a guide to independent travel in israel

Have my Israel posts been able to inspire you to make your way to one of the most fascinating [and historically and potentially volatile] countries in our world? I hope yes. Yes enough to add it to your bucket list, have day-dreams about it, and make plans for a journey post COVID-19.

Though I’ve ended each post on Israel with related travel tips, I thought I’d collate the important ones into one post and add a few extra. Just to make it easier for you.

I assure you this will be a short post. Most of my Israel posts have been on an average 2,500 words long. If you indeed read through them, credit goes to the country—it is beautiful—and to you. Thank you super much for giving me company through the series, for liking the posts, and for commenting on them. It has encouraged me and kept me focussed on writing the entire set.

So, here goes my last and 13th post in my Israel series, a country that was long on my wish-list and one I finally got to explore on a solo, independent, 15-day travel in November 2019. Wishing you happy travels too, someday soon.

[Please note there are NO affiliate links in this post, or in any of my posts. Links are provided only to help you with your plans or for you to get extra info. Neither is any of the content in this post or any other post sponsored. The services in this post are what I used and I am simply sharing them with you.]

My Blue Slip on entry into Israel and Pink Slip on exit.

Getting an Israeli visa
Is not that complicated. Just make sure you submit ALL the documents required. If you have a valid US or Schengen visa, the processing is quicker. I got my Israeli visa in two working days. Ben Gurion airport immigration was smooth and fast as well.

Why independent travel and not a package tour for Israel
Firstly, because independent travel in Israel is cheaper. Secondly, you’ll have more time at each place. And thirdly, since you’ll have more time and saved on the money part, you’ll be able to have deeper, more meaningful experiences.

Tel Aviv Abraham Hostel is filled with funky art.

Staying there, but where
There are loads of hotels, guest-houses, and Airbnb throughout the country. But when it comes to location, convenience, and price, Abraham Hostels is tops. You’ll find travellers of all ages from all over the world here. Their private rooms with attached bathrooms are spotless, and self-help Israeli buffet breakfasts are generous.

Jerusalem’s iconic skyline with Dome of the Rock as seen from Mount of Olives.

Exploring Jerusalem
Jerusalem Audio Walking Tours [developed by the Jerusalem Development Authority] has 21 fantastic self-guided walks of the Old City. The App is available on both Apple and Android. Plus, they are free. By the end, you will be a pro on Jerusalem!

Exploring Nazareth and Tel Aviv
You only need a map [which Abraham Hostels will give you] and two sturdy feet.

Walking along the steep sides of the mesa to the Northern Palace’s lower terrace in Masada.

Day tours for the ‘Sights’ outside the cities
Abraham Tours, a sister concern of Abraham Hostels is again the winner here. There are two types of tours: The self-guided ones provide transport and reading material with time allocated for each stop. The guided ones have an expert to help you get really under the skin of the place.

Picnic lunch by the beach at Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz in Northern Israel.

Food for thought
Do you like Hummus and Falafel? Well, you better, as you will find them everywhere. Pomegranate juice is especially popular in the Arab quarters and there are enough cafes and restaurants serving western fare to ensure you don’t go hungry.

The Israeli Rav-Kav travel card gives you access to buses, trams, and trains.

Getting from point A to B
Get yourself a Rav-Kav travel card and save yourself the bother of buying a ticket for each journey on public transport. It is valid for buses, trams, and trains and costs 5 NIS. Once bought, money can be loaded onto it.

Egged buses run between all major towns and cities in Israel. Abraham Hostels has a shuttle service connecting Nazareth, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. To explore Palestine, Arab buses leave for various cities from East Jerusalem. For the airport, there are sheruts [shared taxis]. Ask your hotel to arrange one.

During my stay in Israel I used a 019mobile sim card.

International roaming or local SIM
I used a 6 GB 30-day validity data plan sim from 019mobile for US$ 20 which I bought in Israel itself. It ensured I had access to google maps with public transport routes, and that I did not get lost. 😀

– – –

It is a given all hotels have WiFi and local currency can be withdrawn from the ATMs.

Have I missed anything? If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section. If I have the answer, I promise I will share it with you.

PS. In case you missed any of my Israel and Palestine posts, here they all are. Thank you once again. ❤

Israel

… and Palestine

45 thoughts on “a guide to independent travel in israel

  1. Thanks for these helpful tips, Rama! 🙂 I’ve never thought that we can travel independently in a volatile country like Israel, especially the border areas. Your series is amazing. You have covered places that I didn’t even know the names. To be honest, I thought you have a private guide or a local friend 😛

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha. No private guide [they are frightfully expensive in Israel if you are travelling solo] and no local friends [though the local people are very friendly]. Israel is very easy to explore on one’s own. I am glad you enjoyed the series! I am planning on going to Japan next and intend to use your posts as my guide. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • De hecho es tiempos difíciles. Solo podemos esperar que un día esta pandemia termine y podamos retomar las piezas de nuestras vidas nuevamente. Hasta entonces, mantente seguro, mantente saludable.

      Like

  2. It’s a good idea to compile everything in one place. I remember having heard from an Indian YouTuber that Israel is a tad expensive when compared with some of the other Asian countries. Is that true? Also, public transport doesn’t cover many sectors that well. I’m not sure if this is true but I thought you can throw better light on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is right on both. Israel is a bit more expensive than other Asian countries. Its pricing is European. Palestine, however, is cheaper and like any other Middle Eastern country. The north and central areas are definitely more well-connected. They also see most of the tourists. There are only a handful of buses that make it to Eilat in the remote south, which is also where I want to go on my second trip. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Have my Israel posts been able to inspire you to make your way to one of the most fascinating [and historically and potentially volatile] countries in our world?”

    They certainly have! I’ve never been this interested in visiting Israel and Palestine, all thanks to your evocative posts. I will certainly look up all the information you’ve provided in this blog should the opportunity arise for me to visit this part of the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hope you do! It is a beautiful country. In fact I was planning on doing my second trip to Israel this year. I wanted to explore the southern part this time around … visit Eilat and the Negev. But then COVID happened! Still very much in my wish list though. 🙂

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    • Hello Steve, I just had a look at your blog. My honest opinion? I loved it! Especially the post on Japan. So full of insights. Japan is very much on my wish-list — your post is going to come in very useful when I start making my travel plans. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Rama. First of all thank you so much for stopping by World-complete.com. Really glad you did! 😃 Also I’m very happy that you found it of interest and helpful. Please do follow the blog here and on social media and keep an eye open for future posts! Best wishes and stay safe. Steve

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