How to Order a Taxi in Israel
There are plenty of ways to travel around Israel - between cities you can use public Egged or Metropoline buses, catch a train or rent a car. Within cities, there are also excellent local bus services that run from early in the morning until late at night, as well as city bikes and electric scooters that can easily be rented, with nothing more than a credit card.
Taxi sign. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
However, there are always going to be times when nothing but a taxi will suit you! Whether you’ve just arrived at the airport after a long haul flight and you’re jetlagged, or you’re in a rush to get across town, whether you’re laden down with bags of shopping or it’s 2 am and you’re coming out of a trendy Tel Aviv cocktail bar, grabbing a cab is going to be the fastest and most foolproof option.
In this article, we’re looking at the hows, wheres, and whys of taking taxis in Israel - whether hailing them on the street, ordering them through phone apps (or through hotel services/tour operators), or ‘going native’ and sharing them with locals. With all of this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to make the decision that’s best for you and your wallet...which will only improve your mood and your trip to Israel!
1. Regular private taxi
Private taxis are plentiful and easy to order in Israel, whether you want to book one in advance, particularly from Ben Gurion airport to Tel Aviv, or simply just flag one down on the street.
A taxi in Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Traveling by taxi from Ben Gurion AirportThe taxis at Ben Gurion Airport operate under the supervision of the Israel Airports Authority and are all registered and regulated. After you pass through customs and walk out into arrivals, head through the main door and walk straight ahead. This is where the taxi stand is located.
The taxis are easily recognizable with their distinct black and yellow taxi sign on their rooftops. The taxi fare you will pay to whichever city in Israel you are traveling to has a legally fixed price. This will depend on the time of the day that you are traveling (after 9.15 pm there is a surcharge of +25%). There will also be an extra charge for more than 2 passengers and if you have a large amount of luggage you may have to pay another 5-10 NIS. Taxi drivers also charge an extra 5 NIS when leaving the airport.
In general, a taxi into Tel Aviv should cost you anywhere between 120 - 180 NIS and, without traffic, the journey should not take more than 30 minutes. It is normal to tip around 10% for a regular taxi ride and perhaps to increase it to 15% for anything above or beyond (i.e. help with luggage).
There are reduced rate licensed taxis on Level 2 at Terminal 3 but the airport does not recommend you use them. There are also unauthorized taxi drivers operating in the area and we would not advise taking them, since they might compromise your safety or present you with an ‘extra’ charge at your destination.
Ben Gurion Airport, Israel. Photo credit: © Maria Murashova
Catching a cab in the street in IsraelIt is still common practice to hail a taxi on the streets in Israel. There are two ways to set the price:
A) Ask the driver to turn on the meter - this is a good way to ensure you do not get overcharged by someone unscrupulous. The meter should begin at 13 NIS, which is the standard minimum charge in Israel between 5.30 am and 9 pm. Drivers are also obliged to present you with a receipt at the end of the journey, should you ask for one.
B) Negotiate a fee with the driver before you get into the taxi. Make sure you agree on a fair price for both of you, so there are no nasty surprises when you arrive at your destination.
In general, it is usually better to insist the driver uses the meter, and drivers are legally obliged to switch it on if you ask. Of course, many will try and convince you it is not necessary - but you are well within your rights to insist.
Ordering a taxi through companies/hotel concierges in Israel
You can always ask your tour guide, or the concierge at the hotel, to call you a taxi. They will know reputable local firms with honest and reliable drivers, who will not try and overcharge you.
Tel Aviv street with a parked taxi, Israel. Photo by Daniel Lerman on Unsplash
2. Sherut Taxi (“Service Taxi”) in Israel
Service taxis (in Hebrew ‘Moniot Sherut”) are brightly-colored minivans that run throughout the bigger cities in Israel and also between major cities. Basically, they are shared taxis which accommodate 10 people. Yellow in color, on their front windscreen you can see their number and this shows what route they are taking.
Sheruts are privately owned and run which means that, unlike public buses and trains, they do run on the Jewish Shabbat, and this is a major plus for anyone who wants to travel on Friday afternoon/evening or Saturday.
In general, these yellow shared taxis follow the same routes as the major bus lines in the city they are in. In Tel Aviv, for instance, the two most common sheruts are numbers 4 and 5, which more-or-less replicate the routes of the two major bus lines, running from the Central Bus Station past Rothschild Boulevard, Ben Yehuda, and Dizengoff Street and through the heart of the city.
The way it works is incredibly simple - simply raise your hand and hail one, as you would a private taxi. The driver will pull over and open the door using a large handle from his seat. Once you’ve climbed in, just grab a seat. You can pay the driver yourself (in cash) but a time-honored Israeli tradition (which some love and some hate) is to hand the money to the person in front of you, who passes it forward. Your change will come back the same way!
Unlike buses, there are no fixed stops with service taxis so they will let you off wherever you like, along the route. Just tell the driver the corner or spot, you want to alight and he will pull over and drop you at the side of the road. Something else about this method of transport is that it tends to be a bit faster than using a bus (since it’s transporting fewer people and generally stopping at fewer stops). Some people find them a bit cramped and it’s definitely harder to board one if you have a lot of luggage but, in general, it’s a convenient way to travel and much cheaper than taking a private taxi.
Tel Aviv roads at night. Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash
Service taxis (monit sherut) within cities
As stated above, sheruts tend to run on major streets - either check online for their routes, ask a friendly local (Israelis love to help!) or just keep an eye out for their yellow color, which makes them so noticeable. Tel Aviv numbers 4 and 5 begin at the Central Bus Station on Levinsky street - on the ground floor, just around the corner from the main entrance.
Service taxis (monit sherut) at Ben Gurion Airport
When you walk out of the airport’s main arrival door, at Terminal 3, walk straight until you come to the road. There you will see a private taxi stand. Look to the right and you will see a bus stop and different yellow vans. On the front of their windscreen, they will have the destination written on them. Jump in and pay (your luggage will go in the back) - the van will set off as soon as it’s full. There is no need to tip the driver when you reach your destination; this is included in the price. These sheruts go to Jerusalem and Haifa (not Tel Aviv) and run 24 hours a day. There are also sheruts from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport.
Please note that there are no sheruts from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv. However, you do have other options - private taxi (starting at 120 NIS), Israel Railways - a one-way ticket to the center costs 14 NIS - or bus 445 that leaves from a stop close to the Jerusalem shuttle. Although it leaves only once an hour, it does run through the city center, and along HaYarkon Street, next to the beach and all of the hotels there.
Taxis in East Jerusalem. Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on UnsplashIt also costs a mere 9 NIS. From Ben Gurion Airport or central Tel Aviv to Eilat it is possible to book a service taxi that accommodates up to 10 people usually - a good way to do this is through your hotel or concierge or a trusted tour operator like ourselves.
It is also possible to book a private transfer from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem - this is the most costly option but once you are happy with your quote and have paid by credit card, there is nothing else to worry about. No doubt about it, this is the ultimate hassle-free choice.
Service taxis (monit sherut) between cities in Israel
You can take monit sheruts between the big cities - the most popular route is Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but shared taxis also run to Netanya, Haifa, Rishon le Zion, Ashdod, and Rehovot. They leave from the Levinsky Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv and from the corner of Ha Rav Agan and Ha Rav Kook streets, close to Zion Square in Jerusalem on weekdays. On Fridays and Saturdays the sherut only pick up in Jerusalem either at HaNevi'im and Monbaz corner or they move a couple of blocks to HaRav Agan and HaRav Kook streets.
Fares of service taxis (monit sherut) in Israel
Service taxis have a fixed price, no matter how many stops you go, which is almost the same as public buses. However, be aware that on Shabbat you may have to pay a few shekels more.
Jerusalem thoroughfare near Mamilla Mall. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
3. Apps: Gett, Yango, Uber in Israel
Booking a taxi using an app on your smartphone is increasingly popular now. Yango Taxi Israel is an app where you can set your destination and see the estimated cost of your ride almost immediately. You can also track your ride in the App and see exactly when it will arrive. It’s an easy-to-use service that works both on Android and iOS telephones.
Yango lets you book a ride with multiple destinations and can also suggest alternative pickup points to reach your destination faster and at a cheaper price. Because the price is upfront, it will stay the same, even if you are delayed by traffic.
Gett - About 8,000 of Israel's 25,000 cab drivers now use Gett, an Israeli company once known as Gett Taxi. Gett Taxi app in Israel does not actually own taxis or employs drivers but simply takes a fee for introducing passengers and drivers, and acting as a third-party for payments. Like Yango, the system is transparent so passengers can’t be overcharged. Also, it’s easy to pay by credit card.
Uber - Uber is smaller than Yango or Gett so response times might be a bit longer but ordering an Uber driver costs 8 NIS from the time you get in the car then 1 NIS for every minute you spend in it, plus 2 NIS for every kilometer.
Ordering a taxi with an App. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
4. Private Transfers in Israel
Private transfers in Israel are a very comfortable way to travel between cities and are not difficult to arrange. However, we do advise that you book them through a trustworthy tour operator - this means you’re likely to get an honest price and a reliable driver.
Once you have been told the price and agree that it is fair, your credit card will be charged and everything afterwards will be taken care of, meaning you won’t have to deal with any aspect of the journey. At Bein Harim, we are always happy to help with private transfers - please call us or send us your details on our ‘Contact Us’ form and we will get back to you promptly, with a competitive offer.