Frequently Asked Questions

Israel Travel Magazine is proud to publish this ever growing list of frequently asked questions regarding travel in Israel.
Have a question and could not find the answer on our website?
Contact us or leave a message at the bottom of this page and we will do our best to help.

Safety

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

Israel is one of the most secured places on the globe.
Israeli authorities and security forces are working hard around-the-clock making sure it is safe to live and travel in Israel year-round.
Most of the public areas are guarded by private companies, and crowded events are secured by local police.
You may hear all kind of biased news in the media, the fact is that it’s safer to live and travel in Tel Aviv, for example, than it is in most famous cities like New York.
If you have more concerns, or plan to visit cities in the West Bank, read the article safe travel in Israel.

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Saturday and holidays in Israel

How will Shabbat (Saturday) impact my trip to Israel?

This is definitely one of the most common question raised by travelers that are not familiar with Israel.
In short, most public places, public services and private businesses are closed during Sabbath. This is the biggest impart on you as a tourist, and you must consider this when planning your itinerary.
For a detailed explanation and tips on what to do in Israel during Shabbat, read our special report about Shabbat in Israel (coming soon).

Traveling on Saturday

Similar to the previous question, public transportation is not available in Israel from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening. Thus you can rely either on your rental car or on taxis, as there are no trains or buses during this time.

Traveling on Saturday from/to Ben Gurion airport

Nesher Tours
Well, for this one there is a solution, it’s called Nesher Tours and they run a minibus service from BG airport to Jerusalem on Shabbat, cost is around 60 NIS per person.
You can also reserve a ride back from Jerusalem to the airport, ask the driver or call 02-6257227 (8AM-10PM). Please be aware that according to many complaints posted online, their customer service is bad, so if you have an alternative you should not rely on this service (especially from Jerusalem to the airport).

Sherut taxis – not around the airport
If you haven’t heard this term “Sherut taxi” or “Monit Sherut”, it is a service of vans that runs in and between major cities in Israel during the night and Shabbat (when regular public transport is not operating) on predefined routes much like buses.
Don’t rely on this service when you arrive and leave the country because it does NOT operate to/from Ben Gurion airport, only the regular (expensive) taxis that allowed to enter the airport area.

Other private service
Of course you can order in advance a private (reliable & expensive) service, here are a few options (we did not check them personally and sould love to get review on them from real travelers):
http://israel.airport-shuttle.com

Where can I find Shabbat times?

Jewish days are defined from sunset in one day to sunset in the next day, so generally speaking, Sabbath starts about an hour before sunset on Friday (in Hebrew “Knissat Shabbat”) and ends about an hour after sunset on Saturday (in Hebrew “Motzei Shabbat”). Exact times can be found in Jewish calendars and on Friday newspapers sold in Israel. You can also see here a complete list.

Where can I find a list of holidays in Israel?

It is important to be aware of the Israeli holidays calendar because the Jewish holidays are considered like Shabbat, so during these days some of the public services, attractions and private businesses are closed.
Read more about holidays in Israel

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Money

What is the Israeli currency?

Israeli currency is called New Israeli Shekel (abbr: NIS or ILS), the shorter name commonly used by the locals is simply Shekel.

VAT Refund – can I ask for a VAT refund when I leave Israel and how?

Israel has a 16% VAT (excluding the resort city of Eilat) on all goods and services.
You can get a refund when you leave the country for the majority of your trip expenses: accommodations, car rental, tours etc.
To claim the VAT back, first you need to get a VAT refund invoice when you pay for the good or service. This is possible at a selected businesses that were registered with the ministry of tourism for that purpose. Simply ask if they have the ChangePlace VAT refund form. Then at the airport (or other exit point) you can get the money back at the ChangePlace VAT service counter (after deduction of a service commission).

For further details check out the article money and currency in Israel.

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Travel Arrangements

Flights to Israel

You will probably land in Ben Gurion international airport in center Israel (or via Eilat’s airport).
Check out all the details about flights to Israel.

Accommodations in Israel

There are many options for accommodations for travelers in Israel, among them are hotels, hostels and guest houses, kibbutz, country-like accommodations (in Hebrew: “Zimmer”) and more.

You can read more information and find a large list of recommended hotels in Israel here: hotels in Israel.

Israel touring maps

There are a few options to choose from, at Israel’s book stores you can get a decent map of Israel called “Israel – 100 recommended sites” by Mapa for around 40 NIS, scale 1:250,000.

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Travel to other countries

Can I cross the border to/from other countries?

You can easily go from Israel to Jordan or Egypt (or enter Israel from these countries).
Make sure to make all the necessary visa arrangements  prior to your trip to these neighboring countries.
Please note that you may not cross the border to Lebanon or Syria.

Security Alert (April 2011)
Due to recent political changes and current instability in Egypt, please consult your country’s foreign affairs desk before going there.

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Geographical areas of Israel

Israel is a unique land where in a relatively small area there are many different geographical and climate characteristics.
The main areas of Israel are as follows:
Coastal plain
Mountain ranges
The Negev desert
Four seas: Mediterranean Sea borders Israel at the west, Sea of Galilee (lake Kinneret) in the north, Dead Sea to the east and Red Sea at the southernmost point of Israel.
Continue reading more about Israel’s geography and Israel weather

Related articles: Guide. Published on ; Last updated on

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3 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Sylvia Camiel (March 17, 2013):

    So, at this late date, we are unable to find hotel accommodations (3/27-3/28) for a reasonable rate for three adults and one 7 year old child.

    How safe is it to stay in Aqaba for one night? As after that, we are going to Petra.

    Thank you. Sylvia Camiel

    • Israel Travel Team (March 30, 2013):

      Well, Aqaba, the Jordanian town just next to Eilat is more or less safe,
      However you’d better off stay in Eilat, surely you can find a decent hotel, have you tried this great booking website? You can search and book hotels in Eilat as well as Aqaba.

  2. Kip Yattaw (December 13, 2013):

    Hi; My wife and I are going to Israel. I have a c-pack machine for sleep apnea. I understand that the power in Israel is 220 volts, my machine is 110 volts. What do I need to take on the trip with me to convert the power.Thank;Kip

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