How to Travel Around Israel

Traveling around Israel can be a little tricky. Luckily, many of the street signs are in three languages (Hebrew, Arabic, and English) so you can easily find your way around.

Car: You can easily rent a car with your driver’s license from your home country. If you have made Aliyah, you’ll eventually need to get an Israeli driver’s license. If you have been licensed for at least five years, you will not even need to take the driving exam. Pros for driving: Freedom and flexibility to go anywhere in Israel, it is faster than taking a bus and probably cheaper than using a taxi. Cons: Finding parking in the big cities, steep gasoline prices, driving in Israel (To say driving on the roads in Israel is dangerous would be an understatement), and if you’re not familiar with the area you may accidentally wander into an Arab village.

Bus: Israel has a very well-developed public bus system in most parts of the country. In the main cities, most of the waiting times are between 5-20 minutes until the next bus. Moovit is on the app store, and it is essential to have it in order to plan your route and find your stop when using the buses. The only con to using this app is you may have to type your destination in Hebrew on occasion. If you are unable to do this, Google Maps is a great alternative. Pro tip: if you switch buses in Jerusalem within 90 minutes of first using your Rav Kav (bus pass), each following bus is free. Just be sure to swipe your Rav Kav each time you get on the bus for validation. I’m not sure if the 90-minute rule applies to anywhere else in Israel, but I know it does exist in Jerusalem.

Taxi: You can take a taxi in Israel, though it is very expensive. It’s also a bit of a gamble unless you know the driver is trustworthy. If you use a taxi, try to make sure there are other passengers in the car with you. If they realize you’re a tourist, very often they will try to overcharge you. Insist on having the meter running, even if they claim it’s broken. Have an agreed-upon price before you start your journey. Pros: Almost the same flexibility and freedom as renting a car, you don’t need to worry about parking, and you’ll have someone to talk to during a long journey. Cons: They will try to swindle you, and it can be a bit of a safety risk.

Tremp: Otherwise known as hitchhiking is something a lot of Israelis engage in. There are Facebook groups dedicated to tremping from city to city. This is a very dangerous method of traveling in Israel, and not recommended for people new to the land and the culture. Unfortunately some areas of Israel are not very developed, and this means there isn’t public transportation available. Those who live in these areas and don’t have a car have to either carpool or tremp to get where they need to go.

Light Rail: The method of using the light rail system in Israel is very similar to using Israeli buses. The 90 minute Rav Kav rule also applies here. Pros: Travel a lot faster, can also use Moovit. Cons: Sometimes crowded, especially Thursday evenings.

Train: You’ll need to buy a ticket from the train station. This can either be loaded onto your Rav Kav or printed as a paper ticket. Pros: Don’t have to drive, faster during traffic time. Cons: Not as many different places you can travel to using this method of transportation.

Airplane: There are three airports in Israel available for use: Ben Gurion near Tel Aviv, Ramon near Eilat, and the Haifa airport. Ben Gurion is the main international airport, and any flights that need to be redirected are sent to the Ramon airport. Getting to Eilat can be a four-hour drive each way from Jerusalem, so while expensive it may be worthwhile to get a ticket from Tel Aviv and fly into Ramon if you’re planning a day trip.

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