How to plan an amazing trip to Israel

Covering everything from transportation and money to navigating a complex geopolitical environment, this handy guide will help you prepare for your trip to Israel. Whether you plan to enjoy the stunning views from the Golan Heights or the Negev desert, visit religious monuments and holy sites, or simply relax on the Mediterranean coast, it is important that you research local laws and safety guidelines before your trip. Here are some crucial tips for first-time visitors to Israel.

Visa and passport requirements

Before you start your trip, make sure your passport meets the legal requirements: it must be valid for a minimum period of six months from when you first enter Israel. When you arrive at the border, officials will no longer stamp your passport, but instead provide you with an entry visa. This could be useful if you plan to travel to any of the Arab countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Although visitors from several nations (including the United States and the United Kingdom) are visa-exempt for Israel, passport holders from most Arab countries must obtain prior approval from Israeli authorities before booking a flight, and many others must apply for a tourist visa, so it is essential to do so.

What is the currency in Israel?

While some businesses, particularly those that cater to tourists, may accept foreign currencies like US dollars or euros, it’s generally a good idea to bring shekels or a credit card. Ben Gurion Airport ATMs and money exchange services can be used to withdraw shekels after landing. As long as you’re in the major cities, you’ll have no trouble finding an ATM that accepts your foreign cards. Shekels are legal tender in all Palestinian cities in the West Bank, but visitors can also use Jordanian dinars to make purchases. If necessary, Jordanian dinars can be withdrawn from banks located in Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus.

The weather and when to visit

The best time to visit Israel depends on the type of trip that interests you the most. If you want to explore regions like Jerusalem and the desert, it is best to go in the summer when it is drier. However, if you are more interested in Tel Aviv or other coastal areas, winter (December-March) is usually warmer and more comfortable.

Getting around and business hours

If you want to visit Israel without having to create your own itinerary, Culture Trip’s specially selected seven-day Israel tour can save you a lot of time and effort. The country has a rich history and numerous landmarks, which can be overwhelming if you want to see it all on your own, but not with this trip!

Israel’s small size, on the other hand, allows it to be easily breached. When planning any excursion, remember that Friday and Saturday are weekends. Most restaurants, businesses, and attractions close for the weekend on Friday afternoons and reopen late on Saturdays to observe Shabbat (also known as Shabbat). Because of this, public transport does not operate during this time. This can be a hassle for travelers, but in many large Israeli cities, community taxis (known as sheruts in Hebrew) are available 24/7 and provide a more feasible option.

Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are highly walkable cities, but in an emergency, the Gett mobile app is always accessible, allowing customers to order a taxi with the push of a button. For public transit information, nothing beats the Moovit app, which offers accurate and up-to-date bus and train schedules.

Respecting the cultural diversity of Israel

The culture in Israel varies a lot depending on the city. For example, Jerusalem is much more conservative and religious, while Tel Aviv is known for being more liberal and lively. That’s not to say that visitors don’t feel welcome in both cities; rather, they provide unique experiences that contribute to a deeper understanding of Israeli life. Tel Aviv’s beaches, clubs, and LGBTQ culture are well worth seeing, while exploring Jerusalem can help you better understand Jewish, Christian, and Muslim history.

Check out the vibrant young energy and bustling nightlife of cosmopolitan Ramallah, or head to the old city of Hebron to learn more about how Islamic and Jewish holy sites continue to play an important role in Israeli-Palestinian interactions. .

Visiting the West Bank

Many areas in the West Bank are safe for tourists, although Israelis are not allowed to enter. However, if you have a foreign passport, joining an organized tour or getting a licensed guide to show you around is not a problem. This way you can explore all the interesting points of interest this area has to offer! Bethlehem, known for its many important Christian sites; Jericho, previously known as the oldest city in the world; Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron; and Ramallah, a modern Palestinian metropolis with a lively nightlife, are just a few examples. Israeli military checkpoints define Palestinian urban areas and towns, so be aware that border guards may ask you to present identification cards.

General Etiquette and Conduct

It is essential to be sensitive to cultural norms and political divisions. While some people may find the locals eager to discuss politics, religion, and other topics, the best advice while traveling is to avoid making potentially uninformed comments on divisive topics.

Some places are more camera friendly than others – be careful and ask permission before taking pictures. In ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, it is considered disrespectful to take snapshots of the Western Wall (Judaism’s holiest site) on Shabbat. In addition, military sites and border police checkpoints are also off limits to photographers. If you are unsure about something, always err on the side of caution and ask first. Restaurants are another aspect that will make your stay in Israel exciting. Tipping is common in restaurants across the country, although it varies by restaurant and customer service.

Security rules

Israel is a mostly safe country for travelers as it has minimal crime rates. However, caution should still be exercised at demonstrations and other public areas. All shopping malls, train stations and other places have security guards who will inspect your bags before you enter. Street crime is relatively low; however, night surveillance is recommended, especially if you are traveling alone in the West Bank.

What to bring to the holy places

Although Israel is home to many secular attractions, it is also a deeply religious country that is home to some of the world’s most important sites for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Travelers should be respectful when visiting places of worship and wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. This is particularly true in Muslim-majority countries, where women are prohibited from revealing any skin that may be exposed beyond a certain degree. This extends to fully cover the knees and shoulders. In these situations, a scarf or cardigan can come in handy. Islamic holy places may also require women to cover their hair. Men’s shorts above the knee and sleeveless shirts are not permitted in these areas. Keep this form of modest dress in mind when visiting extremely religious Jewish communities in Jerusalem or Muslim-majority regions throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Leave a Comment