Travelling to Israel is a spiritual journey, one that usually involves a trip to the Western Wall, a swim in the Dead Sea or a visit to Jesus’ childhood home of Nazareth. And travellers of all faiths and all walks of life book flights to Israel year after year to experience this ethereal place.
For centuries Israel has served as a centre for religious and political tension which poses a common concern for those planning a trip to the country. However, it is safe to visit and remains a very popular tourist destination. Of course, it is always good to keep your common sense and wits about you.
When visiting Israel there are some cultural and religious sensitivities to bear in mind. Jews cannot eat dairy and meat together, and Muslims and Jews are forbidden from eating pork at any meal. Common foods found throughout Israel include falafel and schnitzel and if you’re visiting on a Friday night, remember that it’s the Sabbath (the Jewish Holy Day) and observant Jews are not permitted to cook so many family-owned restaurants will be closed.
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Israel has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, and short, wet, cool winters.
When to fly to Israel
Israel’s main cities and towns are year-round destinations, though they may become very hot and humid during summer.
The beach resorts in Israel enjoy warm temperatures even in the wintertime, so this can be the perfect time to visit. The areas in the mountains do get cold though.
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Getting around Israel
Between Eilat, Tel Aviv and Haifa there are a few domestic flights available operated by airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir.
The bus company Egged runs inter-city trips and fares are reasonable and the journey is fast. Tickets can be bought in advance at the bus stations or just direct from the driver.
The rail service, run by Israel Railways, is less extensive but gradually expanding. Tickets must be bought in advance, but you can reserve a seat when you do so.
If you happen to be visiting during Shabbat or public holidays, there is no rail or bus service on those days.
Israel insider information
- For a true spiritual awakening head to Jerusalem, a place of pilgrimage for three religions. Be sure to book ahead before you arrive since it can be very full of tourists and accommodation can be full year-round.
- Tel Aviv, the country’s second-largest city, can feel so far removed from Jerusalem. The city, situated on the Mediterranean Sea, is gleaming and modern, full of high rises, shops, restaurants and theatres. Its waterfront and beach area attracts tourists and locals to congregate from sunrise to sunset.
- Eilat, at the southwest tip of the country, is the most heavily advertised tourist area in the country. The resort focused on holidaymakers: swim with dolphins, dive in the coral reef, eat in its luxury restaurants or simply relax.
- A trip to Israel would not be complete without floating in the Dead Sea. The saltiest body of water on Earth, it is famous for its properties of buoyancy. When you’re in the area, head to Masada, the site of a group of ancient palaces on a steep rock overlooking the Dead Sea.