Got a question about Israel? Here are a series of frequently asked questions visitors to Israel tend to ask.
- When is the best time to visit Israel?
- Is Israel a safe place to visit?
- What should I pack?
- Can I really float in the Dead Sea?
- Do I need a visa?
- Can I drive with my driving license from back home?
- Are places open on the Jewish Sabbath?
- Will my electrical appliances work in Israel?
- Where is the hottest place in Israel?
- Where can I snorkel and scuba?
- Is it expensive in Israel?
- What are the emergency numbers in Israel?
- Where are the camels and deserts?
- Does it ever rain in Israel?
- Where are the best beaches?
- I’m not Jewish, can I pray at the Western Wall?
- Do they celebrate Christmas in Israel?
- More to come…
Good question. It’ll depend on what’s good for you, do you prefer to melt or get swamped by Jewish holiday travelers? The summer months are stuffingly hot, especially in the center of the country, whereas April and September/October can be very busy (prices in the tourist industry are matched accordingly). We’ve put together an article to help you decide when to come to Israel.
Yes! Did you really expect any other answer? It’s not all exploding buses and weapon-laden soldiers patrolling the streets under a barrage of stones. This article might convince you that it really is safe in Israel.
Here’s our guide to the essentials you should bring on a visit to the Holy Land…
Oh yes! The first time I knew I was heading for the Dead Sea I bought a copy of The Sun (British tabloid) and got my girlfriend to take a snap while floating on my back, reading news from back home. One thing you should be aware of, don’t shave or wax your legs a few hours before you enter the Dead Sea. Those open pores will burn like crazy from the salty sea and you’ll be jumping and hollering like a real Israeli (when mad).
It is going to depend on where you’re from and what passport you hold. You should check out our guide to Israeli visa requirements.
To drive in Israel you must hold an international driver’s license, which is a fairly easy thing to get when back in your home country. We’d advise you to rent a car: if so, you must be over 21 years of age, have a valid international driver’s license and an international credit card. Though after you read this driving in Israel article, you might think twice about picking up that rental…
The Sabbath and all Jewish holidays begin at sundown, and end the following night when it starts to gets dark. Banks, businesses and public institutions are closed at these times. In major cities, many restaurants, movie theaters, and nightclubs are open. In Jerusalem, things are a little more strict.
Israeli appliances run on 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. Most Israeli sockets are of the three-pronged variety but some you’ll be able to squeeze your European two-pronged plugs into as well. Most hotels provide hair dryers and virtually all hotel rooms have 110/220 electric shaver sockets. Electric shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may require adapters and/or converters, which you should probably purchase prior to your departure (they’re not always easy to find in Israel for some reason).
The hottest places in Israel are usually in the South, especially around the Eilat/Red Sea area, where it can reach 40-something in the summer. Scorching is the word you were looking for. It also gets piping hot in the Dead Sea area and around the Sea of Galilee, often peaking around 40 degrees C. In the Tel Aviv area it also gets hot, but because of the high humidity in the summer, it can get nastily sticky.
If you’re into scuba diving and snorkelling, it’s down to Eilat and a dip in the Red Sea for you. There are some truly amazing sights to see, for beginner and pro alike. You can also choose to take a PADI course, or even just test the water to see if scuba is your thing.
Israel is surprisingly expensive, especially when compared with its immediate neighbors. Tel Aviv is, in fact, the 14th most expensive city in the world. Having said that, you can still find some bargains, you just have to know where to look. But no, don’t expect to backpack round Israel on $5 a day…
* Police: Dial 100 | www.police.gov.il
* Ambulance: Dial 101 | www.101.up.co.il
* Fire Brigade: Dial 102
So yes, you were expecting camels, deserts and Arabian princes or princesses in windswept tents…well, good luck in finding the princes/princesses, though you’ll have better luck finding the camels and deserts, especially on your way down South. Once you get past Beer Sheva you can usually spot camels and Beduin villages scattered along the side of the main desert roads. Just be careful not to hit a camel if it crosses the road – you’ll come off worse!
Yes! It’s December and today it was belting it down! Though not cold, Israelis will try and convince you otherwise and will shiver if you show any skin…even if it’s in the 20′s and the sun is shining brightly…Basically it rains during the months of December – February but not even that much. But when it does rain, it rains. Not just misty English stuff, but real Mediterranean belters. So don’t forget to bring waterproof shoes/jacket if you’re visiting in the winter.
This little chart should give you an idea of what to expect throughout the year in Israel.
For such a small country, there are some really great beaches. Up North, around the Sea of Galilee, there are some very nice beaches – OK, no sandy expanses of beach, but still very nice (just avoid these beaches in July and August). The Dead Sea also has its own special beaches, especially round the Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek areas. Well worth a look. Of course, there’s always Tel Aviv’s beaches, and then there’s also the beaches of Eilat to keep your snorkel and fins occupied. Check out our beaches of Israel article for more on the very best beaches…
Yes! Anyone of any religion is able to pray at the Western Wall. You should wear a head covering of some sort, which is provided free at the entrance to the prayer section of the Wall. But apart from that, you’re free to pray and wedge your prayer in between the cracks of the huge stones that make up the Wall.
Well, not really. You can always find some kind of Christmas party or event, especially in the hotels and pubs that cater for tourists, but for some real Christmas in Israel festivity, you should probably head to Bethlehem.