Transportation in Israel

Israel’s transportation options range from trains, planes, and automobiles, to buses, bikes, and guided tours. On arrival at Ben Gurion, you can arrange a convenient airport transfer. There is an extensive, budget-friendly bus service, and a limited train system. Israel’s public transportation system uses a smart travel card (RavKav) and you cannot pay cash on Israeli buses. On national holidays, and Shabbat public transportation in Israel virtually shuts down. 

Renting a car in Israel is great for traveling between cities, but petrol is pricey, and you should try to avoid large cities where traffic is heavy and parking scarce. Jerusalem’s Light Rail runs past most major attractions and domestic flights connect Tel Aviv to Eilat. Taxis are convenient, and not too expensive unless you’re traveling at night, on Shabbat, or on a public holiday. Private shared mini-van taxis (sherut) are budget-friendly. They run on a set route stopping to pick people up along the way. Private transfers will take you wherever you need to go. One of the best ways to see Israel’s cities is on foot or by renting a bicycle.

Your best option for getting around is to use several forms of transport in Israel combined with guided tours to some of the more remote destinations like Masada, and difficult to reach places like Bethlehem and Jericho.

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 byMarkus SpiskeonUnsplashHowever, 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 taxiPrivate 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 MishinTraveling 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 MurashovaCatching 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 IsraelYou 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 byDaniel LermanonUnsplash2. Sherut Taxi (“Service Taxi”) in IsraelService 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 UnsplashService taxis (monit sherut) within citiesAs 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 AirportWhen 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 IsraelYou 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 IsraelService 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 Mishin3. Apps: Gett, Yango, Uber in IsraelBooking a taxi using an app on your smartphone is increasingly popular now.Yango Taxi Israelis 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 Unsplash4. Private Transfers in IsraelPrivate 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.
By Sarah Mann

Car Rental in Israel

If you’re traveling to Israel, and want to spend time in more than just one place (as most of us do) then you’re going to be thinking about ways to get around. The good news is that there are various modes of transportation in Israel - trains, public buses, private taxis, shared taxis, bikes, electric scooters and even, in Tel Aviv, initiatives such as ‘Bubble’ (shared vans that have the convenience of a taxi but for a far cheaper price).Beit Shean Theatre, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinHowever, if you want complete and absolute freedom (if one can ever have that!) then you really should think about renting a car. Once you’re behind the wheel, you’re in complete control - you get to decide when you travel, where you travel, and what kind of route you want to take. And if at the eleventh hour, you want to change your mind, then you won’t have to make phone calls, lose deposits and check schedules. The car will still be there for you when you are ready to leave.Business and Pleasure - a Сar is IdealRenting a car in Israel is ideal for tourists but it’s also great for business trips too. OK, you are in Israel to get work done but that’s no reason you can’t have some fun too. Traveling for work has its own challenges but if you have a car, you can explore the country and - with a bit of internet homework beforehand - find activities, restaurants, coffee shops, and museums that you’re curious about. Once you’ve rented a car, the country is yours for the taking. If a meeting finishes early or is even rescheduled, you can take advantage of your free time and drive to the beach or a nature reserve in no time at all. Traveling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a breeze, by the way - less than an hour on the highway without traffic, meaning it's an easy day trip, especially if you leave in the afternoon (before rush hour) and return late in the evening.Driver's hand on steering wheel.Photo bywhy keionUnsplashOff the Beaten Track - Seven Days a WeekAnd if you’re in Israel as a tourist, you want to have fun and having a car means you set your own agenda. There are many parts of the country that are quite spectacular, including the Galilee, the Golan Heights, Crusader fortresses, and desert trails, but many are pretty inaccessible without a car. When you rent a vehicle, you can put together an itinerary that doesn’t just suit your personality but takes you off the beaten track, to the hidden gems of Israel that tourists never see - the ‘real’ Israel.Of course, even with a car, it’s sometimes nice to take a private tour of an area, where a professional local guide shows you around and gives you a chance to learn more about the area whilst not having to do too much work! Whether you want to join a group tour or book a customized excursion, here at Bein Harim we offer all kinds of solutions for the business or leisure traveler.Something else that’s critical to know is that Israel takes its religious Jewish holidays - including the weekly Sabbath - very seriously. Between Friday afternoon (about 2 hours before the sun goes down) until Saturday night (around an hour after the sun sets), all public transportation comes to a halt. This means that getting around is very difficult unless you are prepared to pay for costly private taxis. Of course. if you have a car, you can bypass these restrictions...Sure, we admit that driving in Israel can sometimes be challenging but you can do it. With some courage and patience, a GPS system (or Waze, which you can download on your smartphone) let’s take a closer look at the nuts and bolts of renting a car here...A car driver chatting with his pals in the middle of the street, Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinCar Rental AgenciesThe good news is there’s plenty of choice in Israel. What’s the best car hire company to use in Israel? Well, there isn’t one in particular but car rental companies that we'd recommend include Eldan, Hertz, Budget, Shlomo Sixt, Tamir, and Avis. They all have branches dotted around the country - particularly in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa - as well as Ben Gurion Airport. One thing that is important to note is that it is not possible to drive a rental car from Israel to Jordan. This means that if you’re planning on taking a trip across the border to tour Petra, the best thing to do is to go with a guided tour. Logistics of Renting a Car in IsraelIn Israel, all road signs are written in three languages - Hebrew, Arabic, and English and, like most of Europe and North America, you drive on the right-hand side. We recommend that you download Waze - an app that was ‘born’ in Israel in fact - onto your smartphone before setting off. It can show you almost every road in Israel, as well as advise you on the fastest route, delay updates, and real-time traffic jams. Its smart technology can even help re-route you, once it knows that a traffic jam is building up, which means you’ll be directed away from crowded areas. This saves you time and frustration and makes for a much more pleasant driving experience!Traveling by car in Israel. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinParking in IsraelParking, in Israel, can be a headache, we won’t deny it, but the good news is that there are plenty of parking garages around. Another app we’d recommend downloading is called PinkPark. This clever little tool shows you available parking throughout the area you’re in - it’s especially popular in Tel Aviv (where it’s notoriously hard to park!). Working on the ‘shared economy’ basis, you can pay the owner of a spot (either at their home or workplace) and ‘sublet’ it by the hour. Since you’ve pre-booked it, that’s less time driving around or sitting in line, and more time to enjoy yourself! Parking garages (or lots) are plentiful in the big cities - whether they’re tucked away in side streets or in a mall/commercial building. In Tel Aviv, they are dotted all over the city - especially close to the beaches, the Carmel Market, Sarona (a popular nighttime area, with many cafes and restaurants inside converted Templar Houses), Rothschild Boulevard, and Jaffa.If it’s the summer, you might also want to consider an underground parking lot, since the heat can be relentless and your car will take the brunt of it. There are often digital signs at the entrance of these lots, to show you how many spaces are free on each level. However, please be aware that if you see a blue light flashing in a space, that means it's set aside for someone with a disabled badge.At the large lots, take your ticket when entering and keep it until you leave, at which point you can pay at self-service machines. At smaller lots, there will usually be a man in charge who you’ll pay a set fee to for the day/evening. He may also ask you to leave your keys behind whilst you go off, in case he has to move your car to let someone else through! Don’t worry - your keys will be safe!Red and white curb parking, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinTips for the Car Renter in Israel1. Do your homework beforehand. Car rental in Israel does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Prices can start from as little as 260 NIS (80 USD) a day and if you shop around online, a few days before, you might even grab a bargain and find a cheap car rental in Israel. Take a look at a few websites and see what’s there - you can also call the representatives themselves - they will all speak good English, for sure! 2. Remember to pack your own license (or, if you have it, an international driver’s license). This is really a deal-breaker! In general, most car rental agencies will insist that you are over the age of 24 (or sometimes 25) - this is for insurance purposes.3. If you’re coming to Israel in the height of the summer or around the busy Jewish holidays (particularly Passover and Sukkot) we’d highly recommend that you plan ahead and book something before you arrive. At these times of the year, thousands of people arrive at Ben Gurion Airport each day and you don’t want to be disappointed when you get to the car rental desk and they’re all sold out! Speed Limits in IsraelAs with most countries in the West, Israel has speed limits and does enforce them. Here are a few of them, in kilometers. Driving in urban areas 50 kms per hourHighways 80 kms per hourHighway 1 (Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) 100 kms per hourHigh-speed highways 110-120 kms per hourSpeed limit road sign. Photo byTitus BlaironUnsplashRules for inside the car in Israel1. It is mandatory to wear a seat belt. If you have toddlers or babies, make sure to strap them in their booster seats.2. Talking on your cell phone (without using a hands-free device) is strictly forbidden. If you are seen doing so, you will in all probability be stopped and given a ticket. If that’s not enough of a deterrent, remember how dangerous it is!3. Turning right at a red light in Israel is not allowed.4. All rental cars are fitted with yellow reflective vests. So if you’re unlucky and you break down/have to pull over, put it on and make yourself visible at the side of the road.5. Between 1st November and March 31st, it is mandatory to have your headlights switched on, whether driving within cities or on highways.Traffic Lights in IsraelThe traffic light system in Israel is a little different to that which you will find in North America or Europe. The red, yellow, and green colors have the same meanings as you would expect but you may see them in an order that you find strange. Here’s an explanation: when the light is red you have to stop; when it is red and yellow together, this means: ’get ready to drive’. Once it’s green, and not before, you can set off. When you see the green light flashing, this means you need to begin slowing down and, quickly after, the light will turn yellow and then red once more.Car Parking in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinRight of Way in IsraelIn Israel, if you see a green light you automatically have the right of way. That means you do not need to wait for oncoming traffic before turning. Of course, you should still keep a careful eye out for pedestrians!Parking Rules and Regulations in IsraelLike every country, there are rules about parking in Israel, which are set out according to curb color, and here are some of them:Blue and White - You will see this primarily in areas in large cities, where paid parking is available. Either you can buy a ticket from an old-fashioned machine and then display it in your front window, put some coins into a nearby meter or use the ‘Pango’ app, which can easily be downloaded to any Smartphone.When you see blue and white curb parking, it’s also advisable to read the signs nearby carefully. Just because it;’s paid parking, that doesn’t mean it’s available 24 hours a day. For instance, it may be necessary to pay only up until 7 pm, it may be free on Shabbat or some of these spots might be reserved for local residents. Cars at the traffic lights, Jerusalem, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinRed and White -Simply put, red and white curb colors mean “do not park here under any circumstances.” If you do, you will be given a ticket (and officers patrol the major cities with vigilance) for at least 200 NIS (63 USD) and possibly more. Worst case scenario, your car will be towed away, which means a tiresome and costly visit to a compound to retrieve it. You have been warned!No Color -If you’re in a small town or community, it’s often possible to park more easily. This is because there’s not too much traffic and not many residents in the center. So if you see a curb without color, you’re good to pull in. Highway numbers in IsraelFinally, here are some of the major highways you might be using, when driving: No. 1 - the Dead Sea – Jerusalem – Tel-Aviv - Jordan Valley; No. 2 - Tel Aviv - Haifa; No. 3 - Ashkelon - Kirya Malakhi - Latrun - Modi’in; No. 4 - Rosh Hanikra – Ashkelon.Israel has one toll road, which is Route 6 (also known as the Trans-Israel or Yitzhak Rabin highway). This begins in the north of Israel, near the Lebanon border, and runs down to the center, to Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion. If you want to use this road, factor in the cost before you set off - in general, from the far north to Tel Aviv will probably cost you around 32 NIS (10 USD) but do check first.Now buckle up, put some gas in the car and get going!Cars in the White City of Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann

How to Get from Haifa to Tel Aviv

If you’re visiting Israel, whether it’s for the first time or the tenth, the chances are you aren’t going to want to stay in one place. And why should you? Israel has it all - beaches, archaeological sites, wineries, places of worship, nature trails, mountains, deserts and so much more besides.View of Bahai Gardens, Haifa.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTo give you an idea of the size of Israel, it’s about equivalent to the US state of New Jersey or half the size of Switzerland. Its total area is 22.145 square km (8.630 square miles) of which 21. 671 km is land. Israel is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Egypt to the southwest, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.And something else that’s really great about travel in Israel is that the country has a highly developed infrastructure - highways and public transportation in Israel are both modern and efficient, making it easy to move around - and reach one end of the country from the other - quickly and with not too much effort. This means that even if you’re just in the country for a few days, you can see several areas without wasting too much of your precious time.In this article, we’ll be looking at how to get from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Haifa is the ‘capital’ of the north of the country and a real Mediterranean city, perched on the slopes of the lovely Mount Carmel. Historically a port city, and today very mixed (Jews and Arabs continue to live and work together here) it’s a lovely place to visit or even spend a few days.Within the city itself there is lots to explore - the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood, with its bustling market and small alleys, the German Colony (home to the German Templar movement, over a century ago) and, of course, the world-famous Bahai Gardens (affording spectacular views of the city), with its perfectly manicured lawns and shimmering gold dome. Haifa Maritime Museum, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOutside Haifa, less than an hour’s drive from the city you can find nature reserves, the Crusader City of Acre, the Herodian ruins of Caesarea, Druze villages, charming vineyards, rustic zimmers (upmarket ‘cabin style’ accommodation, usually in pastoral settings), Nazareth (where Jesus spent many of his early years) and the Sea of Galilee. And if you want to head as far north as possible, there’s also Rosh Hanikra, with its spectacular caves, close to quiet and pristine beaches. Of course, we haven’t yet mentioned Tel Aviv - Israel’s largest and most lively city, in the heart of the country, close to Ben Gurion airport and also situated on the shores of the Mediterranean. Just 92 km (50 miles) separates the two cities, so traveling between the two is really very easy - whether you want to go for a few hours, make a day of it or take a mini-break in the ‘White City’ giving you time to explore its cafes, boutiques, Bauhaus architecture, and excellent restaurants.Below, we’d like to give you some detailed information on the different ways to make the journey - taking the bus from Haifa to Tel Aviv, catching a train, a private or shared taxi, using a private transfer, opting for a shore excursion from your cruise ship or simply renting a car. This will give you a better idea of how to plan, for when you arrive in Israel and start planning your trip around the country. The distance from Tel Aviv to Haifa is approximately 94 km.The Bahai Temple in Haifa.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv by BusIsrael’s bus service is modern, comfortable, inexpensive, and reasonably efficient. Traveling from Haifa to Tel Aviv by bus is a popular option since buses leave regularly. If there is no traffic on the road, the journey should take between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 24 NIS (approx. $7.50).Haifa Bus StationsThere are two different bus stations at which you can catch an Egged bus (Israel’s national bus line) including Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform and Hof HaKarmel station. HaMifratz central bus station is the main bus station of the Haifa Bay district. It is next to Haifa's central railway station (see below under the ‘train’ section) and also the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall.Egged bus 910 leaves Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform bus station from Floor 3, every 20 minutes and runs directly to Tel Aviv Central bus station. It takes between 60-90 minutes and a one-way ticket costs 21 NIS (6,5 USD). You can pay the driver in cash when boarding or use your Rav Kav Card. View of Haifa Bay from the top terrace of Bahai Gardens.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIt will drop you directly at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station (see below). It is also possible to alight on the Namir Road, at the Arlozorov (Savidor) bus station, if you are heading to the north (rather than south or central) Tel Aviv. Buses can also drop you further down, at the Azrieli Centre (ideal for connections with the HaShalom railway station).The green Rav Kav cards are used widely in Israel - they can be purchased either at bus and train stations or stores and pharmacies in cities and towns. It is possible either to pre-pay specific amounts (with cash or credit cards) or purchase daily/monthly passes. For more information, take a look at the official Rav Kav website.From Hof HaKarmel, bus number 910 can also be caught. Also known as the Carmel Beach bus station, it opened in 2003. Passengers are entitled to receive a free transfer to urban buses when they buy their intercity ticket to continue from one central bus station to the other one, or into the city.Banana Beach,Tel Aviv.Photo by Daniel Klein on UnsplashTel Aviv Bus StationsTel Aviv’s Central Bus Station is located in the south of the city on Levinsky Street. The 910 bus alights at the seventh floor and from there it is possible either to take a private taxi, a yellow van shared taxi / monit sherut (see below) or Dan local buses to your destination. The Levinsky bus station is a gateway to cities around Israel, and also operates buses that run every two hours down to Eilat, for those wishing to connect on for their trip to Petra, Jordan. Tel Aviv’s second bus station is in the north of the city, on the corner of the Namir Road and Arlozorov streets, next to the Savidor Railway Station. It is close to the Ramat Gan Bourse, as well as a half an hour walk to the beachfront. Many local buses run from this station around the city, as well as out to Ramat Aviv and the university, as well as intercity buses onto Jerusalem and Beer Sheva.2. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv by TrainTaking the train from Haifa to Tel Aviv is highly recommended. It’s a fast, frequent and very efficient way to travel and trains leave every 20 to 30 minutes, making it easy to change your plans at the last minute. And because, on Israel Railways, you can buy a ticket at the last minute and it won’t cost you any more than if you book it in advance, you don’t even have to worry if you’re delayed - simply take the next train!The journey from Haifa to Tel Aviv takes approximately 1 hour 4 minutes on the fastest train, which runs directly between the two cities. There are also slower trains, which take up to 1 hour and 26 minutes. A one-way ticket costs 31 NIS (approx $9.50) and trains run from 5.25 am to 11.35 pm. A train is also an excellent option if you’re time conscious since you won’t have to factor in traffic jams and tailbacks which, unfortunately, are very common on the main highway during commuter hours.Yachts in Jaffa Port.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHaifa Train StationsThere are three train stations from which you can begin your journey from Haifa to Tel Aviv - Center HaShmona, Bat Galim, and Hof HaKarmel. HaShmona is the largest of the three and is located on Independence Road, at Plumer Square. The station opened in 1937 and was built by the British (under the Mandate) and has a Bauhaus design.Bat Galim was Haifa’s primary train station from 1975 until the early 2000s. If you are staying close to the port or coming from Rambam - the city hospital - this station is within walking distance. Hof HaKarmel situated on Sakharov Street is the city’s busiest train station. It is conveniently located next to the Carmel Beach central bus station and walking distance from the MATAM high-tech park.Payment can be made by buying a ticket from the cashier's office, by booking through the Israel Railways website, using a green Rav Kav card loaded with pre-paid credit (which can be purchased from any station and many pharmacies and stores in Israel), or the Rav Kav mobile telephone app. Please note, much like the bus services, there are no trains in Israel on the Jewish sabbath. From two hours before Shabbat commences (Friday afternoon) and an hour after Shabbat ends (Saturday evening) public transport in Israel does not run. Israeli train.Photo by John Adeoye on UnsplashTel Aviv Train StationsSavidor (Arlozorov) - this is located at the intersection of Namir Road and Arlozorov street and is next to the bus station, providing quick access to local buses. From here, it's a quick journey to Tel Aviv University and north Tel Aviv. HaShalom is the train station closest to the Azriel Towers and many large offices in the city center. HaHaganah train station is Tel Aviv’s most southern railway station and is located about 400 meters from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station (Tachana Merkazit).3.Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv byPrivate Taxi / Shared Taxi (Monit Sherut)Taxis in Israel are easy to come by - you can either hail them in the street, use one of the many operators in Haifa or Tel Aviv (ask your hotel concierge or check online) or book a taxi from Haifa to Tel Aviv directly through an app such as Gett. You should look to pay somewhere between 700-900 NIS ($215 to $280) for the drive.Another useful service in Israel is the monit sherut from Haifa to Tel Aviv (in Hebrew this means ‘ shared taxi’). These little yellow vans are operated privately and seat 10 passengers. They run between cities and you simply get in and pay the driver. The only ‘catch’ is that they don’t leave until the van is full, so if you’re the first one in you might have to wait a few minutes. The upside to the monit sheruts is that because they are not state-operated, they operate on the Jewish sabbath. They are an excellent option for those who wish to travel late Friday or on Saturday. Sheruts in Haifa can be found in HaNevi’im street in the Hadar neighborhood and run to Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Station. Expect to pay a few shekels more than you would for a bus ticket.Cozy streets of Old Jaffa.Photo credit: © Shutterstock4. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv with a Private TransferPrivate transfers are a comfortable way to travel between cities and in Israel they are easy to arrange. However, we do advise that you book them through a trustworthy tour operator - this means you’re likely to get a fair price and an honest driver. Once you have been given the price and are comfortable with it, 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 in Israel - 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.5. Israel Shore Excursions from Haifa PortHaifa is a famous port and, as the years have passed, has become an increasingly popular destination for a cruise. So if your ship is stopping in northern Israel for the day, making a trip to Tel Aviv is a fantastic idea. With shore excursions from Haifa Port, the moment you disembark, you will be met by a private guide and set off quickly for Tel Aviv.Just over an hour later, traffic permitting, you’ll be at your destination, giving you several hours to explore this buzzy, cosmopolitan city.Take a stroll along Rothschild Boulevard and admire the Bauhaus architecture, wander the streets of the charming Neve Tzedek neighborhood, book a tour to the Jaffa flea market or simply stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy lunch at one of the many fantastic restaurants in the city. With a ship-to-shore excursion from Haifa to Tel Aviv, you can really make the most of your free day and, rest assured, we’ll get you back up north in plenty of time before your scheduled departure.Lifeguard Station, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv with a Rental carRenting a car in Israel is an excellent way to see the country, leaving you in control of when and where you travel. It is not incredibly expensive to rent a car (indeed, prices are quite competitive) and the freedom it gives you is unparalleled - you can travel before dawn breaks, on Shabbat, and to the tiniest villages in the Galilee and Negev desert that public transport won’t get you to.Parking in Tel Aviv, however, can be an enormous headache so if you are planning on driving from Haifa to Tel Aviv, think about either paying to leave the car in a lot (although it won’t be cheap). Alternatively, there is some free parking up at Reading, in the north of the city, near to the Tel Aviv Port and you can then take a bus, electric scooter, taxi, or even bike into the city.Driving from Haifa to Tel Aviv, via route 90 (Yitzhak Rabin Highway) will take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half (depending on how much traffic you encounter and how fast you drive!) Popular rental hire companies in Israel include Shlomo Sixt, Hertz, Eldan, Thrifty, and, on average, renting a car costs around 260 NIS (80 USD) per day. All of the representatives will speak good English and their hubs are accessible. Take a look beforehand online - if you shop around, there are some great deals to be had.Namal (Tel Aviv Port), Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

How to Get from Haifa to Jerusalem

By North American or European standards, Israel is not a large country. In fact, you can easily travel from one end to another i.e. the Golan Heights to Eilat, in a few hours. Whether you’re using the bus, train, taxi or renting a car, it’s easy to move between cities, which means you can pack a lot into your trip.Haifa Maritime Museum, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinToday, we’re looking at how to get from Haifa to Jerusalem. Haifa is Israel’s largest city in the north of the country and sits on the Mediterranean coast, on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Within the city itself, there are some fine things to see, including the iconic Bahai Gardens, the German Colony neighborhood (with its Templer houses), Wadi NisNas (with its tiny alleyways, old stone houses, and colorful market), and the National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space.Not too far from Haifa itself are beautiful nature reserves, parks, hiking trails, and also attractions such as Acre (an ancient Crusader City), Rosh Hanikra, in the Western Galilee, with its caves and grottos, and also Nazareth, the city where Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel and where Jesus himself spent many of his formative years.Of course, no trip to Israel would be complete without a visit to Jerusalem, a city of three world faiths and home to some extraordinary museums, places of worship, and archaeological sites. Staying in Haifa doesn’t mean a day trip to Jerusalem is out of the question either, as long as you’re prepared to make an early start. The actual distance between Jerusalem and Haifa is just 120 km (74 miles), which is really quite manageable. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to get between these two cities, and some step-by-step directions to make your journey run smoothly.Haifa View from Bahai Gardens Terrace.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Bus from Haifa to JerusalemIsrael’s public network is cheap, efficient, and modern, and traveling from Haifa to Jerusalem is easy and inexpensive. Without traffic, the journey should take around 1 hour 40 minutes. There are different bus stations at which you can catch an Egged bus (Israel’s national bus line) including Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform, Hof HaCarmel, and the Technion/visitors station.HaMifratz central bus station is the main bus station of the Haifa Bay district. It is next to Haifa's central railway station (see below under the ‘train’ section) and also the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall.Egged bus from Haifa to Jerusalem (№960) leaves from Floor 3 Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform bus station, every 20 minutes. It takes, on average, 1 hour and 44 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 36 NIS (11 USD).Hof HaCarmel is close to the sea and Haifa’s central bus station. It serves local buses within the city and all Egged buses heading south. Passengers can ask for a free transfer to urban buses when they buy their inter-city ticket to continue from one central bus station to the other one, or into the city. FromHof HaCarmelbus 947 runs less frequently but is also a direct service, taking just under 2 hours. Again, it costs around 36 NIS.Technion - the Israeli Institute of Technology has a visitors center and buses run from there.From the Technion University, it is possible to take the 796 to Mishmar HaGvul junction, walk 3 minutes then catch the 942 to Jerusalem. All buses alight at Yitzhak Navon, the central bus station in Jerusalem, which is adjacent to the city’s light railway (the best way to travel around Jerusalem). Haifa Bay View from Bahai Gardens. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. Trainfrom Haifa to JerusalemTaking the train from Haifa to Jerusalem is an excellent way to travel - Israeli trains are comfortable and modern and the service is frequent - every half an hour. At present, it is necessary to change trains at either Tel Aviv Savidor or Ben Gurion Airport stations - there is a connection time of around 11 minutes - before continuing on to Jerusalem. The journey, in general, takes between 1 hour and 42 minutes to 2 hours. Most tourists will wish to alight at Jerusalem’s main train station, Yitzhak Navon. Spacious and modern, it is conveniently located on Jaffa Road, next to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and the light railway (which runs every 3-5 minutes, both to downtown Jerusalem and the Damascus Gate, in the Old City).Payment can be made by buying a ticket from the cashier's office, by booking through the Israel Railways website, using a green Rav Kav card loaded with pre-paid credit (which can be purchased from any station and many pharmacies and stores in Israel), or the Rav Kav mobile telephone app. The cost of a regular one-way ticket is 42 NIS (around 13 USD). Trains begin running at approximately 5.30 am and the last train leaves Haifa at approximately 21.30, arriving in Jerusalem two hours later (11.30 pm).Trains depart from three stations within Haifa itself - Center HaShmona, Bat Galim, and Hof HaCarmel. The largest of these is HaShmona which is situated at Plumer Square, on Independence Road. The station itself was built by the British under the Mandate, in the Bauhaus style, and opened in 1937.Bat Galim was Haifa’s major train station from 1975 until the early 2000s. It is within walking distance of the port and also the city’s Rambam hospital. Hof HaCarmel - located next to the Carmel Beach central bus station. Situated on Sakharov street - this is the city’s busiest train station. It is within walking distance of two shopping malls and the MATAM high-tech park. The train in Israel does not run between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening (two hours before Shabbat commences and an hour after it ends).Interior of the Israeli train.Photo by Lital Bamnulker on Unsplash3. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem by TaxiTaxis are plentiful in Israel and it should not be difficult to find one to take you to Jerusalem. You can either ask your hotel concierge to book one for you or call one of the numerous operators in the Haifa area. You should look to pay somewhere between 700-800 NIS (215-250 USD). One of the most popular companies to use is BookTaxi.4. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem with Private TransferPrivate transfers are very easy to arrange in Israel but it's advisable to book them through a trustworthy Israeli tour operator, who has contacts within the industry and can ensure you will be put in touch with a reputable and honest operator. Once you are satisfied with the quote, you will be charged by credit card and all matters forthwith will be handled by the tour operator, giving you complete peace of mind.At Bein Harim, we are always happy to help obtain quotes for people visiting Israel who need a private taxi - 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.Taxis in East Jerusalem.Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash5. Israel Shore Excursions from Haifa PortHaifa is becoming an incredibly popular destination for international cruise liners, and if you have a full day on land, traveling to Jerusalem is a wonderful idea. A ship-to-shore excursion to Jerusalem is really worth considering - you will be picked up at Haifa port by a private guide and whisked off to Jerusalem, giving you time to see world-famous spots, historical and religious landmarks, and even walk on the Mount of Olives. You’ll have a comfortable and interesting experience, and it will all be timed perfectly so you’ll return to Haifa before your ship leaves the port.6. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem with a rental carRenting a car in Israel is a popular way to see the country. Rental charges are not exorbitant and using a car to get around gives you a level of freedom that nothing else can. Whilst parking can be a challenge in Jerusalem (and it may be advisable to pay for a spot for the day), it’s a fast way to get you from one city to the next. Taking Route 90 (Yitzhak Rabin Highway) will usually take about 2 hours, as long as there is not too much traffic on the road.Popular rental hire companies in Israel include Eldan, Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, and Thrifty, and, on average, renting a car costs around 260 NIS per day. All are convenient to work with, accessible, and competitively priced, and if you shop around beforehand you can get some great deals.View of Jerusalem Old City.Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
By Sarah Mann

How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either in Israel or planning a visit so let’s first say ‘welcome - you’re going to have an amazing time!’ Israel’s relatively small by North American or European standards but it has an enormous amount to offer and, because it doesn’t take hours and hours to drive between cities, that means you’ve got more time to enjoy yourself - whether it's exploring historical sites, wineries, nature parks, pristine beaches, Crusader fortresses or Herodian ruins. A ship dragged anchor at Ashdod, Israel. Photo by Felix Tchverkin on UnsplashThe other thing we should say, off the bat, is that Israel is very well developed in terms of its infrastructure. The roads and highways are in good condition and public transport is pretty cheap and, for the most part, efficient. This means if you don’t want to stay in one place (and most people don’t) you’re going to be able to move around with little fuss and maximise your free time.In this article, we’ll be looking at how to get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, a distance of just 35 km (22 miles). Both cities are situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and have fantastic beaches, marinas, boardwalks and plenty of options for lunch and dinner.Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest, and just a short drive from Ben Gurion airport, is a must-see for any tourist in Israel. Situated, like Ashdod, right on the seashore, it’s full of trendy restaurants, lively bars, cute cafes and charming neighbourhoods, not to mention a wealth of museums, art galleries, theatres and live music venues. So, without a doubt, spending a day (or several!) in the "White City" won’t disappoint.So here below is you plenty of information on the various ways you can travel between these two cities - whether it’s taking a bus from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, booking a train journey, using a private or shared taxi, booking a ship-to-shore excursion from your cruise ship or putting your foot down in a hire car. Once you’ve read through the options, you’ll have a better idea of which one is right for you, so you can plan a trip that suits you.Tel Aviv Beach Promenade.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by BusIsrael’s bus service is modern, comfortable, inexpensive and reasonably efficient. Taking a bus from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by bus is a good option, with buses running regularly from early in the morning (6 am) until late at night (11 pm). If you don’t travel in rush hour (7-9 am and 4-6 pm) the journey will likely take about 50 minutes. The bus number you need is 320 and is operated by Veola. A one-way ticket from Ashdod to Tel Aviv costs approximately 10 NIS (3 USD) and you can pay the driver as you board. There is also a second bus departing from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, numbered 280, which can drop you at Tel Aviv’s second bus station, in the north of the city.Another popular way to pay for buses (and trains) is by using a Rav Kav card. These small green cards can be purchased easily all over Israel (in all bus and train stations and sometimes in stores and pharmacies). Once you’ve bought one, you can load it with credit or buy a daily/monthly ticket. Just swipe it in front of the electronic device next to the driver, when you board the bus and it will automatically deduct the payment, showing you on the receipt how much credit you have left. For more information, check out the official Rav Kav website.The Ashdod Festival of the Nations and Their Tastes.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsAshdod Central Bus StationThe Ashdod Central Bus station is located on Menachem Begin Boulevard, in the heart of the city, and an 18-minute walk to the Marina. Check inside with information to see which platform the bus departs from (there are signs in English and staff who can point you in the right direction). Tel Aviv Bus StationsTel Aviv’s Central Bus Station (Tachana Merkazit) is located in the south of the city on Levinsky Street. The bus will drop you on the building’s sixth floor and after that, there are a number of possibilities to continue your journey - either by private taxi, shared yellow van taxi, (see below), or the local Dan buses, which run all over the city. The Levinsky bus station is also a gateway to cities around Israel, and also operates buses that run every two hours down to Eilat, for those wishing to travel on, for a trip to Petra, Jordan. Tel Aviv’s second bus station (‘Terminal 2000’) is in the north of the city, on the corner of the Namir Road and Arlozorov streets, conveniently located next door to the city’s Savidor railway station. It is a half an hour walk to the beachfront and you can also take intercity buses on to Jerusalem and Haifa.Saint Peter's Church, Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock2. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by TrainTaking the train from Ashdod to Tel Aviv is an excellent way to make the trip - it’s fast and efficient and trains leave reverie 15-20 minutes at peak time. The journey itself takes between 50-60 minutes, depending on which of the three Tel Aviv stations. A one-way ticket costs 20 NIS (approx 6 USD) and trains run from 5 am to 11 pm.Ashdod Ad Halom railway station is in the Ad Halom area, near the eastern entrance to the city. The station contains a small beverage and refreshment kiosk and you can buy tickets there from machines (using different language options) or at the counter or online through different smartphone apps. Tel Aviv has three stations - Savidor, HaShalom and HaHaganah. Savidor is situated on the corner of Namir Road and Arlozorov street in the north of the city. It’s next door to the Terminal 2000 bus station (see above). HaShalom is the train station closest to the Azriel Towers and many large offices in the city centre. HaHaganah is Tel Aviv’s most southern railway station and is located about 400 metres from the Tel Aviv (Levinsky) Central Bus Station.The interior of the Israeli train.Photo by Lital Bamnulker on Unsplash3. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv byPrivate TaxiTaking a private taxi in Israel is easy - you can either flag one down in the street, book one through an App (such as Gett) or order one from a reputable taxi firm (your hotel concierge can help you). The cost of a private taxi from Ashdod to Tel Aviv will probably be somewhere between 230-420 NIS (70-130 USD). It is customary to tip the driver 10-15%, depending on how helpful he is. You can also travel from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a sherut (shared taxi service).4.How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a Private transferPrivate transfers are very easy to arrange, but we advise you to book them through a trustworthy tour operator, to ensure you will be put in touch with a reputable and honest operator. You will be given a price and if you are satisfied with it, you can pay by credit card and from then on all matters will be handled expertly by the company and you don’t have to worry about a thing.At Bein Harim Tourism Services, we are always happy to help obtain quotes for people visiting Israel who need a private taxi - 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.A building inRothschildBoulevard, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. Shore Excursions from Ashdod PortMaking a shore excursion from Ashdod Port to Tel Aviv is a great way to spend your free day since you can be in Tel Aviv within an hour and have plenty of time to see many of the sights that this buzzy, fashionable city has to offer. With Ashdod Port Cruise Excursions, as soon as you step onto dry land, you will be met by a private guide and within minutes you’ll be in a comfortable vehicle, heading off to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.In less than an hour, all things being equal, you’ll be in the ‘White City’ of Tel Aviv (so named for its fabulous Bauhaus buildings) and the next few hours are yours. There’s so much to do, you won’t be disappointed - stroll along the boardwalk and admire views of the Mediterranean, take a bike tour around the city, or wander along the famous Dizengoff Street, known for its cafes, restaurants and boutique stores.There’s also a number of beautiful small neighbourhoods that are lovely to explore - the Kerem (close to Tel Aviv’s famous Carmel Market), Neve Tzedek (with its charming houses and tiny alleyways) and, of course, Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest cities, famous for its port (where Jonah fled God and, for his trouble, ended up in the belly of a whale), a charming artists quarter and the famous Jaffa flea market, where you can hunt for bargains before eating lunch in one of the many lovely cafes around. Finally, we promise that when you book with Bein Harim we’ll get you back to your ship in good time for your departure. (Just for the record, if you want to travel to Tel Aviv from your cruise ship independently, please note that the bus terminal is about 6 km from the port so walking there is not possible. You can, of course, grab a taxi, (which should cost about 50 NIS (15,5 USD) and take a few minutes) or even bus number 2, which costs 5.30 NIS and will take about 15 minutes.A street in Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a Rental a CarRenting a car in Israel is a wonderful way to see the country on your own terms. You can decide how long you want to spend in a city and also stop off on the way if the mood takes you. Prices for car rental in Israel are quite reasonable and, with a car, you have a level of freedom that no other kind of transport affords you. Moreover, since there is no public transport in Israel from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening (the Jewish sabbath), options for moving around are limited - obviously, when you have a car, this is not a problem.Driving from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, via Route 4, without too much traffic should take you around 45-55 minutes. Just bear in mind that parking in Tel Aviv is notoriously difficult to come by - free parking is almost impossible to find and even parking lots can get crowded on weekends. Of course, if you are patient (and ready to pay up!) you will always find somewhere to park but if you want to save money (and hassle) you can always park just outside the city and travel by public transport.One way to do this is to park up in the north of Tel Aviv, near the Tel Aviv Port (Namal, Reading area) where there is some free parking, then just catch a bus/sherut/taxi into town. For the adventurous, there are also bikes and electric scooters that can be rented easily, with just the swipe of a credit card!Well-known rental hire companies in Israel include Eldan, Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, Hertz, Eldan and Thrifty. Prices can be quite competitive and, on average, renting a car should cost you around 260 NIS (80 USD) per day. All of the representatives you encounter will invariably speak good English but you might also want to shop around online beforehand - there are always bargains available so why not take advantage of them?Enjoy your journey!Aerial overview of Tel Aviv Port (Namal parking).Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash
By Sarah Mann

How to Travel Israel on a Budget

We won’t lie to you: Israel isn’t exactly a cheap tourist destination and, for this reason, some people might leave it out of their travel bucket list. But that's just because they don't know how wonderful this destination is, and that the tips we're about to show you will significantly drop travel expenses when taking a vacation in Israel.A tourist looking at the Wailing WallTravel to Israel Off-SeasonMany destinations are cheaper off-season, but also dull and dormant. Not Israel: this small country is open and lively year-round. Making a visit here in the height of the summer (July-August) means expensive airfares and more costly accommodation. The religious holidays of Passover (in the spring) and the Jewish New Year also have a reputation for being busy times and at Christmas and Easter, Jerusalem is chock-a-block with Christian pilgrims (many visitors see the city with aChristian Tour Package)The good thing about Israel, however, is that the weather is dry and sunny for much of the year, which means if you arrive in March or November you’re likely to encounter lots of sunny days with warm days and cool evenings. And if you’re looking for a low-cost flight, check out airlines going to Eilat -Israel's resort city- In the south of the country. It is a good place to soak up the winter sun and if you're up for an adventure - make a quick trip across the border with Jordan; many visitors like to take Petra tours from Eilat.Factor in some Beach TimeThe beaches in Israel are truly fantastic, and we are not exaggerating: Clear blue waters and white sand mean that you can spend days just lazing around - and at a cost of zero. Whether you want to enjoy the endless spots in Tel Aviv, take a trip to Caesarea and Acre(where you’ll find Roman aqueducts and much more), or head far north to peaceful, serene, and often empty stretches of beach, it’s a great way to enjoy yourself.Jump in, the water's great!Feel like renting an umbrella and chair or lying on a towel by the water? Well, all you need to do is pack a picnic and plenty of sun cream, and you’re good to go. Many of the beaches even have free workout stations, and there are always family-friendly activities and parks with swings and slides around.Finally, if you really want to have fun, pick up a matkot set - it’s Israel’s national game, played with two small paddles and a ball, and everyone should try it at least once!Budget Transportation in IsraelYou absolutely don’t need to rent a car to visit many parts of Israel - the country has a very well-developed infrastructure and public transport is reliable, efficient, and pretty cheap. In Jerusalem, you can use the light railway and Tel Aviv is flat, so ideal for walking, taking a bike or an electric scooter. Whether you want to buy a Rav Kav card (and load up credit) or pay with your smartphone or credit card, buying a ticket is hassle-free.Rush hour in Tel Aviv, IsraelEgged buses run all over the country, and you can book tickets online or just show up at the station and pay the driver when you board the bus. Traveling from Tel Aviv to Eilat, for instance, is a breeze - buses leave every 2 hours and cost around 80 NIS ($22) for the five-hour journey.On the Jewish Shabbat (late Friday afternoon to Saturday evening) there’s no public transport so plan ahead - although you can use private yellow sheruts to travel between some of the major cities.Shop at Supermarkets and Local Food MarketsEating out in Israel can be a costly business - restaurants can come with a hefty price tag and alcohol is taxed highly. So visit some local Israeli supermarkets and pick a few things up - not only is it much cheaper than going out to eat, this lets you make breakfast, lunch, and dinners when you feel like it, as well as being able to pack snacks and bottled water for when you’re out and about.Street food in JerusalemYou can also do what locals do and head to the city markets - we’d recommend the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market. Here, you can pick up amazing fruits, vegetables, cheeses, hummus, olive oils, nuts, and spices and get creative - the Mediterranean diet is famed for being healthy and delicious so here’s your chance to improve your culinary skills.Hike In National ParksTaking a trip to one of Israel’s amazing national parks is a great way to enjoy yourself and is relatively cheap. There’s a flat fee at the entrance which is around 30 NIS ($8) but then you have access for the entire day. Some of them even have camping sites, complete with good facilities, where you can spend a night for not too many shekels!The Banias Waterfall up north is just gorgeous!From the lush Banias waterfalls and the picturesque Hula Valley (perfect for bird lovers) to the Herodian fortress of Masada and the magnificent archaeological park at Beit Shean, you can enjoy glorious treks, wonderful views and spot all kinds of flora and fauna - and it’s a super-cheap day out.Free Attractions in IsraelFood lovers are in for a treat: the quality of produce in Israel is fantastic. Even better, Israelis love their street food - and for not too much money, you can try some of it - whether you want to ‘grab and go’ or sit outside some of these places on benches whilst you devour your lunch.Israeli street food is delicious, often very healthy, and a great way to see how locals live. Falafel (the country’s favorite snack) and hummus bars are always popular but you can also be adventurous and try things like sabich (an Iraqi-styled pita, with all vegetarian fillings), shawarma (always adored by carnivores) and malabi, a delicate milk pudding flavored with rose water. Great food on the cheap.Explore Free Attractions In IsraelThere are endless attractions in Israel that won’t cost you a red cent to visit including, of course, the most famous holy sites in Jerusalem such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western (Wailing) Wall, and the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem’s Old City is a place you can wander for days, just getting lost in narrow alleyways and sitting with a black coffee in the famous Bazaar, watching the world go by.Church of the Holy SepulchreJaffa, one of the world’s oldest ports, is another fine place to spend time - begin at the port and watch fishermen reel in their catches before wandering past the Franciscan Church and the ‘Gates of Faith’ statue. Then head to the famous Shuk haPishpeshim - the Jaffa Flea Market - where all kinds of antiques, vintage and second-hand clothes, and jewelry are on offer.And if you’re in the north of Israel, don’t miss the mystical city of Safed, full of charming cobbled streets and art galleries, as well as time at the Sea of Galilee, where you can explore historic sites, sit at the shore and gaze at the water, or even visit the baptismal site of Yardenit, to watch pilgrims from around the world be baptized in the Jordan River.View of Haifa from Carmel MountainFinally, if you feel like taking an organized day trip in Israel, where everything is arranged for you, don’t think it will break the bank - it’s not much more expensive than doing it on your own steam. Take a look at the tours we offer and feel free to reach out to us by email or phone and read more about us on our blog.
By Petal Mashraki

How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem

First of all, let’s assume you’re reading this because you’re already in Israel, or planning a visit to Israel, in which case “Congratulations - you’re going to have a great trip!” This country is an incredible destination with an enormous amount packed into a small amount of land, and there’s really something for everyone - whether it’s museums and galleries, old churches, beaches, mountains, nature reserves, deserts or archaeological sites. Whether it’s your first time in Israel or you're a returning visitor, you won’t be disappointed...The Western Wall, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe fact is, however, that whether you’re here for a few days or a few weeks, you want to make the most of your time, and that involves a bit of forward planning when it comes to moving between cities. The majority of visitors to Israel really do want to take advantage of the fact that you can get from the north to the south of the country in just a few hours, and between major cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa in an hour or two. So let’s give you the good news straight up - Israel has a very well-developed infrastructure in terms of public transport and highways. A great deal of investment is being put into them at the moment so whether you want to get around on the road or by the train system, you’re not going to have too many problems. In fact, your biggest problem may well be traffic, because Israelis love their cars and as quickly as highways are being expanded, more people are purchasing new vehicles!That being said, if you plan ahead and travel outside of the busiest hours (rush hours being between 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm) making journeys between cities won’t be too bad at all. In this particular piece, we’ll be taking a look at how to travel from Ashdod (on the Mediterranean Sea coast) to Jerusalem (up in the hills), and hopefully, when you’ve taken a glance, you’ll have a better idea of your options and can choose the one that suits you best. Let’s start exploring Israel! First of all, let’s take a quick look at both Ashdod and Jerusalem and what they have to offer the visitor.Ashdod - is Israel’s sixth-largest city, home to a large Russian community, and the largest port in the country (receiving 60% of the country’s imports). It is situated in the south of the country, on the shores of the Mediterranean, 32kms from Tel Aviv. The distance between Jerusalem and Ashdod is 64 km.Non-touristy Ashdod, Israel.Photo byOleksandr KovalonUnsplashAlthough it’s not the first city people tend to visit after arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, it is where many cruise ships arrive, making a ship to shore excursion to Jerusalem ideal.Alternatively, you can spend time there visiting the old Arab Citadel/Fort, built at the end of the 7th century, the Museum of Philistine Culture and the Sand Dune Park. It’s also got fabulous beaches, where you can soak up the sun and swim in clear blue water.Jerusalem - is a city that needs no introduction. Home to three of the world’s major faiths, it brims with charm, excitement and spirituality. No visitor can fail to be moved as they walk through the narrow streets of the Old City, past the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al Aqsa Mosque, down to the Western Wall. Whether you’re a Christian pilgrim, a history student, a fan of museums or a lover of open-air markets, you’ll be enchanted by what you see and experience and come away longing for more.Now to methods of transport - well, you have plenty of options. There is plenty of information on the various ways you can travel between these two cities - whether it’s taking a bus, booking a train ticket, using a private or shared taxi, enjoying a ship-to-shore excursion or renting a car. Let’s take a look at them all, one by one, so you can choose the one that’s best for you.People praying at the Wailing Wall. Photo byOndrej BocekonUnsplash1. How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem by BusIsrael’s bus service is comfortable, efficient and pretty cheap (since the bus system is subsidised by the government). Even better, the bus from Ashdod to Jerusalem runs very regularly, from early in the morning (5.30 am) until late at night (11 pm), notwithstanding the Jewish sabbath (from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening, when all public transport grinds to a halt).If you don’t travel in rush hour (usually between 7-9 am and 4-6 pm) the journey will likely take about 70 to 90 minutes. Bus number 448, operated by Egged, will take you there directly and it leaves every 45 minutes. A one-way ticket from Ashdod to Tel Aviv costs approximately around 20 NIS (6,5USD).You can either pay the driver as you board (in cash), buy a ticket from the counter beforehand, use one of the self-service machines, which often have different language settings) or pay by Rav Kav card. These green cards are easily purchased all over the country (in every bus and train station, small stores and the ‘Superpharm’ chain). Just purchase one for 5 NIS and then put as much credit onto it as you like. When you board the bus, press the card onto the electronic screen, as directed by the driver, and it will automatically deduct the cost of the ticket for you. (The receipt that’s printed out will also show you how much money you have left on your card). To learn more about this, go to the official Rav Kav website.Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel.Photo byAdam KringonUnsplashAshdod Central Bus StationThe Ashdod Central Bus station is located on Menachem Begin Boulevard, in the city centre, and just under 20 minutes walk to the Marina. You can see inside very easily from which platform the bus departs - there are electronic signs everywhere in Hebrew and English - or ask a member of staff. Jerusalem Central Bus StationThe Jerusalem Central Bus Station is very close to the entrance to Highway 1 (where you’ll see the famous Bridge of Chords), on the Jaffa Road, which runs through the city centre and down to the Old City walls. It’s a large and modern building and is also located next door to the new and impressive Yitzhak Navon railway station.The Jerusalem central bus station is also a central hub for buses that run everywhere else in the country - north and south. From here you can reach Haifa, the Galilee, the Jordan Valley, Beer Sheva and Eilat, which is where you’ll be heading if you’re planning on making a trip to Petra, Jordan. Religious Jews walking near Old City Walls, Jerusalem. Photo byArno SmitonUnsplash2. How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem by TrainTaking the train from Ashdod to Jerusalem is also a good way to make this journey - it’s comfortable and reasonably fast, although you can’t travel directly (you have to make a change). The train leaves every half an hour and the first part of the journey takes about 45 minutes. At Tel Aviv HaHaganah station, you have to change trains (the waiting time is approx. 7 minutes) then the fast train on to Jerusalem will take you about 35 minutes.Ashdod railway station is in the Ad Halom area, near the eastern part of Ashdod. There is a drinks stand and small kiosk inside, as well as self-service ticket machines and a counter at which you can buy tickets and speak to officials. Yitzhak Navon central railway station is a super modern, recently opened building in Jerusalem. And it has the honour of being the world’s deepest station too (it’s 80 metres underground). With its glass ceilings and attractive mosaics, it’s capable of transporting thousands of people a day and can also hold large numbers, in case of emergencies. Once you arrive there and travel up to ground level by elevator or escalator, you’ll find yourself directly on Jaffa Road. From there you can catch the light rail downtown - to Mahane Yehuda Market, Zion Square and the Old City or, in the other direction, Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem. There are also a number of buses that stop outside the station, which can take you to neighbourhoods such as the German Colony, Rehavia and Talpiot.Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo byRoxanne DesgagnésonUnsplash3. How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem by Private TaxiFinding a private taxi in Israel is no problem at all. The first scenario is you hail one down in the street (in the big cities, you will see them everywhere). Either ask them to put on the meter before you begin your journey or negotiate a price beforehand, so there are no surprises when you arrive in Jerusalem. Secondly, ask your hotel concierge, who will be able to recommend a local firm, who supplies them with trustworthy and honest drivers. Thirdly, you can always book a taxi directly from your Smartphone using an App such as Gett. The cost of a private taxi from Ashdod to Jerusalem will probably be somewhere between 400 - 500 NIS (125-155 USD). It is usually to give the driver a tip at the end of the journey - between 10-15% is fine.4. How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem with a Private TransferPrivate transfers are easy to arrange, but we advise you to book them through a trustworthy tour operator, to ensure you will be put in touch with a reputable and honest operator. You will be given a price and if you are satisfied with it, you can pay by credit card and from then on all matters will be handled expertly by the company and you don’t have to worry about a thing.At Bein Harim Tourism Services, we are always happy to help obtain quotes for people visiting Israel who need a private taxi - 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.A shop in Jerusalem Old City.Photo byChristian BurrionUnsplash5. Ashdod Shore ExcursionsMaking a shore excursion from Ashdod Port to Jerusalem is a great way to spend your free day since you can be at your destination quickly and have several hours to spend exploring the old and new parts of the city. With ship-to-shore excursions from Ashdod Port, as soon as you step onto dry land, you will be met by a private guide and within minutes you’ll be in a comfortable vehicle, heading off. In just over an hour, as long as the traffic doesn't hold you up, you’ll arrive in Jerusalem. Then it’s up to you - explore the tiny alleyways of the Old City, walk in the footsteps of prophets and Crusaders, visit churches such as the Holy Sepulchre and Dominus Flevit, or take a trip to the world-famous Israel Museum then grab a light bite at Jerusalem’s famous Mahane Yehuda. We give you our word that when you book with Bein Harim, we’ll have everything go to plan and promise to get you back to your ship in good time for your departure.Gethsemane Garden, Jerusalem. Photo byStacey FrancoonUnsplash6. How to Get from Ashdod to Jerusalem with a Rental CarRenting a car in Israel is an excellent way to see the country. You’re in control from start to finish - it’s all up to you. You can leave what you want, make as many stops. As you like and even change your plans at the last minute. Car rental prices in Israel are quite competitive and, besides, renting a car gives you a level of freedom no other method of transport has, and who can put a price on that?If that’s not enough to convince you, unfortunately, there is no public transport in Israel from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening (the Jewish Shabbat), so options for travelling are quite restrictive. Of course, once you rent a car, this problem is gone! Driving from Ashdod to Jerusalem, without too much traffic should take you around 55 - 75 minutes. We would warn you, however, that Jerusalem is a very tough place to find parking. There’s a lot of traffic in the centre and free parking is a great challenge. There are underground garages and parking lots all over the city, however, so you can of course bite the bullet and pay for a ticket. Alternatively, you can try and park for free in a quiet suburb and take a taxi or bus into the centre. There are several well-known rental hire companies in Israel which include Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, Eldan, Avis and Budget. On average, renting a small car may cost you between 260-300 NIS (80-94 USD) a day but if you want to shop around, you might even be able to pick up a bargain. Take a look online a couple of days before or call and speak to their representatives - Israelis really do love to help...Now start planning your trip!Chruch of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.Photo byCristina GottardionUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

How to Get from Tel Aviv to Eilat: From Culture to Chillout

A great many of Israel’s visitors want to see as much of the country as they can on their trip, and two of the spots they prioritize are Tel Aviv and Eilat. Tel Aviv, the beating heart of the country’s centre, is close to Ben Gurion airport and an ideal place to spend a first night after arrival and even a few more days afterwards, enjoying cafe life, cultural pursuits and some fine dining. Eilat, nestled on the Red Sea, is a popular destination too, especially in the winter when temperatures are warm and swimming and sunbathing are a top pastime. With its breathtaking views (look one way you can see Jordan, look the other there is Egypt, and look behind you for pinkish, orange-red hued mountains) it’s perfect for chilling out, snorkelling and a little hiking in the nearby Timna Park. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also join aPetra tour from Eilat.Eilat beach.Photo credit: © ShutterstockFrom Tel Aviv to Eilat - Four Ways to Do ItThe distance from Tel Aviv to Eilat is 281 kilometers. There are 4 ways to travel from Tel Aviv to Israel's southernmost resort: bus to Eilat, rental car, plane, and private transfer. Below, we’re going to give you some helpful pointers to make sure everything goes as smoothly and easily as possible along the way. Luckily, Israel is a small country, so no journey ever takes that long (even when on desert roads!) but having the ‘lie of the land before you set off is always a good idea.Unfortunately, Israel does not yet have a direct train running between the two cities. The proposed high-speed rail link has been talked about for years but, unfortunately, the project is currently at a standstill. To date, the furthest you can travel by train is to Beer Sheva and Dimona (a tiny town a little way on). There is a small stretch of railway that passes beyond Dimona, running out to some phosphate mines in the Tzin Valley, but the train that heads there is for cargo only and functions on an 'as and when' basis.Red Sea, Eilat, Israel. Photo by Vitaliy Paykov on UnsplashInsider TipsOf course, you could take the train as far as Beer Sheva and then catch a bus onto Eilat, but this would mean making a change and, if you have a lot of luggage or small children, it could be inconvenient and tiresome. Still, it’s possible - and let’s give you some insider tips. Firstly, reserve a seat on the Beer Sheva - Eilat bus three days in advance. Try and book one in the middle (not over the wheels) - number 18 is ideal! Look for a seat on the shady side (no. 17 if you’re traveling in the morning and no. 19 if in the afternoon).Book a train to Beer Sheva and make sure you leave plenty of time for your connection. After arriving (the journey is approx. 1 hour 10 minutes), exit the train station and turn left. You will see the bus station right in front of you. If you need to use the bathrooms, it’s better to do so in the train station - they tend to be cleaner than the ones in the bus station!Grab a snack or a light bite in the bus station, which has all kinds of eateries, plus coffee shops. We recommend the shawarma and also the bourekas (pastry filled with salty cheese or potatoes). Pick up some water too - the driver will probably stop for a coffee break at Yotvata Inn, but that won’t be for another two hours or so, and if you’re traveling in the summer, it’s essential not to let yourself become hydrated. Egged intercity buses in Israel. Image: via Egged Facebook pageA tip: when you arrive at Yotvata, you’ll have time to stretch your legs but also to pop inside and treat yourself to one of their famous Italian-style ice creams, which come in a marvelous range of flavors (we recommend the mascarpone and figs). There’s also a fantastic date-flavored frozen yogurt and mango sorbet for those who prefer to avoid dairy. Yotvata also has a gift store where they sell boxes of juicyMedjool dates, all grown on their own kibbutz. Now onto the direct options.Getting from Tel Aviv to Eilat by BusThe bus is a pretty good option and, as buses go, it’s a comfortable journey with varied and beautiful landscapes. At around 70 NIS one-way, it’s also rather cheap (public transport is heavily subsidized in Israel). The national bus service is called Egged and their green and white logo is easily recognized. We’d recommend booking a seat in advance, just to guarantee that you won’t be turned away, but if you want to take a chance, just show up with cash (or a loaded Rav Kav card) and if there’s a spare seat, the driver will welcome you aboard. Tickets can be ordered online via Egged’s website (in Hebrew) or by phone at 03 694-8888 or *2800 (many of the operators speak English as well) using a credit card. Vintage Egged bus from the Egged Bus Museum in Holon.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinEgged ScheduleSunday-Thursday: This is the Israeli work week and buses leave regularly, with line 394. This is located at Platform 601, on level 6 of the Central Bus Station on Levinsky Street. Buses leave regularly i.e. every 90 minutes, with the first one departing at 06.30. On Friday, the last bus usually leaves around 14.00. This is because the Jewish Shabbat begins when dusk falls on Friday and public transport in Israel generally stops running a couple of hours before. On Saturdays (i.e. the Jewish Shabbat) buses depart a little before the end of the day (i.e. before night falls) - sometimes as early as 14.00 from Tel Aviv. Always check the timetable carefully and, if possible, call up in advance to confirm your departure, as all times are subject to change, depending on adverse weather conditions (e.g. flash floods in the Negev).Self-Service Tickets with EilatomatAnother thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to book tickets in advance (through the website or the Customer Service Center) you will need to collect them from a self-service ticket machine named Eilatomat. These machines can be found in the central bus stations of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon le Zion, Haifa Hof ha-Carmel, Haifa Central, Hadera, Rehovot, Beer Sheva, and Netanya. A ticket can be collected from an Eilatomat ticket machine up to 2 hours before boarding and then shown to the driver when you enter through the front door. We recommend arriving 20 minutes in advance, as the lines can be long! Antique Egged buses from the Egged Bus Museum in Holon. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilat with a Rental CarIt’s relatively simple and not particularly expensive to rent a car in Israel if you want to drive. Both Ben Gurion airport and Tel Aviv have a number of car rental businesses, including Eldan, Hertz, Tamar, and Shlomo Sixt. Just bring your passport and driver’s license and you should be issued with a vehicle within 30-45 minutes. The journey from the country’s center to the far south will take between four to five hours (depending on your speed and if you stop for a coffee break in Mitzpe Ramon, where you can admire the views of the crater and even pop in on the Artist’s Quarter or if you’re with young kids, the Alpaca Farm). From Mitzpe to Eilat, the road is winding and narrow (and it’s where accidents often happen) so please take particular care, especially at night, when there will be long stretches of road with no light. If you are easily car sick, we would advise taking this journey in the day, when it’s easier to stop and take a breath! The scenery is also beautiful - the desert landscapes are arid and rugged, and as you drive through the Arava, the rocks will turn pink, orange, and red in color.Sunset inEilat area. Photo credit:© Oksana MatsGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilatby PlaneThis is a fast option and an excellent idea if you need to travel straight to Eilat, after arrival in Israel at Ben Gurion Airport. The internal flight will take just under an hour and Arkia, Israel’s domestic carrier operates a service every couple of hours. After a long, international flight, taking trains, buses, or renting a car could quickly turn into an ordeal, particularly if you’re very jetlagged. Flights cost around $100, so save yourself time and energy - with Arkia, you’ll be in Ramon airport in no time. From there, it’s a 15-minute journey to Eilat, either by taxi or local bus. Of course, if you want to see desert scenery, you can always catch the bus back to Tel Aviv, on your return leg, or rent a car.Musical fountain in Eilat.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilat with a Private TransferIf you are based in Tel Aviv, the quickest and most convenient way of all would be to book a private transfer to Eilat. This ‘door-to-door’ service means you’ll be picked up and dropped off exactly where you choose - and you can also break the journey if you choose (a pit stop at Beer Sheva, Mitzpe Ramon, or the famous dairy store at Yotvata Kibbutz - see above). Make sure to choose a trusted tour operator, who will answer all your questions in advance and tailor the experience to your specific needs.Now you’re ready. Don’t forget your COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a snazzy bathing suit. Everything else is optional! Trust us, you’re going to have a fine time. Shalom and enjoy!Getting to Eilat by camel is not an option anymore.Photo credit:Muhammad Abo Omar
By Sarah Mann

How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat

The great thing about traveling in Israel is that it’s a pretty small country, which means that whether you’ve got a few days or a couple of weeks at your disposal, you can still see a great deal. For many tourists, an ideal trip for them in Israel means combining relaxation with culture, beaches with mountains, sea with deserts, and the old with the new.Eilat at night, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsWell, you don’t get much older than the city of Jerusalem and you don't get much newer than the Red Sea resort town of Eilat! Jerusalem - holy to three major world religions, a city steeped in history and spirituality, a city renowned for its golden Dome of the Rock, ancient stone walls, and tiny, narrow alleyways...a city like no other.You can get lost in Jerusalem, and we don’t mean just in the backstreets of the Old City, but lost in yourself. With its religious landmarks (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Western Wall), its endless museums (of which Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum are must-visits), and its charming neighborhoods (the German Colony, Ein Kerem, Nachlaot near the thriving Mahane Yehuda Market) Jerusalem is fascinating, charming, and sometimes a little ‘intense.’Eilat, on the other hand, is anything but overwhelming. It’s the quintessential ‘fun’ city in Israel, with its sandy beaches, warm Red Sea waters, and endless leisure activities to keep you amused. Whether you want to snorkel or dive, sun yourself on Coral Beach, pet dolphins, rent a jet ski, or even take a day trip to Petra, the ancient Nabataean city in Jordan, and just two hours drive from Eilat. And at night, you’ll never be short of places to eat, drink and make merry. Israel’s most southern city really is the perfect place to kick back after a few long days in the capital. Let’s look at the different modes of transportation from Jerusalem to Eilat, and find out which one is best for you.Incense shop in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.Photo byChristian BurrionUnsplash1. How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat by Bus from the Central Bus Station, Jaffa RoadTraveling from Jerusalem to Eilat by bus is a good option - it’s not expensive (public transport is subsidized in Israel), buses run regularly and the journey is pretty comfortable. You’ll always recognize the national bus service in Israel because their fleet has a distinctive green and white logo - they’re called Egged. The distance between Jerusalem and Eilat is 318 km (197 miles) and, without traffic, the journey takes just over four hours.There is a direct bus 444 from Jerusalem to Eilat - and it leaves from the third floor of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. There are four buses a day and the bus makes several stops en route, at which you can get out and stretch your legs, take a bathroom break and get a cup of coffee. Tickets cost 82 NIS one way (approx. 25 USD).In terms of availability, you can definitely show up and just hope for the best - either buy a ticket from the counter in the station (all representatives will speak a certain level of English) or simply pay the bus driver in cash when you board. You can also use a Rav Kav card (a green public transport card easily purchased across Israel, onto which you can load credit).However, if you want to be assured of a seat (and the route certainly does get busy just before Jewish holidays and in the summer) you can also order your ticket online, via the Egged website, or by calling customer service on +972 3 694 8888 or *2800.Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinSomething else - in case you can’t get a seat for the direct journey, it’s also reasonably convenient to take a bus from Jerusalem to Beer Sheva (Israel’s gateway city to the Negev desert) and from there change buses. It’s the same bus station, so you won’t have to make a big journey, and it’s full of cafes and bakeries, as well as shops and places to grab a falafel - arguably Israel’s favorite snack.Egged bus 470 leaves from Jerusalem to Beer Sheva at least once an hour and takes an hour and 32 minutes. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can pick up one of many buses running south - the 397 is direct and takes approximately 3 hours 30 minutes. The cost of the journey this way may be a few shekels more, but nothing significant, and it will give you the chance to see some breathtaking scenery between Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev Hills.Our tip: nearly all of the buses stop at Yotvata in the Arava desert, which is a kibbutz famous in Israel for its fabulous dairy products. There you can try one of their Italian ice creams (for those that prefer non-dairy, they also sell sorbets). They have a restaurant where you can buy lunch and also a shop, which sells olive oil and local Majool dates (a fantastic gift to take home to friends and family).Finally, if you want to break up your journey between Jerusalem and Eilat with some fun, then you can always take a bus to the Dead Sea and Masada - the 486 bus to Ein Gedi is ideal in this respect - and then continue on, a few hours later, or the following day (there are endless accommodation options in the Dead Sea, ranging from camping and kibbutz guest houses to fancy hotels on the edges of the sea itself).A Hotel Swimming Pool Area, Eilat, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsEgged Buses ScheduleThe Israeli workweek begins on Sunday and runs until Thursday (or in some cases Friday morning). In terms of reaching the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, it is located in the heart of the city, not far from the Mahane Yehuda market, on the Jaffa Road, next door to the Yitzhak Navon central railway station. It can most easily be reached by the Light Railway or different local buses. Inside the terminal are many stores and cafes, so you can begin your journey armed with water and snacks. Take the escalator up to the departure floor (clearly marked in English) and look for the electronic boards or ask a member of staff to direct you.On Fridays, the last bus from Jerusalem heading south will leave no later than 1-2 pm, since Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) arrives at dusk and does not end until 25 hours later. It’s important to note that between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening, no public buses run in Israel, which means you will not be able to travel. So if you are planning on heading south on Friday, do check the timetable carefully and - just to be on the safe side - give customer service a call to confirm your departure times.All buses to Eilat arrive at the same bus station, which is in the city’s downtown area and from there it is a short walk or taxi ride to many of the hotels and the beach. If you are traveling on the border with Jordan and then continuing to Petra you can either take a private bus or the hourly bus that runs close by (you will have to walk the last 20 minutes, which could be tough in the summer months).Jet skiing in Eilat, Israel. Photo byShalev CohenonUnsplash2. How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat by Plane from Ben Gurion AirportIf you aren’t a fan of long car journeys, you could consider this option, although bear in mind that you will have to first travel from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport (which takes about 45 by bus or taxi). There are no direct flights from Jerusalem to Eilat. Internal flights from Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv) to Ramon Airport in Eilat take just under an hour and are operated by Arkia and Israir, around every 2 hours. A flight will cost you around 350 NIS (110 USD) one way and it’s definitely recommended if you’ve just arrived in Israel after an exhausting long-haul flight. All flights from Ben Gurion airport arrive now in the new Ramon Airport, which is a 15-20 minutes drive from downtown Eilat and can be reached either by taxi (around 100 NIS / 32 USD) or public bus (4.50 NIS / 1.5 USD). 3. How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat by TaxiThis is a costly option and if you are going to travel by taxi, we’d recommend booking one in advance (Israel’s Gett Taxi is a very popular app) or asking advice from your hotel concierge. A taxi from Jerusalem to Eilat and from Eilat to Jerusalem could run into the hundreds of dollars - as much as 1500 NIS (approximately 464 USD).Eilat coast, Israel. Photo byJosh AppelonUnsplash4.How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat with a Private TransferWithout a doubt, the fastest and most convenient way to travel from Jerusalem to Eilat is to book a private transfer. This really is a ‘door to door service’ and gives you complete autonomy over when and where you want to be collected and dropped off. Make sure to use a trustworthy tour operator, who will be able to recommend an honest and reliable driver.The good thing about the private transfer option is that once you’ve agreed on the price quoted, and paid with your credit card, you don’t have to worry about another thing - the company will take care of every detail. And you can choose the itinerary - so if you want to break up the journey in the Dead Sea, Mitzpe Ramon or one of the kibbutzim in the Arava - where you can take tours - the choice is yours. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your tour operator either and let them know about your specific needs beforehand. Here at Bein Harim, we’re always happy to help - contact us night or day and we’ll get back to you fast, with a competitive quote.5.Petra tour & Leisure Day in EilatThis is an ideal way to combine time in Eilat with a trip to the astonishing ‘lost city’ of the Nabateans - Petra. Start your Eilat-Petra vacation with a free day on the Red Sea, snorkeling, sunning yourself, hanging out with the dolphins at the Dolphin Reef, or enjoying a movie at the IMAX theatre. The next day, join your group, cross the border early in the morning and drive down to Wadi Musa, where you’ll explore Petra. With its red-colored rocks, astounding Treasury and Monastery, and rock architecture, it’s hard to be disappointed at this contemporary Wonder of the World. On the way back to Eilat, as long as there’s time, you’ll be given a quick peek at Aqaba too.Marina in Eilat, Israel. Photo byShalev CohenonUnsplash6.How to Get from Jerusalem to Eilat with a Rental CarRenting a car in Israel is quite easy and not that expensive if you feel like making the journey and being in the driving seat yourself. Jerusalem has quite a number of rental car businesses that will be happy to help you - they include Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, Avis, Budget Eldan, and Tamar. Car rental in Israel can be as cheap as 260 NIS (80 USD) a day so if there are 2 or more of you, it’s not a particularly costly option, particularly when you consider how much freedom it gives you - you can go at your own pace and really act spontaneously.You’ll need nothing more than your international driver’s license and a credit card to start the ball rolling and, if all goes well, you should be driving away within the hour. Alternatively, shop around online beforehand because there are some really good deals to be had if you do your homework. Many cars can be reserved online beforehand with nothing more than a few clicks.It is a 4-5-hours drive from Jerusalem to Eilat, using Route 90, depending on how fast you drive, and whether you make a stop along the way). As we’ve said above, there’s plenty to see along the way - the Dead Sea (the perfect place to have a float and slather yourself in black mud, Mitzpe Ramon (with its breathtaking views of the Ramon Crater and alpaca farm for the kids, and Timna Park (a wonderful place to take a hike) are all highly recommended by us.One thing we would say is that from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat and the Red Sea, the road can be quite narrow and it does wind around for a while, so drive carefully. We’d actually recommend making this journey in the day if you haven't done it before - making it night could leave you sick or nervous (there are long stretches in the dark). Besides, if you travel in the day, you get to take in the astonishing desert scenery and watch the landscape change color as the day progresses.We hope this article gives you all of the information you need to make planning your vacation in Israel a little bit easier but should you have any questions, just reach out to us any time - we’re at +972 3 542 2000 and - so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Coral Beach, Eilat, Israel. Photo credit: © Doron Nissim. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority
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?Many visitors like to take guided Petra tours from Israel, in which they'll switch buses at the Israeli-Jordanian borderand be on their way. Travelers who decided to Visit Petra from Israel on their own will have to handle transportation themselves; They'll have to switch between an Israeli Taxi and a Jordanian, and won't be able to take a car they rented in Israel across the border.The actual process of crossing the border can take longer than you might expect and depending 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, is 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. Eilat Aquapark. Photo byMichal IcoonUnsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Ancient Routes of Israel

When reading about the history of the Middle East and, in particular, the Holy Land, you’ll often hear references to the term ‘‘ancient Israel’. But what does that really mean? Well, in large part it is to do with the tribes and kingdoms that were formed by the Jewish people in the Levant in ancient times. (The Levant is an area that, today, is made up of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and Palestine)A camel rests between trips, Negev Desert, Israel.Photo byCole KeisteronUnsplashAncient Israel's main agricultural products were grapes, olives, lentils, dates and grains (usually wheat or barley). Over time, they developed a thriving trade with Egypt, Greece and Cyprus (using their ports on the Mediterranean). But how did they travel further afield? By creating different routes, some which ran by the sea and others which ran over hilly terrain.Below we’ll be taking a look at certain ancient routes in Israel - some no longer exist, and others have been ‘modernised’ to give tourists a sense of what life was like thousands of years ago when people travelled by foot and with camels to explore new lands and trade their wares...The Via MarisThe Via Maris was, for sure, one of the most significant ancient Israel trade routes. Both In Hebrew (‘Derech haYam’) and Latin, this means ‘ Way of the Sea’ and references to it can be found both in Isaiah (in the Hebrew Bible) and Matthew (in the Christian Bible). It dates back to the early Bronze Age and was a route linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Mesopotamia and Anatolia.‘Via Maris’ is a Roman term and the reference to the sea is, of course, theMediterranean Sea- the stretch of coast through which the route passed. It is also known by other names - the ‘Coastal Road’ and ‘the way of the Philistines’ and in modern-day Israel, it is referred to as the ‘International Coastal Highway.’Tel Aviv Port, Israel. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashThe Via Maris was one of three major trade routes that were used in ancient Israel, along with the Ridge Route and the King’s Highway. Within ancient Israel, it ran from the Galilee (in the north) to Samaria (in the south) and passed through the Jezreel Valley. Along the route, it split into two branches - one that ran along the coast from Acre down to Ashkelon and Gaza, and the other that took an inland route, through the Sea of Galilee and Jezreel Valley, the two branches reunited at Megiddo (known in contemporary times as ‘Armageddon’).The Via Maris was a principal coastal highway for traders and the one most of them chose to travel on from Egypt and then far north. There were simple reasons for this - it was close to water, sources of food and towns. It also avoided the highlands. Megiddo was equally important as a pit stop on this route, guarding the western branch of a narrow pass on the most important trade route of the ancient Fertile Crescent. Sea of Galilee, Israel. Photo byChris GallimoreonUnsplashThe Via Maris connected all of the major trade routes stretching from Egypt and Syria to Iraq, Turkey and modern-day Iran. As a major thoroughfare, it connected the Sinai with Damascus passing, as mentioned before, through the Jezreel Valley. Over the centuries, after the Jews were exiled from Israel, that valley was abandoned and became a marshy, swampy area. It was only revitalised after Zionist pioneers arrived in the early 20th century and set about draining the land; today, of course, it is unrecognisable - filled with orchards, greenhouses and kibbutzes/moshavim that produce all kinds of fruits and vegetables.Crucially, branches of the Via Maris also intersected with the major trade routes of its era including the Silk Road, the Indus Valley and beyond. The Via Maris was a ‘home base’ for explorations of worlds beyond - indeed, it was really the beginning of commerce, where Jews would trade fish, grains, oil and dairy for everyday staples from the Far East (as well as luxuries like spices). Nachsholim Beach, Nahsholim, Israel. Photo byBen MichelonUnsplashThe King’s HighwayThe Kings Highway (also referred to as the ‘Via Nova Traiana’ was an ancient thoroughfare that connected the Gulf of Aqaba and Syria through the area that we now know as Jordan. One of the world’s oldest continually used routes of communication, it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The King’s Highway was a crucial passage for ancient trade, running from north to south of this part of the Levant. The Roman Emperor Trajan (who reigned from 98-1117 CE) actually renovated the road, in his desire to improve communications and transport between Aqaba and Bostra.Once ‘modernised’ the road was then referred to as the ‘Via Nova Traiana’ (as opposed to another road, in Italy, that had been built by the same Emperor, named ‘Via Traiana’. The King’s Highway was a crucial artery for Crusaders, journeying from Europe via Syria to Jerusalem on their military pilgrimages and for the interested visitor, there are many fortified castles to be explored on its route, even today.Today, the King’s Highway is still promoted as a tourist attraction with more rural parts of Jordan. It links up important historical sites such as Al Karak, Al Tafilah and, most notably, Petra, as well as beautiful natural sites such as Wadi Al Mujib.Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo byRinaldo VadionUnsplashThe Ridge RouteThis path was of less importance for international trade than either the Via Maris or the King’s Highway but, nevertheless, travellers used this route. They would travel through the hills of Judea and Samaria, passing by the city of Jerusalem. It was called the Ridge Route (or sometimes the Hill Route) because it followed the watershed ridgeline of the surrounding mountains.The Way of the PatriarchsThis ancient north-south route crisscrossed the land of Israel. It was given this name by biblical scholars because of its having been mentioned in biblical narratives. This, you see, was the route often travelled by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the three founding fathers of Judaism.Also known as Derech ha Avot (the Hebrew term), it linked Jerusalem and Hebron and today can be found between the communities of Alon Shvut and Neve Daniel in the Gush Etzion part of Judea. Unlike the Via Maris and the King’s Highway, which were ancient roads that ran international borders and passed through the territory of many different peoples, this route was entirely within the territory of ancient Israel.Snow in Kings Highway, Jordan.Photo by Thales Botelho de Sousa on UnsplashThe Incense RouteThe Incense Route was an ancient trade network of important land and sea trading routes. It connected the Eastern world with the Mediterranean and involved ports all across Egypt and the Levant, as well as northeastern Africa, Arabia, India and the Far East. From the 3rd century BCE until 2 CE, the Nabateans were transporting incense across the desert, from Arabia to the Mediterranean and, from then on, demand for other luxury goods in the Roman world flourished. The Incense Route was a way to trade all kinds of articles, including Arabian frankincense and myrrh. Gold, rare woods and feathers came from Africa whilst precious stones, pearls, silk and spices arrived from India and further east. The Incense Trade Route was, in the main, controlled by the Arabs, who transported goods by camel caravans and for almost 700 years, this hazardous but very profitable trade was carried on.Mamshit, Nabatean city, part of the Incense Road, Israel. Photo credit: Jenny EhrlichMerchants also had other ingenious ways of trading on this route - indeed, some individuals in Southern Arabia constructed inflatable rafts made out of animal skins. From there, they could secretly float bundles of incense out on the Arabian sea, where ships were clandestinely waiting for them. The ships would then sail up the Red Sea in the dead of night and drop off the incense at ports in Egypt.Today, visitors to Israel can explore the Incense Route down in the Negev desert. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wonderful site, with archaeological sites and desert panoramas. The ‘Spice Route’ as it is called by locals, is perhaps best explored on a jeep trip since much of the terrain (especially in the Arava part of the desert) is barren and suitable only for experienced hikers.Travelling north on the Spice Route, a particularly fine place to visit is Mitzpe Ramon, home to the world-famous crater. Whether you want to hike inside it, wander around its parameters and enjoy the views or abseil down its side, you’re bound to enjoy yourself. There’s also an ‘Artists Quarter’ nearby, as well as a farm selling local goats’ cheeses and many visitors choose to stay overnight in Bedouin campsites.Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. Photo byDmitry ShamisonUnsplashThe Gospel TrailThe Gospel Trail was established by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism in November 2011, giving Christian pilgrims (and indeed anyone else interested in this period of history) the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Consisting of over 60 km of paths and roads with special signposts, tourists can walk, hike or cycle as little or as much of the route as they choose. The route itself runs through Galilee, beginning at Nazareth (where Jesus spent many of his formative years) and ending at Capernaum, on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. It follows the route Jesus was supposed to have taken (referenced in the Book of Matthew, in the Christian Bible) when he left his hometown and set off for Galilee, where he would begin his ministry.The main part of the route begins, as stated above, in Nazareth, and visitors can walk along the Nazareth range, affording panoramic views of Mount Tabor, the Church of the Transfiguration, Kfar Kanna, and the Turan Valley.Column in the synagogue,Capernaum, Israel. Photo byPhil GoodwinonUnsplashThe path then slopes down through the Arbel cliffs towards the sea of Galilee, until it reaches ancient Magdala (the home of Mary Magdalene). From Magdala, it continues north along the Sea of Galilee until it reaches what is known as the ‘Holy Triangle’ - the places that are the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, and Capernaum.From there, visitors can walk the length of the Sea of Galilee on the promenade (or bike around it, if they are fit!) and stop along the way to see all kinds of attractions, including national parks, churches and the baptismal site of Yardenit.Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel)This hiking trail traverses the length of the country, stretching approximately 1000 km from Kibbutz Dan in the far north (near the Lebanon border) all the way down to Eilat, on the Red Sea. Loved by nature enthusiasts, biblical scholars, and adventurers alike, it's the perfect way to see Israel’s natural beauty.The Israel National Trail was the idea of Abraham Tamir and Ori Dvir, who were avid Israeli hikers. Inaugurated in 1995, it has given thousands of locals and tourists the opportunity to experience Israel’s varied landscapes up close and personal - from mountains and hills to deserts and wadis. A continuous footpath across the country, it has been lauded by nature enthusiasts, ramblers, hikers, and even National Geographic.Mountains near Eilat, Israel.Photo byJosh AppelonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

On the Road in Israel: a Hebrew-English Dictionary for Visitors

So you’re off to Israel on a long-awaited holiday? Firstly, congratulations, you made a fine choice and, trust us, you’re going to love it. Secondly, a small tip. Whilst this is a country where many people (especially the younger generation) speak English fluently, and everyone connected with the tourist industry will be able to help you out, at least to some degree, it’s always useful to know a few phrases. And more than just being useful, you’ll see how appreciated your words are when you utter them - Israelis are proud of their Hebrew language (‘Ivrit’ as it is known), so if you go to the trouble of learning a few words and expressions, you’ll really reap the rewards!Hebrew signs inJudean Hills.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinBefore we start, a little about the history of modern Hebrew because it's actually a fascinating story. Something that really sets Israel apart from other nations is that it has a revived language as its national tongue and that is definitely thanks to Eliezer Ben Yehuda, a Lithuanian immigrant who was the driving force behind its ‘comeback’. Taking the view that the Jews could not become a united people in their own land unless they had a modern language of their own, from the day he and his family arrived in Jaffa (in 1881) he insisted that they speak only Hebrew - a Hebrew that he was going to ‘recreate’ out of the ancient language of the Bible! Ben Yehuda really took the construction of this new modern language seriously. He would not even respond to his children if they did not use the words he was constructing, even when they cried and told him they did not understand! This story is still recounted to every young school child in Israel. He coined all kinds of new words and even put together a dictionary, to promote the use of the language in the fields of journalism, science, and literature. Today, we see the fruits of his labor - Hebrew isn’t just a language of prayer, but a tongue heard on every street corner. What an achievement!Street name sign in three languages in Jerusalem.Photo credit:© ShutterstockWhilst Ben Yehuda clearly had to improvise in many instances (there were no cars or newspapers in biblical times!) you can trace the etymology (origin) of many words easily, as many are referred to in the Bible as geographical places. Jerusalem literally means ‘City of Peace’ (from ‘shalom’) and Jaffa (‘beautiful’) is derived from Japhfet, the name of one of Noah's sons' who built the city after the Flood. Beit Shemesh (in the east) means ‘House of the Sun’ and Mitzpe Ramon (home to Israel’s astonishing crater, with its panoramic views) is ‘lookout’. Many spots are also named after water (‘Ein Gedi‘ means ‘ Spring of the Kid’) or named after species mentioned in the Bible (‘Ein Tamar’ means ‘Spring of the Date Palm’).Jerusalem literally means "City of Peace" in Hebrew.Photo credit:© ShutterstockBut, for now, back to your trip. You’ll need, at the very least, some basic words and phrases whilst touring in Israel ... words like ‘shalom’ (hello, goodbye, and peace) ‘bevakasha’ (please) ‘todah’ (thank you) ‘lehitraot’ (goodbye) and ‘al lo davar’ (you’re welcome) are always helpful, as are phrases to do with how much something costs, where the bathroom is (always an essential!) and how to order something in a restaurant. Here, let’s take a look of this lovely video by Yaara, one of the sweetest Hebrew teachers on YouTube that we know, with her ‘25 top words’ to get you started.Once you’ve mastered the basics, let’s go onto a few words and phrases that will really come in handy when you’re on a tour of the Dead Sea and Masada, discovering the capital's rich history with a City of David & Underground Jerusalem Tour, or thirsty whilst on a tour in the Golan Heights! ‘Mayim’ is a real essential - it means water and you should be drinking lots of it, especially if you’re here between May and October. ‘Glida’ is another favorite - it refers to ice cream and wherever you go in Israel you’ll see it for sale - especially in boutique parlors where you can find exotic Middle Eastern flavors, such as halvah, saffron, cardamom, and star anise.Sliced halvah cake ("ooga")at the Carmel market shop.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinThere’s also ‘yam’ - sea in Hebrew - and ‘tayelet’ - which means promenade (Israel’s beaches have beautiful promenades, perfect for strolling, with the Mediterranean Sea waves lapping nearby) before you head off to sample some Middle Eastern cuisine in a local ‘misadah’ (restaurant). Israel is famous for plenty of dishes besides the ubiquitous falafel (fried chickpea balls served in pita bread) and one word we’d really recommend not forgetting is ‘dag’ (which in Hebrew, means ‘fish’) - because the local catches are wonderful.‘Salatim’ - salads - are also a fine choice and they come in all colors and flavors, using making use of local produce such as ‘hatzilim’ (eggplant) ‘rimonim’ (pomegranates) ‘gvina’ (cheese), and egozim (nuts). Don't forget to drizzle some ‘tahini over your food too - a sesame seed paste that’s delicious and nutritious and which is universally known here. And for dessert, try a couple of ‘sabras’ - they are the Israeli national fruit (spiky on the outside and sweet on the inside - just like the people of the country, as they say).The sea ( ‘yam’) in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinA few more words for good measure: ‘Tiyul’ means ‘trip, ‘haaretz’ means ‘the land or Israel’ and ‘madrich / madricha’ are your tour guides (depending on whether they are male or female). So once you’ve got the hang of these words, why not try them out on your ‘siyurim madrichim baaretz’ - guided tours in Israel. Fun fact: Israel is a nation of polyglots, and it’s quite likely that your tour guide will speak more than just Hebrew and English (many Israelis grow up in homes where Arabic, Turkish, French, Spanish, and even Yiddish are spoken!)Bein Harim guide on an tour to Masada.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinFor anyone whose Hebrew is a bit better than basic, we’d really recommend listening to ‘Streetwise Hebrew’ by Guy Sharett. What makes this podcast really special is that Guy takes an innovative approach to learn words and phrases, by using Israeli music (old songs and new), graffiti, and a bit of slang too! Fun fact: Guy’s native tongue is Hebrew, but apart from being fluent in English, he is also familiar with Arabic, Aramaic, Latin, Italian, Dutch, and Indonesian. This podcast is so much fun that you might even be tempted to learn more Hebrew once you’re back home. Go on - have a listen! After learning Hebrew with this original technique, you might also be interested in a Tel Aviv graffiti and street art tour which is certainly a must for all contemporary art lovers.Tourist taking pictures of Tel Aviv graffiti.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAnd how could we talk about Hebrew words without throwing in a few phrases for when you’re in the local markets, looking for unusual foods, local crafts, and souvenirs for your friends back home. The ‘shuk’ (‘market’ in Hebrew) is a central feature of any town or city and is a must-visit, and if you take a tour you’ll get a lot of history thrown in for good measure. Jerusalem has the fabled Mahane Yehuda, Tel Aviv has the Carmel market, Jaffa has the vintage ‘Shuk Hapishpishim’ (Jaffa flea market, an organized tour recommended), and the Crusader city of Acre has a vibrant Old City market. In all of them, you can wander for hours, and soak up the exotic atmosphere, better with a guided market tour.Spice stall at Tel Aviv's Carmel Market.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinIn terms of what to buy, you’re completely spoilt for choice - spices are always a good choice, not to mention halva, Medjool dates, and Dead Sea mud packs for your face, which are guaranteed to leave your skin invigorated. There are also all kinds of religious artifacts on offer - Judaica (menorahs and Hannukiahs, for placing candles), Shabbat tablecloths and silver mezuzahs (which religious Jews affix to their doorposts) and, for pilgrims on Christian tours of Israel olive wood crucifixes, rosary beads, and even bottles of water from the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Vintage posters from the 1920s, depicting travel to the Holy Land, Armenian pottery, and olive oil are also fun buys. And the good news is that in these markets, you can always haggle (it’s actually expected). So, for starters, try: “Kama ze oleh?” That’s “What’s the cost?” in Hebrew, and is always a good opening gambit. With any luck, you’ll grab yourself a bargain as well as improving your vocabulary. Enjoy your trip to Israel and, as we say in Hebrew, “B'hatzlacha!” (“Good luck!”)Olivesstall at Tel Aviv's Carmel Market.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann

Traveling in Israel Without Planning

Traveling to Israel requires some planning although if you want to you can leave a good part of your time unplanned for exploring the country. There are many people who travel without a plan and simply arrive at their destinations, ask locals and the tourist information office for tips and advice and take it from there. There is very little additional planning needed for Israel as compared to other destinations. However, to make the most of your time it is best to do a little research and give yourself a basic outline for your trip.Basic Planning for Israel that You Can't AvoidTraveling without a plan is great but to make sure you're even allowed off the plane you should check if you need a visa to Israeland if so get that sorted out. Another part of planning for a trip to Israel that just can't be avoided is knowing which public holidays are happening while you are in the country. Israel's many national and religious holidays often involve a complete shutdown of public transport and attractions. This goes for the 24 hours from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday as well. During Shabbat the open hours and transportation in Israel are limited, and even non-existent in some areas. You should also check out any special events happening while you are in Israel. For example, when Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 accommodation in Tel Aviv scarce and you wouldn't have been able to arrive without booking your accommodation. You also need to plan for the Israeli weather. Throughout the year you will need sun protection, especially in the summer.Do you Need to Make Plans for Security on a Trip to Israel?If you're wondering if you need to make any special plans for security in Israel the answer is no. You will find Israel is one of the safest places you visit; women can walk alone at night in the large cities and feel safe. Israel, unfortunately, has had ample experience of terrorism and conflict so security measures are entrenched in the Israeli psyche. Besides being vigilant Israelis are used to going about their daily business and living full and rich lives without letting any political situation or regional conflict ruin their fun.Having a General Plan for Your Israel TripDon't forget to include theDead Sea in your trip in IsraelEven if you don't want to arrive in Israel with a ridged itinerary it is a good idea to consider basing yourself in different regions of the country so you can conveniently explore the nearby sites without traveling long distances each day. I suggest dividing your time between northern Israel, central Israel (Tel Aviv), Jerusalem and southern Israel (Dead Sea or Eilat). Spend a few days based in each of these areas and do your daily sightseeing from there. You might also want to plan for any highlights you don't want to miss – shows, attractions or natural wonders. Some need to be booked in advance to avoid missing. Israel has excellent public transport and plenty to see so you shouldn't have too much trouble just getting up in the morning and setting off for an adventure.How to Travel in Israel without PlanningAn organized group tour in Israel - Most of the services you need in one pack.So if you have covered the essential basic plans mentioned above you can then relax and play the rest by ear. There are a few ways to make an unplanned trip to Israel even better. Once you get to your hotel or hostel have a chat with the reception staff or concierge to get tips on what to see and where to go. They will probably give you a free street map to help you get around if you are in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Connect up with locals and get their input. Wander the streets just people-watching, shopping, and spotting the incredible architecture. Spend time on the beach, in parks, pubs, markets or side walk cafes. If you feel like you haven't covered the top attractions, you can always take a day tour. Alternatively if you want to take all planning out of your trip to Israel then join one of the Israel package tours where all guided tours and accommodation are included and organized for you. No stress, no planning, just sit back and let the tour company do all the work.A Little Bit of Planning Goes a Long WayHowever much you want to be a free spirit and arrive in the Holy Land ready to go, a little bit of planning will make your trip more interesting, trouble-free and enrich your experience. Have a guide or guide book so that you know what you're looking at when you stare at structures that are 2,000 years old. Plan how to spend weekends when transport and businesses close down and do your longer journeys on weekdays. I also suggest booking at least some of your accommodation as hotels are expensive in Israel and you can find better deals online than in the middle of the night wandering the streets like Mary and Joseph when there is "no room at the inn."
By Petal Mashraki

Travel Safety in Israel and Jordan

At the moment the status of Israel is classified as “Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest". Due to COVID-19 until further notice, entry to Israel is still denied to most non-citizens or non-residents of Israel arriving from anywhere in the world. The Ministry of Health has permitted a few vaccinated groups from the "green list" countries, to enter Israel as a study case.Protective Face Masks For Coronavirus.Photo by Mika Baumeister on UnsplashTravel Safety – IsraelThere is at present no “war” in Israel and so for the most part life goes on as usual. Almost all the top travel destinations in Israel, attractions, and sites are in safe areas of the country. You will have no problem or threat of safety if you wish tovisit Tel Aviv, tourJerusalem, see Haifa, or get to theDead Sea, to name a few.The areas to avoid are those near the Lebanon border (Sheba’a Farms and Ghajar); and Gaza and its immediate surroundings. If you wish to visit the West Bank, note that you can do so - but better take an organized tour to avoid trouble - for example, a day tour to Bethlehemor a trip to Jericho.So is it safe to travel in Israel? Considering theinfection rates drop and the high percentage of vaccinated residents in Israel, the risk has significantly reduced.Jaffa Port Aerial View, Israel. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTravel Safety – JordanSo is it safe to travel to Jordan from Israel?Normally, Jordan is safe for visitors and actually takes great precautions to insure tourist comfort and safety. In this updated analysis you'll see just how safe Jordan is. No wonder so many visitors like to combine Israel and Jorden Tours, and enrich their visit to the holy land with a Petra Tour from Jerusalem.Once you are set to travel to Israel, you can further ensure your safety by registering with your embassy in Israel, this way, you will be sent current or emergency travel warnings. Also, travel with full travel insurance coverage; leave photocopies of your itinerary, passport, and other documents with a friend or family; travel with the local embassy’s address and phone number and be aware of local customs and norms so as not to get yourself in any dangerous situations.Treasury, Petra Archeological Park, Jordan.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Petal Mashraki
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