Travel in Israel

Israel is a modern, quite Westernized country and travel is easy and safe. Our travel partner, Go Israel Travel, has a great deal of useful information on their website about travelling to and around the country, but we’ve also provided a bit of a summary here.

Weather

Israel enjoys long hot summers from April to October, with an average daytime temperature in May of 25 C and 77 F and a low of 17 C or 66 F. However, as with all travel, please be prepared for unseasonable weather i.e. light rain jacket, sweater etc.

Packing / What to wear

Transatlantic flights allow one (1) checked pieces of luggage per person and one (1) carry-on bag. Please check your carrier’s regulations as to the weight and size of the bags.

A. Touring Israel
Israel is a modern, developed country, and you can purchase virtually anything you need during your stay, including clothing, cosmetics, and hygiene products.
If you are visiting Israel during the summer you will need lightweight clothing – short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts, shorts, sandals, beach shoes and a bathing suit.  It’s also a good idea to pack a sweater or jacket, since nights in the mountains and the desert can be cool.

Sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses are essential items.

Passport
All medicines (including copies of prescriptions)

If you are touring around Israel, make sure to bring comfortable shoes and lots of water. You will find you get dehydrated quickly.

Please be advised that when visiting religious areas and sites, women are required to have their shoulders, arms and heads covered (a scarf is adequate). Men should not be wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts and should have a head covering as well (kippah, baseball cap).

We recommend that you bring modest clothing (skirts covering to the knees for women, head coverings for men, and shirts covering shoulders for both men and women) to wear for Shabbat. (A jacket and tie are not necessary). Please make sure you have a warm layer as the A/C will be cranked up where services are held in summer.

B. Dragon Boat Israel Festival

DO NOT BRING VALUABLES TO THE SITE!
You may want a change of clothes for between races in case you get wet and a bag to put wet clothes into.
Money for vendors, food and some activities.
You will need a water shoe/sandal/old sneaker of some type that WILL get wet.
Sunglasses (consider a string or sports band to hold them on while paddling)
Extra contact lenses and solution
Sunscreen, sunhat, lip balm
Bug repellent
Towel
Waterproof bag/fanny pack for cash and keys
Any medications you need for the day
Healthy snacks
Kleenex, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
PATIENCE – It’s a hurry up and wait sport!

Electrical Appliances

The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adapter plugs.

Currency

The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS) or shekel for short (pluralized as shkalim in Hebrew or shekels in English). There are 100 agorot (agora in singular) in each shekel. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200; coins are in denominations of NIS10, NIS5, NIS1 and 50, 10 and 5 agorot.

While it is a good idea to have some American money with you, it is not necessary to convert Canadian dollars to US dollars and then to shkalim. It is quite easy to change Canadian to NIS while in Israel and you can change some money before leaving.

Tipping

Tipping is customary 12% – 15%. When paying by credit card, tipping is done in cash.

Cell Phones

If you want to use a cell phone in Israel, the easiest and cheapest way is to rent a phone – or a sim card for your smartphone –  for the time you are there (their data plans are much cheaper than anything you can arrange from North America). There are several companies that offer this service. Two popular choices are TalknSave
and Israel Phones.

Please note that voice, data and text need to be ordered separately.

After you receive your confirmation, check the details carefully.

Arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport

If you have booked your own transfer from the airport, after the passport control and luggage retrieval, you will find a taxi counter just outside of the main arrival hall on the ground floor – Level G. Alternatively you can go one floor to the 1st floor and get information about renting a car, or shuttle bus services if available.
For more detailed information please visit the Ben Gurion Airport website.

If you are heading to the DBI area on your own, the closest town is Tiberias.

Flights

International flights: Because of the security check at the airport, passengers need to be at the airport 3 hours before the scheduled departure time of their flight.

Most international flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport arrive and depart at Terminal 3. Some charter companies arrive and depart at Terminal 1. There is a free of charge shuttle operating between both terminals.

Domestic flights (Ben Gurion Airport, Sde Dov Tel Aviv Airport, Eilat Airport): Passengers need to be at the airport 1.5 hour before the flight departure.

All domestic flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport arrive and depart at Terminal 1.

VAT

The Value Added Tax in Israel is 16% on all goods and services and is already included in the stated prices. At hotels tourists are exempt from VAT payment. In order not to be charged with the VAT, tourists has to present the entrance stamp in their passports. (B2 or B3)

Important note for tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries (except Egypt and Jordan): it is recommended that you request at the entry passport control that an Israeli stamp does not appear on your passport. You must notify the clerk of your request before your documents are stamped. In this case the stamp will be made on a special form, which you will have to present at the hotel or when renting a car, in order to be exempt from VAT payment.

Shabbat

Shabbat is on Saturday  and is the Jewish sabbath and day of rest. Shabbat starts on Friday afternoon/evening and ends on Saturday evening. All public offices in Israel are closed on Shabbat, as are most private businesses. In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) does not operate. Taxis are available.

In mainly secular cities, like Tel Aviv, most of the restaurants and cafes are open but throughout the country many restaurants may be closed. You should check in advance if you are planning on visiting a specific location. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.

Important:
Check-in hours at the hotels during Shabbat and holidays are different – usually 2 hours after the Shabbat ends (darkness).

Car Rental – all Hertz and Major Rent-a Car branches are closed on Friday afternoon, Saturday & Holidays, except for the Hertz and Major Rent-a Car offices at Ben Gurion Airport, which is open 24/7.

Kashrut – Kosher food

Most hotels and many restaurants are kosher, meaning they follow the Jewish dietary laws. These include not mixing meat and dairy products, no pork or shellfish. Kosher restaurants close Friday afternoon and on the eve of holidays and reopen after the Shabbat or Holiday.

Water in Israel

Drinking tap water in Israel is very safe, but if you prefer bottled mineral water, it is available throughout the country.