10 Steps to Planning Your Perfect Israeli Vacation
While it might not be big geographically, Israel has a huge array of attractions and places to visit, . With this is in mind, many travelers are quite daunted by the prospect of travelling to Israel, and are unsure of where to start when creating an itinerary. Here are our top ten tips to creating the perfect Israeli vacation.
Step 1 – When to Go
Israel has a mild climate for most of the year, meaning there really isn’t a time to avoid visiting Israel. The summer months can get very hot and humid, with average temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius almost every day, while the winter months can be unpredictable and include storms that can last for multiple days and unfortunately change plans. Having said this, the winter months can also see some very pleasant spring-like weather. The best months for travelling to Israel are, in our opinion, May and October as the weather is most temperate and comfortable, although a majority of the year can be considered a great shoulder season. Read more about the weather in Israel.
Step 2 – How Long
Often the length of a trip to Israel is dictated by work vacations or school breaks, meaning there is only a limited time window. It is safe to say, however, that whether you have one week, or one month, you wont come anywhere near to seeing everything this country has to show. Ten days to two weeks are probably the best length of time to get a good feel for Israel, allowing you to tour around and spend a few days in the major tourist destinations of Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Dead Sea, and Tel Aviv. If all you can manage is a few days between business trips, be sure to check out our itineraries that cover all the major cities in 24 hours!
Step 3 – Getting to Israel
Most tourists arrive in Israel by plane, especially since the borders can be complicated to manage solo. Israel’s main airport is Ben Gurion Airport and airlines fly here from around the world. From the USA and Canada, direct flights come from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Toronto, and many other hub cities, although many travelers opt to travel via Europe as this means the trip is cheaper and doesn’t have as many overly long stretches stuck on a plan. From Europe, there are flights from all major cities, as well as budget options in most EU countries with airlines like Ryanair and Air Moldova. For a more upscale and hassle-free travel experience, book the Fattal VIP Private Terminal. The state-of-the-art terminal offers travelers a luxurious and smooth travel transition in and out of Israel, with amenities from fresh fruits to private hotel-style rooms for lengthy layovers.
Step 4 – Getting Around
Now that you know when you’re coming to Israel and how long you’ll be here, now you’ve just got to figure out how to get around! Some travelers decide to base themselves somewhere, and then take day trips or overnight trips, but others opt to tour around, staying a few nights in a number of places. The easiest way to get around in Israel is by joining day tours or arranging a tour package. Private tours or VIP tours are also options for those with higher budgets, as is hiring a dedicated private driver. If you prefer, most major international car hire firms having branches here, it is a cost effective and easy way to travel around. If you are unable to drive, then the Israeli train network is very comfortable, and goes to most major cities, while the bus network is extensive and covers a majority of the country in conjunction with the public mini-buses knows as Monit Sherut. A word of warning though, public transport is very limited between sundown on Friday and Saturday night due to the Sabbath, although there are some private transportation lines that are now being offered in Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Step 5 – Splitting the Trip
Knowing how you will get around will now allow you to figure out how you’re going to split your time in this fascinating place. How long you can spend in different areas really depends on how long you’ll be here, since some sites are only an hour or two from the center, like the ancient aqueducts at Caesarea, while some locations take the best part of a day to reach, like Eilat. It’s all a matter of prioritizing your interests, or planning another trip in the future so you don’t miss a thing! In 2 weeks, we would suggest that you spend 5 nights in Jerusalem, 2 at the Dead Sea, 3 in Tel Aviv, and 4 in the Galilee region. For shorter trips, we recommend deciding which cities or sites are most important to you, and then consulting our 24 hour itineraries for different major cities.
Step 6 – Where to Stay
Obviously where you can stay depends largely on your budget, and you can find everything from lively youth hostels and remote campsites to high-end boutiques and converted mansions. Hotels in Jerusalem range from a large number of hotels geared up to tourists, ranging from some prestigious, historic properties, to some cheaper, more generic alternatives. Many Tel Aviv hotels have, in recent years become intimate boutique hotels, while there are also some great beach-front properties and hostels. Dead Sea hotels are dominated by spa-style resort hotels, as well as some great quality hostels. Galilee hotels range from large resort hotels, to the very popular small bed and breakfasts called Zimmers which can be very luxurious, quaint, and relaxing! Airbnb is also an option in almost all of Israel if you’re looking for a more unique stay in some out of the way locales.
Step 7 – What to Do
There will probably be some places you’ve known you want to go to for some time. There will also be places such as the Western Wall and Yad Vashem Museum that most tourists to Israel take time to visit. There will then be places that you haven’t even heard of yet that you’ll want to check out! The best thing to do is to look with an open mind in the area you are staying for things which appeal to you rather than to look for certain types of attraction. There are some seriously unique places to go in Israel, and its so easy to overlook them! From sand-boarding in the Negev to underground aqueduct adventures, you can find something for everyone if you’re willing to step outside the box.
Step 8 – Packing
The trip is fast approaching and you’re now wondering what clothes to take to Israel with you! If you’re planning on visiting religious areas, be they in Jewish or Muslim areas, the general rule is long pants and sleeves for men, while women should be in longer skirts and sleeves with a scarf or other item to cover your hair. This is also key if you’re looking to enter some of the older churches that dot the country. In most of the country, you can wear anything (and we mean anything) and no one will raise an eyebrow: Tel Aviv is the country’s experimental fashion capital. Look at the weather for that time of the year, and pack accordingly. We’d always advise, even in summer, that you bring some warmer clothes as the evenings can get quite cool once the sun has set, especially in the desert and near the beaches.
Step 9 – Other Practicalities
Will my kids like the food in Israel? Can I get a wi-fi connection? Will I be able to call home?… Loads of questions will no doubt enter your mind as the trip approaches. Yes is the answer to all three of the above questions. Remember, Israel is a very westernized country, and all the services you expect and take for granted at home, will be available – you can even pre-order your Israel SIM card online. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
Step 10 – Enjoy Yourself
You’ve arrived, so enjoy it. Relax and stay safe. Remember that Israelis are really hospitable people, and will be more than willing to help you if you have any questions. We hope our guide to planning your perfect Israeli vacation took away some of your stress. Have a great time, and don’t forget to send us your photos when you get home!