Israel Travel Guide
A small strip of land nestled between Egypt and Jordan, Israel is a country steeped in history. It’s been populated for thousands of years, while the country is dotted with historical sites, ancient cities, sandy beaches, and has huge cultural and religious significance. Israel hosts more and more travelers each year and not just as a place of pilgrimage. While cities like Jerusalem, Nazareth and Akko offer tons of history, modern metropolises such as Tel Aviv and Haifa have vibrant nightlife and boast contemporary art galleries, glassy skyscrapers and buzzing streets. Despite the seeming monotony of the landscape, it is really diverse in fact. As you travel from South to North Israel, you discover not only deserted mountains and deserts, but also fertile valleys and palm groves. The country isn’t perfect with the confounding politics of the region, but the country’s natural beauty, rich culture and seaside resorts make it a welcoming spot for spending some time here. This travel guide aims to give my readers only reliable travel information, which means I don’t encourage any political discourse about Israeli-Palestinian relations, and I do realize that a lot of things mentioned here originated or is common in other cultures of the Middle East or Mediterranean.
Getting Around Israel
Bus is the most popular and convenient means of transport in Israel. Trains are also quite accessible and they don’t just connect Ben Gurion airport with Haifa, Tel Aviv, and other major cities, but offer reasonably priced service for reaching Beer Sheva, Dimona, Ashdod and Ashkelon. If you find yourself in Israel on Saturday expect your trip to be more complicated. Public transport is very limited during the Sabbath day, which usually means you have to pick taxi or sherut (a multi seat van). Buses are available in Haifa on Saturdays, while trains don’t run at all from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening. A bus trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, for example, will cost around 9 USD while a trip from Tel Aviv to Haifa costs 9-12 USD. A 5 hour long trip from Tel Aviv to Eilat costs 40 USD.
Accommodation in Israel
Dormitory rooms in hostels range from 19-33 USD per night, depending on the city. Privates in hostels cost around 30 USD. Budget hotels cost around 60 USD per night for a double room with free WiFi and A/C. However, there are always cheaper options. You may expect to pay around 40-60 USD for a studio apartments and 20 USD for a shared room through services like Airbnb. For those wanting to visit some distant places and live in the tent, camp sites across the country offer accommodation option for 14-20 USD. Usually located next to national parks and historical attractions, campsites are great to get easy and quick access to them.
Food in Israel
The Western fast food is pretty expensive in Israel and will actually cost you more than local meals. Thus, combo meal at McDonalds cost around 13 USD, such meals like Falafel, Shawarma (doner kebab) or tunisian sandwich come for less than 5 USD. Stick to local food to save extra money. For a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around 17 USD. Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost as much as 60 USD. Groceries are expensive in Israel, so you may carry out your own research, on which supermarket is cheaper. My budget daily menu consisted of hummus with fresh pita, salad made with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and lemon juice, falafel and shakshouka. Well, maybe shawarma to diversify this list. It usually cost me 12-15 USD per day.