These Israel travel tips from my own experience can make your trip more easy and comfortable.

1) General information

Israel is a small country with a population of around 7 million, taking up an area of almost 20.8 thousand km2. To put this into perspective, it’s only 2/3 of Belgium, another country that can’t be called a large one. But Israel has access to two seas, namely the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The Dead Sea is actually a lake.

11 jerusalem street israel www.thesanetravel.com 12009442) Public transport

Having said that, note its convenient public transport system, and you’ll see Israel is easy to travel around both by public buses and trains. Most of the buses have free WiFi and provide sockets for charging mobile phones.

10 buses israel www.thesanetravel.com 1230061

Pictured below a train ticket to Haifa.

10 train ticket israel www.thesanetravel.com 1220514

3)  Shabbath and travel

For travel planning purposes, you have to know that on the Shabbath (Sabbat), public transport is very limited or nonexistent. The Sabbath is observed from just before sunset on any given Friday to just after dark on any given Saturday, for a total of around 25 hours. Even if you think that it does not affect your travel plans, check twice. For example, there was no bus on Saturday any time to go from Eilat to Mitzpe Ramon, and I had to take a much longer route through Ber Sheba. I was still happy I didn’t have to pay for a very expensive taxi instead though. The Sabbath can also influence your possibility to check into a hotel, so you’d better inquire about that as well.

11 buses israel www.thesanetravel.com 12300634) Israel entrance permit

Keep your white entrance permit given to you at the Israel border. Hotels ask for it to avoid paying VAT that local citizens must pay. You may also need it to go tax free when leaving the country.

5) Choosing your Red sea holiday place

Israel and particularly Eilat, in my opinion, is not the best place to enjoy the Red Sea and a sunny holiday because the beach areas are relatively small and the hotels are not cheap.

11 eilat israel www.thesanetravel.com 12108246) Climate

Even though the country is small, the temperatures in different parts of Israel may vary up to 10 degrees Celsius on the same day, so dress accordingly.

7) Languages in Israel

Currently, the official languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. Even though English and Russian are widely spoken, the Hebrew language does not use Latin characters and in some cities you have street names just in Hebrew and in Arabic, which does not help a lot. So do your homework and bring offline or paper maps in a language you understand or prepare to get lost.

10 jerusalem street israel www.thesanetravel.com 12007718) Visiting Bahai gardens

The world famous Bahai Gardens in Haifa consist of 19 terraces, or levels, spreading steeply uphill. The sign saying the gardens are open means that the first terrace of the lower and upper sections is open to individual visitors. You are not allowed to take the stairway between them. You need to use your feet or bus number 23 to reach the upper, middle and lower sections of the gardens. The bus goes through the city, and you don’t see the actual gardens at all. So you’d better check for group tours that are allowed to roam the gardens freely, otherwise you’re in for a great disappointment at the entrance because there is no information about it there.

10 bahai gardens haifa israel www.thesanetravel.com 1220997

9) Tax-free return

If you shop tax-free and plan to get your money at the airport, make sure you arrive at the airport early enough to allow for at least one hour of waiting in line to get your money back.

10) Paying for your hotel

For hotel bookings payable at the hotel, make sure you have a copy of the booking with the cost of stay stated in local currency (shekels). Pay in shekels too, to avoid a huge loss on exchange rates. It wouldn’t hurt to adhere to this rule in any country where the currency is different from your credit card currency, by the way.

10 abraham hostel jerusalem israel www.thesanetravel.com 1210472

 Have you been to Israel? Share your travel tips in comments section!

  • Published by Anita on April 09, 2017

 

Author: Anita Sāne

DSC 7536 m

About the author
Anita is a part time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman
from Latvia, 
traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner
planning and executing her travels by herself. Follow Anita also on Instagram.

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Comments   

Sheri
#17 Sheri 2017-04-16 14:57
I have heard so many great things about Israel and I am looking forward to one day visiting. Lots of history and lots of interesting places to see.
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Milijana
#16 Milijana 2017-04-15 18:21
The Bahai Gardens are on my bucket list and I was glad to find in your post a tip on it. Thanks, Anita! I found quite useful. your tip about the public transport on the Shabbath as well!
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Riely
#15 Riely 2017-04-15 05:04
Some great tips. The Bahai Gardens look absolutely gorgeous, but I am glad you mentioned the tip to book a tour. You wouldn't want to miss out on that. I also wouldn't want to get lost so an appropriate map of the streets in a language I comprehend is very useful information.
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Carola
#14 Carola 2017-04-15 02:34
Very comprehensive list! Thank you for that!
I would add with the language advice that some cities/places not only have different spellings in Roman letters (like Akko and Acco) but also completely different names (Jerusalem is the most famous example: the Arabs know it as Al Quds). This can sometimes cause confusion. Also, if you're going in winter the temperature differences can be much more drastic: It might be snowing in the Golan Heights (or in Jerusalem) but have 25 degrees by the Dead Sea...

Happy continued travels,
C
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Micki
#13 Micki 2017-04-14 22:49
Thanks for the great tips! Pinning for later :)
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Bruce Schinkel
#12 Bruce Schinkel 2017-04-14 21:14
Thanks so much for these tips! My first experience getting a tax refund was in the Netherlands, and i try not to pass up the opportunity. Great info about those gardens; definitely looks to beautiful not to go exploring!
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Danijela WGlimpses
#11 Danijela WGlimpses 2017-04-14 15:53
Good tips, and I agree that it's important to know these things when traveling to a foreign country. I might add that one should make sure before going to Israel not to have recent stamps from entering numerous Arab countries. :)
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Katie
#10 Katie 2017-04-14 07:15
What about the dress codes? Did you ensure that you were covered up when in more observant areas of the country?
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John
#9 John 2017-04-13 15:59
Great tips! Israel looks like a very interesting place to visit! Bahai Gardens looks absolutely amazing!
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Meg
#8 Meg 2017-04-12 14:56
Awesome tips! I would love to check out Israel one day. Public transport tips are always important. Saving this for later.
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