Israel Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Israel

Language: Hebrew, Arabic

Currency: Shekel (ILS)

Calling code: 972

Israel (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל, Medinát Jisra'él) is a country in the Middle East. It is located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea and borders Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east and Egypt to the southwest in the Sinai Peninsula area. The areas of the West Bank (the English term "West Bank" is used internationally) and the Gaza Strip in the south-west, which extend in the shape of a mirrored B from the Jordan Valley to the west, belong to the Palestinian Authority. In the extreme south, the country has a small entrance to the Red Sea.

Founded in 1948, the small state is one of the most controversial destinations and one where the most conflicting opinions collide. Located in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, the region has a history dating back to prehistoric times and has been the scene of clashes between different powers and interests over the millennia from ancient to modern times, which is reflected in the wealth of archaeological sites, but also in a still smoldering conflict between the neighboring states and Israel to this day.

An extreme diversity and the most diverse facets presented to the observer from the outside make up the state and its inhabitants. For the Jewish people, the nation state founded in 1948 is a home in which they can live their language and culture protected from persecution for the first time in centuries. For many residents of the surrounding states it is a stumbling block, a state that is still denied its right to exist by certain circles becomes. In contrast to propaganda exploited statements by extreme exponents of the different sides, in Israel people live in a form of coexistence that allows the conflict to recede into the background in everyday life.

One facet is the enormous importance of religions by European standards: Jews, Muslims and Christians have their holy places in Israel, and here especially in the historical focal point in Jerusalem, and visiting them is often a reason for a trip to Israel. Conflicts over this have more than once triggered armed conflicts in the past. The fact that at almost the same time orthodox Jews rushed to the synagogues in their typical costume to pray, the call of the muezzin mixed with the ringing of church bells, which is familiar to Central Europeans, is a typical sign of coexistence in Israel. Another facet is the diversity of the country's inhabitants, their appearance and customs. Not only the ultra-orthodox Jews with black coats, fur hats and side curls, familiar from the illustrations, are part of the street scene, but also the IT specialists working in high-tech forges in Israel's "Silicon Valley", Israeli Arabs with a Muslim or Christian background in their shops and restaurants , Druze in northern Israel and in the Golan, Bedouins traveling with camels or in off-roaders in the Negev... - due to the immigration of Jews from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the streetscape often does not differ much from what Central Europeans are used to is. Another facet are the geographical differences from the Mediterranean coast with bathing beaches, the wooded hills of the Shefela and the Israeli north, enormous agricultural areas criss-crossed by highways and the desert areas in the south of the country. From the beaches on the Red Sea, where you can snorkel in winter, to the ski area on Mount Hermon you only need a few hours by car, from the date palm plantations on the Dead Sea to the cool hills around Jerusalem just a good hour. The cultural treasures are just as different as the landscapes, the animal and plant world in the nature reserves, which make up a large part of the uninhabited country. In archaeological sites, evidence of prehistoric cultures can be seen; Canaanites, Israelites, Hellenistic Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, various Muslim ruling dynasties, Christian crusaders, Ottoman sultans and finally the British Mandate power all left their monuments in the country; the cultural diversity with visual artists, writers and a wide variety of musical styles is also almost overwhelming for the visitor at first glance.

As a focal point between the most diverse people, cultures and nationalities, Israel is often in the media's interest; An often contradictory picture of the country is drawn in the press and in the media, based on different points of view and different perceptions. For travelers visiting Israel for the first time, it may therefore be surprising and reassuring that in this country there is also normal everyday life with traffic jams and work, cafe-going, beach life and party scene, beyond conflict and orthodoxy. Exactly this colorful variety, the often observed contradiction in itself, make the country an interesting travel destination for the unprejudiced.

For travelers from German-speaking countries, the reason for a visit to Israel is often a pilgrimage in the broadest sense, with the focus on visiting Christian sites. However, the loaded program of an organized round trip is only able to show a small part of the variety of sights and cultural assets that the country actually has to offer. A week through Israel is a suggestion for a round trip in which one can get an impression of the diversity of this country in a short time frame.



Israel, which is small in terms of area - it is about the size of Hesse - is also a country of contrasts in terms of its geography, its regions are diverse and varied in terms of landscape: on its small area you can find both mountainous landscapes and larger, intensively used agricultural plains, some Areas are relatively green all year round, with much of the country in the south being an inhospitable-looking desert area. In winter you can go swimming on the Israeli coast of the Red Sea, while at the same time winter sports are practiced on the ski slopes of Mount Hermon in the north of the Golan Heights. With the Sea of Galilee, Israel has a large freshwater lake, it has access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and borders the Dead Sea. Rural and sparsely populated areas contrast with the vibrant metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv (the so-called “Gush Dan”) and Jerusalem.


Regions in the north

Western Galilee includes the coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea from the Lebanese border through the ancient Crusader city of Acre to Haifa.
Mount Carmel is a mountain range south/east of Haifa that stretches along the Mediterranean coast.
Upper Galilee extends from Dan at the foot of Mount Hermon to the Bet HaKerem valley in the south and from the Western Galilee in the west to the Golan and the Sea of Galilee in the east; here are the highest elevations of the Israeli heartland and Safed, the city of Jewish mysticism.
Lower Galilee with the important Christian pilgrimage destination of Nazareth is a hilly landscape between the Upper Galilee in the north and the Jezreel plain in the south; to the east the region touches the areas of the Sea of Galilee and around Bet She'an.
The Sea of Galilee is the country's most famous and largest freshwater lake; on its banks are well-known Christian pilgrimage sites and the Jewish city of Tiberias.
The Jezreel Plain is associated with the end-time battle of the Biblical apocalypse of Armageddon; the wide, rural valley inland east of the Carmel Mountains covers the area from Haifa to the Jordan Valley at Beth-She'an.
The Bet She'an valley extends around the city of the same name with its important excavations; the valley is the heart of the Jordan Valley south of the Sea of Galilee.
The Golan Heights are a range of hills and a plateau in the extreme northeast of the country. Mount Hermon in the very north rises to over 2000m at the border triangle. Israel conquered the area in the Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981 (the annexation of the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria under international law, was accepted by most states, including the surrounding Arab states and also not recognized by the EU, in contrast to the recognition by the USA in 2019; the Golan Heights can be traveled without any problems without border controls, problems can arise at the immediate border with Syria, a buffer zone is monitored by the UNDOF peacekeeping forces of the UN).


Regions in the middle

The Sharon Plain is the agriculturally intensively used stretch of coast between the Carmel Mountains in the north, the mountains of Samaria (West Bank) in the east and the region around Tel Aviv in the south.
Gush Dan is the country's largest metropolitan area around the city of Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem and its incorporated districts is the official capital of Israel and the country's main tourist destination. Jerusalem is connected to the Israeli heartland by a relatively narrow corridor with the main transport routes, and it is surrounded by the Palestinian Authority to the north and south. The Arab-populated East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1980, which is not recognized by the international community; until the Six Day War it was occupied by Jordan.
The southern coastal plain with the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon stretches from Tel Aviv to the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Autonomous Region).
Shefela is the name for the fertile, hilly hinterland between the southern coastal plain and the highlands of Judea (in the West Bank).


Regions in the south

The Negev is the desert area that from Be'er Sheva covers practically the entire southern half of Israel down to the Red Sea.
On the Israeli coastal sections, the country has access to the Dead Sea at En Bokek and En Gedi (which is also undisputed under international law); Geographically, the northern region with the mountain fortress of Masada belongs to the Judean Desert (West Bank).



Just like the country, the cities in Israel are characterized by an often contrasting variety. Historically, cities and towns have often been inhabited by a relatively homogeneous population of just one population group. The Bible speaks of the cities of the Israelites, the Philistines and the Samaritans. At the turn of the century, the Romans lived in Caesarea, and the Jewish population in Jerusalem hardly ever set foot in a Roman city; under Muslim rule in the Ottoman Empire, the Jews' freedom of settlement was restricted to individual cities, where Jewish culture then flourished. In the cities, different living quarters of the different population groups have survived until modern times, villages and settlements still often have a uniform character; a practiced visitor can soon distinguish a kibbutz with orthodox Jewish residents from a liberal agricultural settlement, a village of Arab Israelis or Druze.

Due to religious customs and political exclusion, individual population groups in "their cities" often kept to themselves and lived side by side until modern times; which may seem strange to the Central European visitor who is used to nation states with fixed borders and a mixed population in the cities.

Jerusalem is one of the most important travel destinations in Israel for many tourists, especially because of its status as a "holy city" and because of the countless sights. Officially, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the Knesset meets here, the Israeli parliament and West Jerusalem is the seat of many national institutions. However, Jerusalem is only recognized as the capital of the USA and Honduras; Due to the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980, Jerusalem is not recognized as the capital by most of the world community and the UN. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are demanding recognition of East Jerusalem, or undivided Jerusalem, as the capital of their independent state - and the visitor quickly realizes the explosive nature of this situation.
The city consists of Jewish West Jerusalem, Arabic-Muslim East Jerusalem and in between the Old City, which was taken by Jordan in the War of Independence and recaptured by the Israelis in the Six Day War. With the four old town districts, each of which forms its own microcosm with a different population and in which the holy sites of Judaism (Western Wall on the Temple Mount), Christians (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and Muslims (Dome of the Rock, Al Aksa Mosque) are located in a very small area , the Old City of Jerusalem is a destination for a wide variety of pilgrim and visitor groups.

Tel Aviv: Israel's most important metropolitan area, the densely populated area around the secular city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, the so-called "Gush Dan", has a completely different character. Tel Aviv itself is the city of social life, party life, business and most of the embassies are also located here. Vibrant Tel Aviv is known as the “city that never sleeps”, and Ben Gurion Airport, as the most important international airport, is the gateway to Israel for many visitors.
Founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv is known for its Art Nouveau buildings, ancient sites and biblical pilgrimage destinations. Jaffa, which was united with Tel Aviv in 1950, offers much more historical background. Founded at the beginning of the 20th century on the pristine beach north of Yaffa (Yafo), today Jaffa, with its historic port and buildings from the Ottoman and Mandate periods, feels like an old city quarter in the south of Tel Aviv.

The port and industrial city of Haifa is the most important city in the north due to its size and economic importance. The most important sight of the city are the geometrically designed gardens of the Baha'i, the holy site of another world religion stretches up the eastern slope to the Carmel massif. With its large commercial port and university, Haifa has retained the character of a pragmatic working-class city in which religion plays a comparatively minor role.

Even as a tourist, the differences between the country's three largest cities will not go unnoticed. It is probably no coincidence that an often-quoted saying characterizes the three cities as follows: "Prayers in Jerusalem, work in Haifa, lives in Tel Aviv".

Many other cities also have their own character due to their history and development.

Acre or Akko on the northern Mediterranean coast has retained its oriental character with its massive Crusader-era walls, mosques and Arabic market.
The town of Nahariya, a few kilometers south of the Lebanese border, is a popular seaside resort on the northern Mediterranean coast.
As the birthplace of Jesus, Nazareth is another popular pilgrimage destination for Christian tour groups and has a Muslim and Christian-Arab population.
In Galilee, Tiberias with its rabbi tombs and the promenade on the Sea of Galilee and in the north on a hilltop city of Safed (Hebrew: Zefat) as a city of Jewish (Kabbalah) mysticism and art and galleries are cities with a centuries-old Jewish tradition.
Netanya, one of the most famous seaside resorts on Israel's Mediterranean coast, is just north of Tel Aviv.
In the center of the country, in the Gush Dan, lies Bnei-Brak, which despite its proximity to Tel Aviv is an orthodox-Jewish city. The orthodox Jews, who make up the majority of the residents, have little sympathy for the way of life of secular Israelis or curious tourists.

Since the south of Israel consists mainly of desert areas, the population there is sparse.
Be'er Sheva in the north of the Negev desert has developed from an Ottoman provincial town on the railway line to Sinai into a city with over 200,000 inhabitants, close by are the largest Bedouin settlements of Israel.
Eilat at the southernmost tip of the country with its port on the Red Sea is now the city of seaside tourism and, thanks to its status as a duty-free zone, is increasingly being visited by tourists from liberal Arab countries and Eastern Europeans on shopping trips. Due to the extreme desert location, there are hardly any rainy days in Eilat, while at the same time swimming in the sea is possible all year round.


Travel Destination in Israel

 large number of sights also attract visitors outside of the cities, depending on the focus and interests, the selection of destinations varies, but there is still much, much to see for all visitors. For nature lovers, Israel offers many nature parks: bizarre desert landscapes with oases that are visited by wild animals to drink at night or protected areas in the Upper Galilee and on the edge of the Golan Heights with Mediterranean and sometimes rare endemic plants. History buffs will find an enormous number of archaeological sites in the country; Because of changing histories and being at the crossroads of various trade routes and at the focal point between different cultures, we have left their mark on so many ancient cultures that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between prehistoric, Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic - Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Mediterranean - to distinguish between medieval settlement traces and fortress walls. Buildings from the times of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and the Ottomans come from the Muslim-Arab period, and German engineers they called in. Architects from the Franciscans, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the British mandate government characterize the picture.

Some Israelis are convinced (with a wink) that if you dig a hole somewhere in Israel, you will find traces of a Roman temple... - this is true, as archaeological traces are unearthed during the excavation of any road or tram project .

Finally, Christians frequently visit the country for the multitude of sites associated with the biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry. Little is likely to be authentic, much is the object of centuries of veneration and at some sights the greed for relics and visits to sites of biblical events may have been exploited by enterprising local residents for almost 2000 years - where traces of fourth-century pilgrims were found park today still the coaches of Christian and Jewish groups of pilgrims.

Christian sites, these are mainly located around the Sea of Galilee and in Jerusalem
The "Transfiguration of Jesus" is said to have taken place on Mount Tabor; the quite high semi-circular mountain lies east of Afula and offers a great view over the Jezreel plain.
The Mount of Beatitudes is considered the site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee is mentioned several times in the Bible; the ruins of a house believed to be the house of Peter has been visited for centuries.
Tabgha , also on the Sea of Galilee, is believed to be the place where the feeding of the five thousand reported in the Bible took place
Yardenit Baptismal Site. Christians are baptized in the Jordan at the baptismal site of Jardenit at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The baptismal site of Qasr el-Jahud near Jericho, which probably comes much closer to the site of the work of John the Baptist, is now accessible again.

National and nature parks have been placed under protection, the Israeli national and nature parks are maintained by the National Parks Authority and can usually be visited for an entrance fee. The Israel Pass is worthwhile for tourists, with which all parks can be visited within two weeks. The Israel Pass & Ride variant includes a credit card for buses in the form of a Rav Nav.

The most important historical sites and excavations
Avdat was an important Nabatean city; the excavations are south of Be'er Sheva.
Belvoir Castle is a former Crusader castle whose ruins lie between Bet She'an and Tiberias on the slopes above the Jordan.
Bet She'arim was an important Jewish necropolis near Kiryat Tiv'on on the edge of the Jezreel plain; Parts of the catacombs can be visited today.
In Bet She'an is one of the most important archaeological sites with relics from Roman and Byzantine times (including the remains of the main streets and the amphitheater).
Caesarea, with its Roman, Byzantine and Crusader relics, was the seat of Roman governors in ancient times.
Hamat Gader is located southeast of the Sea of Galilee right on the Jordanian border; the place was already known in ancient times for its thermal springs.
Masada, the fortified rocky plateau within sight of the Dead Sea, is considered the site of the legendary battle of Jewish rebels against a great Roman superiority, which ended in the collective suicide of the besieged rebels.
Megiddo is an archaeological site in the western Jezreel plain, which is mainly characterized by an ingenious water supply system from the 9th century BC. Chr. with a more than 100 meter long tunnel.


The city of Aphek or Afek is located 15 km from Tel Aviv on a road 483. Its name is derived from a Hebrew word for "springs" as it was the main strategic feature of the town.

Appolonia Ruins of ancient Apollonia in Israel are situated on a beaches of the sea.

Ashkelon contains ruins from the Bronze Age to medieval Crusader fortifications.

Beit Alpha Synagogue hold some of the best preserved mosaics in the Middle East.

Ruins of ancient Scythopolis at Beth Shean in Israel will take a whole day to explore.

Bethlehem in Israel harbors Rachel's tomb and claims as a birth town of Jesus Christ.

Ein Avdat National Park is an oasis of protected wild life in a vast Israeli desert.

Ein Gedi National Park is an oasis to the West of the Dead Sea in close proximity to Masada plateau and Qumran caves.

Ancient ruins of Eleutheropolis are situated not far from the Jerusalem.

Christian Orthodox monastery at Ein Fara is merely a small portion of a huge monastic community that once existed here.

Ein Karem was found during the Bronze Era, but it is particularly famous as a birth place of John the Baptist.

Gorny Monastery is a Russian Orthodox Monastery in Ein Karem, 7 km to the South West of Jerusalem.

Herodium is and ancient castle built by Herod the Great and his final resting place.

Jericho is probably the oldest site that was continually inhabitant by humans.

Jezreel Valley is a large valley in the south region of the Lower Galilee in Israel.

Mar Saba Monastery is one of the earliest Christian monasteries in the World. It is located 17 km (11 mi) East of Bethlehem in Israel.

Abandoned underground city of Maresha is probably more impressive than what is left above ground.

Nebi Musa according to the Muslim tradition is the resting place of Moses who died on the border of the Holy Land.

Massive medieval Nimrod Fortress holds strategic location on top of the mountain.

 Qumran is a home to an ancient Jewish groups that latter influences monastic movement in Europe.

Hippos/Sussita is an ancient archaeological site in Israel situated on the bank of Sea of Galilee.

Judaean Desert stretches from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Despite its barren appearance it has one of the most historic buildings it the Holy Land.


History of the founding of the State of Israel

History of naming

The area of the modern State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is one of the longest inhabited areas of the world. A prominent feature of the region's history is its geographic location on the eastern Mediterranean coast; the region was criss-crossed by ancient trade routes and over the centuries was always fought over in the sphere of domination and influence of powers in the north, south and north-east. This is reflected in the controversy, which is still being fought with vehemence today, just about the name: "Eretz Israel" is what the Jewish inhabitants refer to as "Eretz Israel", based on the Greek transcription of the "land of the Philistines". "Syria palaestina" coined after the crushing of the last Jewish uprising by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. With the "Damnatio memoriae" the Romans tried to erase the transmitted name of the province of Judea by erasing the memory. In modern times, the term "Palestine" was reintroduced among the Zionists around Th. Herzl in the 19th century and became more widespread with the naming of the British Mandate of Cisjordan. Ever since the founding of the state, the Jewish population has preferred the designation "Israel"; the Muslim and Christian Arab population prefers the term "Palestine", the term partly referring to the Palestinian Authority-administered areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but often implicitly encompassing the entire region.


Early History, Antiquity

Archaeological finds in the Nachal Me'arot in the Carmel range date back to the Palaeolithic; Traces of Neanderthals and the early Homo sapiens were found on the migration route between Africa and Europe, which experts date to before 100,000 BC. can backdate.

Various fortified cities and city-states (e.g. Megiddo and Hazor) already existed in the Bronze Age (from 3000 BC), the region was influenced at this time by the advanced civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia. After 2000 BC the Israelites also appear; the stories of the patriarchs of Israel - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - known from the Bible refer to this time. Although the historical accuracy of the biblical accounts is questioned, an inscription on the 1208 B.C. Merenptah stele from the presence of the Israelites in the region. In the period around 1000 B.C. the Israelites fight against the Philistines living in the coastal plain. The establishment of the kingdom with kings Saul, David and Solomon also falls into this period; according to the biblical account, the latter built around 950 BC. the first temple in Jerusalem. After Solomon's death, the kingdom split into a northern kingdom (Israel) and a southern kingdom (Judah). The northern kingdom is conquered by the Assyrians before 700, the southern kingdom comes to an end with the conquest by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who died in 586 BC. BC conquered Jerusalem and had the temple destroyed.

After the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king Cyrus II in 539 BC. Jews who were abducted to Babylon can return, the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. Alexander the Great conquers the region around 330 BC. Subsequently, his successors, the Diadochi - rulers of the Seleucids ruling in Syria and the Ptolemies ruling in Egypt - disputed the rulership of the region. Antiochus IV in particular gets into a massive conflict with the believing Jews through his efforts to Hellenize the country and suppress Judaism, so that in 166 B.C. finally comes to the Maccabee rebellion. As a result of the uprising, anti-Jewish laws are repealed and temple service becomes possible again. In the following years, the rebels were able to assert themselves to a large extent, and a largely independent state came into being under the Hasmoneans. The Hasmonean state came to an end with the conquest by the Roman general Pompeius in 63 BC.

From this time until the 7th century AD the country was under Roman and Byzantine rule. The Romans used local procurators, but also relied on native rulers: Herod the Great and his successors held considerable power in the country as kings for several decades. During Herod's tenure (37-4 BC) there was a lot of building activity: Herod had the temple in Jerusalem renovated (today's Western or Wailing Wall dates from this period), built fortresses in Masada and Herodion, among others, Palaces build and erect the port and provincial administrative city known in honor of the Roman Emperor Caesarea. During the period of Roman rule there were also considerable tensions, which erupted in two major uprisings. The great Jewish uprising triggered by the plundering of the temple treasury was put down around 70 AD, and the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Insurgents can hold out for a few more years in the rock fortress of Masada, but eventually they are defeated. The second great rebellion, the so-called "Bar Kochba rebellion", ignited in 132 when the Roman Emperor Hadrian forbade circumcision to the Jews. The Romans put down the rebellion surrounding Bar Kochba and his followers, and there were executions. The Romans build the new city of Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of the completely destroyed Jerusalem. Jews are no longer allowed to live there.

With the rise of Christianity, Palestine regained considerable importance. After Christianity became more influential after the "Constantinian Revolution" in 313 and finally became the Roman state religion, Christians became increasingly interested in the "holy land". Churches and chapels are therefore erected in many biblical places; According to tradition, Constantine's mother Helena traveled to the country herself, visited holy places and had buildings erected there.


Arab conquest, Ottoman Empire, British Mandate

After the Arabs defeated the Byzantine army in 636, Christian rule in the country came to an end. The Arabs tolerated the Christians and Jews, around 700 they built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Around 1000 there are clashes; non-Muslim residents of Palestine are persecuted, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, destroyed. Raids on pilgrims in the 11th century are the trigger for the Crusades.

From the end of the 11th century, Christians set out in Europe to protect the holy sites during the Crusades. In 1099 they conquered Jerusalem and massacred the population. The Crusaders establish the "Kingdom of Jerusalem". However, Jerusalem falls back to the Arabs in 1197, Akko becomes the new capital of the empire. In the second half of the 13th century, Baibars largely conquered the crusader state, and in 1291 Akko, the last retreat of the crusaders, was taken.

The Crusaders were followed by the rule of the Mamluks until the beginning of the 16th century. Then Palestine falls to the Ottoman Empire, to which it belongs until 1918. At first there was an upswing in Palestine, among other things in the 16th century. The city walls of Jerusalem were renewed under Sultan Süleyman. After that, however, the country largely stagnated as part of the Ottoman province of Damascus. From the 19th century onwards, stronger development impulses resulted from the settlement of the German Templars (e.g. in Haifa) and the increasing immigration of Jews, who were often guided by the idea of Zionism. In 1878 the first Jewish rural settlement was founded in Petach Tikva. In 1909 Tel Aviv was founded as a purely Jewish city; the founding of the first kibbutz also falls at this time.

After the defeat of the Ottomans by the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, Palestine was placed under British mandate administration as the Cis- and Transjordan mandate. Britain is commissioned by the League of Nations to implement the Balfour Declaration's commitment to create a home for the Jewish people. Tensions and violent clashes between Jews and Arabs have increased over the years, at least in part due to continued Jewish immigration. The British gave way in the face of Arab uprisings under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Husseini, who was in contact with Adolf Hitler, and therefore made immigration more difficult for Jews from 1939, despite Nazi persecution. Despite the British blockade, many Jews immigrated to Palestine illegally as part of the Aliyah Bet from 1934 until the declaration of independence. In 1947, the UN General Assembly decided to divide the disputed territory and create a Jewish and an Arab state. However, this proposal was rejected by the Arab side, so that war broke out after the British retreated.


A country between war and peace

With the end of the British mandate on May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independent state of Israel. Immediately after the proclamation, the four neighboring states, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, begin a war with the aim of destroying the newly formed Jewish state. The first Palestine War or Israeli War of Independence lasted until the beginning of 1949. Contrary to the balance of power, the Israeli armed forces managed to keep the enemy armies in check and even to make territorial gains in areas previously populated predominantly by Arabs (especially in Galilee), so that Israel end of the war controlled a much larger area than was envisaged in the UN partition plan. Many Arab Palestinians are fleeing in hopes of returning soon after the Jewish state is destroyed, or are being expelled from areas of stubborn resistance. Some of their descendants still live in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Lebanon and other Arab states; only in Jordan do they receive citizenship. Some of the Arab leaders decide to cooperate with the Israeli forces, these people are now living in the country as Arab Israelis with Israeli citizenship.

More wars erupted in the decades that followed, as the Arab states continued to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. The Six-Day War of 1967 against the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria was particularly decisive for later developments: In this war, Israel gained control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which had previously been occupied by Jordan. In the final phase of this war, the Golan Heights east of the Sea of Galilee are also conquered. The annexation of these strategically important areas in 1981 is an obstacle to a possible future peace agreement with Syria.

Only long after the Six-Day War was Israel able to conclude peace treaties with Egypt and later with Jordan after the Camp David Accords; Other surrounding Arab states reacted with incomprehension to these normalization steps.

In recent decades there have been repeated attempts to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. Whether at the end there should be two independent states west of the Jordan for the two ethnic groups with an independent state of Palestine (so-called two-state solution or a common state with a federal solution (similar to Belgium, for example, so-called one-state solution) is still the subject of discussions.

However, all previous initiatives have failed - for example, because the tactics of both sides prevented a final agreement, because more attacks were carried out against Jewish people or institutions, or the Israeli parliament approved the construction of new settlement units in the occupied territories, which the Palestinians viewed as a provocation is felt.

Disagreements between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which recognized Israel's right to exist under Y. Arafat in 1993, and the leadership of the radical Islamic Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and continues to deny Israel's right to exist, contribute to the destabilization. In 1995, in response to frequent assassinations, Israel began building a nearly 800-km-long West Bank separation barrier, part security fence and part high concrete wall. The fact that Palestinian residents can only pass through this barrier at checkpoints to visit other parts of the West Bank or to reach their jobs in the Israeli heartland further fuels the conflict. After the Israeli armed forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip as an occupying power in 2005, Hamas from the Gaza Strip carried out repeated attacks with rockets and fire kites on the surrounding Israeli towns, which Israel in turn repeatedly used as an opportunity for harsh military action.


Israel, the Jewish state

To this day, the disputes over the Jewish state of Israel are of considerable importance for politics and life in the entire region as well as in Israel itself. First of all, this affects the relationship with the neighbors: Although Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the relationships are stayed rather cool. Many Arabs still see the country as a foreign body in the Arab states of the Middle East and criticize Israel for its role as the occupier of Palestinian land. This cool climate has worsened since 2011 with the so-called "Arab Spring" - the previous governments in neighboring countries such as Egypt were not democracies, but from an Israeli perspective they were at least reliable and stable.

Relations with Muslim and Christian Arabs within the recognized Israeli state borders are also burdened by historical burdens: Arabs with Israeli citizenship feel disadvantaged in many areas. There is mutual distrust and tension between Jews and Arabs, but also promising examples of problem-free coexistence and cooperation, for example, many Arab employees work in the Israeli hotel industry and on the Jewish holidays the work team consists almost exclusively of Arab Israelis. The question of the place of the Israeli Arabs in a state that sees itself as a Jewish state has not yet been conclusively clarified.


Getting here

Entry requirements

When you enter the country, you get a three-month tourist visa (B-2 visa), which is no longer stamped in your passport, but is inserted into the passport as a kind of insert sheet with a picture, and with duty-free shopping, with tax-free payment must be presented to the accommodation as a tourist and upon departure; when you leave the country, you will receive a similarly designed exit confirmation. A fee-based extension of the period of stay can be applied for in Israel. The Population & Immigration Authority field offices (short code ☎ 3450) are normally open Sun-Thurs. 8.00-12.00.

There are special visa requirements for German citizens who were born before January 1, 1928. You have to apply for a visa in advance, which the Israeli embassy issues free of charge and for the period of validity of the passport, provided that the applicant has not been proven to be deeply involved in National Socialism. With the “right of return”, Jews automatically have Israeli citizenship and the right to permanent residence, but may have to prove this with appropriate documents. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides an overview of other types of visas on its website.
The Israeli government automatically considers all foreign-born children of Israelis as its citizens. They must enter with an Israeli passport and are subject to conscription.

Detailed visa information can be found on the website of the relevant Israeli embassy (Berlin, Vienna (tel. information Mon.-Fri. 12.30-4.30 p.m.: ☎ 01 476 46-587) and Bern (tel. information Mon.-Fri. 12.00-14.00 : ☎ 031 356 35 87).

Germans and Austrians aged 18-30 can apply for a working holiday visa. During the one-year stay, you can work for a maximum of three months per employer. Anyone who feels betrayed by the boss can get help from the Kav LaOved Worker's Hotline (☎ +972 3 688 376). Regarding volunteering etc. below are links to kibbutz etc. For this one needs the “Volunteer Visa” which can be applied for at the relevant department of the Ministry of the Interior.

An Israeli stamp in the passport means that certain countries (especially the Arab countries, e.g. Syria, Lebanon and Iran) will refuse entry, even if a visa has been issued for these countries. On the website of the Federal Foreign Office and the foreign ministries, the travel advice for the individual countries usually indicates if an Israeli stamp leads or can lead to problems. If you are planning a trip to an Arab country after visiting Israel, you should definitely check in detail whether entry is possible there with an Israeli stamp. Since 2014, the passport is no longer stamped without asking, but an entry visa with a passport photo is inserted.

German citizens can apply for a second passport if, after visiting Israel, they want to visit other countries in the Middle East that would refuse entry with an Israeli stamp. Whether you receive the document is at the "dutiful discretion" of the local registration office.

Conversely, stamps from Arab countries or an “Arabic-sounding” family name in the passport mean that the controls and interviews before departure for Israel are more stringent. The government of the Federal Republic of Germany allows employees of the Israeli state security organs to carry out appropriate interrogations on German soil before departure. Therefore, you should be at the airport for significantly more than 4 hours than usual.

If you have acquaintances with Arabic-sounding names in Israel or especially in a place in the West Bank with whom you would like to live, you will be subjected to security interviews upon entry, which can lead to delays of several hours.



The importation of pornography and fresh meat is prohibited. Vegetables, plants, seeds, etc. are subject to restrictions that must be clarified in advance. Firearms require a permit, and (smaller) knives that are not everyday items for sports or cooking are also viewed with suspicion.

Dogs, cats and birds require a health certificate, which will usually be in the form of the EU pet passport. All dogs older than three months must be vaccinated against rabies, younger ones are not allowed into the country. Planned entry must be notified to Ramla Quarantine Station by fax (+972-8-9229906) at least 48 hours prior to arrival. Please state the animal species, name of the owner, flight number and expected arrival time.

Allowances (from 18)
1 liter of liquor or 2 liters of wine
250 grams of tobacco products or 200 cigarettes
250ml perfume
Gifts for a maximum of US$ 200

When leaving the country by land, an exit fee must be paid. When crossing the border at the Allenby Bridge, each person older than two years has to pay ₪ 177 (as of 2019). Other border crossings are a bit cheaper (fees overview as of January 1st, 2019). The fee can also be paid in euros or dollars or in advance at the Postbank.

When traveling by air, the fee is automatically included in the ticket price.



Airplane is the mode of transport most commonly chosen to travel to Israel. This is not least due to the fact that Israel can only be reached by road with difficulty and not at all by rail.

Israel has only one major international airport: Ben Gurion Airport (IATA: TLV) near Tel Aviv Airport (Sde-Dov) (IATA: SDV), which is described in a separate article (currently closed). It is by far the country's most important airport in terms of international traffic, it is located in the center of the country and is also served by many international airlines. It is also very well connected to the road network and can also be easily reached by public transport.

Since April 2019, there is only Ramon Airport Eilat (IATA: ETM) for visiting the south of the country on the Red Sea, which is also frequented by European low-cost airlines and charter flights; the old city airport of Eilat and that of Ovda are no longer served.

The main Israeli airlines are the national, now privatized El Al, its subsidiary and charter airline Sun d'Or, and the cheaper private companies Arkia Airlines and Israir. Most of the world's major airlines fly to Israel from a variety of airports. Due to the political situation, it is currently not possible to fly directly to Israel from Arab countries.

When flying to Israel, you have to reckon with increased security precautions. El Al flights in particular are often specially secured; At Munich Airport, for example, they are processed at a separate security terminal with a large police presence. You should be at the airport three hours before your flight as you will be subjected to a pre-departure security interview and your luggage may be searched thoroughly. As part of the survey, questions about the reason for the trip, but e.g. B. also according to whether you packed your suitcase yourself or whether someone gave you something to take with you to Israel or whether the luggage was left unattended. In some cases, some of the passengers and their hand luggage are routinely checked again at the gate. There are usually security officers on site who can conduct the interview in the local language (or in the language of the destination country on the return flight), but interviews can always be conducted in English.


Bus/ car/ motorcycle/ bicycle

If you want to travel by car or bus, you can only do that from Egypt or Jordan; There are no border crossings open to civilians between Lebanon and Israel and between Syria and Israel. Traveling overland from Central Europe has now become practically impossible. The green insurance card is valid in Israel.

There are three crossings on the border with Jordan. Details can be found in the country article Jordan. From Egypt, one enters Israel via the Taba border crossing, and the Rafah border crossing leads to Gaza.

Entry by land is similar to entry via an airport. You have to go through passport and security checks and your luggage will be screened just like at the airport. Departure tax charged. If you enter the country by land, the Israeli authorities will also ask you questions, so that the entry procedure can take hours.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism provides some brief information on border crossings on its website. More detailed information on the individual border crossings can be found in the country article Jordan or on the website of the Israel Airports Authority, which is also responsible for border crossings.



It is currently very difficult to enter Israel by car by ferry. The port fees are high, as is the bureaucracy. Grimaldi Lines no longer sails from Salerno to Israel. Salamis Shipping transports (Sept. 2018) only vehicles, no foot passengers, once a week between Athens-Lavrio and Haifa.

Cruise Cyprus offers excursions from Limassol to Haifa and Ashdod in 2019. The two ports mentioned are also used by cruise ships that are traveling in the eastern Mediterranean.


Sports sailor

Entry by yacht is allowed in the ports of Ashkelon, Eilat, Haifa and Herzliya, but not Tel Aviv. In any case, you should find out about the restricted zones off the Israeli coast. Among other things, the Navy rigorously enforces the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by force of arms. Before calling Eilat, it is advisable to register at least 48 hours in advance at and fill out the IMOT form (for Israelis on board) if necessary, to avoid problems with the Coast Guard. At sea, however, one is almost always stopped far off the coast. Insurance is not required by law, but is regularly required in ports. Mooring fees are calculated based on the length of the ship.

Clearing in is subject to a fee per boat and per person; Night (4pm-8/9am) and weekend surcharge on Friday and Saturday is double the rate. Security and customs controls are precise but correct, sometimes drug and explosives wipe tests are carried out.

The facilities at the Herzliya Marina, six nautical miles north of Tel Aviv, which also has good landside transport connections, are universally praised.


Local transport

Getting around in Israel is easy with both public transport and rental cars. Public transport in Israel is still largely handled by buses, which go to almost every corner of the country. Taxis (speshel) are everywhere, and their drivers do not receive tips. Licensed taxis can be identified by the last two digits of the number plate: 25 or 26. They all have taximeters. Between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. the night rate is a quarter more expensive. Large pieces of luggage and a third and fourth passenger cost a surcharge, as do telephone orders.

In the metropolitan regions, each with a zone system, all local transport has been switched to electronic tickets. You have to buy the Rav Kav chip card, which works on a credit basis, for 5 ₪ and then load it at the ticket machine. Personalized variants of Rav Kav with photo are relevant only for season tickets and special discounts. Available (also in combination): single trips, multiple trips (2, 10, 20), weekly ticket and monthly ticket. There is also an all-Israel all-day pass for 60 ₪ (2019), the code on the machine is 950. Bus drivers now only sell a Rav Kav with the charged amount for a single trip, the Rav Kav must be purchased each time when boarding a bus or tram at corresponding vending machines can be validated contactlessly, after validation has been completed, a green light lights up on the validation machine and Go lights up on the display, fare evasion is punished with 180 NIS.
Almost all city buses are now wheelchair accessible.

The Israeli railways have massively expanded and improved their offer in recent years, so that many larger cities can now also be reached by train. You can also use the Rav Kav to pay for your tickets at the barriers to the platform. Bicycles are not permitted during peak times, 6am-9am and 3pm-7pm.

The road network is dense and in good condition; the country's main traffic arteries are often developed into multi-lane motorways, along with many motorway-like roads and simple country roads. There is a ban on alcohol at the wheel (0.0-0.1 ‰). Rental cars are only allowed to be driven into the West Bank in very few cases, and insurance coverage is generally refused in the event of stones thrown and willful damage. You can tell whether a vehicle is registered in Israel, East Jerusalem or the Palestinian Territory by its license plate. Israeli vehicles have yellow (!) number plates, vehicles from East Jerusalem or the PAA have white or green ones. Traffic signs largely follow the pattern used in Europe.

A toll is collected electronically on Highway 6, the license plate is scanned and the amount is charged to the credit card. Rental car drivers pay a handling fee of the equivalent of approx. 5 € for the settlement via the car rental company.

Long-distance buses don't go too far, the longest route is from Eilat to Akko, 474km. However, most inner-city connections are less than two hundred kilometers. Reservations are not common, except to Eilat. You can pay at the counter in the bus station or in cash from the driver. There are three categories: normal (me'asef) stops at every milk can, express and directly from A to B. In rural areas, bus stops only have route numbers and usually no timetables (Google Maps usually lists the right ones), man must make sure (or check with the driver) that you board the bus in the right direction. Departure displays with electronic displays are used in Jerusalem and increasingly in the major cities. In the cities, the intercity buses run from a "Central Bus Station". Bus stops for changing trains in the countryside are usually located at the intersections of the highways (which also have names), to continue you have to cross the road at the zebra crossing and go to the bus stop for the next line. Not all companies offer discounts on return tickets, when they do, 15% is common. Bicycles can be taken along free of charge.

The largest bus company that also operates the Jerusalem public transport system is Egged. Dan drives in the greater Tel Aviv area.

A good 120km of cycle paths are designated in the Tel Aviv city area.


Mobility situation on weekends and public holidays

If you are traveling in Israel, you should always bear in mind the completely different mobility situation on Shabbat, which ultimately affects all means of transport. During Shabbat, i.e. between Friday evening and Saturday evening, practically all public transport is closed; there are no trains and normally no buses from the big bus companies. There are exceptions in Haifa and where Arab bus companies serve lines (e.g. around Nazareth). It is therefore not possible, for example, to take a bus or a train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Saturday morning: neither one runs - you have to rely on a taxi or shared taxi.

Therefore, if you can arrange it without problems, the easiest way is to plan a stay in one place for the period from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening and then travel on. Alternatively, one could - at least to a limited extent - use the "Sheruts" or Sherut taxis (Monít Scherút, Hebrew מונית שירות, composed of Sherut equals "service" or "service" and Monit equals "taxi"). This means of transport is rather unusual for Central Europeans: The Sheruts are large-capacity or shared taxis that sometimes run on the route of important bus lines or connect the airport with various large Israeli cities. Unlike the airport Sheruts, the shared taxis that run parallel to bus lines often have a sign with the line number on the windshield and have fixed departure and arrival points. Since the shared taxis also run on Shabbat, you can take them to other cities or parts of the city, at least to a limited extent. However, the prices are slightly higher than for the buses. Normal taxis also run all the time, but are much more expensive.

If you are traveling by car, you are less affected by the Shabbat at first. On the contrary, the volume of traffic is then much lower than during weekdays and it is faster to travel on the expressways of the big cities. However, streets (even larger ones) may be closed in residential areas with a high proportion of religious Jews. While secular Jews naturally drive on Shabbat, orthodox Jews see it as strictly forbidden. Objects have been thrown at moving cars on Shabbat as they drive through Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

In principle, the instructions for the Shabbat also apply to the high Jewish holidays: Even then, the means of transport stop operating on the evening before the holiday. The situation is even more difficult for travelers on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the highest annual Jewish holiday (around the end of September/beginning of October). This holiday is also observed by most secular Jews; therefore, even private transport is closed on this day, and there are no taxis either. If you miss your destination on the eve of Yom Kippur, prepare to spend a day where you are.


By train

Many larger cities in Israel can now also be reached by trains operated by the Israel Railways (רכבת ישראל, Rakévet Jisra'él). Only since the 1990s has the railway offered good alternatives to the still widespread bus. Since then, the train connections have multiplied and the network has been renovated or newly built in many areas. In the coming years, the offers will be further improved and more routes will be put into operation.

The route network (map) is still comparatively small and essentially limited to the coastal strip. The trains of the Israel Railways serve the greater Tel Aviv area in particular with a service similar to the S-Bahn. There are important connections outside of this area

from Tel Aviv north via Haifa and Akko to Nahariya (to Haifa 2-3 trains/hour, beyond that 1-2 trains/hour)
from Haifa branch lines lead to Karmi'el and through the Yesreel plain to Bet She'an
Jerusalem-Yitzhak-Navon ↔ Tel Aviv-HaShalom fast trains (connecting at Ben Gurion Airport until electrification is complete) have been running the route in 51 minutes since 2018 and are doing
the historic route via Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem-Malcha (to Bet Shemesh every hour, beyond that usually only every 2 hours) is no longer served continuously.
from Tel Aviv south via Ashdod to Ashkelon (1-2 trains/hr) and
to Be'er Sheva (every hour).

There are no connections to neighboring countries; the routes that used to be z. B. to Egypt and Lebanon were interrupted after the founding of the State of Israel.

The trains are modern and air-conditioned throughout, the ticket prices are low, and there is a fare calculator on the train's English website.

The network's main interchange stations are in Tel Aviv. Israel Railways recommends the northernmost (Tel Aviv University) and southernmost (Tel Aviv haHagana) stations as transfer stations. You can also change trains at Tel Aviv main station "Tel Aviv Merkaz (or Center) - Savidor". Various regional and national bus lines also stop at the main station.

In Tel Aviv, you can walk from Tel Aviv haHagana train station to the New Central Bus Station in about five minutes (from the train station, head west, follow haHagana and Levinsky streets for 400m).

Other important interchange stations are Haifa Central Station (Haifa Center HaShmona), Binyamina (exchange option from the Haifa-Tel Aviv intercity line to the Tel Aviv suburban line to the north) and Lod for some lines coming from the south. Important transfer stations in the bus network in Haifa are the train stations "Hof haCarmel" and "Lev haMifrats," both of which are in the immediate vicinity of the bus stations of the same name.

Since the railroad in the area of the Mandate of Palestine was never as important as a mode of transport as it is in Europe, the train stations are small and manageable. Most train stations only have two sorting tracks, so it's hard to get lost. It makes traveling easier that the signs with the names of the stations are not only in Hebrew, but also in Arabic and, above all, in English. Unfortunately, most of the other inscriptions and announcements are only in Hebrew, but it is usually easy to find nice people who can translate them into English.

Unfortunately, the train stations are often relatively far away from the city centers, which is why it may be useful to take a look at the city map beforehand. You will often have to travel a little further by bus at your destination, sometimes it even makes more sense to take the bus straight away. Traveling by train is worthwhile due to the frequency and the good connections, especially between Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and thanks to the opening of the new Jerusalem rapid transit line.

Purchased tickets are valid to a destination specified at the time of purchase. The ticket is required to enter via a barrier and to leave the destination station - also via a barrier - and should therefore not be lost during the journey. The ticket is only valid for the selected destination station; if you get off at another station, the turnstile will refuse you to leave the station. However, if you've gone a few stops too far, you can return without buying another ticket.

The fairly rigid security checks at every train station, which sometimes include screening or scanning luggage, take some getting used to. It can also happen that the passport is required.


By bus

The main form of public transport in Israel is the bus. Although rail transport has gained in importance in recent years, the bus is still an extremely important mode of transport, allowing you to travel large parts of the country relatively comfortably and quickly.

On many national routes, an amazingly tight schedule is offered in bus services. A frequency of 15 to 60 minutes is normal between larger cities. The tight schedule makes traveling by bus very pleasant, because at least on the more important routes you don't have to wait too long for the next bus. When changing trains, the waiting times are often short. In addition, national lines often only stop at stops along the main roads or in large towns, so that you can get on relatively quickly. A special feature are also express buses, which only serve a few stops along the route (sometimes only at the start and destination) and otherwise drive through.

The heart of bus transportation are the Central Bus Stations in the cities, known in Hebrew as Tachaná Merkazít (תחנה מרכזית, the "z" is pronounced as a voiced "s") and in English as "Central Bus Station" (often abbreviated to CBS). be designated. The bus stations are served by national, regional and local bus lines, making it easy to transfer to other buses. In some cases, there are also transfer options to the Israeli railways at the central bus stations. At the "CBS" you can usually get snacks and drinks and sometimes you can also buy small things. The central bus stations are not always in the immediate vicinity of the city center, but they are in any case well connected to the city center by city buses.
Luggage storage is only offered at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva and Hof HaCarmel (Haifa) bus stations due to widespread bomb fears.

Traveling by bus in Israel is less confusing the first time when you have some basic information about bus travel. This initially affects the bus stations: they usually have a large number of bus platforms (רציף, Retzíf, English platform), with the individual bus lines usually always starting at the same bus platform. The journey often ends in an area of the bus station where you can only get off; you then go from there to the bus platforms of the departing lines. In the bus stations, orientation is made easier by the fact that there are display boards and bus platform signs on which the lines and destinations also appear in English. The most important key to the bus system is the line number. Since the buses of a line always run on the same route, you can easily find your way around the line number once you know it. This also applies when boarding a bus along the route; once you know which line(s) to take in the direction you want, you just have to be careful not to take a bus in the opposite direction. The destination display on the bus, on the other hand, is of little use - if there is a destination at all, it is usually only in Hebrew. You can find out which bus you can take in the bus station, otherwise you can see it on the information board on the bus platform or on the bus stop sign on the bus shelter, on which the numbers and the corresponding destinations of the departing or stopping lines are listed. There may also be several lines going in the desired direction. By the way: At the bus stops, the signs are in Hebrew on one side and in English on the back. Timetables, on the other hand, are practically never found at the bus stops. On the main routes, however, this is usually not a problem due to the tight timing; you simply stand at the bus stop and wait for the next bus. It is often (not always) the case that numbers up to 100 are used for local and regional buses, and numbers up to 999 for national buses.

If you travel on intercity routes with larger luggage (backpack or suitcase), the bus driver often - not always - asks you to deposit your belongings in the trunk of the bus; at the bus stations the doors are often already open. On the older buses you may have to open the trunk yourself, on the newer buses the driver operates the doors with the push of a button. Even if you don't sit next to your luggage all the time, there are usually no problems with this system, so there's no need to start discussions with the bus driver. You also benefit as a traveler if you can get to the seats and the exit more easily and there are more free seats because not everything is blocked with large bags. It makes sense to stow valuable or sensitive items in hand luggage from the start, which you can always take with you on the bus.

If you want to get off on the route, you have to ring the bell and should keep your eyes open on unfamiliar routes: Even if you have told the bus driver or bought a ticket from him, you cannot always rely on him to get to the desired one stops without being asked or reminded. If you get out on the route and still have luggage in the trunk, you should remind the driver again when getting out for your own safety. The buses in Israel usually run quite quickly; Accordingly, they do not stay unnecessarily long at the bus stops.

There are several bus companies in Israel that own the almost always air-conditioned and well-maintained buses. The main bus company is the former state company Egged, whose buses travel all over the country. Other companies are of regional importance. The best-known of these is probably the bus company DAN, which traditionally operates most of the bus routes in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (the "Gush Dan"). Other companies are Egged Ta'avura with connections a.o. in the northern Negev, Metrodan Beersheba and Metropoline with services in and around Beersheba, Golan in the Golan Heights, and Kavim, Nativ Express, Superbus and Connex operating routes in the middle and north.

In recent years, Egged and Dan's dominance of public bus transport has declined, although both still cover a large part of the market. One advantage for travelers is lower prices, but one disadvantage is the far greater complexity. This already starts in the bus stations, where the bus platforms of the private companies are often not at the Egged bus platforms, but somewhere else. In addition, many smaller companies only offer information in Hebrew on the Internet. At the same time, Egged's timetable information only lists its own lines; if a line is taken over by another company, the line number is often retained, but it disappears from the Egged directory. The situation is made a little easier by the fact that bus information for all lines is now also available in English at On Egged, as on, you can search for connections on a specific route as well as for individual lines. It should be noted when entering that the spelling of the place names follows English spelling habits; so you should try different spelling variants if you can't find the place. If you are still unsuccessful, you can enter a place that you suspect or know to be on the route and then display the route timetable.

Tickets are available at bus stations from the ticket counter or directly from the bus driver when boarding at a bus stop. In addition to single tickets, there are also day tickets (which are of particular interest if you change trains frequently), multiple-journey tickets and monthly tickets. You have to get in at the front and show your ticket. Egged tickets can also be conveniently ordered by telephone (payment by credit card) or by using the Rav Nav prepaid card. This is particularly advisable for longer routes such as Eilat, where advance booking is generally required - especially at weekends when Eilat is a popular tourist destination.

If you get on at a major stop or the bus station, you should expect security checks. During such checks, the bag can be checked, possibly also the passport and, if necessary, even more precise checks are carried out. At the Jerusalem bus station, controls are particularly strict; there, bags and backpacks are generally x-rayed when entering the building. Since buses have been the targets of terrorist attacks in the past and are therefore potentially at risk, you should show understanding for the security measures and cooperate with the security guards, who are usually very polite.

It should be noted that the buses do not run on Shabbat and on high Jewish holidays (cf. the detailed general information at the beginning of the chapter).


In the street

The car is a widespread means of transport in Israel, with which one gets around very well in the country. However, one should not be too scared: The Israelis are considered to be impatient and not exactly considerate drivers, who can certainly compete with the Italians and other Mediterranean countries in terms of driving style. However, if you drive reasonably safely yourself, driving is not a big problem.

Renting a car usually requires you to be at least 21 years old (there are clear differences between car rental companies; for example, some rental companies may have a higher limit, others charge a surcharge for younger drivers between 21 and 21). 23). An international driver's license is recommended if the driver's license is not written in Latin letters. The German driver's license or the Swiss driver's license is recognized for a period of up to one year. In the larger cities there are the well-known international as well as Israeli car rental companies. If you do not attach great importance to renting the cheapest car, you can consider booking in advance. Germany-based company works with local rental companies, but offers extensive guaranteed insurance benefits, so you don't have to compare the policies of different rental companies (there are sometimes big differences here). You will then be given a voucher to get a car at the local station. It should be noted that additional fees may apply when renting at Ben Gurion Airport. Having your own vehicle makes little sense due to the shortage of parking spaces in the inner cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Tourists are exempt from VAT on rental cars. This saves 18%. The price of petrol fluctuated in the first half of 2019 between 6.25 and 6.75 ₪.

In any case, you should check the vehicles very carefully when you hand them over and have every scratch, no matter how small, documented, otherwise you will be presented with a salty bill when you return it. Comprehensive insurance without any deductible costs extra, but makes sense given the rough driving style in the country.

In road traffic, internationally recognized traffic rules apply. Israel has right-hand traffic. At unsigned intersections, right before left applies. The signs comply with international standards; there is a difference with the stop signs, which show a white hand in the middle instead of the lettering "Stop". Signposts and street signs are usually written not only in Hebrew but also in English and Arabic; other information and warning signs are often multilingual. 50 km/h in built-up areas and 80 km/h outside of built-up areas; the speed limit on motorways is usually higher. From November to March, lights are compulsory during the day.

Alcohol is permitted up to a blood concentration of 0.1 ‰, but not for drivers under the age of 24, for those who drive commercially or in vehicles over 3.5 t. a zero alcohol limit applies here.

You can tell from the curb markings whether you are allowed to park in a spot or not: you can park at white and blue markings, but you should check whether you have to pay parking fees (parking tickets from a parking ticket machine or kiosk). Buses and taxis are allowed to stop at the yellow and red markings, but there is no stopping at the red and white markings.

Israel has a well-developed and dense road network in the north and in the middle. Since most of the country in the south is uninhabited desert area, the road network there is much thinner, but still sufficiently dense. You can travel the whole country by car without any problems. One should know that the larger cities in the country have difficulties coping with private transport. In the rush hour, in particular, there is hardly any progress on the major access roads and arterial roads, and traffic jams and slow-moving traffic are then the rule rather than the exception in many places. This applies in particular to the Tel Aviv city highway "Ayalon Highway" (road 20): this main traffic artery is almost always congested during rush hour on weekdays, despite its maximum of five lanes in each direction.

Israeli roads outside of the city are generally numbered, which also indicates the importance of the road.

Streets with a one-digit number are important, nationally important streets; most of these roads are at least partially freeways. If they are motorways, the roads are marked with blue signs. Unlike in Germany, for example, there are no separate numbering systems for the different road types in Israel (e.g. one system for the Autobahn and one for the federal highway). That is, the road with a specific number can be either a freeway (blue) or a normal country road (red). Street 1 given here as an example is e.g. B. from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem highway (marked blue in the area), in the further course to Jericho to the Dead Sea in sections only country road (red).

Streets with a two-digit number are nationally important country roads; they are usually marked with red signs. These roads can also be built like a motorway and still be marked in red; in this case they typically have level crossings. In front of such large traffic light crossings, the road often fans out, but the additional lanes end again after the traffic light. Also, there are some two-digit numbered roads that actually count as highways (e.g. the aforementioned Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, which is signposted in blue).

Streets with a three-digit number are usually only of regional importance; they may well be as little as 20 kilometers long. The street number is usually green. However, there are also some (few) streets that are considered motorways; these are then also marked in blue.

Four-digit number roads are of local importance, often only a few kilometers long and possibly even dead ends. These roads are marked with brown signs.

A special feature is Road 6: This highway, also known as the "Trans Israel Highway", runs from the southern Carmel Mountains to the northern Negev, largely bypassing the congested and congested metropolitan area around Tel Aviv. Since it was built with the participation of private investors, it is subject to a toll. Driving on this route can be quite expensive for rental car users because some rental companies charge an additional processing fee on the credit card for the settlement of the toll (the license plates are scanned and the amount is charged to the credit card according to the number of sections used).

Palestinian Autonomous Territories
When driving on these, you should find out about the current security situation, as Israel can close the borders for several days at any time. Travel to the Gaza Strip is currently not possible due to the security situation.

Driving a rental car into Palestinian territories may be prohibited at times or for certain areas of the West Bank. The two important roads 1 (Jerusalem - Dead Sea) and 90 (West Bank of the Dead Sea - Jordan Valley - Bet She'an) in Area C can normally be navigated without problems, a checkpoint has to be passed when entering Israeli territory, what usually easily possible for tourists. In the cities of Area A of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, which are under Palestinian administration, it is generally not allowed to drive a rental car with the yellow Israeli license plate, large red signs prohibit Israeli citizens from entering, the access control will usually deny entry . In times of less tense political situation, however, cities in the Palestinian autonomous region of Area A/B can again be visited by vehicles obviously occupied by tourists (rental cars with stickers, white skin and sunburn tell the security that they are dealing with Central European tourists). .

If you are planning trips in the West Bank, you should clarify at the time of renting to what extent there are restrictions on insurance coverage.



It used to be common in Israel and relatively easy to get around by hitchhiking. In the meantime the situation has changed a bit, hitchhiking has become more difficult and dangerous. In view of the possible risks, you should always think twice before hitchhiking (see also the corresponding Wikivoyage topic page).

You should know that soldiers are more likely to be taken along than normal travelers and that you don't signal your wish to be taken with an outstretched thumb. Instead, you stand on the side of the road and point to the middle of the road with your arm casually hanging down. Regional - e.g. B. in the area of the Golan Heights - it is difficult to find a ride at all.


On foot

Israel is very suitable for hiking and extremely attractive if you can cope with the climatic circumstances. There are good trail maps, plenty of signposted trails and several long-distance trails, and you're never far from a historic site or attraction.




The main lingua franca in Israel is Hebrew. Other important languages are Arabic (among the Israeli Arabs) and Russian. The latter is spoken because Israel has taken in many Jews from Russia, especially since the 1990s. In some cases, Russian has even made it onto the streets: some shops have signs in Russian.

However, you can also get along well with English in the country. Many signs on the streets, shops and public buildings are also written in English. Since English is taught in schools in Israel as a foreign language, at least most Israeli-born Israelis speak this language. Due to the country's strong focus on tourism, knowledge of English is a matter of course for many Israelis. Many older Israelis also speak German - although not always willingly.

However, it can happen that you end up with an Israeli who doesn't know English (or at least doesn't understand it or doesn't want to speak it). Then at the latest it makes sense to master a few words - quite apart from the fact that it is positively registered if you know at least a few terms and phrases.

For pronunciation, it is helpful to know that Hebrew words are usually stressed on the last syllable. An important exception to this rule are the words ending in -et, which are stressed on the penultimate syllable. Like English, Hebrew has the sound "ch"; it can also be at the beginning of the word. The most important terms and phrases can be found in the Hebrew phrasebook.

Some Israelis are a bit more open if you know a few Hebrew words - but they are helpful in most cases.



The currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel, abbreviated NIS. In Hebrew, the term is שקל חדש, Shekel Chadash; The official currency symbol ₪ is composed of the two initial letters of Hebrew - Hebrew is read from the right. The shekel is divided into 100 agorot. The smallest coin is the 10 agorot piece; this bronze-colored "cent" is unpopular and should not be confused with the two-tone 10 shekel coin.

When shopping, you can estimate the prices quite well, since you get about four shekels for one euro (the current exchange rate can be found here). This rate has been fairly stable for years. Inflation was 0.2% in 2018.

In order to put the local prices in relation, one should know that 7400 ₪ in Haifa and almost 9000 ₪ in Tel Aviv in 2018 was an average monthly net wage, which roughly corresponds to the income in the German accession area.

Banks (opening hours Mon-Thu 8.30-12.30/13.00, not every afternoon 15.00/16.00-18.00, some Fri. and Sun. mornings) charge considerable fees for the exchange. The Postbank and private exchange offices (away from the tourist centers) or withdrawing local currency directly from ATMs are cheaper. In German-speaking countries, Israeli shekels are not available in smaller banks and must be ordered before departure.

Some (rather high-priced) shops, jewelers and galleries quote their prices in US$ to reduce the risk of exchange rate fluctuations, caution should be exercised when comparing prices. Grocery stores etc. cannot be used to pay in foreign currencies.

Credit cards (mainly VISA) are widely used in Israel, you can often pay with them. If you want to rent a car or reserve accommodation, you usually even need a credit card; this even applies to Israeli youth hostels. With a credit card, you can easily withdraw money from the banks' ATMs, since the operating menus are also available in English. At some banks, e.g. B. at the widespread bank hapoalim, you can also get money with an EC card. Empty ATMs will not be refilled on Saturday.

Israel has a wide range of shopping opportunities, ranging from markets and small shops to supermarkets and malls. In many cities there are shopping centers that combine many shops, cafes and some leisure facilities under one roof. The range of goods does not fundamentally differ from that in Europe; one difference is that the items offered in Israel are usually “kosher” (i.e. ritually clean), which means, for example, that you can hardly or not at all get certain types of meat and fish. Since most of the products are also labeled in English, shopping is usually not a problem. In the Arabic markets (e.g. in the Old City of Jerusalem) there are often no fixed prices; you then have to negotiate with the sellers.
Across the region, the "weekend" is primarily based on the religion of the business owner. Day off can be Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Opening hours are usually 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm or later. In conservative Jewish and Muslim areas it occurs on Saturday and Sunday respectively. in Ramadan to an almost complete standstill of public life.

There are some "typical" gifts and souvenirs that are offered (and often bought) in many places. Mention should be made here of a. Personal care products from the Dead Sea, jewellery, wood carvings made from olive wood, religious articles (e.g. crosses, but also menorahs and Jewish kippot), so-called "Armenian ceramics" (colorful ceramic dishes with motifs specific to Israel) and Israeli specialties such as kosher wine. There are also more bizarre souvenirs, e.g. crowns of thorns or bottles with (often fake) Jordan water.

When shopping for jewelry and art objects, works of art from the countless galleries, tourists often get a 19% VAT refund. To do this, the seller fills out a form in which the traveler must enter their address and passport number, at the airport the items to be exported must be presented at the VAT Refound counter and the VAT will be refunded in cash after deduction of a commission in shekels, euros or US$ . Discounts can often be negotiated for more expensive items.

If you just want to stroll through the shops, you can visit the city's pedestrian streets or shopping malls. However, it is also worth going to the markets (e.g. in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), which are often much cheaper and the best way to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Large malls (shopping centers with a large number of shops) have established themselves everywhere, mostly on the outskirts of the city. Security checks are carried out at the entrances to prevent bomb attacks and backpacks and bags must be shown open, the interior is often air-conditioned and many Israelis enjoy going out in the cool malls on hot days. There are often several catering options with a shared seating area on one floor.



The range of dishes is very diverse, which is related to the multitude of different influences. Many Jews who immigrated to Israel over the decades brought with them from their former homelands around the world dishes that have become part of Israeli cuisine. There are also clear influences from the Arabic-Oriental cuisine, which is typical for the Israeli Arabs and the Druze anyway.

Pork lovers will not get their money's worth. The dietary laws of the two largest religious communities against the consumption of these animals has led to the regulation since 1961, according to which pigs "are not allowed to set foot on the soil of the country". The attempt by some farmers in the years after 2000 to breed pigs in stables with slatted frames met with little success. Especially in Nazareth and Tel Aviv, with its large Russian community, pork is still available under the euphemistic name “white meat”.

In 2019, a meal in a simple restaurant should cost ₪36-80, a 3-course meal for two costs ₪150-200. This corresponds to the Central European level. A little water comes to ₪5-10, a beer to ₪15-35, although imported brands are often cheaper here. Tips for waiters in restaurants are rarely usual, apart from for very good service, there is often a can at the cash register from which those working in the background also get their share.



If the Jewish cuisine is primarily considered to be “Israeli cuisine”, then a number of special features can be cited. The Jewish cuisine has a multitude of regulations that are strictly observed by devout Jews. In order for a dish to be "kosher", i.e. pure according to Jewish understanding, and to be eaten, a wide variety of rules must be observed. derived from the Torah and the Talmud:

Initially, only certain types of animals may be eaten. Permitted are e.g. B. beef and various types of poultry. The animal species that are not allowed include e.g. Pigs and some fish species such as the eel.
The typical form of slaughter is slaughter; this is a slaughtering process in which the animal bleeds as much as possible. Because the consumption of blood is forbidden, any remaining blood is completely removed from the meat by further procedures.
Another special feature of Jewish cuisine is the complete separation of milk and meat products, which is traced back to an Old Testament instruction that the kid should not be cooked in its mother's milk. In practice, this rule has far-reaching consequences: after eating meat, orthodox Jews wait six hours before drinking milk again; Recipes that would require both at the same time (e.g. any dish topped with cheese that also contains meat) are not allowed. The separation of milk and meat can go so far among conservative Jews that they even have two kitchens in their private households; kosher restaurants and hotels also have separate cooking areas or kitchens and different types of cutlery and crockery for dairy and meat dishes. Vegetables, but also eggs and fish, are considered neutral foods that can be combined with both. This religious regulation has an important advantage for vegetarians: They can avoid animal products more easily, because kosher Israeli food is labeled as to whether it contains meat or milk or is neutral (“parve”).

In addition to these basic regulations, the Jewish dietary laws have various other regulations. When visiting a kosher restaurant, you may not notice much of these dietary laws if you don't consciously pay attention to them: The routines in the kitchen or when setting the tables usually remain hidden. In addition, contrary to the opinion that is sometimes expressed, kosher food, especially meat, does not necessarily have to taste bland. However, in a kosher (meat) restaurant, e.g. For example, you can't have ground beef lasagna with real cheese or coffee with real milk after dinner.

The already strict Jewish dietary rules are even more radical than usual during the Passover period, which falls around the time of our Easter festival, since during this festival nothing "leavened" (e.g. nothing prepared with yeast) may be eaten . Especially for this time there is also a special unleavened bread, the so-called "matzo" or "matzo". In supermarkets these days, all areas with biscuits, etc. are covered with tarpaulins, unless the management of the supermarket is in the hands of an enterprising Arab.

A special feature is the Israeli breakfast, which is typically very rich. Such a breakfast offers everything your heart desires - apart from meat and sausage products, if it is a kosher house. Apparently there are differences in the accommodations; if you are lucky, you will be treated to a large buffet in the morning. You may miss the chocolate spread, but you will be compensated with different types of bread, puff pastry pockets and cakes, eggs in different shapes, muesli, yoghurt, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as antipasti and maybe even fish.

You can buy a small snack in many places on the street, at (bus) train stations or in shopping centres. A delicious specialty is falafel. These are savory, deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas, which are eaten in a dumpling with tomatoes, cucumbers and salad, for example. The counterpart to the doner kebab that is well known in this country is schwarma, which is also roasted on a skewer and eaten in dumplings. There are also pizzas in street sales - however, due to the dietary rules already described, they usually do not have meat as a topping, but e.g. with olives or vegetables.



Essentially all drinks that are also known in Central Europe are available in Israel. Mineral water is available from local sources, and there is a large selection of Israeli-made juices. The well-known soft drinks (such as Coca Cola) are also available. Typical Israeli beer brands are Maccabee and Goldstar, you can also buy European brands. There is a wide variety of wines produced in the Holy Land; Well-known wineries are Carmel, Barkan and Golan, but there are a number of other smaller wineries, some of which produce very good wines.

The law prohibits the sale of alcohol outside of bars and restaurants between 11pm and 6am. The same applies to drinking in public or in cars after 9pm (all day in Jerusalem and Beersheba). Minimum age is 18, ID will be checked. The police can confiscate alcohol from minors. Since 2013 there has been a 25% alcohol tax.

If you want a warm drink, you can choose between many different types of tea and coffee. Instant coffee (often just called "Nescafe") is drunk. An alternative to this is the "Turkish coffee," which is prepared like mocha and served with grounds and partially flavored with cardamom. Often you can also order filter coffee or Italian coffee specialties.



In many Israeli cities there is still much to do in the evenings and at night. In many places there are cafés, pubs and bars that are open late into the night. Due to the Mediterranean climate, there is still a lot going on in the inner cities in the evening hours, and many shops are open late. The main days out are Thursday and Friday nights, in Tel Aviv you can go out any day. However, the Shabbat also provides important exceptions here: On Friday evening, peace returns to religious towns and districts; if you walk down Jerusalem's pedestrian zone on Ben Yehuda Street that evening, you'll find the doors closed and you're practically alone. However, there is no uniform curfew.

The main cities with a strong nightlife are Eilat and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, "the city that never sleeps," is considered the party capital par excellence in Israel. There is an almost unmanageable number of bars and clubs. An important help here is the English version of "Time-out"; this Tel Aviv go-to magazine is available at tourist offices.

In Tel Aviv, there are many bars on Allenby Street, the seafront promenade, Lilienblum Street and Nahalat Binyamina Street (although there are many others, of course). Many clubs are located in Florentin, in the old port and in the Harekevet area. It should be noted that most clubs only open after midnight; after that you can party until the wee hours. Otherwise, Israelis also like going to the many cafés (e.g. on Ibn Gvirol Street, Sheikin Street and Rothschild Boulevard).

If you are mobile, you can also inquire about a kibbutz disco.

At the end of 2018, an anti-prostitution law was passed that fines clients from 2000 ₪ from 2020 and at the same time provides for measures to “reform” women working in the trade. It is doubtful whether the "oldest trade in the world" can really be eliminated in this way. Anyone who does not want to get into unpleasant situations as a man should visit the areas where street prostitution is (still) flourishing, e.g. in the south of Tel Aviv around the old bus station and Tel Baruch beach in the north of the city. Both neighborhoods are notorious for drug trafficking and other petty crime.



Israel has a wide range of accommodation options - the offer ranges from camping to very basic accommodation, youth hostels, private rooms with bed and breakfast, rural hotel complexes to high-class (and expensive) multi-star hotels. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism gives a rough overview of the offer on the corresponding page.

Foreigners with tourist visa categories B2, B3 and B4 are exempt from 18% VAT on overnight stays. This also applies to food and drink and other services received at the hotel. Internet booking portals do not include this in their prices either. Hoteliers like to quote their prices in US$ and then "miscalculate" the exchange rate in their favor.

High season rates are charged around the high Jewish holidays and in July/August. In the Palestinian territories they are about the same all year round (except in Bethlehem at Easter and Christmas) and on average about a third cheaper for the same quality.

Especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv there is a wide range of hotels, mostly in the simple or middle price range. Some of these have adapted to groups of pilgrims. Most of the well-known hotel chains in the upper segment are also represented here. The same applies to the cities or seaside resorts on the Mediterranean coast. In general, one can assume that the larger cities in Israel have one or more hotels. You can get an overview on the website of the Israel Hotel Association (Israel Hotel Association/IHA); you can also search specifically for hotels there. More than 300 hotels nationwide are united under the umbrella of this association. Incidentally, the prices for hotels and other hostels in the upper segments are often not given in shekels, but in US dollars.
People tend to be cautious with tips, 5 ₪ on the pillow the day after arrival is enough to keep the maid happy.

In the rural regions there are tourist accommodations, especially in kibuzzim (cooperatively organized community settlements), some of which maintain holiday villages, usually with hotel standards. These hotel complexes often have a more familiar character and are usually located in scenic areas, e.g. B. in the Carmel Mountains, on the Mediterranean Sea or on the Sea of Galilee. At least some of these hotels can also be found on IHA.

You can often find country lodges in smaller towns that at least offer bed and breakfast. The furnishing of the private rooms can be quite spartan by Central European standards. Increasingly attractive to Israelis and travelers alike are guesthouses in private households, known as "guesthouses" or "tsimmers" - you can come across simply furnished rooms as well as luxurious self-contained apartments, en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, fridge, tea maker, microwave and Stovetop for self-sufficiency are almost always part of the offer and when you check in there are always a few tips for excursions in the area. In terms of price, they are usually in the upper middle segment.

If you would like to stay in a Christian guest house, the website of the Christian Information Center ( in Jerusalem can at least help with address, telephone and e-mail addresses. However, the page does not contain any further Internet addresses and no other further information. Despite their character, the Christian guesthouses are not only suitable for Christians or particularly religious people; some of them offer pleasant accommodation with good service at a reasonably reasonable price. Bible studies with an American-Evangelical orientation are often included.

The Israeli youth hostels, which also offer overnight accommodation in many locations, are somewhat cheaper, but not yet in the lowest price segment. It is also possible to rent rooms as double rooms. In some places, e.g. in Massada or En Gedi, the youth hostel may even be the best option. Israeli youth hostels usually offer basic but relatively good facilities. If you want to live close to the city center, you should check the location; the Tel Aviv youth hostel is located z. B. quite a bit north of the center. An overview of the accommodations of the Israeli youth hostel association IYHA (Israel Youth Hostel Association) is also available in German on the corresponding page.

Finally, private hostels are popular with backpackers, some of which offer overnight stays for very little money - often without breakfast. Private hostels are quite common in Israel, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they can be a great help on the wallet, as you can find the cheapest accommodation in the ₪50 to ₪100 price range. However, you can definitely end up in hostels with bad service, where the facilities are also bad and the hygiene is not exactly worthy of enthusiasm. Those who are sensitive should not rent a private hostel without looking at it, but first let them show you the room or dormitories, the bathrooms, and in some cases also the other guests. If you're not overly sensitive and don't need a lot of luxury, a private hostel can be a good option for the night. and are particularly helpful when looking for such accommodation. The latter site also offers ratings and testimonials.


Learning and studying

Israel is the destination of various student and youth exchange programs; A possible contact address on this topic is, for example, the coordination center for German-Israeli youth exchange ConAct in Wittenberg.

As a student, you can spend one or more semesters abroad in the country, but you have to reckon with considerable costs, since the fees are quite high (the sums can easily be 10,000 US dollars a year). The German Academic Exchange Service offers detailed information on studying in Israel on the relevant DAAD pages about Israel. Additional links are also given there.

An Israeli specialty are the so-called Ulpaním (singular: Ulpán, אולפן, "lesson" or "studio"). These are special intensive courses for learning the Hebrew language. These courses are often coupled with work or study visits. The primary target group is first and foremost Jewish new immigrants, although there is sometimes the opportunity for foreigners to take part in ulpan courses.

It may not be necessary to know Hebrew for a study stay in Israel. This applies above all to youth exchange offers, but also to some courses, since there are also offers and courses in English. Regardless of the specific purpose of your stay, you should always find out about the relevant visa regulations, since a B-2 tourist visa is usually not sufficient; As an Austrian or Swiss person, you also have to take care of adequate health insurance in advance and think about how you can finance a (longer) stay. A student visa does not include a work permit!



Basic Notes

There will hardly be anyone who does not deal with the topic of "security" before a holiday in Israel. Is it safe to travel to this country and maybe even to the Palestinian territories? Almost everyone will hear from some well-meaning acquaintance before the trip, “does it have to be Israel? Aren't you afraid to go there? What about the attacks?” If you're not worried at this point, you probably will be when you experience the first security checks and the heavy police and military presence in the country.

How dangerous is a trip to Israel? It is difficult to give a general answer, but in any case a trip to Israel is less dangerous than it might seem when viewed from Central Europe. A few considerations make this assessment plausible; they should not play down or negate the potential dangers, but should correct one or the other prejudice:

The image of Israel and the Palestinian territories is strongly determined by the news reports. While one hardly hears anything in the daily press about normal everyday life in Israel, each incident is recorded as "another collision, another attack...". The events that make the news headlines dominate the picture of the country as a whole.
The risk of attacks is actually lower than is often assumed. In the last few years since the security fence (or "barrier") to the West Bank was erected, there have been almost no attacks in the Israeli heartland. The risk of dying in a traffic accident is about the same as in Europe - almost as many people die on Israel's roads every year as in all previous attacks combined.
Many clashes are local and limited in time and their dimensions are often hardly more serious than clashes between the police and autonomists or football fans in this country. It can happen that when you ask at the reception of a hotel in Jerusalem about an incident from the previous week that was reported in the news at home, the person asked has to think for a moment whether there was anything (and if so , What)...
In order not to be misunderstood: the situation is actually more unstable than in Europe. Tensions between Palestinian Arabs and extremist Israelis can escalate at any time. Both sides are often not interested in a de-escalation, but rather hope for media attention, especially in their own interest group, thanks to provocations. The risk of attacks is still not completely averted. Therefore, in the run-up to a privately organized trip to Israel, one should observe the general development in the region and find out more about the relevant websites of the foreign ministry of the home country.


Security in the country

Israel is not fundamentally unsafe, otherwise the country would not be the destination of many tourists. However, you can still improve your own security in the country if you follow certain basic rules:
Follow the instructions of the security staff.
Cooperate with security services, even though checks and interrogations can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Avoid large crowds as far as possible. When demonstrations by orthodox Jews or Palestinians escalate into violence, the army may use live ammunition.
Leave unnecessary provocations! A walk with the Israeli flag in the Arab quarters of Hebron is just as inappropriate as a Palestinian scarf on the Western Wall, even if the latter provocation poses no danger to life and limb.
If you have organized your trip yourself and are in the country at a time when the situation is unsettled, then inform yourself regularly about the current situation and avoid trouble spots. Daily news is available on the Internet on the English websites of the country's largest daily newspapers. If necessary, you can ask about current developments in the tourist offices and in the respective accommodation.
Good to know: Since aggression is primarily directed against the other side and both sides benefit from tourism, it is sometimes not the worst thing if you are recognizable as a tourist.

In general, apart from the Gaza Strip, you can travel practically the whole country and also the West Bank without any particular dangers. Exception: In the border area to the Gaza Strip (e.g. in the area around Sderot) there are repeated rocket attacks by Hamas activists, so that one should avoid the immediate border area in times of increased aggression or at least find out about the current situation. Travel to the Gaza Strip is currently (2019) not possible.



Magen David Adom (Israeli "Red Star of David") emergency number: ☎ 101

The health system in the Israeli heartland offers care at a high level that is absolutely comparable to that in western industrialized countries. However, the comfort of the hospital rooms and the length of the waiting times in the emergency rooms of hospitals cannot keep up with what is usual in German-speaking countries.

In medical emergencies, the emergency departments of the hospitals provide further assistance. All Israeli doctors and the younger members of the nursing staff speak some English. In the event of illness, you can inquire about German-speaking doctors at the embassy of your home country (list of various doctors in Tel Aviv). Similar to the Red Cross in Germany, there is the so-called Magén Davíd Adóm (Hebrew: מגן דוד אדום "Red Star of David") in Israel, which is responsible for patient transport and emergency rescue, but also runs its own polyclinics.

The German-Israeli social security agreement ensures emergency medical care, also for employees, upon presentation of a foreign health certificate, which can be requested from the respective health insurance company (the EHIC does not apply). There is no social security agreement with Austria, travelers from Switzerland are usually reimbursed the maximum amount that is usual in Switzerland for emergency treatment (which accounts for the bills of Israeli hospitals, which are lower than in Switzerland). You should only consider taking out travel insurance to cover the costs of salvage and return transport to your home country.

With regard to vaccinations, recommendations are identical to those in German-speaking countries, according to Swiss vaccination recommendations, a hepatitis A vaccination is only recommended for visitors (VFR=Visiting Friends and Relatives) of Arab families in the country.

If you take medication regularly, you need to take enough supplies with you for the period of travel. Eyeglass wearers should consider taking spare glasses with them on the trip. A small first-aid kit is also a recommended part of your luggage. You should definitely not forget - especially in the summer months - a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

There are hardly any other health risks in Israel than in Central Europe. Drinking tap water is occasionally discouraged; Normally, the quality of the tap water in Israel is impeccable, but in some regions the taste is not particularly pleasant, and occasionally it also has a clear chlorine note. A little more caution is advisable in the Palestinian autonomous areas, where there is also a slightly increased risk of infection for some diseases.

You should never underestimate the sun - sufficient sun protection for your head and skin is essential, especially in summer. If you don't drink enough, there is a risk of dehydration, especially in the desert, where you sweat a lot but notice it too late because of the dry air. The ubiquitous air conditioners pose a certain health risk. In order to prevent colds, it is advisable to take some light clothing (light jacket, possibly socks or scarf) with you for public transport, museums, restaurants, etc.

Poisonous animals
The only really common venomous snake is the mostly grey, nocturnal Vipera palaestinae, which lives primarily in oak forests. Their bite causes internal bleeding, which is extremely painful and can lead to death. The administration of an antiserum is necessary as soon as possible; the emergency departments of the hospitals are prepared for the treatment.

Scorpion bites are primarily painful. Especially if you spend the night in nature, you should shake out your shoes in the morning and not carelessly reach under stones or in piles of wood. Scorpios appreciate their warmth. In 2018, the nature park administration published a guide to the 21 indigenous scorpion species, three of which are poisonous.


Climate and travel time

General information

Despite its small area, Israel does not have a uniform climate, there are sometimes serious differences with small spatial distances. On the one hand, this is due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea, which decreases from north to south, and, on the other hand, to the strong differences in altitude within the country. While Mediterranean conditions prevail in the northern part of the country, the climate changes to a desert climate towards the south and south-east; beyond the southern borders of the country, desert areas follow everywhere.

Seasons in Israel are similar to those in Central Europe, but with a different character: the main seasons are summer (around May to September) and winter (around November to March), with the summer months being the more hostile to life. In summer, a general weather pattern sets in that ensures that there is practically no rain between May and October; the sun shines from the cloudless sky every day, in midsummer it normally reaches a good thirty degrees during the day (regionally also over 40°C). In winter the weather is changeable; there can also be beautiful and comparatively warm days at this time of year, but there are always thunderstorms and rain in between, and at higher altitudes possibly sleet or snow. Under certain circumstances you have cold, wet, cloudy weather for several days with temperatures around 10 degrees and below. In poorly insulated houses with no central heating (central heating is a rarity in Israel, in contrast to air conditioning, which can also be used for makeshift heating) one can freeze severely at this time of the year.
The two transition periods in spring and autumn are relatively short, lasting only about six weeks. In the course of this change, a weather situation can occur that causes a strong wind (the so-called Chamsin or Scharav) to blow temporarily, which transports dry and hot desert air to the region. During the Chamsin season, the annual maximum temperatures are reached.
Spring is a good time to travel when the landscape is still green and in full bloom; other good times to travel are autumn and early and late summer.


Climatic regions

In the general framework described, the climate within the country shows significant regional differences.

In the strip along the Mediterranean coast (up to a maximum width of 20 km), the influence of the sea ensures a more temperate climate. In winter there are no frosts here, there is a relatively large amount of rain. In summer the temperatures don't rise quite as high and there is often a light breeze from the sea, although the air is often very humid.
This climatic region includes the Western Galilee and the Bay of Haifa, the Carmel Coast at the foot of the Carmel Mountains, the Sharon Plain, the Southern Coastal Plain and Tel Aviv.
The mountains between the coastal strip and the Jordan Valley are relatively high, so the influence of the sea is not so great here. In this region there is a lot of rain in winter and also sleet or snow, it can get quite cold. Summer is generally the most pleasant here, as the air is hot but dry. In the evenings the air cools down considerably in summer; unlike in the lower-lying parts of the country, you may need long pants or a sweater to sit outside.
In this climatic region z. B. most of the Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, the area around Jerusalem and the western part of the Palestinian West Bank.
The Jezreel plain lies at the transition to the climate of the Jordan Valley; it is not as high as the mountains, so temperatures are generally higher here; in summer it can get quite hot. These climatic peculiarities are clearly expressed in the northern and central Jordan Rift itself: It is so deep that the temperatures are higher because of this alone; the prevailing westerly wind also warms up as it descends from the higher elevations into the Jordan Rift Valley, so that temperatures continue to rise. The result is a very warm, oppressively humid climate in summer, and it hardly cools down in the evenings either. The middle Jordan Rift in the area of the Sea of Galilee and south of it is frost-free, here you can see banana plantations more often (as on the coast).
In this climatic region z. B. the Hule plain in the eastern Upper Galilee, the Sea of Galilee with Tiberias, the Bet She'an valley and the north-eastern tip of Samaria.
The fourth major climatic region is the desert, which accounts for about half of the country. The south consists of the Negev desert up to Be'er Sheva; from there the desert area stretches north-east and merges at the Dead Sea into the Judean desert, which extends in the southern Jordan Rift valley into Samaria. In these areas there is hardly any precipitation even in winter, in summer temperatures of over 40° can be reached (on average ten degrees more than in the mountains). Due to evaporation, the Dead Sea is muggy most of the time; in summer it hardly cools down below 25 degrees at night, in winter night temperatures of more than ten degrees are measured (while it can snow in the mountains, 20 kilometers away as the crow flies). In contrast, the air in large parts of the Negev is dry with significant temperature differences between day and night; it can get very cold there in winter.
In this climatic region the Judean desert, the Israeli coast at the Dead Sea and the Negev desert. Eilat, in the very south, is so dry and hot that you can swim in the Red Sea all year round.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, mention the Golan Heights annexed by Israel. This region is relatively high, so it is also cooler in summer and there is a relatively large amount of rain in winter. Then it can get cold here at times, on the highest elevations of the northern Golan you can even ski on the Hermon near Neve Ativ, in terms of amount of snow, technically and in length the pistes cannot keep up with those in the Alps.


Rules and respect

In Israel, numerous people of different religions and backgrounds live together. In contrast to the German-speaking countries, religion and recommendations from religious authorities are often still of great importance. In all population groups, the spectrum ranges from strictly religious to completely liberal. In this field of tension, it is sometimes difficult for visitors to find the way to appropriate behavior. As a guest in a country, you should not unnecessarily offend or even provoke.

The following points should be heeded whenever possible:
You shouldn't tell everyone what you think about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; one can currently meet someone who holds an extreme dissenting opinion. Irrespective of this, one should briefly consider how the locals must feel when someone comes from Europe and thinks they know better about everyday life in Israel than the locals do.
Women should refrain from walking around in Arab neighborhoods or in Arab markets (e.g. in Jerusalem's old town) in provocatively skimpy clothing, as this increases the risk of ambiguous shouts.
On the Shabbat one should take into account the religious feelings of the Jewish - orthodox population, i.e. in strictly orthodox residential areas e.g. For example, refrain from smoking in public and driving in the neighborhood streets and refrain from taking photos at the western wall.

In sacred buildings, one should pay attention to the following points:
Basically, mini skirts and hot pants are items of clothing that are unsuitable for visiting sacred buildings of all religions. Short trousers or skirts should always reach above the knees and the shoulders should be covered. If you wear more revealing clothing, you have to be prepared not to be admitted to synagogues, churches and mosques. Some of the supervisors here don't understand fun at all. If you don't want to wear long pants all day, you can e.g. You can use long pants or a blouse, for example, which you can take with you and pull over your shorts if necessary.
In synagogues - and thus also on the Western Wall in Jerusalem - as well as in Jewish cemeteries, the head must be covered. In some places (in some of the big synagogues, on the western wall or even in the memorial hall in Yad Vashem) men can rent head coverings.
Shoes must be removed in mosques.
In churches, men should remove their head coverings.


Smoking ban

From 2007 bars and restaurants etc. had to set up separate, well-ventilated smoking areas, which were not allowed to take up more than a quarter of the area. Since September 2018, smoking (including e-cigarettes) has been banned in and in front of all types of publicly accessible buildings, including zoos, swimming pools, schools, etc. Smoking is also not permitted at events (including demonstrations) with 50 people or more outdoors. The fine for smokers is ₪1000.


Post and telecommunications

There are still payphones in Israel, although coverage has decreased in recent years due to heavy cell phone use. Some of these phones (e.g. in shopping malls) work with coins, but usually you need calling cards called "telecards".

Israel Post post offices are located in all major cities. Queues are long and service is often criticized for being slow. The Postbank also exchanges foreign currencies, but only US$, euros and British pounds.

If you want to send postcards, you can often get stamps where the cards are sold. A postcard or a letter up to 20 grams to Europe costs 7.40 ₪ by air mail in 2019 (overland ₪ 3.20), some dealers charge too much. Postal delivery times from Israel to German-speaking countries can vary considerably: in the best-case scenario, postal items by airmail only take a week, but delivery times of around two weeks are also possible.

A small package (up to 2 kg) to Central Europe costs ₪ 51.60 by air mail in 2019, and only ₪ 28.30 by land. Israel Post also provides service to the Palestinian Territories, but it takes much longer from/to here.

As of 2019, Israeli customs do not levy any duties on packages from abroad with a value of goods up to US$ 75. If the value is less than US$ 500, 17% import sales tax is due, only above this is additional duty charged. In any case, the post office charges a handling fee of ₪ 35.

In 2019 there are eight mobile phone providers offering a wide variety of packages. The cheapest for calls, valid for a few days, cost 9 ₪, from 39 ₪ there are all-round packages with unlimited free minutes/SMS and data packages. Post-paid contracts have a minimum term of 36 months.

The operators and their websites are set up differently for visitors (i.e. English-speaking customers). Cellcom is the market leader; pelephones; Orange; HOT Mobile; Golan Telecom; Rami Levy; 012 Mobile; YouPhone. The comparison also in terms of coverage (map 2/3/4G) is worthwhile.

Cell phone numbers begin with 05... All scams that occur in other countries with automated callback via incoming SMS (“ping call”) and the like. occur.

You can buy “kosher cell phones” in the country. These are limited in their functionality. The website offers internet access filter options for religious fanatics.

Internet cafes are widespread and can be found in almost every location. The price is around 15 NIS per hour. Free WiFi access is available in most cafes, hotels and B&Bs. All branches of "Aroma Espresso Bar," "Arcaffe," "McDonald's" and "Yellow" have free WiFi access. If it is not immediately apparent, you can ask the staff for the access data.

Mobile Internet: For pure data access, mobile phone providers offer the versions 1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB (all three valid for 30 days), they cost e.g. B. Orange 2019 or 59, 79 or 99 ₪. If you want to travel to Israel several times, it is important to tell the seller that you want an unlimited card (“sim card without expiry”). "Indefinite" here refers to the possible use, any credit will expire anyway.

Projects have been launched in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to provide full city coverage with free Wi-Fi; in Haifa and Eilat, free WiFi is already a reality on a large scale. The automated logging into such networks by smartphones makes it possible to draw much more precise motion pictures than is possible via mobile phone cells - everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to use Google's location services, for example. Israelis are very open to technological developments and often have no problem giving apps access to their data. It should be noted that data protection legislation in Israel lags behind European standards. Many international companies, which e.g. Developing security and espionage software for state surveillance agencies are based in Israel, and the Israeli army sees the fight against cybercrime as one of its core tasks. As a user, you have to assume that all data traffic is accessible to the local state security organs.


Practical advice

Foreigners who need emergency assistance from their governments will find most consulates in Tel Aviv. Many EU countries have liaison offices in Ramallah that offer consular services for the occupied Palestinian territories.

Disabled person
Many museums, city buses and hotels are wheelchair accessible. The administration of the national parks has set up specially suitable paths in most parks, which often only cover the most important sights.

Yad Sarah (engl. ☎ 972 2 644-4633) is a volunteer organization that, similar to the German Bahnhofsmission but more extensively, supports travelers with disabilities. The services range from the provision of aids (crutches, wheelchairs) against a deposit to accompaniment in resp. Preparation of hotel rooms, etc. Regional centers sometimes provide day care or a mobile dentist service.