Transportation in Israel
Updated: May 7
Specific views, meeting new people, the local cuisine, and accommodations come to mind while visiting Israel or any other destination. However, logistics and transportation are given relatively little care. Travelers aren't aware of it, but they spend a significant amount of time on the road. You'll spend more than three hours on the road on a fashionable tour from Jerusalem to Masada and the Dead Sea and then back to Jerusalem. Distances cannot be shortened, but you can make the most of your time if you prepare beforehand and understand the numerous options.
Trains are the most convenient mode of transportation between Ben Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv, Haifa, Akko (Acre), Beer Sheva, and other destinations along the coast. It is important to note that trains do not run to Jerusalem.
The bus is the most frequent mode of public transit in Israel. There used to be only two major bus companies: Dan (in Tel Aviv and the neighboring areas) and Egged (in the rest of the country) (in the rest of Israel). There are various companies to pick from these days, this one website has most schedules and information on all of the bus companies. Unless you plan on taking buses to Eilat during the summer, there is no need to purchase tickets in advance.
These shared taxis (also known as service taxis) are vans that can hold up to ten people. They run along the same routes as the regular bus lines but are a little less expensive. On weekends and Jewish holidays, as well as between select cities, they run.
Saturday transportation is available
Because most public transit is unavailable from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening, I recommend spending the weekdays outside towns – in the Galilee mountains of the Negev Desert – and the weekends in towns. Also, parks are less busy on weekdays, and cities have more to offer on weekends. On Saturdays, a cab is an alternative, but it is more expensive. On Saturdays, Monit Sherut taxis run between the major cities. Those in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa can be picked up outside the primary bus terminal.
Driving in Israel
The steering wheel is located on the left side of the vehicle (like in the United States and continental Europe). A valid driver's license from your own country is usually adequate. A foreign driver's license is rare. From November to April, you must drive with your headlights on, even at night.
Early morning traffic to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons are the busiest, while Fridays and Saturdays are relatively quiet. On nice Saturdays, traffic from the north to Tel Aviv is awful.
Renting a vehicle
Getting between the cities and the Negev and Galilee is best by car. Driving through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is a bore. There's a lot of one-way traffic, and parking is scarce. You can, of course, rent a car there. Without a car, I recommend visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to recover from travel, adapt, and get a feel for the area before getting one.
Road signs in Israel are also in English. To rent an automobile, you must be at least 25 years old. Most of the time, a valid driver's license from your own country will suffice. A foreign driver's license is rare. Renting a car in advance, online, or over the phone is far cheaper than renting straight from an Israeli company.
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