legal drinking age is 18. It is unlawful to drink and drive, and it is aggressively prosecuted. Between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., the selling of alcohol outside of pubs and restaurants, as well as public drinking, has been banned since 2010.

Beer

Israeli beer comes in three varieties:

  • Goldstar is the most popular Israeli beer in Israel. It is a Munich-style dark draught. KHE-tsi and shlish (Hebrew for “half” and “third”) may be found in 0.5 and 0.3 liter bottles and cans (1 pint and half a pint, respectively), or KHE-tsi and shlish (Hebrew for “half” and “third”). Because Israel utilizes the SI system, the quantity is expressed in litres. It’s also accessible to drink straight from the tap (meh ha-kha-VIT, Hebrew for “from the barrel”). Some believe it goes well with Bissli, a traditional local dish.
  • Maccabee is a lighter and smoother pilsner than Goldstar. It’s available in bottles, cans, and on tap. In Israel, this beer has a poor image for having a horrible flavor. Its formula was recently altered, and the beer is regaining popularity in Israel. Despite this, many pubs refuse to serve it owing to its poor reputation. Be careful that the local Maccabee variety differs from the exporting type in flavor.
  • Nesher – mainly malt, comes in bottles.

There are also Palestinian beers available:

  • Taybeh. — produced at the Middle East’s first microbrewery, “Taybeh Beer Brewery” is located in Taybeh hamlet, only a short cab ride from Ramallah, and is a popular beer with Palestinians, Israelis, and visitors alike. It’s mostly found in Israeli Arab neighborhoods, Jerusalem, and Palestinian towns. Taybeh Brewery provides free tours of its facilities and sells 5 shekel beers on site. Every year during the first week of October, Taybeh village holds its own Oktoberfest-style beer festival. The event drew a large number of international visitors and is becoming more popular.

Several microbrewery companies have recently emerged, and a broad range of boutique beers, including Sins-Brewery, Bazelet, Golda, Laughing Buddha, Asif, Dancing Camel, and many more, may now be available at select alcohol establishments and certain chain retail shops.

Furthermore, a broad range of foreign brands, some of which are locally brewed, are accessible across Israel. Heineken, Carlsberg, and Tuborg are among the most popular beers.

Liqueurs

Arak is a popular liquor in Israel. It’s clear and anise-flavored, akin to Pastis or Aguardiente from Colombia. It’s typically served in a 0.3-liter glass with an equal quantity of water and ice. Some people like to drink it with grapefruit juice. Arak is often stored in the freezer. Aluf Ha-Arak and Elit Ha-Arak (both from the same distillery) are two popular brands, with the former having a greater alcohol per volume and the later having a stronger anise taste. Although the amount is somewhat different, the pricing is also varied.

Wines

There are many large vineyards in the area, as well as a rising number of boutique vineyards, some of which are of excellent quality.

Soft drinks

Most common Western soft drinks are accessible, and many have local variations that aren’t all that dissimilar in flavor. Coca-Cola, RC Cola, and PepsiCo are all actively competing for the soft drink industry. Cola aficionados believe Israeli Coca-Cola is sweeter and more genuine than other brands because it is produced with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup. Tempo (not to be confused with Tempo Industries, Ltd., which brews most Israeli beer and bottles most soft drinks, including the local Pepsi) and Super Drink are dirt-cheap local versions with bizarre flavors.

The general term for Coke or Pepsi is “cola,” which typically refers to Coca-Cola; if the establishment offers Pepsi, they will usually inquire if it is okay. Also, “soda” is not a generic term for carbonated soft drinks; it usually refers to “soda water.”

There are a few more genuine soft drinks to choose from:

  • Tropit is a low-cost fruit-flavored beverage that is typically grape. It’s packaged in a durable aluminum-like bag with a straw. The straw is used to puncture a hole in the bag through which you may drink. A highly portable (until holed) drink that has become in popularity in summer camps. The straw should be placed into a designated location in the newer kinds. Even then, if you are from the United States, it may take some effort to insert the straw without the juice squirting out; it is similar to the Israeli version of “Capri Sun.”
  • Chocolate milk — a variety of sterilized chocolate milk (SHO-ko) brands are available in plastic bags and small cartons. The milk is sucked out when the bag’s tip is bitten or cut off. It is extremely portable (albeit not as much as Tropit owing to its milky nature) until opened, after which it is difficult to reseal. It’s worth noting that chocolate milk in a bag is typically served cold, and warming it would be a terrible idea.
  • Spring Nectar is a fruit-flavored beverage available in cans or 1.5-liter bottles. Most supermarkets, convenience shops, and gas stations, as well as many take-out restaurants, sell it. It’s available in a variety of flavors, including peach, mango, and strawberry.
  • Prigat is a fruit-flavored beverage sold in plastic bottles. Is available in almost every supermarket, gas station, and small shop in Israel. It comes in a variety of tastes, including grape, orange, apple, tomato, and a few more unusual ones.
  • Primor is a fruit juice that is sold in plastic bottles. Almost everywhere sells it. It comes in a variety of tastes, the most common of which being citrus and apples.

Money & Shopping in Israel

Money in Israel

The New Israeli Shekel is the Israeli currency (NIS). ILS is an ISO 4217 code. It’s also known as a Shekel (plural: Shkalim) or Sha-ch. Agorot are split into 100 shekels. The shekel is represented by the letters or. The symbol is put before the quantity in Israeli articles, although Hebrew signage and publications may display it otherwise. Israel is progressively introducing a new bill design, with the old and new designs coexisting at the moment. Polypropylene is used in newer notes, making them more difficult to shred or tear. The new 50 shekel bill, in particular, features hues that are comparable to the old 20 shekel bill.

The following banknotes are in use: 200 (blue or red), 100 (brown), 50 (violet or green), and 20 (yellow or green) (green).

Paying for minor expenses with big bills is frowned upon; if you must, apologize excessively.

Coins in circulation: 10 agorot (copper core, nickel rim), 5 agorot (nickel), 2 agorot (nickel), 1 agorot (nickel), 50 agorot (copper), 10 agorot (copper) (copper).

ATMs may be found almost everywhere. All types of credit cards are readily accepted. Note that an ATM’s display of the Visa logo does not necessarily imply that it accepts all kinds of Visa cards; at the present, only Bank Leumi ATMs seem to handle Chip-and-Pin cards (the rest use the magnetic stripe).

When leaving the nation, you may obtain a VAT refund, but expect to wait in line at the airport. Furthermore, VAT refunds are only granted for individual receipts totaling more than 400 shekels and are subject to a few additional restrictions. Eilat is a VAT-free city for both residents and visitors, although it is typically more costly to begin with since it is a resort city. Please check the Ministry of Finance’s VAT refund rules and the Israel Post website, which is currently processing the return.

Some tourist destinations, especially Jerusalem, take US dollars at an approximate conversion rate of 3.5 to the US dollar. You are most likely being conned if you are requested for cash in dollars or euros.

Prices in Israel

Israel’s living and travel expenses are nearly identical to those in Western Europe, North America, and Australia, making it the most ‘expensive’ nation in the Middle East outside of the Gulf.

Pitzukhiot (little food kiosks) provide a variety of foods such as freshly roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, and melon seeds, as well as soft drinks, cigarettes, and sweets. Take notice that a soft drink can costs between 5 and 10 shekels, while a 0.5L bottle costs around one shekel more than a can. Prices in tourist sections of large towns, particularly tourist destinations like Eilat, may be as much as 20 shekels per 0.5L bottle, but a short stroll will frequently uncover more local shops where you can get six 1.5L bottles for as little as 32 shekels. In reality, a six-pack of 2L “Ein Gedi” bottles may be purchased for a fixed price of 12 shekels.

A shawarma in Lafa should cost about 24-30 shekels (drink not included), whereas a typical dinner at a burger chain (McDonald’s, Burger King, and the local Burger Ranch) should cost at least 35 shekels—and there are no “free refills” anyplace in the nation.

Restaurants have a high level of taste and decor; a first course costs 25–45 shekels, a main meal 50–100 shekels (excellent meat costs 80–150 shekels), and desserts cost 25–35 shekels. Soft drinks are quite expensive, costing between $10 and $12 for an average-sized glass without refills. In Israeli restaurants, bottles of wine are often extremely costly, costing between $100 and $300 for ordinary wine.

Tipping in Israel

Tipping is uncommon outside of the food sector.

Tipping is customary at restaurants and bars. In certain Nargila (Shisha/hooka) establishments, there are optional “security costs” that are added to the bill; you may choose whether or not to pay them. In the unlikely event of an assault, this covers the expense of employing an armed guard at the bar. Israelis seldom pay this, although visitors are often unaware that it is not required.

Taxi drivers in Israel are not tipped. It’s possible that a dishonest driver may attempt to mislead you into tipping, but this will never succeed with a local.

  • Restaurants – Tip 10%-15%. 15%-20% is considered a generous tip.
  • Hotel staff – No tipping.
  • Tour guides – 10% – 15% of the daily rate.
  • Bartenders – Tip 10%-15%. 15% is considered a generous tip.
  • Hair – No tipping.
  • Moving – Tipping is optional, usually up to 5% (but often expected depending on the amount of work).
  • Food delivery – Tip 5 shekels.
  • Groceries delivery – No tipping.
  • Other deliveries – No tipping.
  • Handymen – No tipping.
  • Taxi drivers – No tipping.

Business hours in Israel

On average, Israelis work five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday. Although schools are open Friday morning, Friday and Saturday are designated weekends.

Most businesses in Jewish communities are closed on the Sabbath (“Shabbat”), which runs from sunset on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Friday businesses are open, however they shut about 14:30-15:00 to give enough time to go home before sunset, with some shops closing as early as 12:00. Many stores, particularly those in shopping malls, will reopen on Saturday evening, about 19:00 in the winter and 20:30 in the summer. On Saturdays, certain businesses, particularly those outside of city boundaries or in tourist regions, as well as 24-hour convenience stores, stay open. Shops in Arab communities are often open seven days a week.

Malls and main shopping avenues have stores open from 09:30 to 21:00 every day. Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller businesses, adhere to standard business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a lunch break between 13:00 and 16:00 p.m., so double-check.

Markets are known for opening and closing early.

Bargaining in Israel

Bargaining is still common in Israel, but it is less so than in the past. Unfortunately, foreigners often struggle to understand when negotiating is expected and acceptable. A general rule of thumb: Bargain with sales representatives, exorbitant pricing, or no prices listed. Anything that seems to be established or corporate should be avoided. Although negotiating a better deal or asking freebies from communication providers (mobile phone, internet, etc.) and the like is often an option!

Bargaining is prevalent in bazaars and rural marketplaces, although it is subtle. Strenuous negotiating, which is frequent in poor nations, will almost certainly lead to nothing and is thus inappropriate. Don’t negotiate for sport if you’ve been offered a reasonable price—frowned it’s upon.

It’s normal to haggle with salespeople at stores (for example, in an electric appliance store). For the aim of negotiating, sticker prices are inflated. Before making a purchase, it is important to compare offers and determine the actual market price. Zap is a popular price comparison service.

In tiny mom-and-pop businesses that offer low-cost goods, bargaining is inappropriate.

It’s usual to haggle with independent service providers (technicians, plumbers, movers, and handymen). It isn’t the case with service providers who aren’t self-employed (hired employees).

Bargaining at stores with posted pricing when you are not interacting with a salesperson is unprofessional and will result in puzzled stares. This includes corporate retailers (such as McDonald’s), most mall stores (without sales representatives), and almost all companies that a visitor interacts with (excluding travel agencies): lodging, transportation, and food (including food stands in markets). If you only ask, several entertainment venues and most activity operators (particularly those that specialize in extreme sports) would gladly offer you a substantial discount.

If you’re bringing a big group to a club or pub, you may be able to negotiate a discount before the party arrives. Bargaining won’t earn you anything significant if you’re already there.

Prices in tourist traps like Jerusalem’s Old City may often be haggled down to as little as 25% of the stated price. When purchasing several products rather than a single item, it is usually simpler to negotiate a better price.

When purchasing bigger goods (such as electronics), paying in cash may frequently result in a 3 percent discount, with further discounts depending on your bargaining skills.

Negotiating fares with taxi drivers is feasible, but seldom to your benefit. If they don’t already use the meter (moneh) as required by law, it’s preferable to teach them to do so.

Many shops have ceased posting actual pricing since the internet coupon frenzy began in 2010, and you may obtain a totally different price just by asking for a discount (“yesh hanacha?” – “Is there a discount?”) or bringing in a coupon you saw on an online coupon site. It’s fairly uncommon to get price reductions of up to 50%. By 2013, the tendency had largely subsided.

Souvenirs in Israel

Israeli wine, kosher goods, t-shirts, and diamonds are all available. Israel is, without a doubt, one of the finest places to buy Judaica and Christian pilgrim souvenirs.

While buying antiquities from a limited number of government-licensed merchants is allowed, exporting antiquities from Israel is absolutely prohibited unless the Israel Antiquities Authority gives formal permission.

Festivals & Holidays in Israel

  • Shabbat
    Many businesses and transportation organizations are closed on “Shabbat,” which runs from Friday afternoon through Saturday night, and many locations do not reopen or resume service until Sunday morning. The same is true for important Jewish or national holidays, so be sure to prepare ahead.
  • Weekends and Public Holidays
    Depending on the festival or holiday, various degrees of activity will cease in Israel, and different regions will experience varying levels of activity on certain days. On most holidays, public transit is entirely shut down. In Israel, holidays are observed according to the Jewish calendar, which means that the Gregorian date varies from year to year, but it tends to occur within a 6-week period. A new day starts at sunset in Jewish custom, thus Jewish festivals begin on the eve of the official date (not at midnight).

Official national holidays in Israel

  • Between September 5 and October 5, the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) occurs.
  • Fast The Day of Gedaliah (Tsom Gedalyah ben Ahikam) occurs two days after Rosh Hashanah begins (New Year)
  • Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) occurs between September and October. Everything grinds to a stop on this holiest day in the Jewish calendar: all companies, banking, shopping, entertainment, restaurants, public and private transportation, and so on. The streets of secular towns are flooded with children riding bicycles, rollerblades, and skateboards. The mobility of emergency vehicles is restricted.
  • Between September 19 and October 19, the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) (Sukkot) takes place. Only the first and final days are national holidays, although there is considerable interruption on the days in between.
  • Between September and October, the Assembly of the Eighth Day (Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret) takes place. On the previous evening, street festivals and dancing are popular in most cities and towns.
  • The 5th of November is Yitzhak Rabin’s Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron le Yitzhak Rabin). It is a day of remembrance.
  • Between November 27 and December 27, the Feast of Lights (Hanukkah or’re-dedication’) takes place. It is observed rather than observed as a holiday, and is commemorated by lighting an extra candle each evening until all eight branches of the Hanukkyah are lighted, as well as consuming suvganiot, jelly doughnuts.
  • Tevet’s Tenth Fast (Tsom Asarah b-Tevet)
  • The New Year of the Trees (Tu Bi’shvat) occurs between 24 February and 26 March. The Fast of Esther (Taanit Ester) Memorial Feast for the Triumph of Esther (Purim) falls between 24 February and 26 March (between 25 February and 27 March in Jerusalem.) On this day, children and adults dress up in costumes, and street parades are popular. Purim is observed one day later in Jerusalem than in the rest of Israel, and is known as Shushan Purim.
  • Between the 26th of March and the 25th of April is Passover (Pesach) (Only the first and last days are national holidays, however there may be some disruption during the intermediate days). During this week, no leavened bread or grain items are sold or offered in most locations (including beer and some alcohols).
  • Between 1 April and 1 May, the seventh day of Passover (Shvi’i shel Pesach) falls.
  • Between 7 April and 7 May is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaZikaron LaShoah VeLaGevurah). At 10:00 a.m., air raid sirens blast throughout the nation, and the whole country observes a minute of silence in honor of Holocaust victims. On this day and its eve, all places of amusement are closed.
  • Between the 14th and 14th of April, Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron) is observed. On the eve and in the morning, air raid sirens sound, and the whole nation observes a minute of silence in honor of the country’s dead troops and terror attack victims.
  • Independence Day (Yom Ha-Atzmaut) is celebrated on the 15th of April or 15th of May. On the eve, there are large street festivals, city-wide celebrations, and fireworks displays. Sightseeing and picnics are common ways to commemorate the day.
  • On the eve of the 33rd day of the Omer (Lag Ba’omer), bonfires are popular.
  • Parades and celebrations are held in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day (Yom Herut Yerushalayim).
  • Pentecost (Shavuot) occurs between May 15 and June 14.
  • Tsom Shiva Asar b-Tammuz (Tsom Shiva Asar b-Tammuz) is a fast observed on the seventeenth day of Tammuz.
  • The Tisha B’Av fast commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples on the Ninth of Av.
  • The fifteenth of Av (Tu B’Av) is a Jewish holiday. Love Festival is a celebration of love.

Tipping in Israel

Tipping is uncommon outside of the food sector.

Tipping is customary at restaurants and bars. In certain Nargila (Shisha/hooka) establishments, there are optional “security costs” that are added to the bill; you may choose whether or not to pay them. In the unlikely event of an assault, this covers the expense of employing an armed guard at the bar. Israelis seldom pay this, although visitors are often unaware that it is not required.

Taxi drivers in Israel are not tipped. It’s possible that a dishonest driver may attempt to mislead you into tipping, but this will never succeed with a local.

  • Restaurants – Tip 10%-15%. 15%-20% is considered a generous tip.
  • Hotel staff – No tipping.
  • Tour guides – 10% – 15% of the daily rate.
  • Bartenders – Tip 10%-15%. 15% is considered a generous tip.
  • Hair – No tipping.
  • Moving – Tipping is optional, usually up to 5% (but often expected depending on the amount of work).
  • Food delivery – Tip 5 shekels.
  • Groceries delivery – No tipping.
  • Other deliveries – No tipping.
  • Handymen – No tipping.
  • Taxi drivers – No tipping.

Business hours in Israel

On average, Israelis work five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday. Although schools are open Friday morning, Friday and Saturday are designated weekends.

Most businesses in Jewish communities are closed on the Sabbath (“Shabbat”), which runs from sunset on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Friday businesses are open, however they shut about 14:30-15:00 to give enough time to go home before sunset, with some shops closing as early as 12:00. Many stores, particularly those in shopping malls, will reopen on Saturday evening, about 19:00 in the winter and 20:30 in the summer. On Saturdays, certain businesses, particularly those outside of city boundaries or in tourist regions, as well as 24-hour convenience stores, stay open. Shops in Arab communities are often open seven days a week.

Malls and main shopping avenues have stores open from 09:30 to 21:00 every day. Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller businesses, adhere to standard business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a lunch break between 13:00 and 16:00 p.m., so double-check.

Markets are known for opening and closing early.

Bargaining in Israel

Bargaining is still common in Israel, but it is less so than in the past. Unfortunately, foreigners often struggle to understand when negotiating is expected and acceptable. A general rule of thumb: Bargain with sales representatives, exorbitant pricing, or no prices listed. Anything that seems to be established or corporate should be avoided. Although negotiating a better deal or asking freebies from communication providers (mobile phone, internet, etc.) and the like is often an option!

Bargaining is prevalent in bazaars and rural marketplaces, although it is subtle. Strenuous negotiating, which is frequent in poor nations, will almost certainly lead to nothing and is thus inappropriate. Don’t negotiate for sport if you’ve been offered a reasonable price—frowned it’s upon.

It’s normal to haggle with salespeople at stores (for example, in an electric appliance store). For the aim of negotiating, sticker prices are inflated. Before making a purchase, it is important to compare offers and determine the actual market price. Zap is a popular price comparison service.

In tiny mom-and-pop businesses that offer low-cost goods, bargaining is inappropriate.

It’s usual to haggle with independent service providers (technicians, plumbers, movers, and handymen). It isn’t the case with service providers who aren’t self-employed (hired employees).

Bargaining at stores with posted pricing when you are not interacting with a salesperson is unprofessional and will result in puzzled stares. This includes corporate retailers (such as McDonald’s), most mall stores (without sales representatives), and almost all companies that a visitor interacts with (excluding travel agencies): lodging, transportation, and food (including food stands in markets). If you only ask, several entertainment venues and most activity operators (particularly those that specialize in extreme sports) would gladly offer you a substantial discount.

If you’re bringing a big group to a club or pub, you may be able to negotiate a discount before the party arrives. Bargaining won’t earn you anything significant if you’re already there.

Prices in tourist traps like Jerusalem’s Old City may often be haggled down to as little as 25% of the stated price. When purchasing several products rather than a single item, it is usually simpler to negotiate a better price.

When purchasing bigger goods (such as electronics), paying in cash may frequently result in a 3 percent discount, with further discounts depending on your bargaining skills.

Negotiating fares with taxi drivers is feasible, but seldom to your benefit. If they don’t already use the meter (moneh) as required by law, it’s preferable to teach them to do so.

Many shops have ceased posting actual pricing since the internet coupon frenzy began in 2010, and you may obtain a totally different price just by asking for a discount (“yesh hanacha?” – “Is there a discount?”) or bringing in a coupon you saw on an online coupon site. It’s fairly uncommon to get price reductions of up to 50%. By 2013, the tendency had largely subsided.

Souvenirs in Israel

Israeli wine, kosher goods, t-shirts, and diamonds are all available. Israel is, without a doubt, one of the finest places to buy Judaica and Christian pilgrim souvenirs.

While buying antiquities from a limited number of government-licensed merchants is allowed, exporting antiquities from Israel is absolutely prohibited unless the Israel Antiquities Authority gives formal permission.

Traditions & Customs in Israel

Although Israel is a relatively liberal nation with a western perspective, certain limitations should be followed in religiously heated situations or when among specific kinds of religious (Jewish or Muslim) adherents. Those with bare legs (i.e. wearing shorts or short skirts) or ladies with exposed upper arms will usually be denied entry to certain synagogues, most churches, and all mosques.

Before entering mosques or synagogues, women may be refused entrance or required to don a robe. Bring a wrap or a change of clothing with you. You must also remove your shoes before entering a mosque. In a synagogue, as well as in the prayers portion of the Western Wall, men should cover their heads. Outside of religiously important places, people dress casually and freely. Israeli women are known for their ability to dress to please, and they are generally successful.

For many, the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the Holocaust/Shoah and much of Jewish history in general, is an emotive subject. (It’s particularly important to honor the Holocaust/Shoah since many Israelis are grandchildren of survivors, and most, if not all, of Israel’s Ashkenazi (European) Jews, who make up half of the Jewish population, lost family members during the Holocaust.) Most individuals, both Israelis and Arabs, would, on the other hand, be delighted to answer your inquiries. Furthermore, one should generally avoid making disparaging comments about Judaism or the Quran to devout Israelis or Muslims. It’s discourteous and may get you into trouble!

Israelis are sometimes compared to the prickly pear, also known as the sabra, which is rough and prickly on the exterior yet sweet and soft on the inside. In other areas of the globe, Israelis are straightforward in a manner that may seem abrupt, even harsh. Do not be upset; Israelis do not want to offend or disrespect anybody. Directness and honesty are often favored above politeness and the appearance of pleasantness. Direct personal inquiries are frequent and should not be seen as rude.

The information that Israelis gather about you is intended to assist you rather than to create traps for you. Israelis are used to battling for their right to exist and must contend with familial, religious, military, and other Israeli forces. Debates and discussions that are loud and passionate are socially acceptable and should not be interpreted as hostile. Israelis are usually wary of being labeled a frier, which is frequently translated as “sucker,” and refers to someone who overpays, waits in line silently as others rush by, and is generally taken advantage of rather than sticking up for oneself.

Israelis, on the other hand, are very kind and welcoming. Strangers would happily aid you and will go out of their way to assist a lost or curious visitor, often overloading you with advice and inquiries. If you make a friend here, they will do all in their power to look after you while you’re in their nation. Foreign tourists are cherished and treated with the greatest respect by the natives. As a demonstration of their own national pride and respect for visitors, many will even take you around certain parts of Israel.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, sirens ring and the whole nation draws to a halt to salute the millions of Jews and others who perished in the Holocaust. You, as a guest, should also be respectful.

Culture Of Israel

Israel’s varied culture is a result of its diversified population: Jews from across the globe have returned to Israel, bringing their cultural and religious traditions with them, resulting in a melting pot of Jewish practices and beliefs. Israel is the only nation in the world where the Hebrew calendar is followed. The Jewish holidays define work and school vacations, and Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, is the official day of rest. The Arab minority in Israel has left its mark on Israeli culture in areas such as architecture, music, and food.

Literature

Although a minor corpus of writing is produced in other languages, such as English, Israeli literature is mainly poetry and prose written in Hebrew, as part of the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language from the mid-19th century. All printed materials published in Israel is required by law to be deposited in the National Library of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in two copies. The legislation was changed in 2001 to cover audio and video recordings as well as other non-print media. In 2013, the library received 7,863 volumes, 91 percent of which were in Hebrew. Every June, the Hebrew Book Week takes place throughout the nation, with book fairs, public readings, and appearances by Israeli writers. The Sapir Prize, Israel’s highest literary prize, is given throughout the week.

Shmuel Yosef Agnon and German Jewish novelist Nelly Sachs won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.

Yehuda Amichai, Nathan Alterman, and Rachel Bluwstein have all been prominent Israeli poets. Amos Oz, Etgar Keret, and David Grossman are among the most well-known modern Israeli writers. Sayed Kashua, an Israeli-Arab humorist who writes in Hebrew, is also well-known worldwide. Emile Habibi, whose book The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist and other works earned him the Israel Prize for Arabic Literature, and Mahmoud Darwish, who is widely regarded as “the Palestinian national poet,” have both lived and worked in Israel. Darwish was born and reared in northern Israel, but after joining the Palestine Liberation Organization, he spent his adult life overseas.

Music and dance

Israeli music incorporates musical influences from across the globe, including Sephardic music, Hasidic melodies, belly dance music, Greek music, jazz, and mainstream rock. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which has been performing for almost seventy years and currently plays over two hundred performances each year, is one of Israel’s most famous orchestras. Israel has also produced a number of notable musicians, some of whom have achieved worldwide acclaim. Internationally renowned artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Ofra Haza were all born in Israel. Since 1973, Israel has competed in the Eurovision Song Contest almost every year, winning three times and hosting it twice. Since 1987, Eilat has hosted the Red Sea Jazz Event, an annual international jazz festival.

The canonical folk songs of Israel, known as “Songs of the Land of Israel,” are about the pioneers’ experiences in establishing the Jewish state. Early Jewish immigrants brought the Hora circle dance, which became popular in Kibbutzim and surrounding villages. It became a symbol of Zionist rebuilding and the capacity to find pleasure in the face of adversity. It is now an important part of contemporary Israeli folk dancing, and it is often seen at weddings and other festivities, as well as in group dances throughout the country. Modern dance is a thriving industry in Israel, and a number of Israeli choreographers, like Ohad Naharin, Rami Beer, Barak Marshall, and others, are regarded as among the most varied and creative worldwide artists working today. The Batsheva Dance Company and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company are two well-known Israeli dance organizations.

Many Palestinian artists live in Israel, including Taiseer Elias, an internationally renowned oud and violin player, vocalist Amal Murkus, and brothers Samir and Wissam Joubran. Israeli Arab artists have gained international acclaim: Elias and Murkus perform regularly in Europe and America, and oud musician Darwish Darwish (Prof. Elias’s pupil) won first place in an all-Arab oud competition in Egypt in 2003. Taiseer Elias, the director of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance’s advanced degree program in Arabic music.

Cinema and theatre

Since Israel’s founding, ten Israeli films have been final candidates for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Ajami, a film from Israel, was nominated for the third time in a row. Palestinian Israeli filmmakers have produced a number of films dealing with the Arab-Israel conflict and the situation of Palestinians in Israel, including Mohammed Bakri’s Jenin, Jenin and The Syrian Bride, which was released in 2002.

Israel has a thriving theatre culture, carrying on the rich theatrical traditions of Yiddish theatre in Eastern Europe. Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv, founded in 1918, is Israel’s oldest repertory theatrical company and national theater.

Media

According to Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, Israel was rated 96th out of 180 countries in 2014, second only to Kuwait (at 91) in the Middle East and North Africa area. Israel was rated as the Middle East and North Africa’s sole free country in the 2013 Freedom in the World annual survey and report, which tries to assess the degree of democracy and political freedom in every nation.

Museums

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem contains the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as a large collection of Judaica and European art. It is one of Israel’s most significant cultural institutions. Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum, is the world’s primary repository of Holocaust-related data. On the Tel Aviv University campus, Beth Hatefutsoth (the Diaspora Museum) is an interactive museum dedicated to the history of Jewish communities throughout the globe. Many villages and kibbutzim have high-quality artspaces in addition to the main museums in big cities. The Mishkan Le’Omanut on Kibbutz Ein Harod Meuhad is the country’s biggest art museum.

Several Israeli museums, notably the Rockefeller Museum and the L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art, both in Jerusalem, are dedicated to Islamic culture. The Rockefeller focuses on archaeology from the Ottoman Empire and other Middle Eastern eras. Galilee Man, the earliest hominid fossil skull discovered in Western Asia, was discovered there. The Israel Museum has a cast of the skull on exhibit.

Cuisine

Israeli cuisine comprises both native foods and those introduced to the nation by Jewish diaspora immigration. Israeli fusion cuisine has evolved since the state’s founding in 1948, especially since the late 1970s. Approximately half of Israel’s Jewish population claims to maintain kosher at home. Though kosher restaurants were uncommon in the 1960s, they now account for around a quarter of all eateries, possibly reflecting the mainly secular attitudes of people who dine out. Kosher cuisine is considerably more likely to be served in hotel restaurants. The non-kosher retail sector was formerly limited, but it expanded quickly and significantly in the 1990s as a result of the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia. Pork, often known as “white meat” in Israel, is produced and eaten alongside non-kosher fish, rabbits, and ostriches, despite the fact that it is prohibited by both Judaism and Islam.

Israeli cuisine has adapted aspects of different Jewish culinary types, especially Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi cooking methods, as well as Moroccan Jewish, Iraqi Jewish, Ethiopian Jewish, Indian Jewish, Iranian Jewish, and Yemeni Jewish influences. Many classic Arab, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes, such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, couscous, and za’atar, have become staples in Israeli cuisine. In Israel, schnitzel, pizza, hamburgers, French fries, rice, and salad are all popular.

Sports

Since their first victory in 1992, Israel has won nine Olympic medals, including a gold medal in windsurfing in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Israel has won over 100 gold medals in the Paralympic Games and is now placed 15th all-time in terms of medals. Israel hosted the Summer Paralympics in 1968. The Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style competition for Jewish and Israeli athletes, began in the 1930s and have taken place every four years since then.

Basketball and association football are the most popular spectator sports in Israel. The Israeli Premier League and the Israeli Basketball Super League are the country’s top football and basketball leagues, respectively. The biggest sporting clubs are Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv, and Beitar Jerusalem. Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, and Hapoel Tel Aviv have all played in the UEFA Champions League, with Hapoel Tel Aviv reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. Six times, Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. has won the European basketball title. The nation was selected to host the official 2017 EuroBasket in 2016.

Israel hosted and won the Asian Nations Cup in 1964, and the Israeli national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first and only time in 1970. The 1974 Asian Games in Tehran were the last Asian Games in which Israel competed, and they were marred by Arab nations’ refusal to compete alongside Israel. Israel was barred from competing in Asian sporting competitions after being banned from the 1978 Asian Games. Israel was admitted to UEFA in 1994, and Israeli soccer teams now play in Europe.

Chess is a popular sport in Israel, with players of all ages participating. Many Israeli grandmasters exist, and Israeli chess players have won many world championships at the young level. Israel hosts an international chess tournament every year and hosted the World Team Chess Championship in 2005. The Ministry of Education and the World Chess Federation collaborated on an initiative to teach chess in Israeli schools, and some schools have already implemented it. Beersheba has become a national chess hub, with the game being taught in kindergartens across the city. It has the most chess grandmasters of any city in the planet, thanks in part to Soviet immigration. The Israeli chess team won silver in the 2008 Chess Olympiad and bronze in the 2010 Olympiad, finishing third out of 148 teams. Boris Gelfand, an Israeli grandmaster, won the Chess World Cup in 2009 and the Candidates Tournament in 2011 to earn the opportunity to challenge the world champion. Only a speed-chess tie breaker separated him from defending world champion Anand in the 2012 World Chess Championship.

On January 31, 2011, Israeli tennis champion Shahar Pe’er was ranked 11th in the world. The Israeli security forces and police utilize Krav Maga, a combat technique created by Jewish ghetto defenders during the fight against Nazism in Europe. It has gained worldwide acclaim and devotion because to its efficacy and practical approach to self-defense.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Israel

Stay Safe in Israel

Crime and terrorism

What to do when a rocket siren sounds
Hamas and other Gaza-based groups have often launched missiles towards Israel. In the past, Hezbollah in Lebanon has fired rockets, and a few have strayed into the Israeli-controlled portion of the Golan Heights from Syria’s ongoing civil conflict. However, Israel has developed a new system known as the Iron Dome, which launches missiles in order to intercept rockets. It is critical to understand that it does not always intercept rockets, since some have slipped through and struck their objectives. To remain safe, you must know what you’re doing to avoid being blasted by a rocket. When a siren sounds, you must seek refuge in a safe location. If there is no nearby shelter, go to a building and get as far away from windows and other delicate items as possible. If there is no structure nearby, lay down on your stomach with your hands on your head. Make certain that the rocket siren is not confused with the Holocaust Remembrance Day siren. As a result, double-check the calendar.

Travel to Israel is generally secure, especially when there is no conflict between Israel and Hezbollah or Palestinian terrorists, and most crime rates are considerably below those seen in most other Western nations. Having said that, Palestinian terrorist organizations have been targeting buses and bus stations since the early 1990s. Bombings of buses and bus stops became uncommon after the West Bank security barrier was built in 2005, but some Palestinians have lately driven automobiles or other vehicles into people waiting for the Jerusalem Light Rail, for example. However, the odds of getting engaged in a traffic accident are much greater than the chances of being involved in an assault.

It is nevertheless a good idea to keep up with developments both before and during your visit. Caution is especially advised in contested regions and places bordering the Gaza Strip, notably in the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been targeted by rockets fired from the Strip, as well as on and near the Jerusalem Light Rail. Notify the police if you notice someone behaving suspiciously or discover an unattended package. Also, never leave a bag alone in a public place, since it may be mistaken for a bomb.

Israeli police use light blue or very dark navy uniforms with flat hats, while Israeli Border Police (similar in function to the Gendarmerie) wear dark grey uniforms with green berets or police ball caps. It is not uncommon to see troops (and sometimes civilians) carrying weapons (military rifles and pistols) in public. The vast majority of these troops are merely on leave from their bases. Soldiers have no power over people, except in specifically defined zones like borders or military bases, where they may hold you until a police officer arrives.

Israel is a highly safe nation in terms of ordinary crime. Israel has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. You may wander around cities and towns at night without worry since muggings and drunken violence are uncommon. Single women, in particular, should exercise caution late at night, although the dangers are much lower than almost everywhere else in Europe and America.

Private armed security guards are widespread (and even mandated by law) at every public entry (for malls, stores, restaurants, etc.). The guards may search your luggage and use a metal detector on your body. When entering underground parking garages, your vehicle’s trunk will be examined. Do not be alarmed: this is just a matter of national policy. If you’re carrying a large bag, you can usually get away with simply presenting your passport, and the guards will be just as relieved as you are.

As demonstrated by the Israeli–Lebanese conflict in 2006, a visitor should constantly be aware of Israel’s ties with its neighbors. Despite the present truce, there is a minimal risk of the war resuming. Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively, have stable relations with Israel. The border between the Israeli-ruled part of the Golan Heights and Syria has also been generally quiet since 1974, but there have been recent attempts by Hezbollah to place missile batteries in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan Heights, and some stray rockets from Syria’s civil war have hit the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights.

Fighting and hostilities restarted in the Gaza Strip in mid-2014, confirming that any travel to the Gaza Strip region should be avoided at this time, and in the past, numerous notable foreigners (including volunteers) have been abducted by armed militants during escalations. Keep in mind that Israel does not permit travel to the Gaza Strip; the only route in is via Egypt.

Also, be warned that, as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Muslim-Jewish disagreements over the status of the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif, violent confrontations may sometimes erupt in and around that holy site, with stones being hurled at Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below. Before visiting the section of Jerusalem’s Old City, check the weather.

In desert and rural areas

The southern Israel desert area has excellent hiking routes in a gorgeous environment with certain unique geological characteristics that are not found anywhere else in the world. However, if you are new to desert trekking, do not go without an experienced hiker, appropriate equipment and clothing, enough of water, and the essential safeguards. Dehydration on hot days, hypothermia on chilly nights, and flash floods on rainy days all pose significant risks!

Hiking paths in southern Israel (including the Golan) are next to military firing ranges. Do not trek in this area if you are unsure where you are heading. These shooting zones are shown on official hiking maps.

Similarly, while trekking or leaving the roads, particularly near border regions, be cautious of standing and/or collapsed fences with a notice (yellow with a red triangle on it). Because of the potential of land mines, some locations are deemed off-limits. They may have been placed by the Turks, the British, the Vichy French, the Druze, the Israelis, the Lebanese army, the Lebanese Militias, the PLO, or the Syrians (Golan Heights, Lebanese border). It may take another century to clean up all of those places.

Gay and lesbian travel

Homosexuality is allowed in Israel, unlike in many other areas of the Middle East. In reality, some gains in homosexual rights occurred in Israel before they occurred in a number of other “Western” nations, including the United States. Attitudes toward homosexuality vary depending on where you travel, but in general, Israel is regarded safe for homosexuals and lesbians, since violence is uncommon and open opposition is mainly limited to certain areas of Jerusalem and/or religious communities.

All three main cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa) have an annual “Pride” march, while the yearly Love Parade in Tel Aviv draws a large crowd. Though Jerusalem has an annual pride parade, openly homosexual individuals are uncommon in the city, and you should avoid publicly displaying your sexual orientation in most public locations in Jerusalem or other obviously religious sites. In general, avoid blatant or provocative public displays of gay love or discussion in Jerusalem. While anything severe is unlikely to happen to you, it will certainly attract attention and identify you as a “tourist.”

Tel Aviv, on the other side, is extremely liberal and gay-friendly. It is usual to witness same-sex couples kissing in public places. Tel Aviv was named the world’s top gay vacation destination for 2012 in a poll conducted by American Airlines and GayCities.com, and with good reason: there are numerous LGBT friendly venues around the city, which is regarded a bastion of Israel’s homosexual population. The evenings of Tel Aviv are filled with hundreds of passionate, lively taverns, bars, and dance clubs that stay open till morning. The city is busy in all sectors of entertainment and is highly recommended for visitors seeking for interesting nightlife in general, and especially thrilling gay nightlife. After all, there is a rationale for the ancient saying “Jerusalem prays, Haifa works, and Tel Aviv dances.”

Emergency phone numbers

  • Police (mish-ta-RA) — 100
  • Ambulance Service (“Magen David Adom”-MADA, literally “Red Star of David”) — 101
  • Fire department (me-kha-BEY ESH) — 102

Stay Healthy in Israel

There are no particular medical problems in Israel, and no vaccinations other than the standard regular vaccines are required for travel. Although rabies is not a significant danger for most tourists, the CDC recommends this vaccination for individuals who participate in outdoor and other activities in remote locations that expose them to animal bites (such as adventure travel and caving). Hepatitis A and B vaccinations may also be required. Travelers visiting the West Bank and Gaza should seriously consider being vaccinated against typhoid. Typhoid may be acquired via contaminated food or water. Typhoid vaccination is not often advised for those who are just visiting Israel.

All large cities have pharmacies and hospitals, and emergency and health treatment is of extremely high Western standards. All medical staff, including pharmacists, speak sufficient English. In Israeli pharmacies, “over-the-counter” medication is just that: over-the-counter. If you have any questions, ask the pharmacist. Travel health insurance is strongly advised; although all Israelis are protected by the national health insurance system, foreigners will be required to pay for any treatment obtained in public hospitals or clinics.

All of Israel’s tap water is drinkable and completely safe to drink, both in cities and in rural areas. Avoid taps in cultivated fields (for example, when hiking); they may utilize recycled water that is only suitable for irrigation.

Street food, including fried meals, seafood, and various salads, is safe and hygienic. It is nevertheless prudent to exercise caution and avoid anything strange.

Because of the scorching temperature in sunny Israel, remember to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.

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