21 Things Every Traveler To Israel Should Know

things israel travelers need to know jerusalem trip

1. Shabbat Is Observed Nationwide 

The Jewish day of rest begins on sunset on Friday and concludes at nightfall on Saturday. During this time, almost everything in the country shuts down, including most public transportation. 

2. Hit Up The Desert 

The Negev desert in Israel offers some of the country’s most incredible scenery, and it’s all just a bus-ride away from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  

3. Speaking English Works 

Almost all Israelis speak at least a little English, so don’t be overly concerned if you don’t speak a word of Hebrew. Even if they’re resistant at first, most Israelis will come around to speaking in English. 

4. Israelis Love Bargaining 

Like in other Middle Eastern countries, in Israel there’s no such thing as a fixed price. Everything’s up for negotiation, so use this to your advantage while shopping.

5. Plenty Of ATMs 

You’ll have no problem finding ATMs that accept your card. And if you plan on exchanging American dollars or other foreign currency into shekels, there are plenty of certified moneychangers around who give fair rates. 

6. Hiking Trails Are Everywhere 

Israel has one of the most unique hiking trails that you’ll find anywhere. Named the Israel National Trail, it crosses through the entirety of the country from north to south. Hiking this trail is an incredible way of seeing Israel’s mind-blowing diversity. 

7. Respect Religious Sites 

Israel has some of the most meaningful holy sites in the world. Be sure to wear modest and appropriate clothing when visiting these sites, while offering worshippers the privacy that they deserve. 

8. Effortless Visa On Arrival 

If you’re from one of the 96 countries that doesn’t require a visa to visit Israel, including the U.S. and European nations, then you’ll be given a 90 day visa on arrival when you arrive in Israel. 

9. Hostel / Airbnb To Save Money 

Hotels in Israel, especially during peak season, can be extremely pricey. Travelers can save money by renting a room or an apartment on services such as Airbnb, or staying in a hostel. 

10. Public Transportation Works Well 

You can save a lot of money on taxis by using buses and trains, which are on par with Western standards. 

11. A Paradise For Nature Lovers 

Don’t be fooled by the crowds in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. With 67 national parks scattered across the country, Israel offers travelers tons of pristine nature. 

12. Aroma Is Israel’s Starbucks 

If you’re ever in need of a café to sit down with your laptop and get some work done, look for the closest Aroma. There’s free Wi-Fi in every branch and the coffee is delicious. 

13. Your Cell Phone Won’t Work

You will need some way to communicate with those back home – either an Israeli SIM card or a phone rental. Whatever you choose, make sure get everything arranged before you head for Israel. That way you won’t have to scramble and get ripped off once you’re in the country. 

14. Israel Is A Safe Country 

You might never know it from the way that Israel is covered in the international media, but it’s actually a remarkably safe country. Don’t be surprised to find families who keep their home and car unlocked, or who allow their young children to go shopping alone. 

15. Don’t Miss Yad Vashem 

One of the most moving museum experiences available anywhere, visiting Yad Vashem—Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum—is an absolute must for all travelers. 

16. Drink A Hafuch 

Drink coffee like an Israeli by ordering a hafuch, which is something of mix between a cappuccino and a café latte. For an extra kick of caffeine, add a shot of espresso. 

17. Street Food Is Delicious 

Travelers that want to limit their food budgets can get by spending as little as 10 to 15 shekel on falafel or shawarma. 

18. Israelis Are Outgoing 

And outgoing is a nice way of saying it. Chutzpa is a dominant trait in Israeli society, so don’t be shocked to see people acting more aggressively with each other than in the West. Embrace it—it’s part of the culture! 

19. Lowest Point On Earth 

The lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea Depression. Take it in while bathing in the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich mud that’s widely known to improve skin health. 

20. Pack Lots Of Sunscreen 

If you’re not used to the Mideast sun, you can get burned fairly easily. Even if it’s a relatively cool day, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. 

21. Tipping in Israel 

A standard tip in Israel is between 10% and 15%. Less than 10 percent is considered stingy at a bar or restaurant, and you only need to tip more than 15 percent for excellent service. 

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