Whatever your reason for flying to Israel, it’s bound to be a spiritual journey. A trip to the Western Wall or a swim in the Dead Sea are just a few of the reasons why travellers of all faiths and all walks of life flock to this destination year after year.
It is no secret that Israel has served as a centre for religious and political tension for centuries. Therefore, a common concern for those planning a trip to the country is over safety. However, despite news coverage of war in different parts of the region, it is safe to visit and remains a very popular tourist destination. Of course, as with anywhere else you may travel to today, it is always good to keep your common sense and wits about you.
There are some cultural and religious rules to keep in mind when visiting Israel. Jews cannot eat dairy and meat together, and Muslims and Jews are forbidden from eating pork at any meal. The falafel and schnitzel are common foods found throughout Israel, and if you’re visiting Israel on a Friday night, remember that it’s the Sabbath (the Jewish Holy Day) and observant Jews are not permitted to cook so many family-owned restaurants will be closed.
The direct flight time from the UK to Israel is just 4h 55m. However, most flights will take longer due to factors such as one or more stopovers. The flight time will also vary depending on the city from which you depart and where in Israel you land. The most common departure point for flights to Israel in the UK is London Heathrow, which is the largest and busiest airport in the nation. London Gatwick is the second largest and offers flights to Israel, as well. In Israel, the most commonly used airport for international travelers is Ben Gurion International. Others include Ramon International, Eilat, Haifa, and Ovda (also in Eilat) to name just a few. A single stopover can increase flight time to 9h 35m or longer.
The only two cities in the UK to offer direct flights to Israel are London (Heathrow) and Manchester. These flights take just over 5h to complete. However, many other cities in the UK can offer flights to Israel with one or two stopovers. These include Liverpool, Bristol, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Belfast to name just some options. Flights with just one stopover take an average of 9h and those with two stopovers require 9h – 14h. Most airlines offer this route, including Air France, El Al, British Airways, Aegean Airlines, easyJet, Iberia, KLM, and Alitalia.
The best way to get around in Israel is by private car. The roadways around most major cities are well maintained. Domestic air travel is also reliable and affordable. Bus travel is available, but may be slower and more crowded than many travelers would prefer. However, it is highly reliable, although traffic jams are becoming more common on heavily traveled roads between major cities. Taxis are offered, and motorcycle rentals are also available. There is train service between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, too.
Israel offers more to see and do than you might imagine. One of the most popular options is to explore the Old City of Jerusalem. The ruins of Magdala are also popular. Other destinations of note include the Dead Sea, dining within Tel Aviv, the city of Nazareth, the ruins of Masada, and more. For those looking for a bit more adventure, multiday tours can be arranged that include destinations like Petra and Jordan.
Yes, you will need a valid passport to enter Israel. You will also need to show proof that you have purchased a return ticket. However, British citizens do not need a visa so long as you do not plan to stay longer than three months. If you intend to remain in the country for longer periods, a visa will be necessary.
Israel has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, and short, wet, cool winters.
The main towns in Israel are year-round destinations, though they may become very hot and sticky in the summer months.
Most of the beach resorts enjoy warm temperatures even in the wintertime, so this can be the perfect time to visit. It does get cold in the mountains though.
There are a few domestic flights available in the country, between Eilat, Tel Aviv and Haifa, operated by airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir.
Buses are excellent for inter-city trips. Most are run by a company called Egged. Fares are reasonable and the journey is fast. You can by tickets in advance at the bus stations or just direct from the driver.
The rail service is less extensive, but gradually expanding. It is all run by Israel Railways. Tickets must be bought in advance, but you can reserve a seat when you do so.
Note that there is no rail or bus service on Shabbat or public holidays.