2019 is going to be one of the most popular years that has put Israel on the map, thanks to the winning in the 2018 Eurovision contest by Netta Barzilay with the lovely song “Toy”.
That means that in May 2019 Israel will be filled with tourists from all over the world, that will take the chance to enjoy the country and all the beautiful places it has to offer to it’s visitors and tourists.
Israel is a tiny country in the middle east and has a long coast line over the Mediterranean sea.
It will take you around 7 hours to cross the country from the south to the north, and about 3 hours to cross it from the west to the south, when it has only 20,770–22,072 km2 or (8,019–8,522 sq mi)[a].
there’s around 9 million residents in Isreal when 70% are Israeli and the etnicity contains:
- 74.5% Jewish
- 20.9% Arab
- 4.6% other
Israel has borders in the south with Gaza and Egypt, at the east with Jordan, and borders at the north with Lebanon and Syria and on the west side, we got a long beautiful shores.
Comparing to it’s neigbours that lives in old fashion style with loads of deserts, camels and in some areas in old buildings, Israel is quite modern and equiped.
Most tourists that come to Israel are suprised by the facts that we barely got deserts, or camels on the streets, and that the center of Israel – Gush dan, where you can find Tel aviv, is a very developed Metropolitan.
You can watch this video with information and facts about Israel to understand more what’s going on here..
Do you need Visa to stay in Israel? Visa for Israel
If you are tourist, you can stay in Israel up to 3 months without Visa.
If you arrive for different purposes you should check with the immigration department.
If you are just visiting, make sure not to joke with immigration officers. You must remmember that israel is a country that has a lot of threats so we’re over cautios with people that come here to visit. Be nice, patient and correct and supply them the information they need.
Main places to visit in Israel
It also has a lot of sacred places to christianity with places related to Jesus Christ and it is rich with many terrains and beautiful views and things you can see.
Is it safe to visit Israel?
Though all you see in CNN and BBC news about Israel is a war zone and terrorist bombers, it happens here once in a while, but most of the time it’s very safe because you have presence of military and the police force everywhere and there’s also a great intelligence source that in most cases will prevent attempts to hurt people by Palestinians.
I know it might sound scary to some of you, but as an Israeli resident, I can promise you that it feels safe here and I live here with my kids and growing them safely.
It is safe to walk on the streets everywhere besides the west bank which is less safe since it’s under the Palestinian authority and we can’t control them, and most Israeli people would prefer to avoid getting there (where Bet – Lehem is), but usually they behave well because they want tourists to come and visit.
Traveling in Israel alone or with a guided tour?
I got to meet through the years some tourists that came to visit here with groups, paid lots of money and spend more of it during organized trips because the guides are usually taking you to see places that charge extra money, the guides make you pay and buy things, they get paid from the place and from the groups.
Sometimes there are huge groups of hundreds of people that go to see places together and it takes a long time and long lines till everyone sees everything.
If you are young in your mind and soul, if you traveled the world and know how to use Google maps or Waze, there shouldn’t be a problem for you to tour Israel by yourself.
You can get baptized at Jordan River, near the sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. You can reach there by your self and rent a car or join some group.
The whole thing cost around 20$ for renting a white robe and usually, there’s a priest there. The place called YARDENIT.
It will cost much less, just plan right in advance, see where you want to get and do it. TripAdvisor will supply all the places you need or Google places, and You will save so much money and see the things that you find interesting.
Though many of holy places to Christianity are located in Israel, Jewish Israeli people don’t believe in Jesus. They believe in a god which is bigger than Jesus, and we don’t treat Jesus as our god..
Most Israeli are just “traditional” and especially in Tel Aviv, you can find many atheists who don’t believe in any god.
Yea, I know, we are complexed..
Renting a car in Israel and driving in Israel
Israel roads are very friendly for tourists.
We drive on the right side of the road (Like in the USA), so unless you are from the UK, it will be easy for you to drive here.
A regular international license is valid to drive up to one year since you arrive in Israel, but make sure and check with the renting company.
All the road signs are in Hebrew, English, and Arab, there are directions to the main cities and the roads has great maintenance.
Two friends of mine said that it’s very similar to Miami and they felt comfortable renting a car and just driving in the Israeli roads.
Renting a car in Israel will cost between 30 to 100$ for a day, the companies are quite reliable and don’t get cheap on proper insurance.
There’s more intense traffic in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and there I will highly recommend using public transportation such as buses in Tel Aviv or taxi, and in Jerusalem, you have the light train that will take you fast and safely to all the important places.
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem suffer from lack of parking space, so besides wasting a lot of time to find parking in these cities, you can pay a lot for a few hours park in parking lots. And also, people drive like crazy there, and there’s a lot of traffic, so just save time and energy and use public options.
(There’s a light train which is being built now in Tel Aviv but it will take few years to finish it).
Using the train in Israel
If you are staying in cities around Tel Aviv and you wish to travel to Tel Aviv, you can use the Israel train, and within 15-20 minutes you can get to the center of Tel Aviv and walk from there or use the bus.
Tip for the train – don’t go on the busy hours – 7-9 in the morning and 4-6 in the evening because it’s very packed and most chances you will have to stand all the way.
Where to stay in Israel? Hotels in Israel – Accommodation in Israel
If you plan a few days trip to Israel, it is recommended to have 2 days at the center, 3 days at the north, 1 day at the dead sea, 1 day at Jerusalem, and 2 days at the south to Eilat.
Hotels prices can be between 100-500 $ per night, depends on the place.
You can find cheap hostels and Airbnb in Tel Aviv area or cities around it, and I assume that Tel Aviv is already packed and expensive.
There are cities around Tel Aviv such as Ramat Gan, Givataim, Rishon le Zion, Bat Yam, Holon, Netanya, Ha Sharon, Herzelya, Petach Tikva and few more.
They can save you hundreds of dollars comparing to sleeping in Tel Aviv and you can use the public services as mentioned or to rent a car so in the relaxed hours it around 15 minutes drive to Tel Aviv.
Where to eat in Israel?
Israel has a lot to offer when it comes to fast food and great restaurants which offer variations of many styles combined with oriental food.
You can find small places that offer food such as Schawarma in Pita (It’s grilled chicken with oriental spices and this is delicious), Humus, you can find Falafel, pizza or sushi bars, there’s McDonald’s everywhere.
Once visiting in Oriental Restaurants, or hotels for breakfast or lunch, you will be shocked by the big variety you will get on the buffet.
Loads of salads and great cheese, vegetables, and fruits made with good taste.
Vegan food in Israel
If you search for Vegan food you can find it especially in Tel Aviv but today there’s big awareness and most places offer vegan dishes on their menu.
Since the Israeli kitchen is very rich with oriental spices, you can discover new amazing tastes for vegan food and amazing things some places here know to do with soy instead of meat, so you should try it too.
How much Israeli food cost?
An average price for a dish in a restaurant will cost between 9-15$ when it comes to small restaurants and fast food.
If you sit in a big restaurant, it will be more to 15-30$ for a person for a full meal.
Cheap food in Israel
You can find sandwiches in coffee shops branches of “Aroma” which is like “The Israeli Starbucks”. They are everywhere and offer cheap sandwiches or you can go to Cofix which offer cheap small dishes, or any kind of bakeries which are everywhere and offer cheap pastries that can cost 2-5$ for a person for a good meal or light breakfast.
Kosher Food in Israel – No Meat and Milk together and no Ham!!!!
One of the weirdest things you will notice in Israel is that they don’t eat Ham. Or Pork. Or Bakon. at all!
That’s because in order to sell Kosher food in Israel, restaurants should apply to the Jewish rules which say that you don’t eat milk with meat and you can’t eat pork, so you can either find dairy restaurants or meat restaurants, when meat is Chicken and Cow meat.
Of course, there are some nonkosher restaurants that serve meat and milk together in the dishes, but they are not many.
For example, if you go to Mc Donalds in Israel, if you see Kosher sign – it means there’s no Cheese Burger. Yea. I’m serious. But you can find some Mc Donalds and Dominos Pizza branches which don’t sell kosher and offer the combination of meat and cheese together.
Shabat in Israel – why everything is closed on Shabbat?
Another thing about Kosher restaurants – they are closed on Shabat – which is Friday afternoon till Saturday evening.
They are mostly in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak and Zafed and Tiberia in the north, But Tel Aviv is like “Sin City” of Israel and it never sleeps, and also Eilat in the south, so plan your trip to be in Tel Aviv or Eilat on the weekend.
In most places, there’s no public transportation and only expensive taxies so take that in the count when planning your trip to Israel. You can rent a car and visit Christianity places on Saturday, they are open.
Sunday in Israel – is like Monday in the world, we work. We rest on Friday and Saturday and on Friday everything is closed around 3.
Health services in Israel
Israel, as I said, is quite modern and technology is advanced here.
We got great doctors and great health care services, but if you are not Israeli you will need to pay a lot of money in case of medical tests or treatment.
There are great hospitals in Israel though they are mostly in the main cities and they are very busy so take that in the account.
Most doctors speak English.
Make sure to have good medical insurance that will cover health care services for any case. It can cost thousands of dollars to get hospitalized here.
Language in Israel
Most people in Israel speak Hebrew and English because we learn it at school and most places has signs in English, Hebrew, and Arab, so it’s very easy for foreigners to get along here on themselves.
I do recommend for you to learn a few basic words in Hebrew so you will understand what people are saying about you and they won’t fool you.
Hebrew is not an easy language, so you better start practice with some Youtube videos.
Weather in Israel
Israel is warm and comfortable when it comes to climate.
The weather is the best during fall and the spring but you can also enjoy nice weather during the summer and the winter with the following temperatures (In Celzius):
- Summer – June – September – Temperature – 25-35 Degrees
- Autumn – October – December – Temperature -20-30 Degrees
- Winter- January – March – Temperature -10-25 Degrees
- Spring – April – June – Temperature -20-30 Degrees
*There might be 5 degrees up or down, depends where you are, there’s not much rainy days in the winter, but sometimes there are few days of heavy rain so it’s hard to travel these days. Lucky for you, Rain is mostly in the winter and end of Autumn, so it’s quite comfortable to travel most of the year.
At summer there’s great weather to enjoy the beaches and the sun, so if you come from a cold country, you will love that!
Israel Coin – Exchanging money in Israel – Israeli Shekel Vs US dollar or Euro.
In Israel, we use Israeli Shekel. Most places will accept international credit-card, but watch the rates of exchange from your credit card company.
- 1 USD is around 3.7 Israeli Shekel
- 1 EURO is around 4 Israeli Shekel
You can also withdraw money from ATM at the banks, or exchange everywhere.
Israeli Market – Market in Israel
You can find markets in every city that offers mostly food, vegetables, fruits, and some clothes. Not all of them offer you good prices, especially when you are tourist, but you can go to malls and regular supermarkets and enjoy good prices too.
There are malls and shopping centers almost everywhere, pharmacies, restaurants and everything you might need are in reach!
If you wish to do the shopping for clothes, search for big stores in the malls, such as Urbanica, Tapuz, Zebra or outlets.
Shopping in Eilat without VAT 17%
If you visit Eilat in the south, you can enjoy VAT free price and reduce of 17% of the price and sometimes there are more deals.
If you buy at the market or in places without price, especially souvenir stores, don’t be afraid to bargain for the price, you might get it cheaper. say the price is too high, and in most chances, they will give you a better price..
Is Israel is Gay-friendly?
Most places in Israel will make you feel comfortable whether you are gay or trans Unless it’s more orthodox places.
Most people from the LGBTQ community lives in Tel Aviv, which is more liberal and accepting so you might feel more comfortable there.
It is less common for gay couples to show affection on the street or show affection to each other in public.
Some do what they want but if you don’t like to receive a weird look from people you should keep it private and behave in the public.
Dating and hooking up in Israel
Israel is very open when it comes to dating and sex especially in the Tel Aviv area.
We use here Tinder and OKCupid Apps which are very popular and the highest concentration of bachelors is at Tel Aviv area and the center of Israel but you can find people to date with everywhere. Just be honest about your intentions and remember that long distance relationship is challenging.. (and I can tell from experience).
Israel is very tourist friendly.
The Israeli people are warm, caring and will be glad to help and assist if possible.
We are very straight forward and direct and say what we feel and think, so don’t get offended if you feel that someone has intruded your privacy.
If you got more questions you can leave a comment and I will be glad to assist or through my email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I just want a Falafel so badly… Great tips! Btw, I think for some of the days it’s great to rent a car but for some it’s not necessary because everything is so close. It depends on your plans but some of the days it’s more suitable to take a taxi. I know the gett app has a promo for the eurovision – GETT_EURO, it gives you 10 nis off of 5 rides