Located geographically and culturally at the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa, Israel is a melting pot of diverse ethnicities and religions. Despite its small size, Israel holds a plethora of spectacular natural landscapes, archeological treasures, and historical religious sites. Soak up some sun on a Mediterranean beach, hike the Israeli National Trail or ride a camel through Israel’s hauntingly beautiful deserts. With its snow-capped mountains, coastal gems, ancient artifacts, bustling markets, striking cityscapes and laid-back locals, Israel is an ideal travel destination.
Passport and Visa requirements:
To enter Israel, a passport must be valid for a minimum of six (6) months from the date of intended arrival.
For a list of countries requiring visa for entry to Israel please go to:www.projectvisa.com
If you are not sure of visa requirements for Israel, please contact your nearest Israeli Consulate.
Banking and Currency
Local currency is Shekels (NIS). The shekels have the following denominations:
NIS 200 / NIS 100 / NIS 50 / NIS 20 bank notes
10 shekel / 5 shekel / 2 shekel / 1 Shekel / ½ shekel / 10 agurot coins
Money can be changed at post offices, banks, change places or hotels. If changing at hotels, exchange rate is usually lower than elsewhere. It is recommended to use post offices if changing large amounts of foreign money as there are no commission charges.
Shekels are needed for small purchase in local stores and taxies. Restaurants, hotels, stores and entertainment centers accept payment by credit cards (American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners). We suggest that you contact your credit card carrier to inform them of your travel dates to Israel and any other countries you may be traveling to
Most banks are open between 8:30 am – 12:00 noon daily; a few banks open again in the afternoons from 4:00 -5:30 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays all banks are closed.
Most prices in Israel include 17% VAT. All goods and services purchased by tourists in Eilat are exempt from VAT, including Israelis. VAT is also not charged on the following tourists services as long as the tourist does not possess Israeli citizenship:
· Accommodation (hotels, youth hostels, field schools and camping)
· Organized tours
· Tourist car hire with driver-guide
· Car rental
· Domestic flights and tours
· Meals provided by tour operators during organized tours
· Meals eaten in hotel restaurants by guests staying in that particular hotel
· Many gift items
In order to acquire the refund, the following procedure must be obtained:
· Look for the ‘tax refund’ sticker on the business or publications
· Ask for a VAT refund invoice – the invoice must be an official Change Place document, which is the official VAT Refund broker in Israel
· At the airport VAT desk, show the original invoice, the green VAT tax form, and the goods you have purchased
· At the end of the procedure, you will receive a check drawn in your favor which can be cashed this same day
For each purchase exceeding US$ 200 (including VAT) the Vat will be refunded upon presentation of the special invoice at the port of departure.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Buses / trains
All public transportation (except taxis) stop operating an hour before sunset on Friday, and resume one hour after sunset on Saturday.
From Ben Gurion Airport: proceed to the taxi stand outside the arrival hall.All rates are set from the airport to a specific town and no meter will be switched on.
If taking taxis elsewhere in Israel be sure to ask the driver to use the meter. All licensed taxi drivers use white cars with a yellow ‘taxi sign’ and have their name and license number inside the car.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Tap water is safe to drink throughout Israel. Bottled water is widely available and is advised for the first few weeks of the stay. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. All local meat, fish and vegetables are considered safe to eat.
Almost every restaurant in Israel has menus in English. Occasionally, the spellings or translations can be a bit strange, but these can provide amusement as well as charm. Like for anywhere else in the world, research restaurants on-line or use a good guide-book.
Most restaurants and food stalls are open non-stop from the morning until the evening hours. Restaurants that are also bars remain open until the small hours of the night. In the major cities, especially in Tel Aviv, you can find something to eat at any hour of the day or night.
Reservations are a must at the top restaurants – particularly in Tel Aviv. A great deal for tourists are the Business Lunches at restaurants – particularly the top-rated places – in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These lunches are special ‘prix fixe’ menus with several choices – at prices a third or half of the same meal in the evening. Israelis generally eat later than Americans. Lunch is usually some time between 1 and 3PM. And while the better restaurants are open from 6 or 7 – they don’t usually become crowded until 9PM or later.
Israelis tip 15% in restaurants and cafes. Often this is added to the bill, but if service was not satisfactory you can ask to have it removed. When tips are not included on the bill they must be left in cash, either shekel or dollars.
Climate and Weather
December – January – February- winter. Temperatures are between 5°-18° Centigrade in Tel Aviv which is 41° to 65 °Fahrenheit. It may get colder around the Jerusalem and Golan Heights mountains to a level of 0° Centigrade (32°Fahrenheit) especially at night.
March - April – May – spring. Temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 16° to 24° degrees Centigrade which are 61° to 75° Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3°Centigrade colder (5.5°Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3°Centigrade warmer.
June - July – August (and sometimes September) – summer. Temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 24° to 35°centigrade which is 75° to 95° Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3° centigrade cooler (5.5° Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3°Centigrade warmer. Desert areas (Jerusalem/Negev/Dead Sea) are very dry, while the rest of the country is humid.
September - October – November - autumn: The temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 16° to 24° centigrade which is 61° to 75° Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3°Centigrade colder (5.5° Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3°Centigrade warmer
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
Casual clothes recommended for touring and good walking shoes. Religious sites require modest dress i.e. shoulders need to be covered and clothing should reach elbows and knees; some churches require the men to wear long pants.
You may need for a hat for both men and women to provide protection from the weather.
Shawl or scarf are needed for women (for wrapping bare arms/legs around in holy sites and/or for additional warmth)
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Israel usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance is not compatible with 220-240 electrical output, a voltage converter will be necessary.
Upon arrival to Israel:
Upon arrival to Israel, our passport control authorities will no longer be issuing a tourist visa stamp in passports. Passengers will receive a small paper slip with the entry date stamped on it.
The slip is in fact a scan of the passengers’ passport details and has 2 functions:
It serves as an ID while traveling in Israel
Provides proof of holding a foreign passport instead of the visa stamp and that you have indeed entered Israel with a non-Israeli passport.
Upon hotel check in, the reception clerk might ask you to present this slip. Your passport alone will no longer be sufficient to waive VAT.
Please treat this slip as you would your passport and maintain it in secure and accessible place throughout your visit in Israel.
For national flights to/from Eilat – tourists should be at the airport for the security check 1.5 hours prior to departure.
For international flights – tourists should be at the airport for the security check 3 hours prior to departure. Tourists flying business class or first class – 2 hours prior to departure.
Check-in for departing flights: 24 hours or less before your scheduled departure time, you should complete airline check in prior to airport arrival via the internet, and print out your boarding card. Should you not be able to do this, you need to check in at the new kiosks upon arrival at the airport, and print out our boarding card.
Once this has been done you can proceed directly to the security check and from there to the airline desk to drop off your luggage.
In order to speed up airport check in procedures, we very much recommend checking in on line before arriving at Ben Gurion Airport!
Israeli standard time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 1 hour ahead of mid-Europe time
Israel is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 10 hours ahead of Pacific US time
Shabbat (Saturday) in Israel
Shabbat starts approximately 40 minutes before Sunset on Friday afternoon and ends one hour after sunset on Saturday evening. All public offices in Israel are closed on Shabbat, as are most private businesses. Public transportation (trains and buses in most cites) do not operate, and in many places it is not easy to find an open restaurant. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.
In areas where most of the population is secular, such as Tel Aviv and most of its surroundings towns, Shabbat is expressed mainly in minimal business activity and transportation. Many secular families leave the cities on Shabbat, for relaxation and recreation in natural surroundings. In religious neighborhoods (including large sections of Jerusalem), the religious character of Shabbat as a holy day is observed to its fullest. Many streets are closed to traffic and alternative bypass routes must be found to travel from one place to another.
Internet is widely available and Wi-Fi is commonly found in cafes and hotels and tourist buses
All hotels offer direct dial phones, but these can be pricey. Calling cards can be bought from newsagents and used in phone booths, or newsagent coin-operated phones. The international dialing code for Israel is +972
Mobile phone connections are excellent, even in rural areas, and roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. It is possible to rent mobile phones or SIM cards in Tel Aviv or at the airport
Gratuities are not obligatory however hotel staff always appreciate a ‘thank you’ i.e. porter, chamber maid and dining room staff; as well as drivers and guides.