Here is everything you need to know to have a comfortable stay in Israel.
Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) is Israel’s main airport located approximately 12km (7.5 miles) from Tel Aviv. Flights to and from Israel generally have greater security measures than most countries. Bags are often inspected by machines as well as by hand. You should also be aware that you might be interviewed prior to your flight to Israel and once upon returning home (about your time in Israel). This is standard procedure and should not be cause any alarm. For international guests we recommend arriving 2.5-3 hours prior to your scheduled flight.
From Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv their is a direct train via Israel Railways located from Terminal 3 (the Terminal you arrive into) every half hour during the day (every hour during the evening). Train is typically the most comfortable method into the city. Just note that most stations are on the edge of the city so a bus/taxi is required to get to most hotels.
Airport Shuttles run from the airport to Tel Aviv for $17 (65 NIS) each way. The shuttles run based on an hourly timetable so travelers are able to choose a pickup time associated with their arrival time. More information can be found at flo Shuttle including online booking.
Taxis can be used but should be collected from outside the Arrivals hall where a dispatcher is on hand. Fares from the airport are legally fixed and fall into two categories depending on time of day. Typically the cost will run around $40 (150 NIS). Drivers can also charge for luggage.
Once in Tel Aviv you may use Uber or Gett (Israeli version) or it’s also very easy to get around with the buses they run often (simply use Google maps and it will show you nearest and most appropriate line for your destination).
The summer months are typically higher costs for Hotels. It’s recommended to go with Airbnb while you’re in Tel Aviv. If you can get lucky and find a place offering apartment in center of Tel Aviv that’s great. However, you can also consider Ramat Gan or Givatayim (North/Northwest) of the city and the price can often be considerably less expensive. Since everything is pretty close together it’s easy to arrive to Tel Aviv by taxi or bus.
Cell phones and SIM cards
It’s recommended if you’re bringing your phone from abroad that you get a SIM card for your duration in Israel. While most places including hotels, cafes, restaurants will have wifi the SIM card will help if you want to navigate with Google Maps, order Uber, etc.
First, you need to make sure that your cell phone is unlocked before you arrive (your local carrier should be able to help with this).
Second, you’ll need to get a SIM card. You have a few options. The most expensive option is typically getting a SIM card after you land inside the airport. Alternatively, you can use a service called Snapir where it will arrive at your house before your flight to Israel (free worldwide shipping) and then you don’t have to worry about standing in any lines. Lastly, if you have extra time you may get a SIM card (and contract) from Golan Telecom in branches of BUG (chain of computer stores) often found in malls but not in the airport. This would be the cheapest option but keep in mind you’ll need to cancel the contract before you depart Israel.
The local time in Israel is GMT +2 hours to EST +7. You can view the time here
The summers in Israel are very hot, rain is rare and unlikely. It’s important to drinks lots of water (you can either buy bottled or tap is perfectly fine too)! Tel Aviv and the coastal regions can be rather humid during this time of year while the highland areas like Jerusalem are most comfortable. In southern Israel, the weather is very hot and dry.
Money and Spending
All major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc) are widely accepted here. If you have a card that waives the international fees that’s best. Travelers checks may be changes at many banks but note there will be a high commission. Most of the banks in Israel are open 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM Sunday through Thursday and 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. All banks are closed on Shabbat.
It is customary to tip between 10-12% at restaurants in Israel if service is not included. It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers.
In Israel the voltage is 220 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. The electric outlets used are Type H and Type C. If you cannot find plug adapters back home then you should be able to purchased them in Israel. Many cell phones and certain other electronics will simply need an adapter to change the electric plug but other devices like hairdryers may require a converter or transformer.
In Israel, it’s a very laid-back country, and it’s fashion follows that. Guys, if you think you’re going to wear a tie, think again. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear slacks (or jeans) and button-down shirt. While woman may wear short cocktail dresses rather than elegant gowns. And most importantly comfortable shoes for dancing!
Shabbat in Israel
The Sabbath in Israel is from Friday evening until Saturday night (once the sun goes down). During this time most shops are closed and the buses do not run. You can still find taxis. In Tel Aviv, many bars, restaurants, cafes are still open. Friday evening some restaurants require up-front reservations so try to check before just in case. Alternatively, you can buy from grocery store but note that Friday morning is the busiest time.