OK, so you’re ready to buy that ticket and spring for a new pair of flip-flops/sandals, but do you really know what to expect when planning that visit to Israel? Here are FIVE things we think you really should know before you visit Israel…of course, there’s so much more to the Holy Land than this little lot, but they’re a good place to get started!
The compactness of Israel always surprises many, because despite all the big news stories and huge world interest, Israel is actually pretty tiny. And yes, believe it or not, you can snowboard, surf, and take a hike in the desert on a visit to Israel – all on the same day!
Head to the north of Israel in the early spring for some snow, then to the Mediterranean coast for some sun and surf, and wind up the day in the desert in the south of the country. It’s definitely doable (but we wouldn’t recommend it, you’ll be too rushed to really enjoy the sights and sounds)! But even though Israel is small, squeezing in many of the must see things to see and do in Israel is a tricky task and you’ll probably have to prioritize according to your schedule and interests.
2. The food in Israel is AMAZING
The food in Israel – and the wine – are amazing! From the numerous street vendors to the ever-expanding roster of top-class restaurants in cities like Tel Aviv, expect to be wowed by a fusion of tastes and smells.
Fall in love with fresh, piping hot felafel, squeezed into a pita full of salad and tahini sauce; learn from the locals how to wipe a plate of hummus clean; visit the boutique wineries throughout Israel to savor the delicious local reds and whites; or simply head for some of the most amazing cafes and restaurants in the Middle East, host to some of the leading chefs in the industry…
It doesn’t matter what tickles your taste-buds, whether it be sweet, sour or spicy, we guarantee you’ll find something to knock your socks off. Yes, come hungry and curious!
3. Israel is SAFE
It’s safe, very safe. I’m not sure how many times I can stress that, and how many times the BBC and CNN will try and hype the exact opposite, but it IS safe here. And I’m not just referring to the famed suicide bombers and terrorists, I’m also talking about general street safety. I don’t think there are many countries left in the world where single girls can walk the streets at night and feel relatively safe.
Of course, there are nutters, but they, unfortunately, exist everywhere. And what makes the “security issue” all worthwhile is seeing those cute 18-19 year old army girls with M-16s slung over their shoulders.
Need further convincing? Then this is a must-read.
4. Israel is NOT cheap
It’s more expensive than you probably thought! Don’t expect to sleep in hostels for 10 shekels a night, or get by on $10 a day – it’s not going to happen.
It is possible to get by cheaply (don’t miss our guide to visiting Tel Aviv on a budget), with fresh (and delicious) market produce and cheap street food, like felafel and hummus, but it’s often the small things you’ll find are annoyingly expensive, like groceries from the supermarket, deodorants, and, of course, gas/petrol (approximately $8 a gallon).
You won’t need to remortgage the house to visit Israel, but just be aware that you might need a bit more spending money…(and if you have US dollars or Euros, you’ll be much loved by the local money changers!)
5. Israel is a MELTING POT
It’s a melting pot! With so many immigrants from different cultures making up the population, Israel is one place where you won’t stand out like a sore thumb, whatever your color or creed.
Israel is also a lot more casual than you might expect; expect to meet bank managers and hi-tech executives dressed in jeans and even shorts and flip-flops.
And with all those diverse cultures mixing it (east meets west meets black meets white), don’t be surprised to see large numbers of very beautiful women, and very handsome men…