Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Israel. An entry visa for up to 90 days is issued upon entry.
Security: Security is a top priority when planning a visit to Israel. Check the U.S. State Department International Travel Information site (travel.state.gov/travel) for updated travel restrictions and advisories. As with any major city, avoid walking alone at night and watch for pickpockets in crowded markets and on buses. Phone a taxi service to arrange for transportation, rather than hailing a cab on the street.
Time: Israel is seven hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: The currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: The country code of Israel is 972. Local and mobile telephone numbers begin with 0, which is omitted when dialing from abroad. Area codes should be omitted when dialing within the area. Pay phones require calling cards obtainable at post offices and street kiosks.
When to Go: The most pleasant seasons are spring and fall. Try to avoid Passover and the Jewish High Holidays. It does not normally rain from May to October. July and August are very hot and dry in Jerusalem, with average temperatures close to 85ºF (30ºC). The mountain air gets very cool in the evening, dropping to below 70ºF (20ºC). Winter is cold and rainy; average 59oF (15oC) daytime, 45oF (7oC) at night.
Getting There: El Al, the Israeli national carrier and a large number of major American and European airlines fly to Ben-Gurion-International Airport, a 40-minute drive from Jerusalem by private or shared taxi or by bus.
Getting Around: Handling Israeli drivers, traffic, parking, and confusing streets can be challenging. Egged, the local bus company, provides public transportation. No service from Friday afternoon until Saturday sundown. Taxis are available in the street but it is safer to call for a cab. Always ask to start the meter at the beginning of the trip.
Passport/Visa: Carry a passport or other valid photo identification with you at all times.
Medical Insurance: Excellent facilities are available in case of an emergency. Make sure you have appropriate medical insurance.
Weather: Umbrellas or raincoats are rarely needed in summer but be prepared for chilly evenings. Fall and winter can be very cold, and houses are not well heated.
Sunscreen and Hat: The summer sun is brutal. Use sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Water: In the hot, dry summer, severe dehydration can occur with virtually no warning signs. Drink plenty of water.
Footwear: Narrow, uneven sidewalks, slippery stone pavements, and lots of stairs make high heels and leather soles impractical and even hazardous. Wear comfortable, lightweight, rubber-soled shoes or sandals.
Clothing: Israel is very informal. Leave ties, jackets, and formal dresses at home unless you are on a business trip. Dress conservatively when visiting religious sites. Men are required to wear hats at Jewish sites but must take off hats at Christian sites. Remove shoes at mosques.
Non-profit research institute provides lectures, thematic walking tours, and study seminars. www.ybz.org.il
Web site for Israel’s leading public transportation company; includes schedules, fares, bus stop locations, tours, and private transportation options. www.egged.co.il
Accommodations, cultural events, restaurants, bars, and tours. www.gojerusalem.com
Official city government site for events, emergency numbers, background information, accommodations, tours, sites, entertainment; includes photo and video archive. www.jerusalem.muni.il
Jewish Virtual Library
Background information and photos for each of the city’s top historical sites; created by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
Streaming international and Israeli news from theJerusalem Post, videos, real estate listings, tourism links, and local recipes. www.jerusalemonline.com
Safety and health alerts, security assistance, absentee voting, and other consular services for U.S. citizens. jerusalem.usconsulate.gov
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
Nature walking tours in and around Jerusalem; English-language ecotours throughout Israel; birding sites and festivals. www.aspni.org
Haaretz English Edition
Translated edition of the liberal daily newspaper plus the International Herald Tribune. www.haaretz.com
Veteran daily newspaper with Friday magazine and arts and entertainment listings. www.jpost.com
Biweekly news and analysis of current events in Israel, the Middle East, and the broader Jewish world. www.jrep.com
Free publication distributed at major hotels and available online. Tourist information, transportation, dining, and entertainment. www.helloisrael.net
Voice of Israel
English news broadcasts three times a day—6:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. on 101.3 FM. Daily newsmagazine at 10 p.m. on 88.2 FM. www.Israelradio.org
Israel Broadcasting Authority
Daily English newscast on cable channel 33; 8:30 p.m. Reruns on the Web site. www.iba.org.il
CNN, BBC World, and Sky
International news networks available on cable and satellite services.
Shop National Geographic