What to expect of the Israeli weather in the winter?
If you’re thinking of making a trip to Israel, one of the things on your mind will be what the weather will be like. And it’s a good question! We’re often asked what the climate is like in our country and, for much of the year, our answer is a resounding ‘hot’. Between October, there’s little or no rain, azure blue skies, and often scorching temperatures, particularly in the Negev desert and down on the Red Sea.
These are Golden Jackals, Warming under the December sun in Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv
These sunny warm days are what makes so many people book their trips in the spring, summer, and fall. But what about the weather in Israel in the winter? If you have the chance to travel in the Holy Land out of season, and you’re not fussed about the lack of sunbathing opportunities, what should you expect? Will it be so unpleasantly cold that you can’t enjoy yourself? What kind of clothing will you need to bring? Will there be enough activities for days out?
When is Winter in Israel?
The winter in Israel basically runs from mid-November to mid/end February. And because Israel has lots of different geographical areas, depending on which part of the country you’re in, it could get chilly! However, for many Europeans and North Americans, even on the coldest days it won’t be freezing or snowing in the way you’re used to (although yes, it does snow, periodically in this part of the globe - usually in the Golan Heights but, once every few years, in Jerusalem).
Israel could get a bit rainy in the winter
Actually, many tourists who aren’t keen on high temperatures enjoy traveling at this time of the year - apart from the Christmas period, when many Christian pilgrims tour the Holy Land, it’s quieter and less expensive. And, of course, whatever the weather, there are many museums and galleries in Israel to explore, if the rain is pouring and the wind is howling!
Winter in Israel in November
Most of the time, November in Israel is very pleasant. Temperatures can still be quite warm - in fact, on odd days you might even see people sunbathing in Tel Aviv and on beaches across the country, when the thermometer can go as high as 25°, and average temperatures range from 18-23°.
The beaches North of Tel Aviv are cool, yet calm in November
It will be colder in the mountains- Jerusalem, Safed, and the Golan Heights- but if you’re yearning for sun, you’ll definitely find it in Eilat, on the Red Sea. As well as diving, surfing, and all kinds of water sports, it’s also a hop, skip, and a jump from Jordan, perfect for visiting the lost city of Petra and the beautiful desert scenery in Wadi Rum.
Winter in Israel in December
By the time December arrives, the temperatures are dropping, but on the coast, and in the 24/7 city of Tel Aviv, you won’t need a winter coat, just the lightest jacket and perhaps an umbrella here and there. Temperatures will range from 12-21° but once you go higher up, you’ll feel the cold.
It might get a bit cold, but this is when the flowers pop out!
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth can all be rather chilly in December, so if you’re traveling to Israel at Christmas, make sure to pack a warm coat, gloves, scarf, hat, and even some thermal underwear! In Jerusalem, expect temperatures to range from 7-14°, and if you’re up in the Golan Heights, even a bit colder. If your bones are so cold you can’t stand it anymore, head to Eilat, where you can even sunbathe and swim on Christmas Day, or if you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, take a trip to Timna Park and hike around canyons.
Winter in Israel in January
January is the coldest month in Israel, wherever you are. The chances of rain are at their highest and whilst it’s just ‘chilly’ in Tel Aviv, temperatures plummet in Jerusalem and can be positively icy up in the Golan Heights. Of course, if it snows, you will be rewarded with beautiful, picture-perfect views and have the opportunity to ski on Mount Hermon.
Ski at the Hermon Mountain
It can be a good time to explore Israel’s south- the Negev and Arava deserts are excellent places to hike. In places like Mitzpe Ramon- home to an extraordinary crater, down which you can rappel, and inside which you can hike- there can be sunny days but beware when the night falls - it will be bone-chillingly cold! Temperatures can actually fall to almost zero in the desert, and not much higher in Jerusalem, so make sure to pack accordingly.
Winter in Israel in February
By the time February arrives, you know that winter is on its way out, although there’s still the chance of rain. However, it’s a great month to visit Israel because sights like the fortress of Masada and the Dead Sea are less crowded, and (unless it’s pouring down).
A great time to see Masada
With average water temperatures at the lowest point on earth at 21°, you can even chill out whilst floating and soaking up a few rays of sun visiting this incredibly Herodian fortress, coupled with a sea so salty nothing can survive in it makes for the perfect Israel day trip.
Winter Tourist Attractions in Israel
There’s so much to do in Israel that even when the weather isn’t warm and sunny, you’re simply spoilt for choice- holy sites, places of great historical importance, museums and galleries, vineyards, national parks, and fantastic eating opportunities- the country has it all.
Winter in Jerusalem
No trip to Israel is complete without spending some time in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. Whatever the weather, it’s possible to spend hours walking inside the Old City, wandering the four quarters, and exploring sites like the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and Western (Wailing) Wall. And in the more modern part of the city, the world-famous Israel Museum and Yad Vashem - the country’s memorial to the six million Jews murdered in the holocaust - are must-see attractions.
Winter in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, similarly, is a good place to visit in the winter- there are many days when the sun is shining, and it’s not raining, so you can walk on the beaches, even along the boardwalk from the Namal Port to Jaffa, the ancient biblical city that’s home to winding streets, artists’ studios, churches, a port, and a bustling flea market. And those who love to eat will be in their element too- a food tour of the Carmel Market is highly recommended for anyone interested in the cuisine of the region.
Winter in Northern Israel
There’s also plenty to do in the north of the country- the ancient Crusader city of Akko is a fine place to explore, not to mention Caesarea National Park (full of archaeological treasures that date back to the time of King Herod) and the beautiful limestone grottoes of Rosh ha Nikra on the border, with fantastic views of the Mediterranean coast.
And vineyards in the Galilee and Golan Heights are a great way to spend a day- after a tour, you’ll often be treated to lunch, or at the very least some wine-tasting (often paired with excellent local cheeses). If it’s snowing, Mount Herman is the perfect place to head for some skiing, and if you aren’t a fan of heights then simply rent a wooden cabin in one of the many kibbutzes in the area, and explore the nature by day and curl up next to a log fire at night.
The Galilee is also home to several beautiful churches, and any Christian pilgrim who wants to understand more about the life and times of Jesus can walk in his footsteps in the Galilee, this being the place where he spent most of his adult life, ministering and performing his miracles.
If you’re interested in visiting Israel, take a look at the many offerings we have- from organized package tours to privately guided trips and day excursions all around the country, we’ve been in the tourism business for over 30 years and with our knowledgeable guides and professional team guarantee you an experience that will stay with you for years to come.
Feel free to contact us by email or telephone to find out more about our tours, and if you want to know more about life in Israel, take a look at our blog.