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Israel Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Israel travel guide?

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For centuries, members of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have been traveling to Israel to visit some of the holiest sites in their faiths.

Today, Israel has something to offer every kind of traveler, religious or not.

This country is home to thousands of years of history, diverse cultures, and some of the most beautiful sights in the world.

Whether you want to relax on a Mediterranean beach or explore holy ground, you’ll find something exciting to do in Israel.

Israel’s major cities have their own vibe and unique attractions.

Those looking to explore the history and religious significance of the area should head to Jerusalem, home to some of the most important sites in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Jerusalem’s Old City tells the story of the city’s history, dating back to 1004 B.C and continuing through countless empires and eras.

In Tel Aviv, you can get a taste of Israel’s history in the ancient port city of Jaffa and then head to the trendy neighborhood of Neve Tzedek to experience Israel’s modern present.

There is also Haifa, a city home to the Baha’i World Centre on Mount Carmel with incredible gardens that anyone can enjoy. The city is also home to some of the nation’s best beaches.

For those looking to get out in nature, Israel has lots of great options.

For a classic Israeli experience, head to the Negev Desert to visit the Dead Sea and the ancient fortress of Masada.

Here, the truly brave can repel down into the Ramon Crater, one of the largest in the country, for a truly unique desert experience. You also can’t miss the chance to float in the Dead Sea, the lowest place on the planet, or camp under the stars for an out-of-this-world view.

For more lush views, head to En Gedi Nature Reserve in the Judean Desert. Here, you can hike around breathtaking waterfalls and see some of the country’s native flora.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Israel in the Middle East.

Note: This ultimate guide to Israel travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Israel Map

Use this Israel travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Israel travel map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Best Places To Visit In Israel

The following guides share Israel highlights and experiences that you won’t want to miss!

Travel Tips For Israel

Plan the perfect trip with these Israel travel tips!

Best Israel Tours

Explore local culture with an Israel tour guide through these unique excursions:

  • Hot Air Balloon Flight Including Champagne Gourmet Breakfast and Souvenirs from the Northern District
  • Mount Sinai and Saint Catherines Monastery Day Trip from Eilat
  • Local Israeli Cooking Class in Tel Aviv
  • Tel Aviv Highlights Bike Tour from Ramat Gan
  • Timna Park Jeep Tour from Eliat
  • Dead Sea, Sunrise at Masada & Ein Gedi Nature Reserve Tour from Tel Aviv
  • Golan Heights Day Trip from Tel Aviv
  • Desert Jeep Tour: Mar Saba Monastery and Wadi Qelt from Jerusalem

Renting A Car In Israel

Need a rental car for your Israel trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Israel Hotels

Click here to browse the best Israel travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences:

Israel Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on an Israel tour. When visiting Israel — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Israel travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Israel Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Israel.

Q: What are the best cities in Israel to visit?

If you have to pick three cities to visit in Israel, make them Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem.

These three cities will give you a feel for the country’s storied past and cosmopolitan present while offering something for every kind of traveler.

Tel Aviv is a lively beachside metropolis with one of the most exciting cultural scenes in the world. Walk around the trendy neighborhood of Neve Tzedek and check out both small art galleries and major institutions like the Rokach House Museum.

Additionally, learn more about the Jewish Diaspora at Beit Hatfutsot at Tel Aviv University. Wander around the White City, a UNESCO Heritage Site full of cream-colored Bauhaus-style buildings. Or just lounge on the beach and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine!

Jerusalem is a must-visit for travelers of all faiths. Here, you can visit a truly ancient city and some of the holiest sites in the world.

You’ll find most of Jerusalem’s top attractions in the Old City, a neighborhood that dates back to 1004 B.C. and blends aspects of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian cultures.

The Old City contains the Western Wall, the holiest site in the Jewish faith; Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, the location of the two Jewish Temples and a significant site in Islam; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a basilica built on what is believed to be the site of Jesus’s tomb.

Beyond the Old City, you can check out the famous Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum or browse the culinary offerings available at the Mahane Yehuda Market.

Jerusalem is also home to a thriving nightlife scene with chic cocktail bars and galleries to explore.

Moreover, the city of Bethlehem is home to many important religious sites, particularly for Christians as it is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Here, you can visit the Church of the Nativity, built on what is believed to be the site of Jesus’s birth, and the Milk Grotto, where the Holy Family is said to have hidden during the Massacre of the Innocents.

Bethlehem is also a great place to experience and learn more about Palestinian culture.

The Old Bethlehem Museum features a recreation of a 19th-century Palestinian home as well as several other historic artifacts. You can also stop by the Palestinian Heritage Center where you can find handmade clothing, jewelry, and other products from local Palestinian artisans.

Q: What should I know before traveling to Israel?

One of the most important things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Israel is Shabbat, or the Jewish Sabbath.

The weekend consists of Friday and Saturday in Israel as Saturday is the holiest day of the week.

Most businesses and public transit systems shut down from sundown on Friday nights to sundown on Saturday nights to observe Shabbat.

You’ll likely find a few places open here and there (particularly in more secular cities) but this probably won’t be a day for major activities and dining plans.

If you’re in a predominantly Jewish city like Jerusalem, be prepared to take the stairs as many businesses shut down their elevators on Shabbat. If you’re touring the country and want to avoid the effects of Shabbat, this might be a good time to visit a predominantly Christian city like Nazareth or a Muslim city like Acre.

While Hebrew is Israel’s official language, you’ll find that English is widely spoken. About 85% of the country’s population speak at least some English, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem communicating with locals.

The Israeli people are also known to be quite warm and sociable and greet people with hugs and kisses on the cheek.

They are also very direct communicators and not afraid to share their opinions. If you end up in a lively debate over dinner at your new Israeli friend’s house, don’t be surprised!

It’s also very important to be respectful of the different cultures and religions of Israel. You’ll want to be aware of the dress codes and modesty guidelines for different religious sites before you visit.

Women are asked to cover their knees and shoulders at most places of worship and may be asked to cover their hair at Islamic holy sites. Keep a scarf or shawl handy just in case.

Men are generally required to keep their knees and shoulders covered, as well. These are also good guidelines to keep in mind when visiting more religious neighborhoods and cities.

Q: Is it safe to travel to Israel?

The threat of terrorism is an unfortunate reality that many live with in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. It’s important to be aware of these threats and keep an eye on the news while traveling in this region.

That said, Israel is known to be quite safe for travelers due to its low crime rate and emphasis on security. You’ll see this as soon as you cross the border. For instance, you’ll probably face more questions from security officers than “business or pleasure?”.

Security officers are also present throughout Israeli cities, particularly at major religious sites.

And as with any major travel destination, you’ll want to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid pickpocketing and petty theft.

If you plan on visiting cities like Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho, you’ll need to cross into the West Bank, an area controlled by Palestinian authorities. Security is particularly strict on the Israeli-West Bank border, so it’s important to take the border crossing process seriously and answer any questions from security officers honestly.

It’s best to stick to the major cities and tourist areas when visiting the West Bank, and you may even want to travel with a tour group for added safety and ease.

Due to the increased rates of violence, most governments and travel experts warn travelers against visiting the Gaza Strip.

Q: How much money do I need per day in Israel?

The average traveler spends around $107 USD per day in Israel on accommodations, food, transportation, attractions, and other expenses.

How much you spend per day varies from city to city; Tel Aviv is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world and accommodation prices are rising across the country.

Q: How many days do you need for Israel?

Most experts recommend planning for about 10 days in Israel. This will give you a few days to spend in the major cities as well as time to visit the Dead Sea and other attractions off the beaten path.

Q: What is the best month to visit Israel?

If you’re looking for mild weather, it’s a toss up between the spring months (April and May) and autumn months (September and October), though note Passover in the spring can drive up prices and crowds.

Q: How long can a tourist stay in Israel?

Tourists from many countries — like the United States and Canada — can visit Israel for up to 90 days without a visa.

Q: Do I need an Israel travel visa?

Travelers from the United States, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Israel for a period of fewer than 90 days.

It’s recommended to view your country’s Israel International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit rules and Israel Travel Requirements. You can also contact the Embassy of Israel.

Q: Can you tour Israel on your own?

Yes. You do not need a tour guide to explore Israel, though having one can certainly provide you a deeper understanding of the place.

Q: Where is Israel?

Israel is located in the Middle East. It shares land borders with Lebanon (north), Syria (northeast), Jordan (east), the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (east and west, respectively), and Egypt (southwest).

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Israel?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around Israel, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Israel?

The tap water is safe to drink in Israel in most places, though not the Dead Sea. It is always safe to double-check with your hotel, as well.

Q: What is the local currency in Israel?

The local currency in Israel is the New Israel Shekel (NIS).

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