Thursday, 16 July 2009
Whilst it might not be big geographically, Israel has a huge array of attractions and places to visit. With this is in mind, many travellers are quite daunted by the prospect of travelling to Israel, and are unsure of where to start when creating an itinerary. Here are our top ten tips to creating the perfect Israeli vacation.
Step 1 - When to Go
Israel has a mild climate all year round meaning there really isnt a time to avoid visiting Israel. The summer months are, however, generally very hot, with average temperatures over 30 degrees celsius, whilst the winter months can be unpredictable with storms often lasting a few days at a time. Having said this, the winter months can also see some very pleasant spring-like weather. The best months for travelling to Israel are, in our opinion, May and October as the weather is most temperate and comfortable, although there are really no no-go months. Read more about the weather in Israel, here.
Step 2 - How Long
Often the length of a trip to Israel is dictated by work vacations or school breaks, meaning there is only a limited time window. It is safe to say, however, that whether you have one week, or one month, you wont come anywhere near to seeing everything this country has to show. Ten days to two weeks are probably the best length of time to get a good feel for Israel, allowing you to tour around and spend a few days in the major tourist destinations of Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Dead Sea, and Tel Aviv.
Step 3 - Getting to Israel
Most tourists arrive in Israel by plane. Israel's main airport is Ben Gurion Airport and airlines fly here from around the world. From the USA and Canada, direct flights come from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Toronto, although many travellers opt to travel via Europe as this can not only work out cheaper, but breaks up the length of the journey. From Europe, there are flights from most major cities, and increasingly, fares are being offered by low-cost airlines.
Step 4 - Getting Around
So you know when you're in Israel, but how you get around, dictates where you stay and what you'll do. Some travellers decide to base themselves somewhere, and then take day trips or overnight trips, whilst others opt to tour around, staying a few nights in a number of places. The easiest way to get around in Israel is by rental car. With most major international car hire firms having branches here, it is a cost effective and easy way to travel around. If you are unable to drive, then the Israeli train network is very comfortable, although not too extensive, although the bus network is very extensive, covering most of the country. A word of warning though, public transport is very limited between sundown on Friday and Saturday night due to the Sabbath.
Step 5 - Splitting the Trip
Knowing how you will get around will now allow you to plan how you wish to split up your trip to Israel. It really does depend on how much time you have, as to how long to spend somewhere. In 2 weeks, we would suggest that you spend 5 nights in Jerusalem, 2 at the Dead Sea, 3 in Tel Aviv, and 4 in the Galilee region. Eilat takes the best part of a day to travel to from most of the country, and therefore in 2 weeks, there isnt really time to get here, unless you really want to!
Step 6 - Where to Stay
Obviously where you can stay depends largely on your budget. Hotels in Israel vary from hostels and campsites, right up to high-end boutiques and even converted mansions. Hotels in Jerusalem range from a large number of hotels geared up to tourists ranging from some prestigious, historic properties, to some cheaper, more generic alternatives. Many Hotels in Tel Aviv, have, in recent years become boutique hotels, whilst there are also some great beach front properties and hostels. Spa-style hotels dominate at the Dead Sea, where there are a lot of spa-style resort hotels, as well as some great quality hostels. Hotels in the Galilee range from large resort hotels, to the very popular small bed and breakfasts called Zimmers which can be very luxuirous, quaint and relaxing!
Step 7 - What to Do
There will probably be some places you've known you want to go to for some time. There will also be places such as the Western Wall and Yad Vashem Museum that most tourists to Israel take time to visit. There will then be places that you havent even heard of yet, that you'll want go to! The best thing to do is to look with an open mind in the area you are staying for things which appeal to you rather than to look for certain types of attraction. There are some seriously unique places to go in Israel, and its so easy to overlook them!
Step 8 - Packing
The trips fast approaching and you're now wondering what clothes to take to Israel with you! From the perspective of being respectful, take some clothes with long sleeves and trousers as these are required in certain places. In most of the country, however, you can wear anything (and we mean anything) and noone will raise an eyebrow. Look at the weather for that time of the year, and pack accordingly. We'd always advise, even in summer that you bring some warmer clothes as the evenings can get quite cool once the sun has set, especially in the desert.
Step 9 - Other Practicalities
Will my kids like the food in Israel? Can I get a wi-fi connection? Will I be able to call home?... Loads of questions will no doubt enter your mind as the trip approaches. Yes is the answer to all three of the above questions. Remember, Israel is a very westernised country, and all the services you expect and take for granted at home, will be available! So sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.
Step 10 - Enjoy Yourself
You've arrived, so enjoy it. Relax and stay safe. Remember that Israelis are really hospitable people, and will be more than willing to help you if you have any questions. Have a great time, and dont forget to send us your photos when you get home!
be cool in israel
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