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Israel Travel Guide

When people speak of Israel, they do so in breathless tones. It’s hard not to gush over the energy of Tel Aviv, the ancient walls of Nazareth and Jerusalem or the golden glow of the deserts and the beaches. Israel is solemn and exciting, splendid and rugged at the same time. It’s a destination for spiritual pilgrimages, a paradise for foodies and a playground for adventurers.

The Highlights

  • Caesarea National Park

    Also known as Caesarea Maritima, this beautiful national park is home to the ancient ruins of Caesarea, set on the coast of Mediterranean sea. The historic harbour city served as the headquarters for Pontius Pilate and became the centre of Christianity when Jerusalem burned to the ground. Highlights to tick off the list are a Roman aqueduct, an amphitheatre, a hippodrome, and exquisite columns.

  • Sea of Galilee

    While better known as the setting for many sermons and miracles including supposedly walking on water, the Sea of Galilee is today a venue for many sun-kissed adventures. Whether you prefer to quietly potter along on a cruise or if you favour the more active endeavours like windsurfing, there’s plenty of options on hand. Though we’d probably skip attempting to walk on water yourself.

  • Tel Aviv

    Tricked out Tel Aviv is one city you mustn’t miss when visiting Israel. A global city, it serves as a base for many of Israel’s ambitious tech start-ups and best minds and is home to some elevating experiences. Tour its urban attractions and historic sights, eat your weight in amazing food, and party the night away.

  • Fortress of Masada

    From one of the lowest points to a lofty perch – while in the Dead Sea area, take a scenic ride on a cable car to the top of a rock plateau where Herod the Great built palaces that come with awe-inspiring views. Today, only their ruins are left, but the panoramas at this UNESCO World Heritage Site are just as picture-perfect. The Fortress of Masada is certainly world pulling over for.

  • Nazareth

    Adopt a go-slow lifestyle, if only for a bit. Take in its many colours and myriad of textures. Old Nazareth is home to beautiful places of worship, charming courtyards, excavated ruins, and even an ancient bathhouse. Stay for a couple of days or so, and sleep in an old Arab house. Blaze your own trails, and sample the local dishes at some of the restaurants you’ll stumble into.

  • Beit She'an

    Stray off the beaten path and stop at Beit She'an, 27 kilometres south of the Sea of Galilee. It’s one of Israel’s oldest cities and one of its largest archaeological sites where traces of many different civilisations were found, from the Chalcolithic era to the Ottomans. Come for the ruins and stay for the sound and light show, which showcase how it might have looked during the Roman occupancy.

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    June to August

    Summer (June through August) is when most of Israel is at its busiest when both foreign and domestic travellers are going on holidays. During this time, the weather is warm, there’s little chance of rain, and big festivals abound including the Israel Festival and the Jerusalem Beer Festival. Unfortunately, it’s also when the prices are at their highest. Same is true for all the major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Passover, as well as the American holidays. For more affordable rates and less foot traffic, September and October are ideal when children are back in school but the weather is still pleasant.

  2. Low Season

    November to March

    November to March, Israel’s winter months, are its coldest and wettest. Not very many holidaymakers visit during this time – with the exception of Thanksgiving week, mid to late-December and early January. If you don’t mind the rain and the cold weather, it’s a money-saving trip. Or better yet, push your trip to April or May, essentially Israel’s spring months. These are less rainy, just a little warmer and boast beautiful spring blooms, making them a good time to visit for cheaper. For extra perks, the Doof, Menashe Forest, and Zobra The Buddha Festivals also take place in the spring.

Israel Tours

  • Visit Responsibly

    Travelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Israel:

    Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.

    Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.

    Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.

    Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.

    Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Israel or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
  • Sustainable Tourism in Israel

    A Sustainable Future
    Israel has a number of organisations dedicated to promoting a sustainable future through volunteering and increased social involvement. One such example is the Israeli Council for Volunteering (RA).

    The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI)
    As Israel’s oldest environmental non-profit organisation, SPNI is committed to preserving the country’s natural resources and landscape. In addition to many successful campaigns over the years (such as the Gazelle Valley, Israel's first urban wildlife reserve) SPNI provides environmental education programs and nature excursions.

    Eco and Sustainable Tourism Israel
    Founded in 2006, this non-profit organisation is dedicated to helping Israel’s tourism industry implement sustainable practices. Eco & Sustainable Tourism Israel highlights wonderful ecotourism options such as organic wineries and ingenious guest accommodations made out of natural materials.

    Kibbutzim: A Different Way of Life
    Several of Israel’s collective communities, known as kibbutzim, focus on organic farming and offer ecotourism programs. For example, Kibbutz Lotan, Yahel, and Ketura offer eco-hikes, birding tours and lectures, opportunities to learn about organic farming and more.
     

FAQs about Israel

  • Do you tip in Israel?

    Tipping servers, bartenders, housekeepers and porters are very much expected. At cafes and restaurants, usually, 10% to 15% of your bill is enough.
  • What is the internet access like?

    Many places in Israel including hotels, restaurants, cafes, airports and terminals offer WiFi for free, and the connections are pretty good.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    Yes, tap water in Israel is safe to drink. However, keep in mind that tap water in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area might contain particles that could give you stomach problems.
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Absolutely. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted in Israel.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Public holidays in Israel include Passover in March/April, Independence Day in April/May, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September, Feast of Tabernacles in September/October, Hanukkah in December, and Christmas.
  • What are the toilets like?

    Toilet facilities in Israel feature sit down, European-style toilets. Public ones are scattered about, but not as common.
  • Is there a dress code for tourists visiting Israel?

    It depends on where you go. Some parts of Israel – Tel Aviv, for example – doesn’t really demand a modest dress code. However in some parts of Jerusalem, including religious sites, you are required to wear conservative clothing.
  • What should I expect at the airport security?

    Israel’s airport security is uncompromising for good reason, and their checks and interrogations are strict at best. During the initial screening process, you’ll receive a sticker that determines how heavily you will be searched and questioned in the second screening.
A TRAVEL MAGAZINE BY TOURRADAR