The cost of travel in Israel is a question that we are frequently asked about but, of course, how much it will cost to travel around Israel depends very much on your preferences and how clever you can be in planning your trip. As a western country, travel in Israel does cost more than in the rest of the Middle East – you’ll need to expect Western European prices and you’ll have no nasty surprises. Having said this, there are some ways that you can save the pennies and travel in Israel on even the tightest of budgets.
Where to stay?
Many of Jerusalem’s greatest sites are free to enter
Israel has a fast growing network of independent and high quality hostels. They offer affordable and high quality accommodation, combined with great facilities and services designed for budget travelers. There are now great hostels in almost every city in Israel, and most of the hostels in Israel have dorm rooms starting from 70 NIS a night (as of early 2013, about 20 USD). It is, of course, more than you would expect to pay in many parts of the world, but the standard of accommodation is higher, with air conditioned rooms, breakfast, and other facilities fairly standard.
How to get around?
Israel has a very advanced bus network which is efficient, safe, and affordable. Bus fares in Israel, particularly to the remoter regions of the country, are subsidized and this makes the buses a popular way to get around. Most buses offer free wifi. The bus from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, costs around 18 NIS (5 USD) one-way, whilst the bus from Jerusalem to Haifa or Nazareth is around 40 NIS (11 USD) one-way. Also, take advantage of self-guided tours and other products designed for budget travelers which allow you to visit some more inaccessible sites for reasonable prices.
How to eat?
Food in Israel is generally very high quality, and of course, varies dramatically in price. In Tel Aviv, Israel’s undeniable culinary capital, some of the top restaurants are expensive, even by European standards, but most restaurants across the country are reasonable when you take into account the quality and portion sizes at around 15 USD for main dishes. Take advantage of the business lunches many restaurants in Israel have to offer where you receive two courses and a drink for the price of a main dish, and also, of course, don’t forget about Israel’s street food which is very cheap – falafal, for instance, can be found for 2 or 3 USD. Also, take advantage of the many markets, where ingredients can be purchased cheaply and prepared in your hostel.
How to do things?
The cost of entry to attractions in Israel does, of course, vary dramatically. Entry at most national parks is 25-30 NIS (8-10 USD), and at major museums, 40-50 NIS (11-14 USD), although these do of course vary dramatically. Many of Israel’s most fascinating things to do not require an entry fee, for instance, walking around the Old City of Jerusalem, visiting Yad Vashem, exploring Tel Aviv’s White City, or visiting many of the beaches at the Dead Sea, so this balances out many of the other charges. Check our our list of free things to do in Jerusalem for some more ideas.
How to get there?
Flights to Israel are of course, a major cost. There are more and more low cost airlines flying to Tel Aviv from Europe and great fares can be found on flights either far in advance, or to less popular or secondary cities. Some people find it is cheaper to fly to Amman in Jordan and transfer across the border. Cheap flights can be found if you search hard – check our guide to finding the cheap flights to Israel for more ideas about getting here cheaply.
How much do I need?
If you want to travel on an absolute budget in Israel, you should allow at least 30-40 USD a day for accommodation, some transportation, some attractions, and of course, food. Check our our guide to ways to see Israel on a budget for more ideas.