Israel is a fascinating country with a great history and many interesting towns and places to visit. In fact, you can see sights that date back to the time when humans were still learning how to use fire. But before making all your travel arrangements, you should be aware of the following facts.
Passport and Visa Requirements
Make sure you have a valid passport for a minimum of six months from your date of entry. Also, make all the necessary arrangements for a visa. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to visit an Arab or Muslim country after your travel to Israel, you won’t be allowed in except for Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt. To avoid this, ask the immigration to stamp a blank piece of paper which can be placed in your passport. Note that when you arrive in Israel, you’ll receive a blue and white entry permit that says the “State of Israel-Border Control” with your name on it. You’ll need to show this paper when you check in to your hotel or other public areas like museums.
Israel has long and warm summers, which last between April and October. The winters are mild lasting from November to March. The weather is somewhat cooler in some cities such as Jerusalem and Safed. The rain usually comes in the months of December and January. Summers are very hot, often around 21-32°C. (70-90° F) The warmest place in the country is the desert and the Dead Sea. However, keep in mind that the desert can also be freezing, especially at night. Jerusalem and the north are colder places with temperatures ranging from 8-17 °C (46-62° F).
Modest Clothing and Comfortable Shoes
When packing for Israel, it’s important to bring modest clothing with you. Modesty rules are prominently displayed at the entrance to cathedrals and other holy places, you’ll not be allowed if you’re not dressed appropriately. In these areas, women are required to cover their shoulders and wear shorts/pants or skirts that go below the knee. Men should cover their heads with hats. Women are not allowed to wear anything low-cut, and the sleeves should cover past the elbow. If you travel in the country during the summer period, you can have a sarong or a light scarf. Also, pack comfortable shoes to be able to walk easily around the cities.
Israel is a small country. Therefore, you can get from one place to another swiftly and in a relatively short time. The public transportation is convenient, and you can use it to go to any town in the country for a reasonable price. Public transportation is not very good in rural areas. It’s better to use the train to travel along the coast and to the desert. Keep in mind that tickets can be bought at specific ticket booths in the stations around the cities. In addition to this, there are plenty of taxis, or if you are more than six people, you can always rent a minibus to get around the country and visit the places you want.
Although Israel is a safe country to be in, you should be mindful of certain things at your entrance to guarantee your safety. When you visit some public places, like holy sites and malls, you may have to go through a security check similar to what is done at the airports. Take care of your luggage and other personal belongings all the time. Moreover, like any other hostile places in the world, it’s not recommended go to Gaza. There are also certain neighborhoods in the cities that tourists should not go to, especially at night or if they’re alone.
Tap water is safe to drink across the country, although bottled water is widely available as an alternative. That’s mainly because Israel has a significant water problem and many Jews around the world often pray for rain in Israel.
Money and Currency
The country’s currency is the shekel (New Israel Shekel NSI). Each shekel is divided into 100 agorot. Note also that the banks have denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200. The coins are in denominations of NIS 10, 5, and 2. You should know that you can exchange your currency when entering the country at the airport, banks, hotels and post offices. However, be advised that you’ll need your passport when exchanging traveler’s checks. Note also that the ATMs will give you the best exchange rates.
You can use Wi-fi throughout the country, like in buses, cafes, and restaurants. Note that some major hotels can charge you a hefty fee for Wi-fi.
You’re not allowed to smoke in public buildings, hospitals, airports, and other public areas. In case you are in a bar or at a restaurant, it’s better to ask the manager if smoking is allowed on the premises.
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