Maybe you’re still just considering making the trip to Israel (what are you waiting for?!) or maybe you’ve already booked with us – regardless, it’s not unusual to have some questions about traveling to the Middle East, particularly if it’s your first time! We’ve compiled this list of information and tips so that you can rest assured and feel completely comfortable with your travels to the Holy Land.
Electricity in Israel operates at 220 volts. Depending on what you are bringing with you to Israel, you may need a converter or you may just need an adapter. An adapter simply changes the plug shape so that it will fit into the electrical outlet. A converter, however, changes the voltage level of the appliance. Anything with a motor such as a hair dryer will require a converter, otherwise it may overheat.
Even though Israel is a very small country (roughly the size of New Jersey), the weather can vary tremendously. The summers tend to be very hot regardless of where you are in Israel. The winters in Tel Aviv can be mild (although rainy), but there can be snow in Jerusalem and the north even features as ski resort. The Negev desert in the south can also get cold at night. Wearing layers is often a good idea so that you can adjust as the temperature may change throughout the day.
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Shekels come in bills (for example: 200, 100, 50, 20) and coins (10, 5, 2, 1). An agora is 1/10th of an Israeli shekel, but it only comes in 10 agorot and 50 agorot (1/2) coins.
The temperature in Israel is measured in degrees Celsius. 24 degrees Celsius is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The official languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, but most people also speak English. There are also many French and Russian speakers in Israel. Some basic Hebrew phrases that you may like to use during your travels:
Shalom – Hello/Good-bye
Todah – Thank you
Bevakesha – Please/You’re Welcome
Kamah Zeh Oleh? – How much does it cost?
Mayim – Water
Mazgan – Air Conditioning
Eifo Ha Sherutim? – Where is the bathroom?
Ken – Yes
Lo – No
Ma nishma? – How are you?
Besder – Okay
Tov – Good
Slicha – Excuse me
Lehitraot – See you later
Some people are taken aback by seeing soldiers with guns on the street in Israel, but you have nothing to fear. This is typical and should reassure you of the safety of traveling within Israel. It is normal to have your bag checked when entering shopping malls, bus terminals, museums, and holy sites. Israel is an expert in maintaining security.
Shabbat (also called Shabbos, or the Jewish Sabbath) occurs from Friday at sundown to one hour after sunset on Saturday (25 hours). During this time, public transportation stops, though taxi cabs and the sherut (shared taxi) service continues. Depending on what city you are in, you may find that many establishments also are closed. As Tel Aviv is a very secular city, you will not have any difficulty here finding restaurants and supermarkets that are open, and things mostly continue as normal. In Jerusalem, however, there is a siren that can be heard signaling the start of Shabbat, and most things are closed. In certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem, it is best to avoid driving during Shabbat. At some hotels, there may be a “Shabbat elevator” which will stop at every floor without you needing to push a button.
Isn’t every place to eat in Israel kosher? It may surprise you, but the answer is no. If you keep kosher, keep an eye out for the kosher certificate displayed at kosher restaurants.
What to Wear
In general, you can probably wear what you are accustomed to wearing in your home country. When visiting religious sites, however, it is best to make sure that your shoulders are covered and to dress conservatively. Head coverings may also be appropriate.
We hope this guide is helpful to you! For any other questions you may have, we are more than happy to answer. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .