While it might geographically on the small side, Israel has a huge array of attractions and places to visit. With this is in mind, you may be unsure of where to start when creating an itinerary. Here are 10 steps to planning your perfect Israeli vacation.
Step 1 – When?
Israel’s weather is arguably perfect all year round. The summer months are exactly the type of weather you would want on your summer holiday. With the hot sun beating down on your soon-to-be golden skin, you’ll never want to leave the heavenly beaches all along the coast. But highs of over 30 degrees Celsius may be too hot for some, so October time could be the most comfortable for you. The breeze is stronger and the sun is weaker, but it’s definitely no winter. Winter in Israel is hardly a snowstorm, the wind is harsh, but the sun still shines. In our opinion, the best months to travel are from April to November, depending on your personal preferences. 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 could be a limited time window. However it is safe to say that whether you have one week or one month, you won’t 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.
Tourist Israel has package tours available for different lengths of stays in Israel. This is one of the best ways to see all the wonderful sites that the country has to offer. lIf 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 plane. 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, 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 have 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. 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
Where you stay in Israel depends largely on your budget. In the major cities in Israel 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 suitable for tourists, from some prestigious, historic properties, to some cheaper, more generic alternatives. Many Tel Aviv hotels have become intimate boutique hotels in recent years, 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 high 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 locals. A good night’s sleep can make or break your day of adventures and that’s why this is a key part of our 10 steps to planning the perfect Israeli vacation!
Step 7 – What to Do
Once you’ve arrived, 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 in Israel take time to visit. There might 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 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, even in the summer!
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. This is the most important part of our 10 steps to planning your perfect Israeli vacation. 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 took away some of your stress. Have a great time, and don’t forget to send us your photos when you get home!