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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.