Israel Travel Info

Travel Tips and Useful Information For Visitors to Israel

Following are some basic tips and important information for travelers visiting Israel. Included is the basic and most frequently required information on the usual issues related to travel: Customs, Weather, Currency and so forth. Given that, we are sure tourists and businesspersons arriving in Israel will have individual questions and concerns regarding their stay - some of which may not be answered in the following paragraphs. We welcome any questions you may have regarding your travel to Israel.

Passports and Visa Requirements 

Visitors from the United States arriving in Israel must present a passport that will be valid for at least six months from their date of arrival. No visas are required to enter Israel. Visitors can stay in Israel up to three months. If your trip includes visiting additional countries it is advisable to consult their respective consulates for updated information on visa requirements. Travelers from Israel entering Jordan or Egypt need visas to enter. These can be obtained either at the border crossings for a fee or at their respective Embassies in advance.


Transatlantic flights now allow ONE checked piece of luggage per person and ONE carry-on bag – that is, of course, unless your Frequent Flyer status allows a free second bag. Please consult with your carrier before travelling for weight restrictions and any other updates. We still fondly remember the days when passengers were allowed to take two bags – each weighing 75 pounds (around 34 Kilos) – so that anyone traveling overseas could bring back unlimited souvenirs and gifts for everyone. A rather limited solution we use: Make sure to bring along a carry-on roller that has the maximum measurements allowed for cabin bags (find that out from your airline…) – even if it’s not really needed on the outbound journey – that roller will be worth its weight in gold as added luggage volume for the way back.


Upon arrival to Israel you will encounter a two-path customs system: the Green Path and the Red Path. You can bring $200 worth of tax-free gifts into the country. Follow the Green Path if you have nothing to declare.


The weather in Israel is usually comfortable year round. Even though Israel is such a small country, there are significant microclimate differences throughout its different regions. As a rule of thumb – the weather in Israel is at its best between mid-March to mid-June and mid-September till mid-November – i.e. during Spring and Fall. During the Summer months – especially July and August, the weather along the Coast is hot and humid with temps reaching as high as 95 to 100 F or about 40 Celsius. That’s pretty hot but not more oppressive that those really hot and humid days on America’s East Coast. In Jerusalem summer heat is offset by dry mountain air and cool evenings. In the Galilee, lowlands will be very hot and muggy but higher elevations and the Golan Heights will be much more comfortable. Winter in Israel is mild with few and far in-between strong storms. Rain appears in spurts with heavy downpours short and interspersed with clearings that are surprisingly fresh and rejuvenating. Winter temperatures along the coast typically range from the low 50’s (F) to high 60’s. In the highlands, temps can reach freezing – but just for a few hours at a time and sunshine quickly restores comfort. Snow is usually limited to Mount Hermon or the Golan Heights with occasional flurries in Jerusalem and the upper Galilee. In the Negev Desert regions summers are hot but very dry and winters cool with sparse rain. Nights, as in any desert climate are cool, and in winter, cold. For the most up-to-date weather conditions in Israel check the Israel meteorological web site on our “Links” page. 


The local currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). At the time of this publication the exchange rate is one US Dollars= NIS 3.90. The Shekel is divided into 100 Agorot. American dollars can be easily exchanged at the airport or in Israeli banks and post offices. Major credit cards (American Express, Visa, and Master Card) are widely accepted throughout the country (check applicable fees with your credit card company and notify them ahead of your travel). You can also withdraw money from designated ATM machines with your debit or credit card. Keep in mind that there is a fee for any and every transaction. We highly recommend travelling with some shekels, depending on the length of your stay and what you plan on doing. Check out for on the fly currency conversions.

Best Time to Travel

Deciding when to come to Israel depends on your personal preferences. The weather throughout the year is accommodating and is not considered anytime as a barrier to fulfilling an extraordinary journey. If you like crowded beaches, heat, and a sultry atmosphere, then visit during summer months. If you like quieter and cooler months, then visit during Spring and Autumn. In any case, you always need to check the Jewish calendar for major holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. During these holidays, traffic is unbearable, thousands of Israelis flock to the Galilee and other resort areas and the whole country is brought to a maddening halt which is best avoided altogether. During holidays hotel rates increase, restaurant service is shortened, and there is no public transportation. We always advise to travel to Israel immediately after major holiday seasons: It’s either Spring or early Fall, locals are back at work, public services are ongoing and “Holiday Fever” is over. Most importantly vacation and tourism rates plummet right after major holidays as hotels and other service providers compete to maintain post-holiday bookings.


How much to pack depends on the type of travel, length of stay and the season. During winter you will need warmer clothing including a waterproof coat and a selection of garments that will allow you to layer up or down as temperatures change according to the time of day, region and elevation. Bring a sweater or a warm sweatshirt for cooler evenings, a windbreaker for breezy days and suitable shoes for those puddles on rainy days. If you will be spending time at high elevations such as Jerusalem or the Golan - you will need a good winter coat and gloves for nights and early mornings. In Tel-Aviv and other low lying coastal areas a nice thermal long sleeved t-shirt and jacket will offset the average mid-winter evening chill. During summer months you will need airy, light-colored, short-sleeved shirts, tee's and shorts but always make sure to bring a set of more austere summer clothing for those visits to religious sites that require modest dress. During mid-seasons pack a few warmer long sleeved items, as well as summer gear for those warmer days and desert visits. No matter what season - always bring sunscreen and a bathing suit is always recommended if you want to take a dip in the ocean, your hotel pool or Eilat's azure water. Comfortable shoes are mandatory. 

Travel Insurance 

We highly recommend travel insurance to cover the unpreventable. Galilee Travel offers Travel Insurance at very reasonable prices. Call us for a quote or click on the link in our website. 


It’s an interesting and timely paradox which has great impact on what we write here: Israel has been dealing for so long with safety issues that the country has elevated security to an art form and to levels that transcend what residents and visitors alike “feel” on a day-to-day basis. So practically speaking Israel is a safe country and a country with a very low crime rate. Israel is like the US in the sense that you do not hear warnings of pick-pockets and petty thievery as destination-specific maladies. Authorities are honest and courteous, hospitals and emergency services are state-of-the-art, and you’ll rarely encounter a policeperson equipped with State Trooper paraphernalia. Israelis are relaxed fun lovers, streets and entertainment venues are crowded at nighttime and you will be very hard pressed to sense any kind of security “tensions”. Almost every neighborhood is safe to explore, there is absolutely no drug related and gang type street crime and very infrequent racially motivated inconveniences. Anybody visiting Israel quickly realizes the exaggerated hype of the media’s attempts to portray Israel’s “security” as a burdensome and unpleasant Israeli attribute. Having said all that…one should always be vigilant and thoughtful while traveling and observe the kind of judicious personal safety rules that apply to every facet of our modern and wayfaring lives.


Israel’s local time is usually 7 hours ahead of the US. Twice a year, with daylight savings time, there is a 6 or 8 hours difference. You can check the time right now at:

Getting Around

Israel is a small country. Its total population of 7 million people is spread over 8,000 square miles. It is 263 miles long North to South and as little as 9 miles wide East to West. You have a variety of choices (or a combination thereof) of getting around in Israel. Public transportation is well developed with trains, buses and taxis crisscrossing the country.

By Car

Roads in Israel are very modern and well-maintained with good directional signage so driving around is an excellent option to see the country. Just like the hype about Israel’s “threatening” security issues, the hysteria about Israel’s awful drivers is…just hype. Israeli drivers are not much worse than drivers in the Metro New York area or most Europeans – it’s just that Israelis are somewhat more hurried to reach their prescribed destinations. In the past few years speed enforcement has tightened, roads are laden with Speed Cameras and the general public has become much more sensitive to socially responsible and safe driving habits. There are the usual rental agencies in Israel including Avis, Hertz, Europcar, and Israel’s largest company - Eldan. Make sure to book car rentals well in advance - you may choose to rent at Ben Gurion Airport when you land, or you can rent at other locations located throughout the country, usually in major cities (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa). Unlike those familiar American situations where someone exits the freeway straight into an unsavory neighborhood – it’s very hard to get hopelessly lost in Israel. Urban areas are relatively small and driving around even the most “dense” neighborhoods during rush hour is not terribly intimidating. Parking can be tricky – have someone explain the local rules and schedules since Israeli municipalities rely on citations as a major revenue engine. Driving in the countryside, north to the Galilee or south to the Negev is a great way to see the country and can be a great way to get to those special places that only you can find. . .There are many gas stations with ultra-modern convenience stores attached, ample parking at almost all National Parks and at most less than “major” attractions, good road signs including in English (although translations are sometimes quirky, i.e. Quesaria instead of Caesarea…), reasonable eateries and cafes along most routes, ample lighting at all intersections and excellent coverage by GPS providers.


By Bus

Travelling between, and in, major cities (Tel Aviv-Jerusalem, Haifa-Tel Aviv) can be easily done by bus. Israel’s most advanced public transportation system is its expansive bus route infrastructure. Years ago there were just 2 bus cooperatives in Israel – Egged, the “national” company, and Dan, which operated routes in the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area. After extensive privatization there are several additional companies that service various regions in Israel. In any case there is an incredible array of routes crisscrossing Israel as well as very good coverage inside cities. Fares are inexpensive with the longest one-way route, from Carmiel to Eilat costing not more than $20. Multiple-ride daily and weekly “passes” are also commonly available. There are “Express” routes between cities and local routes where the bus stops very frequently and also routes to Israel’s most bucolic areas and points of interest. Long haul routes are served by modern, tourist grade vehicles that are quiet and comfortable and many times equipped with WiFi – so that trips using this form of public transportation are efficient, convenient and generally inexpensive. Please note that most bus services do not operate on the Sabbath. To get a list of available schedules and other information, visit Egged’s website at: and Dan’s at: 


By Train

Traveling by train in Israel is especially practical for North – South transportation along Israel’s coast since the country's only commuter rail infrastructure runs in a straight line from Beer Sheba in the Negev to Nahariya at the very northern tip of Israel. The rail track to Jerusalem is an exception and is being extensively renewed right now. Trains are particularly useful for commuters who need to ride between major city-centers or from the airport to Tel-Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem. The trains are comfortable and run at convenient schedules from modern and easily accessible stations. A particularly nice trip for visitors whose itinerary doesn’t include Haifa is a day trip to northern city from Tel-Aviv by train. For further information on train travel in Israel, visit the Israel Railways website in English which provides timetables, routes and ticket information


By Taxi and Sherut (“Service” in Hebrew…)

Taxis are a very modern, safe and common form of public transportation in Israel with convenient cabs operated by friendly drivers available almost everywhere. Within cities fares are determined by meter and inter-city rides are charged according to fixed rates. Modest (3-4 NIS per piece) surcharges apply for luggage and off-hour rides are about 10NIS more expensive. Taxis from the airport are officially regulated and fares to major destinations are strictly enforced. Just like anywhere else – familiar and new alike – it is always highly recommended to know exactly where and via best route you plan to go when traveling by taxi. Drivers who get precise and intuitive instructions will shy away from running long unnecessary routes or charging inordinate fares. Sherut’s are shared minibus or 10-seater van taxis which operate parallel to bus lines, on both intra and inter-city routes throughout Israel. Sheruts operate from fixed starting points, sometimes stop at curbside bus stations and can be hailed by commuters if they are not full. Fares are typically much less expensive than private taxi and very reasonable. Take into account that long range inter-city Sheruts can be a somewhat “crowded” experience since vans are less spacious, and many times riding in a van that is not rigged for tourists can get loud and bumpy. In any case, Sheruts can be an interesting experience for those who like to get a more realistic feel for the country and its people.


The Israeli power supply is 220 volts, AC, single phase, 50 Hertz (versus the US’s 110 volt system). Plugs are either three pronged or two-pronged European standard plugs. Sockets accept the three prong plugs (the middle prong is the “Ground” pole) and usually the two prong versions. Make sure your electrical items such as shavers and hair dryers, and of course all your electronics gear are pluggable via an adapter or that you have a travel transformer.

V.A.T. – Value Added Tax Refund for Tourists

Non-Israeli visitors are entitled to receive a VAT refund if they do not hold an Israeli passport and if they are visiting Israel as tourists or businesspersons. Goods must be purchased in stores that are included in the VAT refund program and the purchase amount in one shopping receipt including the VAT must exceed ILS400 (approximately US$100). To obtain a VAT refund, goods should be packed in a closed bag with their respective attached receipts and presented to the official at a special counter at the airport when you leave the country. There is no VAT refund for food, drinks, and tobacco products.

WiFi Internet and Cell Phones 

Israel has one of the densest Wi-Fi deployments in the world. Almost every café, restaurant, mall and other public space has some sort of router providing free Wi-Fi access. Surprisingly Israeli hotels provide Wi-Fi only as a paid benefit or as a perk for executive level guests. For visitors equipped with smart phones, Israel’s wireless availability is a real boon since one can literally link up everywhere and leverage internet based IM, email and apps like Skype to be constantly on-line and in-touch. Even tour buses have Wi-Fi. If your US cell phone is programmed for international service, it will log onto one of Israel’s cellular networks once you’ve landed but be advised Roaming rates charged by US carriers for overseas Data and Voice can be dauntingly expensive. Alternatively, you can rent a cell phone at the airport’s main arrivals building or buy a local pre-loaded SIM card for your SIM based phone at any shopping mall.

Emergency Numbers

PoliceDial 100

AmbulanceDial 101 

FireDial 102 

Emergency Dental Clinics - Available throughout Israel - Ask your hotel and/or guide to locate one near you.     

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