Best Israel travel tips – The ultimate Israel travel guide
Are you planning to visit Israel and you are wondering what are the best travel tips for your visit?
I just returned from my second trip to Israel and once again, it was so hard to leave. Every time I leave this beautiful country I get sad because I want to stay longer. Who could blame me? It’s ancient and modern, exciting, and diverse. You have snowy peaks, valleys, lakes in the North, and desert, craters, oases in the South.
Beach lovers have more than 270 km of coastline to choose from and with yearly only 40 rainy days on average, you will get your beach and sun dosage. Israel is a sunny destination, that’s for sure!
Israeli cuisine is incredibly diverse, extremely delicious, and healthy. Hummus, falafel, shakshuka, shawarma or malabi will water your mouth and give you cravings.
Is Israel safe to visit?
A lot of people ask me this question. The story of all the time conflict, danger, and army are sometimes the reason Israel is not a must-see destination of some people. Despite what you heard and read in the news or watch on the television, Israel is safe, actually very safe to visit. The crime rate is much lower, compared to other western European countries.
I can say that the media sometimes shows a situation much more dramatic than it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to convince you into any political views, this is just my insight, what I saw and how I felt while visiting Israel.
I walked the streets at night, did wild camping next to the Dead Sea, traveled all around, and I never felt insecure in any way.
When to go – Israel travel tips
Israel has two main seasons. Winter season – from late October to mid-March, it is cold and it can be rainy. The summer season – from April to October, which is warm to hot and mostly without rain.
The high season is in the summer months. I think that the best time to visit is May or September, you avoid extreme heat and lots of tourists, and the weather is still good for beach activities, hiking, swimming.
How to move around – Israel travel tips
Israel is a small country, which makes it move around easy and fast. The main form of public transport are buses, which are affordable, modern and comfortable, it’s also the cheapest way of public transportation. Not a long time ago, you could buy the bus ticket from the driver, on the bus. Well now, this is not possible anymore, you have to buy a card and fill it up or buy it at the counter.
Other options are trains, which connect major cities – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva, and Jerusalem. You also have a train connection to the airport.
If traveling by bus or a train isn’t exactly your thing, you can take a sherut (shared taxi van), they run 24/7 all over Israel, they will pick and drop you off along their route.
Taxis can also be handy, but also very expensive. Ask them to use the meter, so they don’t overcharge you.
Public transport don’t run on Sabbath (Saturday).
What to eat – Israel travel tips
Food in Israel is very high quality, I love it, it’s delicious and healthy. A lot of options for vegans, vegetarians, and for meat lovers.
My favorite Israeli breakfast and also probably one of the most popular egg dishes in Israel. It’s made out of eggs, which are poached into a sauce of slowly cooked tomatoes, garlic, and peppers. If you eat it with a fresh baguette you have a winning combination.
It’s not possible to meet an Israeli that doesn’t know hummus. Hummus is a spread, made out of chickpeas, blended with tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. If you go to a hummus place, they serve it with pita, cucumbers, and onions. Try it with onions, you will be surprised how good it actually is.
Deep-fried balls made out of chickpeas, onions, and spices. Usually served in pita bread with vegetables and tahini. Very popular among vegetarians and also non-vegetarians.
Made out of marinated meat usually from turkey, chicken, sometimes lamb slowly roasted on a vertical spin for hours. Thin slices of meat are cut from the surface and served, in a pita or laffa (Middle Eastern flatbread). Often served with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pickled vegetables and tahini sauce. Try it with amba (hot mango sauce), ask them to put it on the side.
Malawach is Jemeni Jewish flatbread, it reminded me of South Indian parotta. Layered puff pastry, made with flour, butter, salt, and water. It can be served with plenty of toppings, my favorite was with raw grated tomato sauce and egg omelet.
Also called Israeli sandwich – sabich is a snack, filled with slices of fried eggplants, hard-boiled egg, hummus, pickles, Israeli salad, and tahini served in pita bread. If you in Israel, you have to try it, it’s delicious!
Similar to Italian Panna Cotta, malabi is creamy milk-based pudding, served with rosewater syrup, coconut, and roasted peanuts.
Where to sleep in Israel
Hostels in Israel are a good choice, they are clean and comfortable, prices are around 20€ per night.
Our pick was Airbnb – we wanted some privacy and because there were two of us it wasn’t so expensive in the end. Click HERE for 30€ off for your first Airbnb stay (don’t forget, the minimum booking value is 65€!).
How much money I need for Israel
Israel is not a cheap destination to travel, it’s actually pretty expensive, the standard is much higher than in our country for example. I was warned before coming there so it wasn’t such a shock for me, it is nice to know such things before you visit a country, especially if you visit for the first time.
You can expect West European prices. The official currency in Israel is Israeli New Shekel (ILS): 1 EUR = 4 ILS. If you travel on a budget, you will probably spend between 80-100 € per day.
I wrote you some prices to get a better idea:
Shawarma in a pita: 7-9€; Beer in the shop: 2-4€; Beer in a club: 7-8€; 1,5 l water bottle: 2€; Hummus plate: 5-7€; Dorm bed: 20-30€; Falafel: 3-4 €
What to see in Israel
Tel Aviv is Israel’s most vibrant city, also known as the city that never sleeps. It’s the second biggest city in this country, with lots of nightlife, delicious food, shopping, and long sandy beaches. Visit the Carmel Market (the Shuk Hacarmel), try some local food there, or buy some local products and souvenirs to take it back home.
Tel Aviv beaches
Israel has 194 km of Mediterranean coastline, and 13 km of that belongs to Tel Aviv. You can find 18 beaches in Tel Aviv, with clubs, restaurants, and pubs. Cyclists, dog walkers, joggers stroll the promenade and I don’t wonder why National Geographic rated it on top 10 beach cities in the world.
One of the oldest cities in the world, it’s home to the holiest sites in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The Old City is a beautiful and historical center for all religions. You can get lost in the magical narrow streets full of shops, food stalls, sweets, souvenirs, jewelry. For me, it felt like a walk in the past.
The Dead Sea
It is actually not a sea, it is a salt lake on the lowest point on Earth, 430 m below the sea level. Beautiful Negev desert all around gives it a special charm.
The Dead Sea is known for its healing benefits cause of its salty water which is full of minerals. That is also the reason it’s really floatable, I had so much fun, trying to go underwater, of course it never happened. Because of the extreme high of salt in the water, no fish or living organism can survive here, that’s why it’s called The Dead Sea.
You have a free camping site right outside the hotel area, we camped there for one night.
Israel hides one of the most interesting monuments in human history, a 450-meter high rocky fortress Masada. An ancient mountaintop fortress in the South of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea, with a very sad story.
After the beginning of the great Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the 7th century when many of the original inhabitants of these places were enslaved and expelled from their homes, a group of Jewish rebels led by Elazar Jairy took the fort and offered a home to many of the families that were abandoned.
Soon the Romans discovered them and tried to conquer the fortress. They couldn’t succeed so they started to build a ramp to the top of Masada. Once build the Jewish rebels had only two possibilities: to surrender and be enslaved or to die of honor.
They decided to commit mass suicide. In the Jewish religion, suicide is forbidden, that’s why they decided to kill each other, about 960 people in total. Now, Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel.
You have two options to reach the top, with a cable car, or you can walk to the top via the Snake Path as we did, it was a long walk but view leaves you speechless. When we were there it was very hot, we recommend lots of water and sunscreen, maybe even a hat or so.
A true desert oasis, one of the biggest in Israel, situated next to the Dead Sea. En Bokek is a beautiful trek up the canyon with wildlife, viewpoints, and natural swimming pools. While walking up the trail, you will have three waterfalls to explore. It’s a must-see, don’t forget your swimming suit, you can swim in the natural pools.
The third-largest city in Israel, Haifa is a town on the northwest of Israel. It’s home to the beautiful Bahai Gardens, probably the most visited tourist spot in Haifa. Built as a shrine to the Bahai faith and comprises a staircase of 19 terraces extending up the northern slope of the city’s Mount Carmel. Since 2008 it’s under Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Haifa is a mixed Jewish-Arab city, both Jews and Arabs are living together.
Mitzpe Ramon (Ramon Crater)
Mizpe Ramon is a small town inside the Negev desert, with a beautiful view on the Ramon Crater.
Israel’s grand canyon (the Ramon crater) is the largest erosion crater in the world. There are many strange rock formations in odd colors to be seen, as well as desert animals. The Mizpe Ramon Visitors Center is located on the edge of the Ramon Crater and is a gateway to the surrounding nature reserves. You get all the information about the trek in the reserve there.
We spend two nights in Mizpe Ramon, which is the best starting point for the desert. We stayed in a very nice Airbnb – a private apartment with a bathroom, which cost us 50€ per night. For privacy and comfort – totally worth every euro.
Click here to get 30€ off your first Airbnb stay (don’t forget, the minimum booking value is 65€).
Located at the southern-most tip of the country, is a popular destination for local and foreign tourists. The city’s beaches, coral reef, nightlife and desert landscapes are just some of the things you can do and see there.
Cross border and visit Egypt
How to get there? In Eilat, we took a bus (you can also take a taxi) to the Taba border. There you cross the border on foot, you show your passport, if you don’t stay longer than a week, you don’t need any visa. You will need to pay some fee for exiting Israel.
After you exchange the money, you need to find a ride from the border. A shared taxi is probably the best and cheapest option for you (they are waiting just outside the border). Tell them where you want to go, don’t forget to bargain a little bit. Read our TIPS on how to get from Israel to Sinai.
You can find accommodation all over the Sinai shore, we were staying at an authentic Bedouin beach camp. For a very simple private hut with sea view (breakfast included), shared toilet and shower, we paid around 10 € per person. Bedouin camps are not the only accommodation option, you can find also fancy hotels, guest houses, or family-run hotels.
The Golan Heights are Israel’s mountainous regions. Although internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights have been under the jurisdiction of Israel since 1967 when the region was captured during the Six-Day War.
The Golan is a paradise for nature lovers, with plenty of outdoor activities, nature reserves, and hiking trails. Here you can see some of Israel’s most beautiful landscapes, which is probably the reason that this became such a popular place for vacation, especially between Israelis. The only ski resort in Israel is in the Golan.
Saving tips – Israel travel tips
As I mentioned before, Israel can be expensive to travel. I collected some saving tips for you, I hope they will save you some money.
Buy 6 pack of water
You can for sure save some if you buy 6 packs of 1,5l water, instead of buying each one of them separately. It comes much cheaper, it will cost you less than 4 € for a 6 pack.
Local is always cheaper
Street food in Israel is fresh and of good quality. You have so many tasty options to choose from and is a good way to save some money as well. Eat where locals do and avoid tourist places.
Hitchhiking is very common in Israel it is often done by pointing to the ground with the pointing finger far from the body, instead of raising a thumb. If you raise a thumb, people might not understand.
Couchsurfing in Israel is very easy and fun. It’s great because you meet the locals and their lifestyle and if you are lucky enough they can even show you around.
Traveling off-season will for sure save you some money and you will have a more authentic experience. Flights, accommodation, food – everything is cheaper. This is also great cause it’s less touristy, especially if you don’t like bumping to other people on every tourist attraction.