About Israel 

Tourist Information

The Ministry of Tourism has closed most of their "manned" information centers and has placed computer information terminals in their stead. Good luck! Click here for the Israel Tourist Office

Local Time

Local Time http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=676

Weather

Israel Weather Forecast http://www.ims.gov.il/IMSENG/ALL_TAHAZIT/HOMEPAGE.HTM

Economy

Bank of Israel: Exchange Rates, Monetary Policy, Banking System, etc. - http://www.bankisrael.gov.il/firsteng.htm

Culture & Art

http://www.ilmuseums.com


Tourism 

The most popular paid tourist attraction is Masada. Other most visited cities in Israel are:

Jerusalem - The capital of Israel. The oldest walled part of the city is one of the oldest cities in the world, and a World Heritage site. A holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it has a myriad of historical, archeological, religious and sundry other attractions visited by about 2 million tourists annually

Tel-Aviv - Israel's second-largest city, and a cosmopolitan, cultural and financial global city. Tel Aviv exhibits a Unesco world heritage area of Bauhaus architecture. Its beaches, parks, bars, cafés, restaurants, shopping, cosmopolitan lifestyle and 24-hour culture have made it a popular tourist destination for domestic and overseas tourists alike, contributing to its reputation as "the city that never sleeps”.

Safed - The highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Since the sixteenth century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities. Since that time, the city has remained a center of Kabbalah, also known as Jewish mysticism and currently famous for its artisans.

Acre - One of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country and historically, was regarded as a strategic coastal link to the Levant. Acre is the holiest city of the Bahá'í Faith and is a Unesco world heritage historical town.

Haifa - The largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country. Haifa has a mixed population of Jews and Arabs, and is also home to the Bahá'í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is a major seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa and  plays an important role in Israel's economy.

Tiberias - Since the 16th century, has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities. According to Christian tradition, Jesus performed several miracles in the Tiberias district, making it an important pilgrimage site for devout Christians. Tiberias has historically been known for its hot springs, believed to cure skin and other ailments, for thousands of years.

Nazareth - It’s population is predominantly made up of Arab citizens of Israel. In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and the site of many of his reported acts and miracles. As such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.

Masada - site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the First Jewish-Roman War a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels.

Eilat - A busy port as well as a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Eilat.   Eilat's arid desert climate is moderated by proximity to a warm sea. The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism.

Caesarea - The old city includes Roman and Crusader ruins, such as the amphitheatre (where concerts are frequently held), as well as the harbor from which St. Paul was taken as a prisoner to Rome. The grassy golf club and villas are newly developed in this coastal city, which has become increasing popular to tourists.

Seas and lakes:

Mediterranean coastal strip - Sunny beaches and hotel resorts.

Dead sea - The lowest point on the Earth's surface and the deepest hypersaline lake in the world, famous for its buoyancy and medicinal qualities.

Red Sea - Sunny beaches and hotel resorts, popular destination for SCUBA diving and water sports.

Sea of Galilee - Sunny beaches and hotel resorts & Important Christian holy sites such as Mount of Beatitudes.


Finances

While you may use travelers' checks in Israel, the rates offered are less than generous. Credit cards are widely accepted at most stores, restaurants and at many tourist sites, parks and museums.US dollars may be changed into shekels at official moneychangers in Tel Aviv. So too, shekels can be obtained from ATM machines with your PIN number. The exchange rate has been fluctuating.

Banking

Each bank has different hours of operation. However, most banks are open Sunday-Thursday between 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM. Bring your passport and a book to read. Many banks have separate lines for foreign currency exchange. Don't be shy to ask where to go. As the rate of exchange varies from day to day, stay abreast of the situation.

Passports

In order to travel to Israel, you will need to have a valid passport with a Visa. Passports are also required for all foreign currency bank transactions.

Credit Cards

All major credit cards are accepted, even at the local grocer.

Money

The NIS - Israeli New Shekel (or simply shekel) operates on the decimal system. There are 100 agurot to the shekel.  The rate of exchange to the dollar is approximately 1 US dollar = 3.8 shekels. Check local newspapers for the average rate of exchange or click here for on-line currency exchange rates. 

Taxes

There is 18% value added tax (VAT) on most goods and services in Israel. At retail stores, this tax is always already included in the price. Upon making a purchase of $100.00 or more at a gift store that has an agreement with the VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the store and have it stamped there. You will be eligible, upon presenting the form and the item, for a 18% refund at the airport prior to departure. Do not pack these gift items in your luggage. They should be kept in your hand luggage along with the special VAT formed that you receive from the merchant. Tourist services, such as hotel rooms and meals, purchased as export goods with foreign currency are exempt from VAT.  Click here to read more about Israeli Customs for tourists.


Tipping

Tipping is not necessary for cab drivers or barbers. As to restaurants, check the bill to see if "service included"     (it often is). If not, 10 - 15% is a good bet. It is accepted practice to tip hotel staff, your tour guide and tour bus driver. 

Insurance

Check to see exactly what your travel insurance covers. Does it include health and baggage? 

Health Insurance

Make sure that you have health insurance coverage. Your hotel concierge can connect you, should the need arise, with the house doctor. Or, private emergency rooms now operate in the major cities. Click here for a list of Hospitals and Medical Centers in Israel. 

Medications

Bring a copy of your prescriptions along with you. It is also a good idea to bring an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses with you.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are not required for tourists entering Israel from western countries.

Water

Although water in Israel is of good quality and suitable for drinking, you may not be used to the high mineral content. Bottled natural spring water is available everywhere - expensive at your hotel, more reasonable at the supermarkets.

Weights and Measures

Metric system used exclusively. A kilometer is a bit over a 1/2 mile - (0.62 miles). A kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds.

Safety

Do not leave luggage unattended at airports or anywhere else. 
While walking about the large cities, keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse close by.

Security

You and your bags may often be checked by security guards at public buildings such as shopping malls, banks, etc. Be cooperative - it is for your safety too. Do not leave your bag unattended ?anywhere.

Electricity

Israel operates on 220 volts, 50 cycles. Make sure that your shavers and hair dryers have 220-volt adapters. If not, then 220-volt adapters along with the proper plugs may be purchased in Israel. Luxury hotels have a 110-volt outlet for shavers, etc. in the bathroom. Plug adapters for your appliances can often be borrowed from the concierge at 5 star hotels.

Postage

Stamps are available at post offices or at hotel newspaper stands. Additional postage must be placed on mail items above 20 grams. Allow at least seven days for delivery of a letter from Tel Aviv Overseas.  Click her for further information on Israel Post.

Climate

While you may expect rain from November through early April, it is dry during the rest of the year. During the dry season expect high humidity in Tel Aviv and along the coast. Click here for weather forecast updates.

Packing & Clothing

The weather in Israel during the summer months (May - August) is generally sunny and hot (80-100 degrees Fahrenheit / 26-38 degrees Celsius). Regardless of season, the evenings will be significantly cooler than the days. 
For the summer time, bring light clothing. A light sweater is recommended for high-elevation evenings and for indoor air-conditioned places, even in the springtime. Modest clothing is required for most holy sites. For men - long pants and casual shirts. Women - skirts and blouses (with sleeves). Hats are a good idea year round.

Drinking

It's hot in Israel. Drink plenty of fluids so that you don't dehydrate. Alcohol is not recommended in high temperature zones in mid-day. Minimum drinking age for alcohol is 18.

Food

Check with your tour guide or concierge for a list of good restaurants. Food is generally safe to eat. There are many international food franchises operate in Israel such as: Macdonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and more. But don't be afraid to try the local fare.

Gifts

A word to the wise ?Look check and price items. Make your purchases toward the end of the visit after you have compared prices. Do not forget to save the VAT form so that you can get your refund at the airport.

Porterage

Bellboy service is not available for individual travelers at the airports. The dollies, however, are still free of charge. Porterage is available at most hotels. It is customary to tip bellboy $1.00 per suitcase.

Traffic

Rush hour in and out of Tel-Aviv and other major cities is from about 6:15 AM ?9:00 AM and from 4:15 PM ?7:30 PM. If you have a meeting to catch allow for plenty of time. Within Tel-Aviv itself, traffic can be hectic throughout the day.

Public Buses

There is comprehensive bus service in the large cities. While drivers do give change, it is always best to buy tickets at the counter when leaving from bus stations. Save your receipt until the end of the ride. Multi-ride cards are available at a discount from the driver. 
Click here for Eged Bus services (mainly Intercity). Click here for Dan Bus services (mainly in Tel-Aviv).

Taxis

Taxis While traveling in the city, insist that the meter be turned on. The driver may want to close a "deal" with you -- insist on the meter and make sure it is reset at the start of the trip. Between cities, you can close a deal with the driver, as you will be using the services of a "special".

Public Telephones

Direct dialing from your hotel room overseas is not cheap. Public phones are plentiful and usually do work. Most of them operate today with a plastic credit card size phone card, available at post offices and your hotel newsstand. Cards of 20, 500 and 100 units are available (time per unit depends on distance of call and time of day). You may access AT&T, MCI and Sprint for overseas calls from pay phones by dialing a 177 (toll-free) number. Check for your service's number before you leave. Overseas operator and overseas directory information is available by dialing 188. Domestic directory information is available by dialing 144 (free from public phone). For collect calls within Israel, dial 142.

Public Toilets

Known as WC, and available in most tourist locations. Be prepared with tissues in your pocket at all times. Also, be aware that some public toilets are staffed by attendants who ask for a "user's fee".

Tourist Information

The Ministry of Tourism has closed most of their "manned" information centers and has placed computer information terminals in their stead. Good luck! Click here for the Israel Tourist Office