Israel Travel News

As of June 2021, COVID is under control in Israel, and virtually all restrictions have been lifted, but keep updated with Israel travel news. Travelers arriving in Israel must be COVID-vaccinated, fill in an online entry statement, and show proof of a negative COVID test taken up to 72 hours before flying. On arrival at Ben Gurion, passengers must undergo another COVID test. When leaving Israel another online statement must be filled in, and a negative COVID test result must be shown. Citizens from most countries (including UK, USA, and Australia) can travel to Israel for up to 90-days without a visa. There is no need for inoculations.

You might see frightening news reports that make you wonder if it is safe to visit Israel. It is safe! Israel is prepared for any event, and the areas visited by tourists are secure. If you’re nervous about traveling to Israel alone, join a tour package. You can exchange money at change stores, banks, and in the airport. Israel’s standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. Visitors from the UK, Europe, and Australia can use their appliances as usual, but American visitors will need a voltage converter. You can rent a cell phone at Ben Gurion, or, if your cell phone is “unlocked” you can purchase an Israel SIM card. WiFi is readily available in stores, hotels, and restaurants in Israel.


Israel and Jordan Borders

Israel is a country with an enormous amount to see and do, and many tourists find that a week or two isn’t enough to do it justice. However, if you have the time and inlincation, we’d highly recommend a trip across the Israel-Jordan border, where you can visit Amman, the Wadi Rum desert and, of course, the magnificent ‘lost city’ of Petra. Built by the Nabateans in 312 BCE (making it one of the oldest cities in the world), it’s a fantastic attraction which few who see it ever forget.Israel-Jordan Yitzhak Rabin/Araba Border Crossing.Photo credit: © Sarah MannBelow, let’s take a look at the three border crossings between Israel and Jordan, along with plenty of practical information and helpful hints. If you’re thinking of crossing the border, hopefully, this short guide will enlighten you and make your journey relatively smooth and hassle-free...There are three border crossings between Jordan and Israel.1. Jordan River / Sheikh Hussein / Beit Shean Crossing (North)Located in the north of Israel, relatively close to the Sea of Galilee (in the Jordan Valley), this is perhaps the quietest of the three crossings. The Jordan River border crossing operates every day of the year, save for Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement) and Eid al-Hijra (the Muslim New Year). On religious holidays, hours are subject to change - you can check this on the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) or call them at (972) 03 972-3333. For almost every nationality, it is possible to acquire a visa at this crossing (prior permission is not necessary). Due to the Covid pandemic, this border is currently closed. Normal Operating Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 06:30 - 22:00. Friday - Saturday: 09.00 - 20.00. For further information, click here.Roman Theatre, Amman, Jordan. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTravelling to the Sheikh Hussein CrossingPublic transport:Superbus - the number 16 bus runs from Beit Shean and only costs 6 NIS (2 USD) but, unfortunately, does not go all the way to the crossing - it will drop you 1km away and you will either have to walk or take a taxi the remaining distance. Superbus can be reached at 1-700 700 181.Nazarene Tours - Nazarene tours run coaches several times a week, beginning in Nazareth early in the morning and arriving in Amman around 2 pm. The approximate cost is 90 NIS (28 USD) one way. For a detailed timetable, click here.Egged -Egged buses run to Beit Shean both from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the journey, in both cases, takes approximately 2 hours and costs around 50 NIS (16 USD).Taxi:A private taxi from Beit Shean to the border (approx. 5 km) will take about 15 minutes. For the exact cost, call Oren taxis at (972) 52 912-9606.Private Vehicle:It is not always possible to enter Jordan with your vehicle - we would recommend parking at the lot next to the terminal (a fee is payable).Our advice: unless you have a good reason to cross here on your own, it might be easier to use one of the other two crossings (see below) since it is probably the least convenient and most costly way to travel between Israel and Jordan.Temple of Hercules in Amman, Jordan.Photo credit: © ShutterstockCrossingIsrael-Jordan Border overSheikh Husseinand Heading to AmmanOnce you have passed through the Israeli side and paid your exit fee (107 NIS, or 34 USD) you will need to take a shuttle bus (compulsory) a few hundred metres to the Jordanian side. The cost of this bus is 2 USD.When you exit the terminal, you will notice that you are more or less standing in the middle of nowhere and there is no public transport whatsoever on the Jordanian side. Once you’ve come to grips with this, you have two options for getting to Amman. A taxi to the city of Irbid will cost about 20 JD, and from there, you can take a bus to Amman. Alternatively, a taxi directly to Amman may take less time, but it could get pricey since the driver will also realize that. Whilst you are, at some level, a hostage to the taxi drivers there, don’t panic! A certain amount of negotiation is expected and it is in everyone’s interests that you take the cab, so don’t be afraid to bargain. A taxi to Irbid should cost around 20 Jordanian dinars ($30) and take an hour. To Amman, you should pay double, i.e. 40 JOD or $60 and it should take two hours.Crossing Israel-Jordan Border over Sheikh Hussein with a Tour GuideAfter paying your Israeli border tax, and crossing through passport control, take the shuttle (see above) to the Jordanian side. Please note: your passport must have at least 6 months duration remaining. Any VAT tax refund for goods purchased in Israel must be claimed in the Israeli terminal. Any individual with dual Israeli nationality must cross the border using their Israeli passport. At the Jordanian end, your English-speaking guide will be waiting for you, to give you any help you need. You will then be able to purchase your visa (approx 40 Jordanian dinars or 60 USD). There is a money exchange on site.Amman, Jordan. Photo by Stefanos Orovas on Unsplash2. Yitzhak Rabin / Wadi Araba Crossing (South)Located in the far south of Israel, 325 km from Amman, theWadi Araba border crossing sits on the Red Sea and connects the two resort towns of Eilat and Aqaba. Normal Operating Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 06:30 - 20,00. Friday - Saturday: 08.00 - 20.00.Like the Sheikh Hussein crossing, in the north of the country, this border is also closed on Yom Kippur and the Muslim New Year. Also, as above, on religious holidays, hours are subject to change - (check with the Israel Airports Authority) and it is, for the most part, easy to purchase a visa at this crossing. The exit fee on the Israeli side is 107 NIS (33,5 USD) and should be paid either in shekels or dollars. This crossing has free parking, a currency exchange booth, vending machines and is accessible for disabled people. Due to the pandemic, this crossing is operating limited opening hours and closes each afternoon at 1 pm. This means day tours of Petra are currently unavailable.It is possible to purchase an entry visa for Jordanat this border (see above, the cost being the same as at theBeit Sheancrossing). Worth noting is that the longer you stay in Jordan, the less you will pay when departing this country (presumably this is to encourage people to stay longer than a day trip). If you arrive and depart from Aqaba, and have stayed more than 3 nights in the country, your exit tax of 10 JOD will be waived.View of Amman, Jordan.Photo by Ayman Yusuf on UnsplashTaking a Group Tour to PetraIf you travel as part of organised Petra tours, your entry documents will be organised by the company and guide. Without a doubt, if you want to travel to Petra, then you should use this crossing. You are far more likely to have a shorter waiting time and journeying to Aqaba, across from Israel’s Eilat - takes only 10 minutes, with Petra being another 2 hour’s drive.Traveling to the Yitzach Rabin Border IndependentlyIf you are driving, it is a long, straight road south to Eilat from the centre (about 4 hours drive from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem) and it is possible to park your car in the free parking terminal at the border. Egged buses also run regularly from major cities to the south and once you are at the bus station, either you can take buses that travel regularly from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to Eilat and once you have arrived at the bus station, you can either take a taxi to the border or a public bus. Quotes of 50 ILS ($15) from taxi drivers can usually be bargained down to 35 NIS ($10). It is a short ride, but the best you can do is try to bargain him down to 25-35 ILS (7.5-11 USD). If you want to save money, take the public bus (which leaves every hour and costs 4 NIS) and ask for the Eliot stop. The only problem is that you’ll then have to walk about 1.5 km further along, and in the summer when temperatures can soar way past 42 degrees (109F) this may completely exhaust you.If you rented a car, you can drive directly to the border terminal, where there is a free parking lot.The Siq, the entrance to the City of Petra. Photo credit: © ShutterstockCrossing Israel-Jordan Border at Yitzhak Rabin/ArabaThe actual crossing is usually quite fast and comfortable and whilst the terminal is not renovated, or air-conditioned, it usually takes no more than 30 minutes to half an hour. As before, you need to pay your exit tax but then you can simply keep walking (it’s a two minutes walk). On the Jordanian side, you can purchase your visa (if you don’t have one) and then head-on. Most people are heading to Petra and the first city that you have to pass through is Aqaba. If you’re not travelling as part of a tour to Jordan (i.e. on a coach) you’ll have to face the ‘taxi mafia’ to make the 12-minute ride to Aqaba, since there are no public buses. This can be amusing, irritating or downright infuriating, depending on your experience!Essentially, cab drivers there are trying to make as much money as they can since you really are a ‘captive audience’. It is quite common if you try to get into a taxi with one or two people you’ve met at the crossing, that the taxi drivers will shake their heads and tell you you can only travel with people you know. This way, they get more fares! The smartest way to deal with this is to arrange who you want to ‘taxi pool’ with before you come out into the parking lot, and insist to the cab driver that you are a group. Good luck!Cost of a Taxi to Petra or AqabaTaking a taxi directly to Petra is probably the quickest and most convenient way to travel on your own but it will cost you - around 50-55 Jordanian dinars ($70-$75). Alternatively, you can take a taxi to Aqaba (approx. 10 JOD or 15 USD - although you should bargain!) and then hire a taxi for a cheaper price (around 30 JODs/ 42 USD).If you have time, want to save some cash and are adventurous, you can also take the public minibuses, which leave from the downtown bus station there. They run from 6 am onwards, hold 10 people and only leave when the bus is full, so you might have to wait a bit. However, the cost is only 5 JOD ($7.5) and you’ll get to meet a few people too! Two hours later, ‘inshallah’ (’as God wills it) as they say in Arabic, you will have arrived in Petra.The Treasury, Petra, Jordan.Photo credit: © Shutterstock3. Allenby Bridge/King Hussein Bridge Crossing (Center)The Allenby Bridge border (named after a British commander during the time of the Mandate) lies between the first two borders (see above) and is situated on the Jordan River, about 5 km from Jericho and close to the Dead Sea.About an hour’s drive from Jerusalem (57 km) and another hour’s drive from Amman (53 km), this border crossing is situated in the south of the Jordan Valley. It is important to note that this crossing is only available for foreign tourists, diplomats and some Palestinians. Those who have Israeli citizenship can not cross into Jordan from here. Normal Operating Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 07:30 - 24.00. Friday: 07.30 - 15.00. Saturday:07.30 - 15.00. The terminal has a currency exchange booth, a cafeteria and restaurant, a section where you can buy the insurance and a VAT refund area. It is also wheelchair friendly.From Israel into JordanThe most important thing to know, in advance, is that if you are trying to cross into Jordan using this border crossing, you will NOT be able to purchase a visa here. You must apply for a visa at a Jordanian consulate beforehand (either in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) and should allow anywhere between 3-10 days before it is processed.The most important thing to know before trying to cross into Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge, and perhaps the biggest drawback, is that Jordan does not issue visas at this border. You must apply for a visa at a Jordanian consulate beforehand, and it can take anywhere from 2-15 days to receive it. For more details, contact Jordanian consular services.The second thing to know is that this is the crossing at which you will probably wait the longest to pass. Many Palestinians from the West Bank, who wish to travel internationally, use this route to access the airport in Amman and as well as the high volume of traffic, there are strict security checks. Royal Tombs, Petra.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTraveling to the Allenby Bridge from JerusalemIf you are travelling as an individual you can either take a private taxi (approximately 400 NIS / 125 USD), a yellow taxi van from the Damascus GateBus Station in East Jerusalem (approx. 20 NIS) or an Egged bus 961 (approx 20 NIS / 6,5 USD). Please note that the Egged bus (like the other crossings) will not drop you directly at the crossing - it’s a 2 km walk from the bus stop.After showing your passport and paying an exit tax of 107 NIS (33,5 USD), you will need to take a 15-minute bus ride to the Jordanian side. This bus costs 5 JOD and 1.5 JOD per bag. The buses can be sporadic, so make sure you are not in a rush. After passing through customs, you can either take a minibus to Abdali Station in Amman (7 JOD or 11 USD) or a private taxi (approximately 50-55 Jordanian dinars or 70-75 USD).Crossingthe Allenby Bridgeback into IsraelVisas (if necessary) must be obtained from the Jordanian Embassy in Amman, before crossing here and private cars and tour buses cannot cross here - you will be required to change vehicles. Depending on how long you have stayed in Jordan, you will have to pay an exit tax when crossing the border from Jordan to Israel. If you have stayed more than 3 nights, it will be waived.Wadi Rum desert. Photo by Karam Hamadneh on UnsplashTips for the CrossingIf you’ve already read the above, you’ll quickly realise that public transport at the northern and southern crossings, on the Jordanian side, is pretty limited. This is why many people decide to take organised tours of Petra and Jordanor travel to Jordan within the framework of your Israel and Jordan tour package - it will save you a great deal of hassle.We recommend that you wear comfortable footwear whilst in Jordan (particularly when hiking in Wadi Rum or Petra) and as it is a Muslim country (albeit not overly so) to dress modestly. Women should aim to cover their shoulders and knees (no spaghetti tops or tight t-shirts). Drink plenty of fluids in the spring and summer months, as it is incredibly hot. We recommend not drinking water from the tap, rather buying it in sealed bottles (which are easily available throughout the country).COVID-19 UpdateAs of August 2021, travelling across the Israel-Jordan border is still relatively challenging, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The southern border, between Eilat and Aqaba, has re-opened but has restricted hours, with early afternoon closing. A review of this is planned for some time later in the summer.Insofar as the Beit Shean and Allenby Bridge borders are concerned, there is no concrete information as to when they will reopen since a rising infection rate means that tourists are still not able to enter Israel. As soon as Bein Harim begins receiving incoming groups, we hope to resume our regular tours to Jordan but, at this point, we do not know when this will be.Mountains around Petra, Jordan. Photo by Sam Power on Unsplash
By Sarah Mann

How to Travel from Israel to Petra & Jordan

When visiting Israel it is a pity to miss out on one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient city of Petra which is just across the border in the Kingdom of Jordan. Here is a brief guide about how to make the trip from Israel to Petra and back again in as little as one day (although you could stay overnight in Jordan if you preferred). Since the signing of a Peace Treaty in 1994 the Israelis and Jordanians have a neighborly relationship and Israelis as well as tourists who are guests in Israel are free to cross the border for a day or more. Some visitors even choose to extend their visit and go on to the Jordanian capital of Amman before returning to Israel.Temple of Hercules at Amman Citadel in Amman, Jordan at sunset. Photo credit: © ShutterstockHow to travel from Israel to Jordan?If traveling with a guided tour to Petra you will change tour buses at the Israeli-Jordanian border from an Israeli tour bus to a Jordanian tour bus and if traveling independently you will have to change from an Israeli taxi to a Jordanian taxi when you cross the border. Driving from Israel to Jordan in a rental car is not possible. Travelers crossing in their own cars need an international driving license and vehicle license (translated into English if not already in English).The actual process of crossing the border can take longer than you might expect and depend on a range of issues it can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete the crossing. For this reason, if traveling independently try to leave early. All travelers arriving with a group must leave with the same group. Note that current regulations are subject to change so check with your tour company or embassy before setting off to the border.Inside The Rose City Of Petra.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat is Petra?Petra is an ancient city carved out of rose-colored rocks by the Nabataean civilization as early as 312BC. The city is in southern Jordan on the slopes of the Biblical Mount Hor (Jebel al-Madhbah). Petra has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 27 intricate carved structures like temples, tombs, and public buildings carved out of the rock and for the ingenious water conduit system. During the Nabataean period, Petra was a major stop along the trade route which ran from the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt up to the Mediterranean and Syria. In the years following the decline of the Nabataean civilization Petra was also inhabited by Romans ad Christians who both left their mark in the form of a Roman amphitheater and Byzantine Churches. Petra is also called the Lost City as it remained hidden for many years before being rediscovered in 1812. In 1917 T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) led the Arabs in a revolt against the Ottomans at Petra.A couple in Petra. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJordanian VisasNationals from many countries do not require a visa for Jordan; check with the Jordanian embassy in your country or Israel to see if your nationality can travel visa-free.King Hussein Bridge (Allenby Bridge crossing) – Foreign nationals cannot get a visa for Jordan at the border and must be pre-arranged through the Jordanian embassy but those traveling with an Israeli tour group can have their visa arranged by the tour company.Wadi Araba Crossing– As of January 2016 those traveling outside of a group tour will no longer be able to get a Jordanian visa at the Wadi Araba crossing in Eilat and will have to pre-arrange a visa at a Jordanian embassy. If you have pre-arranged your visa at the Jordanian embassy there is no visa fee at the border but you need to pay the $65 border tax.Israeli tour groups can still get visas at the Araba border crossing. If traveling with an Israeli tour group you don’t need to worry about the visa situation as your tour company will take care of the details and let you know of any requirements. The crossing involves a visa fee of approximately $60 and on reentry into Israel, there is an exit tax from Jordan of approximately $13.The Siq, the ancient main entrance leading to the city of Petra. Photo credit: © ShutterstockCrossing from Israel to JordanThree border crossings connect Israel and Jordan: the Sheikh Hussein crossing, Allenby (King Hussein) crossing, and the Wadi Araba crossing in Eilat.1. Allenby Crossing (King Hussein Bridge Crossing)This is the nearest border crossing to Jerusalem, just an hour away; 5 km east of Jericho and 57km from Amman. The border crossing is open for travelers to Israel Sunday-Thursday 8 am-8 pm for entry and 8 am-2 pm for departures from Jordan plus Friday-Saturday 8 am-1 pm. The crossing operates throughout the year except for the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha). The crossing is divided into a Departure Hall for Palestinians, Arrival Hall for Palestinians, Departure Hall for Tourists and East Jerusalem Citizens, and Arrival Hall for Tourists and East Jerusalem Citizens. This crossing is for Palestinians and tourists but is prohibited for Israeli citizens.2. Sheikh Hussein CrossingLocated in the north of Israel close to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee this Israeli/Jordanian border crossing is 90 km from Amman. It is open Sunday to Thursday 8 am-10 pm and Friday-Saturday 9 am-8 pm. Amman Citadel. View from atop.Photo byDaniel QuraonUnsplash3. Wadi Araba CrossingThis is the most common border crossing used for tourists traveling to Petra from Israel. This border crossing is located in Eilat on the shore of the Red Sea and is 324 km from Amman. This border crossing services Israeli and foreign tourists who travel on foot or in a vehicle. The Wadi Araba crossing is open Sundays-Thursdays 6:30 am-8 pm and Friday-Saturday 8 am-8 pm. This crossing is closed on the Islamic New Year (Hijra) and Jewish New Year (Yom Kippur). Entrance visas are not issued at this border crossing to individual travelers and should be arranged at the Jordanian embassy in your country or in Israel. People traveling in Israeli tourism company group tours do not require entry visas for this border crossing. If you make arrangements 24 hours in advance (or travel with a guided group that arranges it for you) and have a pre-bought entry ticket to Petra Archeological Site or official entry documents you do not have to stay the mandatory 24 hours in Jordan.4. Across the Red SeaRecent changes to regulations have caused some tour companies to include a tour to Jordan and Petra via the Red Sea and Aqaba. Israeli tourists are taken across the Taba border crossing in Eilat between Egypt and Israel. From there, there are regular ferries across the Red Sea to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. It takes about 45 minutes to make the ferry crossing. From Aqaba, tours proceed to the ancient city of Petra.Liked this article? Join one of our Petra and Jordan tours. Eilat Aquapark. Photo byMichal IcoonUnsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Souvenirs in Israel

If you’re a first time visitor to Israel, not only are you going to be bowled over by the sheer variety of places to visit and things to see, you’re also going to be tempted at every turn by things to buy. And why not? After all, picking up something for yourself by which to remember your trip is a great idea.Assorted souvenirs at Jaffa flea Market, Israel.Photo byTamara MalaniyonUnsplashBut as well as souvenirs from Israel for yourself, what about your friends, family and colleagues, especially those who haven't visited, but are curious about the Holy Land. What are you going to bring back for them? Well, don’t worry - you aren’t going to return home empty-handed. An enormous number of different arts and crafts are produced in the State of Israel, including Judaica, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, cosmetics, textiles and apparel. Today, we’re going to look at this history of how these items came to be popular and where you can purchase some of them, on your next vacation in Israel…The History of Arts and Crafts in IsraelThe history of arts and crafts in Judaism is an interesting and unusual one. According to the rabbis who penned the Talmud, obeying the laws that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai is not in itself enough - it is also a great deed to carry out the rituals of prayer and worship in a way that is beautiful. As a result, many things associated with Judaism - both in the synagogue and in the home - were made as crafts, over the ages.These included menorot (candelabrum), mezuzot (the small ‘boxes’ that Jews attach to their doorposts, with a miniature biblical scroll inside), kippot (the head coverings that observant Jews wear) and many other ritual objects. Today, they can be found in stores across Israel, particularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they make wonderful gifts for anyone you know back home who care about their Jewish heritage.In more contemporary times, whilst the British Mandate ruled Palestine, between 1917-1948, the crafting of metal jewelry, by new arrivals from Yemen, became very popular. At the same time, because of the large number of German immigrants who arrived in the Holy Land in the 1930s and 1940s, ceramics became popular. This was because many of those who arrived were potters, and soon established studios to carry out their profession.Traditional Jewish Menorah. Photo byLuis GonzalezonUnsplashToday, in Israel, you’ll see statues everywhere - not just in museums but in public life, in installations, along the cliffs of the crater in Mitzpe Ramon, outside Ben Gurion airport, all around the big cities and also dotted throughout the countryside. Indeed, there are many artists on kibbutzim and moshavim (agricultural settlements in Israel) who take advantage of their space to build workshops and sell their wares to people visiting. Weaving and textile production are also popular in Israel - indeed, as some have commented, Tel Aviv was a textile centre long before high tech came to town. The history is fascinating - because over the ages Jews were not allowed to join trade and craft guilds, textile and wholesale manufacturing became one of the few industries where they could earn a living.Jewish traders in Morocco and Spain, throughout the centuries, imported cotton and silk and were also well-known for their weaving. And in Austria and Germany, before World War II, the majority of department stores and retail businesses were owned and run by Jews. Not surprisingly then, when immigrants began arriving in Palestine / Israel, they brought with them their experience and skills, which is why their craftsmanship became renowned for its quality.Today, in Israel, both Jewish and Arab communities also have a history of wood and leatherwork. Israeli Arabs, in particular, have a long tradition of carving out of olive wood, as well as basket weaving, fine embroidery and glassware. There are also famous sculptors and artists such as David Gerstein (known for his metal statues) and Kadishman, well known for his colourful paintings of sheep! One thing is for sure - creativity abounds…Jewelry at the flea market in Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTraditional Souvenirs in IsraelIf you want to err on the side of tradition, you can ‘play it safe’ and start your souvenir hunting in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and home to stores both in downtown west Jerusalem as well as the enormous, bustling, vibrant market scene in the Old City.Judaica is constantly a popular gift from Israel and the number of Judaica souvenirs may quickly overwhelm you. As we mentioned above, if you’re looking for religious artefacts, then there are too many to mention - candlesticks, Kiddush cups (in which Jews bless their wine), challah trays (on which the delicious Friday night bread is served up). Hannukiot (the candelabra lit especially to commemorate the ‘Festival of Lights’ in the winter) embroidered bags for men to carry their ‘tallit’ (prayer shawl) and even beautifully decorated ‘seder plates’ for the Passover holiday.The Israel Museum in Jerusalem doesn’t just have a world-famous collection (including the Dead Sea Scrolls) but a wonderful gift shop, with many of the products inspired by different eras in the Holy Land. There, you can pick up vintage posters from the 1930s, books, stationery, accessories for the home and even beautiful paperweights, spelling out ‘Ahava’ (Love, in Hebrew) in the shape of the famous statue in their sculpture garden.Jewelry Souvenirs from IsraelJewelry souvenirs from Israel make a great gift - jewelry is something many women and young girls love receiving and whether you’re looking for a traditional or modern piece. How about a Hebrew name necklace? Or a pair of contemporary-style earrings from an up and coming artist in the Jaffa Artists Quarter? Star of David pendants are, for obvious reasons, very popular, as well as rings (which can come with biblical inscriptions). Pieces made with an Eilat stone (a beautiful shade of blue-green) also make wonderful souvenirs.Dead Sea salt island. Photo byKonstantin TretyakonUnsplashDead Sea CosmeticsYou can’t come to Israel and not go home with a souvenir from the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth and a place where all kinds of wonderful bath salts, mud packs, hand and foot cream, body lotions and moisturisers are on offer. Trust us, they smell amazing, and are also fantastic for your skin, since they contain local minerals such as magnesium, sodium and potassium from all around the area. Not only are these products made from top-quality ingredients, they’re vegan, gluten-free, and also eco-friendly (taking care not to pollute the delicate eco structure in the area) and their manufacture uses sustainable and green methods at every turn.Christian Souvenirs from IsraelYou are going to be spoilt for choice picking out religious souvenirs from Israel - whether you’re in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth or the Galilee region, there are an endless number of gifts from Israel you can pick up to take home with you. Jerusalem - walking through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem is one of the things that people say is the best part of their vacation to Israel, and as well as the astonishing number of religious sites (churches, mosques and synagogues) there’s also a fantastic shopping opportunity. Traditional wooden Christian souvenirs in Jerusalem gift shop, Israel. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinThis enormous Bazaar is packed to the gills with beautiful souvenirs - rosaries and crosses, soaps, Armenian pottery, traditional sweets like baklava and halva, and meaningful gifts for young adults, such as communion cups.Bethlehem - Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus and something that’s really worth picking up for a Christian friend is a wood carving of the Nativity scene. Also look out for incense, olive oil soap and icons depicting Jesus at the Last Supper.Nazareth - Nazareth is the city where Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and where Jesus spent many of his formative years. After you’ve explored the Nazareth churches, go to the market and look out for the excellent local honey, scented candles and olive wood art.Galilee - when travelling around Galilee, the visit to the baptismal site of Yardenit is a must. Whether you’re a Christian pilgrim who wants to be ritually immersed in the Jordan, or simply a curious onlooker, this place is magical. It also has a large restaurant and an equally large store, with all kinds of Christian souvenirs. These include holy water from the Jordan river, crucifixes, anointing oil, religious candles and precious metal crosses.Icons and Judaica items in an Israeli gift shop.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinCool Souvenirs from IsraelThere’s always going to be a friend or family member you know who likes something a little unusual in the way of a gift. Don’t worry - there are plenty of cool souvenirs in Israel to take home. In particular, we’d suggest a wander around Tel Aviv’s hippest (and often hipster) neighbourhoods, where you’ll see all manner of unusual items on display.Bauhaus Centre - Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus Centre, established to promote Bauhaus architecture and design in the ‘White City’ has a fantastic book and gift store in the heart of the city, on Dizengoff Street. Whether you’re looking for original Bauhaus items or something more contemporary, you’ll find something very unusual! Some of their most popular products include smooth-papered coffee table books, posters of 1930s ‘White City’ buildings, fridge magnets of historical figures in Israel (think Ben Gurion, Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan), coffee coasters, sterling silver miniatures, and attractive and stylish clocks, bookends and pens.Jaffa Flea Market, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinJaffa Flea Market- the ‘Shuk haPishpeshim’ - or ‘Jaffa flea market’ in English - in this historic area inJaffa, is adored by locals and visitors alike and a great place for a morning or afternoon out. Open six days a week, it’s the perfect place to rummage for bargains as well as hunt in vintage stores.Friday morning and afternoon is when it really comes to life - as well as the shopping, there are street musicians, funky bars playing all kinds of music, coffee shops to spend a few hours in and plenty of good eateries, where you can try some authentic Middle Eastern food - particularly hummus, shakshuka and knafe.One part of the market is strewn with tables, where you can poke around to your heart’s content, looking for old jewelery, postcards, badges, clothes, and toys. Some of the things are in pretty good condition too - the merchants arrive here at 5 am usually and the serious bargain hunters show up around 7-8 am but if you’re patient and a little lucky, you’re probably going to be able to find something ‘local’ to take home with you.A Jaffa cafe, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockAs well as bargain hunting, there are a number of great vintage stores, selling furniture, light fixtures, retro posters of the State of Israel, beautiful rugs, and all kinds of accessories that wouldn’t look out of place in your home. Warning - these vintage stores aren’t particularly cheap, but the chances are that anything you do pick up is really going to be authentic. So if you’re the kind of person who prefers ‘mismatch’ to ‘department store’ then head here.Nahalat Binyamin - twice a week, next to the Carmel Market (Shuk haCarmel), artists around Israel set up their stalls for this special craft market, which sells all kinds of handmade goods. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, a puzzle game, a clock with the outline of Charlie Chaplin, or some local soap, this is where you should come. All of the stall owners are obliged to sell only their own products, so not only are you supporting local businesses but you can be sure that whatever souvenir you take home really is made by hand.David Gerstein Gallery - as mentioned above, David Gerstein is an internationally-recognised sculptor and one of his famous statues is a fantastic souvenir to take home with you. Whether you like the guy on the racing bike, the butterfly, a traditional ‘hamsa’ or something romantic like ‘1000 kisses’, these beautiful, vibrant pieces will add a certain something to any home and won’t fail to impress the recipient. Hamsa with Home Blessing Sale at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinFood Souvenirs from IsraelThey say that Israel is the land of milk and honey, so why not take back some kind of sweet treat as a souvenir? Israel is famous for producing Medjool dates (grown both in the Arava desert and the Jordan Valley) and something else worth picking up is ‘silan’ which is a marvellous date honey syrup. Halva - a sesame candy (similar to fudge, but made from a nut or tahini base, instead of butter) is also delicious and easy to pack in your suitcase.Olive oil is produced all over the Galilee region and is top quality - from mainstream types to boutique brands, which you can order online or pick up whilst on a day trip or driving tour in northern Israel. And, finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Bamba - Israel’s favourite snack. Adored y babies, kids and adults alike, this peanut-flavoured treat is utterly moreish - and incredibly light to pack (which means you can buy plenty of it). Enjoy whatever you buy - and enjoy your trip to Israel!Spices sale at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann

Easter Pilgrim Tours to Israel

Christians planning a special trip to Israel for Easter can opt to take a number of tours which include religious ceremonies, touring religious sites and seeing the rest of the country. The highlight of an Easter pilgrim tour is the Palm Sunday Procession. If you are taking an Israel tour during Easter then make sure the Palm Sunday procession is included in your itinerary. As Israel is a Jewish country the Easter holiday is not a national holiday – there is no school vacation or day off work for Israelis over Easter. However in the cities with significant Christian populations there are celebrations and religious services. The cities with the highest concentration of Christians in Israel are Nazareth and Jerusalem.Easter Christian Pilgrim ToursMake sure your Easter pilgrim tour includes visiting major sites in Israel like the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and Tel Aviv. However you will find that most Easter activity takes place in Jerusalem. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ. All the events of Passion Week leading up to Jesus crucifixion and resurrection took place in Jerusalem. On a pilgrim Israel tour you will visit sites where Biblical events took place during Passion Week. If you are interested in a fantastic Christian-orientated Easter pilgrim tour which combines religious ceremonies, the Palm Sunday Procession and top attraction in Israel then contact Bein Harim Tours.The Palm Sunday Procession Palm Sunday is celebrated by Protestants and Catholics with a procession which goes from the Mount of Olives to the Old City retracing the route Jesus would have taken as he entered Jerusalem. On an Easter pilgrim Israel tour you can join in the procession and with other Christians you can wave palm fronds, sing and pray. The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old city. This church was built over the site where Jesus was crucified and where he was laid to rest. At the end of the procession the Orthodox and Armenian Christians together with other denominations continue the procession inside the Holy Sepulchre.Maundy ThursdayAn Easter pilgrim tour will take you to the Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion where Jesus and his disciples ate.church of the holy sepulchreGood FridayOn Good Friday it is traditional for Christians to join others along the Via Dolorosa where prayers are held at the Stations of the Cross. The procession is led by Franciscan Friars. Some denominations hold ceremonies at the Garden Tomb on Good Friday. On Holy Friday there is a very unique event, the Ceremony of the Holy Fire. During this ceremony one of the religious leaders goes into the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre and lights a candle. When he emerges the light is passed from person to person in the crowd as they each light a candle.Easter SundayOn Easter Sunday and Easter Monday there are religious services in churches across Israel. The most important being those of the Holy Sepulchre. A sunrise service is held for Protestants at the Garden Tomb.
By Petal Mashraki

Amazing Spring Break Tours to Israel

You can spend your spring break doing many things. Chances are, there are pretty good partying going on wherever you came from, and if you think of Israel as your spring break destination, it means you want more. You want to party, sure, but for you that’s not enough. So let us tell you how you can combine your big chill with a spiritual journey, in one of the most amazing Israel tours offered by BeinHarim Tours.Masada: The Epic MountainMasada, an ancient Jewish fort seating on top of a square shaped mountain in southern Israel, is known as a place where Jewish warriors fought Roman soldiers until the bitter end; rather than surrender and convert, the people of Masada chose instead to take their own lives and remain faithful to their God.If you were to come by Masada during the sunrise, you might be surprised by the amount of praying people you will see. Masada is not just a mountain; it is a monument of great spiritual importance. While there are means of transportations to the top of the mountain, many tours prefer to take the longer way and make the challenging climb to build Masada as a spiritual journey which makes it absolutely unique.What to see: during the evening, an impressive multimedia light show takes place on the Masada site and retells the story of the battle for Masada.Where to eat: Taj Mahal resturant, located in Ein Bokek, is a great eastern food place with cheerful atmosphere and unique dishes. Located at Leonardo Inn Hotel in Ein Bokek.Where to stay: Harrods Dead Sea hotel is close to both Masada and the dead sea. The hotel is known for its spectacular design and great service, and is completely Kosher.masadaThe Dead Sea: The Earth’s Lowest Point is also Its Most RelaxingThe Dead Sea is a beautiful and unique place. Considered the lowest point on earth’s surface, the Dead Sea is filled with helpful minerals, great views and great weather. Because of its proximity to Masada, nearly every day tour of the ancient city is supplemented by a visit. If you like combining exciting travel with relaxation, make sure to get a tour of Masada that includes the Dead Sea.What to see: the best thing to do is go on a hike. Get yourself a guide and go hit the mountains!What to eat: Auvers, a restaurant located in Ein Gedi kibbutz, stands in front of an impressive and ancient baobab tree and serves some of the best food in the area. The restaurant is located in the Ein Gedi Hotel.Where to stay: David Dead Sea Spa Resort is a professional hotel which had become a favorite for many Israelis because of its great service and short distance from the dead sea.the dead sea
By Petal Mashraki

Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Israel

Don’t leave Israel without seeing these top tourist destinations1. Jerusalem Old City, JerusalemWithin the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City you can see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Wailing Wall, Via Dolorosa, the Armenian Quarter, Dome of the Rock and many more of Israel’s top sights.2. Bahai Gardens, HaifaHaifa’s top must-see sight is the garden which cascades down 18 terraces on Mount Carmel, at the top of the garden is the white Bahia Temple. The gardens are maintained impeccably with bright seasonal flowers and landscaped patterns.3. Jaffa Port, Tel-AvivJaffa today has been renovated and preserved, the high stone walls and narrow lanes which balance on the cliff are used for specialty art galleries, restaurants, a small museum and an observation point where you can look back across the water to Tel-Aviv. Visit the flea market and antique stores here and be sure to bargain.4. Sea of GalileeThis inland sea is where Jesus performed many of his miracles like walking on the water and the feeding of the multitude. The fresh water sea is perfect for boat trips and for swimming and is surrounded by stunning countryside. Along the edges of the sea of Galilee are various Biblical sites and small quaint chapels.5. Dead SeaThe Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth a visit here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The sea’s unique salinity (8.6 saltier than the sea) makes the water thick and almost oily so that you can’t sink. You can float in the Dead Sea and benefit from the rejuvenating qualities of the highly concentrated minerals.6. Red Sea, EilatHire a snorkel or take a dive in the crystal clear Red Sea. The coral reefs, tropical fish and even dolphins make this a site not to miss.7. Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, JerusalemThe world’s best Holocaust museum housed in an innovative modern building, the museum holds thousands of documents, photos, video testimonials and artifacts from the darkest time in the history of the Jewish people.8. Church of the Annunciation, NazarethSee the place where Mary and Joseph lived and where the archangel revealed to Mary that she would soon carry the son of God. One of the most moving features is the display of images of Madonna and baby Jesus from around the world. The mosaics and paintings show the holy family as black, white and Asian according to how the Christians in those countries envision them.9. Acre Old City, AcreEnter the narrow cobbled lanes of this walled port city which is alive with people bustling through the market, this is real living history. The labyrinth of lanes leads you from the entrance down to the water’s edge.10. Ramon CraterWhen driving down from the center of Israel to Eilat the road passes this Crater which is 40km long, 500 meters deep and 10km wide. From Mitzpe Ramon on the northern wall of the crater you can look down on the magnificent desert landscape.It must be said that Bethlehem would have been on this list but officially it is in Palestine and not Israel. Caesarea, Tel-Aviv and Masada also narrowly missed the list!
By Petal Mashraki
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