Why travel in Israel?
Looking for your next adventure around the world? Somewhere exotic, exciting, spiritual, with breathtaking views? Well, don’t think twice, Israel IS THE PLACE TO GO!
How long should our trip in Israel be?
If you’re first time travelers in Israel, we believe the ultimate tour length is 10-14 days. During this time your can easily cover a variety of activities; touring the main cities (Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/Haifa), visiting the must-see historical heritage sites (Masada/Galilee/ meeting cultures and traditions off-the-beaten tracks, and much more.
Is it safe to travel in Israel?
The Government of Israel makes considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security in areas where foreigners frequently travel. In 2013, 3.5 million tourists came to Israel – an all-time record. For more information click here.
Can I choose not to have an Israeli stamp in my passport in case I plant to travel to countries that don't recognize Israel?
Israel’s records are now kept electronically so tourists’ passports are no longer stamped.
Do I need a visa to travel to Israel?
- There is no visa required when traveling to Israel on a US passport. If you are NOT a US citizen, please verify in advance about possible visa requiremens.
- Your passport must be valid at least 6 month AFTER your scheduled return to the US. If you will be traveling to Jordan, you can usually purchase the required visa at the border, but please verify prior to your departure as there are times when advance procurement of visa is required.
- Upon arrival you will receive a “ticket” that will be used as you go through passport control and enter the luggage area. DO NOT LOSE THIS. You may need this when you check into hotels, rent cars, etc, as it will allow you to NOT pay VAT tax. If you don’t have this, the vendor may be required to charge you an additional tax.
- We recommend making a copy of your passport and other important documents and store them in a safe place OTHER than with your passport – as well as keeping a copy with friends/family at home. This way if anything gets lost it is easier to handle.
Can we visit the West Bank or Gaza when traveling in Israel? Can we visit Bethlehem?
Crossing from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is direct, easy and no prior authorization is required. Hundreds of tourists make the crossing in both directions every day. As always, it is wise to check on the political situation before entering the Palestinian Authority. Please note to take your passport with you as you will need to present it in order to re-enter Israeli-controlled territory.
Should I have insurance when I travel in Israel?
We recommended that you obtain travel insurance prior to your departure. Things to consider in purchasing travel insurance:
- Limitations on any policy – acceptable reasons for cancellation. One can always purchase cancel for any reason insurance but it is more expensive
- What benefits are provided – trip cancellation/delay? Health benefits? Emergency evacuation benefits in the event of serious condition that can’t be handled?
- Check your health insurance coverage before you travel to see what is covered outside the country.
- Check what coverage your credit card companies may provide
Do I need to receive any special vaccinations before my trip to Israel?
Not at all. Israel is an entirely western country with an advanced level of hygiene, health care, diagnosis and medicine and a par with the best of North America and Western Europe’s facilities.
How can I keep healthy in Israel?
- Water: Tap water in Israel is safe and clean. Bottled mineral water is available to purchase everywhere. If you buy it from a street vendor be sure cap is sealed. Carry water with you at all times. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are walking. Even if it doesn’t seem that hot, it is important.
- Food: Please be sure to tell us of any dietary restrictions you may have. Even if you told us in advance, keep reminding us, especially if you are in a large group. Your health is one of our greatest concerns
What is the weather like in Israel?
Israel is a perfect year round travel destination. The summers at times can get pretty hot and humid (especially along the coastline), but the winters are nothing to brag about and are usually very mild and rarely rainy. All public transport, malls, shops and restaurants are equipped with AC. Most importantly: you should always apply sunscreen whenever you go outside, especially in the summer. However, as in most countries, there can be sharp contrasts in weather that depend on the season. Rain falls only during the winter, and even then it’s more often sunny than not. In early spring, there can be hot dry desert winds that Israelis refer to by the Arabic name Hamseen, which means “fifty,” ostensibly because its potential season totals 50 days, though in fact it usually doesn’t last more than three or four at a time. Autumn is typically glorious, with extended stints of sunny, dry weather.
What shall I pack in my suitcase for my trip to Israel?
Always: A camera for capturing your special moments, a bathing suit, a hat, plenty of sunscreen, sandals for hiking in water, comfy hiking shoes (best tall ones), and a rucksack for hiking (1 per family). In summer: Lightweight T-shirts, sleeveless shirts and shorts. Pack a sweater or a jacket for chilly nights in the mountains or the desert. Some religious sites require long pants for men and clothing that covers the shoulders and knees for women. In winter: You should pack long sleeve shirts and trousers, sweaters, a warm hat, a scarf, gloves, a warm coat, a raincoat and an umbrella. Sometimes there are very warm and sunny days in the winter season, so it is recommended to also bring some light cloths.
- Note – Israel is a very casual country. Even in the fanciest hotels and restaurants men do not need jacket or tie. Women can wear pants everywhere. Shorts are fine except in religious sites. Me must cover heads in synagogues.
Can I keep in shape on a tour to Israel?
Due to comfortable weather throughout most of the year, you can enjoy plenty of outdoor sports such as running/jogging, road cycling and off-road cycling. Swimming is excellent in Israel from April to October along the Mediterranean coast and the Sea of Galilee. Throughout the year, swimming is popular at the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. Many hotels have excelt gyms facilities.
Phones and Internet
Puzzle Israel recommends you make sure to bring with you a smartphone that has non-limited internet service. Many useful applications require internet service: WhatsApp – for free texting (with Puzzle staff); Waze – a free navigation app. If your personal phone services are too expensive to use in Israel, we recommend renting a smartphone which can be picked up and returned at the airport. Keep in mind that most hotels provide free WiFi services you can connect to with your smartphone, ipad, or laptop.
Will I need an adapter for my appliances in Israel?
- Voltage – Electricity in Israel and Jordan is 220 volts. In the U.S. it is 110 volts. Most of the things a traveler will want to plug in—battery chargers, MP3 players, smartphones, tablets or computers—can run off both 110 and 220. But you should check the item or the owner’s guide first to confirm this before you plug it in. If you have something that needs 110 volts—like a shaver or a hairdryer—you can bring a transformer to change the current. (But transformers tend to burn out, so it might be better to leave whatever it is at home.)
- Plugs – The shape of plugs will vary from country to country, and sometimes even within a country depending on when that building was built. Different plug shapes are named by letters of the alphabet—Type A, Type B, and so on. Standard U.S. plugs are Type A and Type B. Here is the list of plugs for this trip:
- Overall, a Type C plug adapter will be the most useful on this itinerary because it will fit in C, H, D, or F sockets. Type C is also used in Europe
- Israel: C or H
- Jordan: D, F, or G
The currency in Israel is the shekel, sometimes referred to as NIS (New Israeli Shekel). Current exchange rates are slightly less than 4 NIS to the US Dollar. While you can obtain shekels from some banks prior to your departure to Israel, you can change money pretty easily once you arrive.
- ATM -Most ATMs will allow you to use your card from home. You may wish to advise your bank that you will be using your card in Israel. There are a few ATMs at the airport in Israel. They generally have a button allowing for the transaction to take place in English.
- Cash – you can change money at any number of currency change places that offer good rates and no commission
- Credit cards – Most cards work in Israel, though Visa and Mastercard are most recognized, as is American Express. Bring a couple of different ones just in case one is not accepted. Call your bank before you travel. Many credit cards now offer NO foreign transaction fees. Check your cards to see which may be the best ones to use.
- Note – when calling Chase if that is your bank they may tell you your ATM won’t work in Israel. This is generally not the case but if you don’t have another debit card you may wish to bring cash to be sure.
- Travelers checks are generally NOT recommended as often places aren’t sure how to deal with them.
Tipping in Israel
Tour guides & drivers: It is customary to tip your tour guide $6-10 US per person per tour day and tip the driver $3-5 US per person per tour day. Suggested tipping for tour guides on private tours is $40-80 for the whole tour day. Restaurants: At a restaurant or cafe, it is appropriate to tip 10-15% of the bill, depending on how much you are pleased with the service. Note that most wait-staff prefer to be tipped in cash. If you are paying with a credit card, you have to ask to add the tip to the total amount before the card is charged, unlike in North America where you can write the tip amount on the receipt. Some restaurants require tips to be made in cash, so it is a good habit to carry around with you small change for these occurrences. Taxis: You do not need to tip your taxi driver. Hotels: If you are staying at a hotel, plan on tipping your bellman around 5 NIS per bag carried. Leave your maid around 5-10 NIS per day. If you order room service, tip the servers 5% of the total bill, always make sure that the hotel did not automatically add a gratuity to your bill (which is the usual practice in most countries).
Are there enough attractions for children traveling in Israel?
Yes – Israel offers many fun and creative attractions for children. Puzzle Israel’s itineraries can include a large variety of interesting activities for children like a Puzzle-guided activity introducing the typical Israeli childhood games and treats we all grew up with (which adults will surely enjoy too). Museums: The Israeli Children’s Museum; The Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space; Miniature Israel. Stimulating Factory Tours: The chocolate factory in the Golan Heights; The Coca Cola factory – Interactive experience which includes witnessing one of the most advanced production processes in the world. Hiking and Outdoor Activities: Flower blossoms in the Negev desert; The Salad Trail; Hot air balloon rides; Helicopter flights; Outdoor cooking workshops; Horse / camel riding and donkey carriage races; ATV trail adventure; Rappelling; Cycling on desert and forest trails; Meeting local artists and learning their trade. In addition, Puzzle Israel’s staff if 100% children friendly and we are more than happy to provide a babysitting service when the adults want to enjoy some time alone.
Is Israel accessible for travelers with special needs?
Absolutely! Israel has become aware of the needs of travelers with special requirements. There are many accessible hotels, restaurants, outdoor sites, public transportation (busses, trains etc). Puzzle Israel is one of the only tour companies that provides travelers with tours designed specifically for families and groups traveling with special needs members. For more information see our an article describing our services and contact us for more information.
Is everything closed on Shabbat in Israel?
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the Jewish holy day of the week observed every Saturday. Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday evening, but keep in mind that the exact time changes from city to city and from week to week. All public offices are closed on Shabbat, as are banks. Even though most stores and businesses are also closed, there is a growing number of shopping centers open on Shabbat, especially in Tel Aviv. In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) do not operate on Shabbat. Most non-kosher restaurants are open on Shabbat. If you are planning on visiting a specific location (such as museums, restaurants etc) , it is advised to check in advance that it is open. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.
What is the best way to see, taste, and experience Israel?With Puzzle Israel of course! Come and join us!
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