50 facts you need to know before you go to Israel
Israel – a young state, established just over 70 years ago, and a legendary country with a long history. Country of harmony and contradictions, traditional values and modern technology. Annual flow of tourists to Israel exceeds 4.5 million people, including about 300 thousand Russians go to worship religious shrines, to improve their health, to visit relatives. 2. To visit Israel, tourists, citizens of Russia visa is not required to stay in the country to 90 days within 6 months. A passport is required. Upon arrival a coupon for border crossing. Talon contains a bar-code, in which all necessary information about the tourist is encoded. Talon should be kept until you leave the country. 3. It should be noted that the presence in a tourist’s passport visa to Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, and some others is not a barrier to entry into Israel, but will lead to increased attention from the security services. Visa-free regime does not guarantee entry into Israel, the final decision on entry is made by the border services of Israel. 4. Tourists from Russia in 99% of cases arrive in Israel by air. Approximately half of the total number travels alone, and half – through package tours and organized groups. There are more than 90 flights per week. Direct flights to Tel Aviv, the main airport of the country, are not only from Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also from many major cities in Russia: Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, and others. 5. From Moscow directly fly: Israeli ELAL from Domodedovo, Aeroflot from Sheremetyevo and Ural Airlines from Zhukovsky. The flight lasts about four hours, an economy class ticket will cost an average of 15,000 rubles round trip.
6. With a layover, but cheaper you can find many options, for example, via Istanbul or Belgrade, Athens, Riga, Warsaw, Budapest…
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7. From Ben Gurion airport to the city, and to Jerusalem, north: to Haifa, and then south: to Ashkelon, Beer Sheva, the easiest way to get there is by train. The station is located on the lower level of Terminal 3. A ticket to the center of Tel Aviv costs 13.5 shekels, and a ticket to Jerusalem costs 17 shekels. During holidays and Sabbaths only cabs and shuttles are available (Sherut monit). A minibus ticket will cost 30-40 shekels.
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8. In 2019, the new Ramon airport in Eilat opened. From Moscow, tickets for regular direct flights of “Pobeda” to this resort city on the Red Sea can be purchased from 6 thousand rubles round trip, depending on the season.
9. There are also local airports in the north of the country: Haifa and Rosh Pinah. Flights within Israel are operated by ISRAIR and ARKIA. From Tel Aviv to Eilat is a one-hour flight, the ticket will cost 100 shekels or more. Please note that for religious reasons there are no flights on Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening). 10. About the national currency: The new Israeli shekel (ILS or just shekel) is a freely convertible and “free-floating” currency. The exchange rate against the U.S. dollar is stable and is currently 3.45: 1. Or approximately 18.5 rubles per shekel. Only local currency is used in the country. It does not matter what to bring: dollars or euros. It is equally profitable to exchange both into shekels and it’s better not to do it at the airport. Banks and exchange offices with the inscription “Change” in the cities is enough. Bank cards can be used to pay for almost everything, including souvenirs. Except for vegetables at the market will ask for cash. At import/export of cash equivalent to more than 50 thousand shekels you must declare. Israel is a small country, and for independent tourists it is convenient to rent a car. It is better to reserve in advance, online through an international system such as DISCOVERCARS or others. The most complete list of car rental companies is HERE. 12. Rent without insurance costs about 20 dollars a day, you need a credit card, they will charge you about 500 dollars as a deposit. Petrol at gas stations is 100-120 rubles. our money, but a lot of it here will not najajetet, it is unlikely you will migrate from the north to the south and back every day. 13. Public transportation in the cities is well developed and organized. There are electronic boards at all bus stops. A bus ticket for 5.9 shekels entitles you to a 90 minute transfer. It is possible to buy a bus pass (Rav Kav) and refill it from the driver. Ticket inspectors walk around quite often. The driver announces the stops. It is difficult to understand, from a lack of experience. “Tahana abaa” means “next stop.” In the photo: On the bus.
14. Cabs in Israel can be caught on the street, ordered by phone or via mobile apps. Hotel or restaurant staff for an extra 5 shekels will gladly call a cab for you. Pay by the meter, but you can arrange in advance and save a little “past the cash register”. “Yandex Taxi has made its way here under the YANGO brand. If you have the appropriate Russian app installed, it will work in Israel, too. Within one city, you’re unlikely to spend more than 70 shekels per trip. 15. In Israel, Hebrew is the state language, and Arabic is a second language with a special status. Our average countrymen understand neither of them. But that’s okay: most people with whom you have to communicate speak English and very well. In a difficult situation, you will always find someone who speaks Russian and will help. And in some places you will hear Russian speech almost as often as in your “neighborhood”, but with a little bit of Hebrew, especially often: “conversationalist” – okay, okay. 16. 16. The population of Israel is 9 million people. 75% Jews, 20% Arabs and 5% – various other “Swedes”. Here you have to understand that it is primarily religious affiliation that counts. The fairly large number of immigrants from Ethiopia or Morocco are mostly Jews, because they practice Judaism. 17. The religious issue in Israel is a special topic with many subtleties. It is a state where the dominant religion, Judaism, is essentially the state-forming religion. Israel has not adopted a constitution and there are heated debates about it. The orthodox parties claim that the Jewish people already have a supreme law, the Torah. So there is no need for a man-made law. At the same time, 80% of Israelis think that a written constitution is indispensable, and that it will bring religious and non-religious citizens closer together. Pictured: The Wailing Wall.
18. Among the Arabs living in Israel, the majority are Muslims (1.5 million people), about 2% are Christians, mostly Catholics. 19. The capital of Israel, Jerusalem (about 900,000 people), is a very special city. There are the greatest shrines and places of worship of believers from all over the world: Christians, Jews, Muslims. 20. 20. If Jerusalem is closely tied to religious history, the second most important city in Israel, Tel Aviv (450,000 people), is more dynamic, secular and tolerant. The Israelis call it “Ir bli afsaka” (city-without-break). And, in contrast, the third largest city, Haifa, is called “afsaka bli ir” for its provincialism and leisurely pace of life. In the photo: The beach in Haifa.
21. Hotels in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, are expensive. High ratings are King David Hotel Jerusalem (standard room 30,000 per night), Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. Popular hotels are DAN, Leonardo, Isrotel. They are available in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Use the hotel search service for all tastes HERE 22. In Israel, everything is special. Special and very professional approach to security. The country is in a constant state of Arab-Israeli conflicts. No one is surprised by the presence of armed guards at the entrances of hotels and supermarkets. It’s normal to be asked to show the contents of your purse. You also see young men and girls everywhere in uniform and with impressive-looking firearms. This is normal: soldiers are going home for the weekend or wherever. They must always have their rifles issued to them in the army and they are not going to attack anyone. But in the case of a real danger, a threat to the lives of civilians, a plain-looking fellow may pull a pistol from behind his belt and stop a terrorist. Everybody knows that, too. 24. Everybody knows where the bomb shelters are. And all bomb shelters are kept on alert. Military patrols and roadblocks in Jerusalem or on road 90 running north-south along the Jordan River are also a reality today. 25. You see more policemen in Jerusalem, less in Tel Aviv or Haifa. They are busy doing their job and don’t pick on anyone, they are rather friendly and helpful. There is crime, but much less than in most other similar large and popular tourist cities in the world. In the photo: In Jerusalem.
26. The main cell phone companies in Israel are PELEPHONE, 012 MOBILE, HOT MOBILE, CELLCOM. However, only Israelis can buy a local SIM card with a good tariff. It is best to use the roaming service and WiFi access. It will be cheaper than buying a temporary Israeli SIM card. The international area code for Israel is +972. Cell phone numbers in Israel begin with “0”, for example: 052 1111111. To call from your cell phone to an Israeli cell phone, dial +97252 1111111. “The ‘0’ is not entered. Tourists go to Israel all year round. A large influx of pilgrims at Christmas (Catholic and Orthodox) in Bethlehem and at Easter in Jerusalem. 29. Depending on the main purpose of the trip are four main points of attraction, where to stay in a hotel: Jerusalem (pilgrims), Eilat (beach recreation, diving), Dead Sea resorts (treatment, spa), Tel Aviv (a little bit of everything). 30. It is not necessary to travel around the country by car. You can come here many times and find something new for yourself. Definitely useful in all respects will be children of school age. The traditional classic route for body and soul is Tel Aviv – Jerusalem. Jerusalem is divided into areas of compact residence of different groups: Jews, Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims. By and large, it does not matter where to settle. To the east of the Old City is the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, from where, entering through the Lion’s Gate, it is convenient to begin the tour. Some stay in Jerusalem in the Old City. Walking the Via Dolorosa at night is a special experience. Of course, during the day, too. Or walk up to the Wailing Wall, talking directly to the Creator. The old city has quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, Muslim. Tourists can move freely, but there are control points where they will check your documents and things. In the photo: The entrance to the temple of the Holy Sepulchre.
32. The whole coastline of Tel Aviv is a series of sandy beaches. The entrance to the water is gentle, excellent for family swimming with children. The only paid beach Ha-Tsuk located in the north, the rest are available to all and at any time, equipped and protected by lifeguards. In summer, lifeguards work until 18-19 hours. If a black flag is raised – swimming is not allowed. On the beach Nordau men and women go on different days, as is customary with the orthodox. 33. In Haifa, visit the Bahai Gardens on the slope of Mount Carmel. They are beautiful and you will learn about the strange and little known Bahai religion. At the foot of the mountain is the Cave of Elijah the Prophet, where, like the Wailing Wall, believers leave notes of supplication “to the top. In the photo: Bahai Gardens.
34. Not far from Tiberias, where the Jordan River flows out of Lake Kinneret, there is a place where pilgrims come, mostly Catholic, to be baptized or simply to dip into the waters of the Jordan. 35. Many people want to take a swim in the Dead Sea, to visit the 430 meters below the ocean level. Go near the shore is not possible everywhere, there are equipped beaches in the areas of Ein Bokek and Khamei Zohar. You should be careful when entering the water, as the salt crystals can hurt. Slippers will come in handy. It is good if there is no wind. Take care of your eyes. In the picture: the Dead Sea.
36. Despite the small size of the country, nature is varied. While the south of Israel is an arid desert, in the north, in Galilee, there are orchards, vegetable gardens, and oak and pine groves. Thanks to the efforts of the first settlers in the Promised Land here it was possible to drain the swamps and grow millions of trees. 37. The climate is Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild winters, and also has great differences between north and south. Precipitation occurs mainly from November to March, more in the northern areas. Mount Hermon in the north gets snow in the winter and is the place to go skiing. And at the same time in the far south, in Eilat, you can still swim in the sea. The water temperature in January is +22 degrees. But the best time to go to Israel is in the fall. In summer in the south, the temperature over 40 – is not uncommon. Not everyone likes it. 38. There are four seas in little Israel: the Mediterranean, Red, Dead and Galilee (or Tiberias, or simply Lake Kinneret). And everywhere should be visited. How to “embrace the immensity” in one trip? One option for 1-2 weeks: by plane to Tel Aviv (sea, stores, restaurants, and all the pleasures of the modern city), then to Haifa (sea, Bahai gardens, the cave of Elijah the Prophet), then through the valley Megido and Nazareth to the shores of Lake Kinneret, then the source of the Jordan River on the road 90 south, turn to Jerusalem (the old city and everything in it, Gethsemane). From Jerusalem through Bethlehem again on road 90 and south to the Dead Sea, on the way stop at Masada, then on to the Red Sea, Eilat (beach vacation, red canyon). Rent a car at the airport and go home. That is all. In the photo: the Garden of Gethsemane. Jerusalem.
39. The roads in Israel are in decent condition, almost everyone abides by the rules, they do not like to pay fines. The tourists from Russia are well treated by Jews and Arabs, but it is better to drive in the West Bank during the day. The rules of the road are not much different from ours: 50 in the city, 90 outside the city, turn on your headlights, do not crush pedestrians. Red stripe on the curb – no parking, blue dashed – paid parking. 40. Do not forget to drink water. Carry it with you everywhere, especially in summer. Two liters a day. This is a rule for everyone. Sunscreen should also be on hand. And a panama hat on your head. It’s easy to get sunstroke, even in April. Pictured: At the fortress of Masada.
41. The diet in Israel is recognized as the healthiest in the world. The Israeli diet is full of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and fish. In the numerous street eateries you will be offered the traditional falafel (fried pea meatballs) or shawarma or pita, which you can stuff at your choice. 42. Restaurants – for all tastes and wallets, it is customary to leave 10% “for a tip”. But you won’t find cheeseburgers at McDonald’s. The kosher rules don’t allow you to cook and serve meat and dairy at the same time. For those wondering what you can and cannot eat according to the laws of Judaism, it’s all in the Bible (Leviticus, chapter 11). Nevertheless, there are plenty of “Russian” stores everywhere that sell pork and other foods familiar to natives of the USSR. 43. Prices for food are comparable to Moscow prices, and alcohol and tobacco are significantly more expensive. But who was that stopping it! 44. Usually the locals don’t get drunk to the point of obscenity. Young people (both sexes) like to take a big bottle of vodka for company and a lot of energy drinks in bars. Silly. But aggression is rare. They can yell loudly and wave their hands, but it doesn’t come to a fight. 45. Many people are into sports. You can also meet very old people on a jog. Up to 50 years old here are young people. They retire at 67, but they also live long. On average 85 years old women and 81 years old men. 46. The level of medical services in Israel is one of the highest in the world. The most advanced technology, equipment, medicines are created and used here. According to Israeli law, every citizen must be insured in one of the four health insurance funds (an organization that includes an insurance company, a network of clinics, medical centers, pharmacies, etc.): “Clalit,” “Maccabi,” “Meuhedet,” and “Leumit.” Contributions to the health insurance fund are small, for example, a worker with a salary of NIS 5,000 pays NIS 155 per month. For information on the types of medical care that Israelis receive, visit the Israeli Health Ministry’s website. 47. Major medical centers such as the world-famous Hadassah in Jerusalem, Rambam in Haifa, Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan, and others admit patients regardless of citizenship. Only if there is no insurance, the patient has to pay the bill himself. 48. In Israel, there are all kinds of animals, and some of them are dangerous. The most common type of poisonous snake is the Palestinian viper. It is widespread almost everywhere, including the Mediterranean coast. Scorpions can also crawl into homes. 49. In the desert, where there seems to be nothing to eat, it is easy to come across a herd of antelope. In the cities, for example in Haifa, wild pigs run around at night, jackals give concerts. And you can even see mongooses. 50. When planning a trip to Israel, you should be aware that on some holidays the stores and public transportation may not work. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, September 22, 2020), the Torah prescribes only thinking. No one goes anywhere. ISRAEL WEEKENDS.
Israel is a state in the Middle East. It is a country of deeply revered religious shrines, eclectic culture, blooming cities and varied natural landscapes, from high mountains to green valleys to waterless deserts. It attracts a huge number of tourists, and the journey changes them as the Holy Land leaves no one indifferent.
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Israel, which stretches 423 km from north to south and 114 km at its widest from west to east, is a small country, but with an extremely diverse nature, from the vast deserts in the south to the fertile valleys in the north. A narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African rift, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, it lies at the crossroads of trade, at the junction of Africa and Asia.
For centuries the Holy Land has attracted pilgrims from all over the world with its numerous religious shrines, atmosphere of spirituality and mystery. Today, nothing has changed and Israel is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
On a narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African Rift between the plains of Europe in the north and the sultry deserts of the south, all the riches of these natural areas are concentrated. In the north of Israel, the Golan Heights and the Galilee you will find pine forests, rumbling waterfalls and high mountains with snow caps, while the region of the central plateau and the Lower Galilee are gentle hills with developed agriculture and blossoming cities.
The Old Streets of Jerusalem
Israel is a Mediterranean country and its long coastline has long been inhabited by people. Major cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre attract tourists with their warm climate and sandy beaches, and ancient buildings that have stood the test of time, such as Caesarea, are unique archaeological sites. In the interior of the country, just an hour from Tel Aviv and the coast, is Jerusalem. Its heart is the Old City, a real treasure, which fascinates even the most unperturbed visitors.
Much of the country is desert, where steep rocky mountains and valleys alternate with fertile oases and small kibbutzim. At the edge of the desert, which opens the way to Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, stretches the Red Sea, whose reefs teeming with coral and tropical fish.
The short history of the state of Israel, proclaimed more than 60 years ago, was bright and turbulent; but the land on which it is located is unusually ancient and rich in a variety of events. Numerous remains of ancient civilizations have survived here, and the unique findings of archaeologists are displayed in the country’s first-class museums.
The influx of immigrants has resulted in a remarkably diverse and interesting culture with an abundance of languages, national cuisines, musical styles, and theaters. Despite the political difficulties thoroughly documented by the world media, modern Israel is a peaceful country whose citizens work hard, love their families, and greatly value their free time, nature, and fellowship.
Dome of the Rock Mosque – one of the symbols of Jerusalem Judean Desert
Many people dream of a trip to Israel, and for an increasing number of people their dream is becoming a reality. In the past, a trip to this country was considered interesting, but illogical and even dangerous. But these days, a four-hour flight from Europe has made a vacation, holiday or pilgrimage trip much more affordable.
Israel is a place where the question “Do you speak English?” you will hear the answer “of course”, where restaurants rival French restaurants, and the number of historical, archaeological and religious sites is unmatched.
Israel is geographically diverse. It is a green, wooded north with snow-capped mountains, rivers and fertile valleys, Mount Hermon (2224 m), the 250 km long Jordan River, the Jezreel Valley and the Sea of Galilee. On the 270 km long Mediterranean coastline there are cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre, and, far from the sea, on the border of the vast waterless desert that occupies the south of the country, Jerusalem.
At the heart of the desert is the Dead Sea – the lowest place of land, a real geological miracle (433 meters below sea level) . The southern tip of Israel rests on the Red Sea, although the length of the coastline is only 14 km.
The political borders of this part of the Middle East are very complex and constantly changing. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured and continues to hold the Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria, although the area of 1790 km² is recognized by the UN as occupied territory.
Due to political tensions between Syria and Israel, the two countries are separated by a demilitarized zone under UN control. At the southern end of the Mediterranean coast, on the border with Egypt, there is Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, and to the east of the Jordanian border, another Palestinian area, the West Bank.
Since the Six Day War, when Israel seized Jordan’s East Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, these territories have remained under Jewish control (which the UN and much of the international community considers illegal) and Israeli settlements remain in the West Bank.
The capital of Israel is Jerusalem, although for political reasons most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv. These two largest cities in the country are completely different from each other. Jerusalem – the tradition, ancient architecture, pious people, deep political and religious roots, while Tel Aviv – a young, fun, secular city with white sand beaches and boulevards, lined with numerous cafes. The third largest city in the country, Haifa is located in the north of the Mediterranean coast and the northern tip of the Carmel mountain range. This quiet and pleasant city is known for its large seaport, a naval base, a prestigious university and the headquarters of the Bahai religion.
There are other major cities in Israel, but they are mostly residential areas and are of little interest to tourists. The exceptions are Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the holy Jewish city of Safed in the Upper Galilee, inhabited mostly by Christian Arabs, Nazareth in the Lower Galilee, the ancient port city of Acre north of Haifa, Be’er Sheva, considered the gateway to the Negev desert, and the Red Sea resort of Eilat.