How Much Does a Trip to Israel Cost?

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Is Israel on your Bucket List? It should be! If you're wondering whether a trip to the Holy Land is within your budget or not, this post is for you.

Let me give you a quick general estimate for a couple traveling from the US to Israel for one week.

  • Return flights : $2000
  • 3 days of car rental (including insurance and gas): $250
  • 3 days using public transportation within cities: $30
  • Accommodation for 7 nights with an average of $80 per night: $560
  • Daily meals at $70 a day: $490
  • Additional sightseeing expenses at $70 a day: $490

Which comes to a total of $3820 for two people or just under $2,000 per person.

But wait!

I'll be sharing lots of tips in this post that can help you bring costs down - quite significantly. What's the shoestring budget for a couple traveling from Chicago to Israel off-season?

  • Return flights : $800 (yes, for two people - return)
  • 3 days of car rental (including insurance and gas): $180
  • 3 days using public transportation within cities: $30
  • Accommodation for 7 nights with an average of $50 per night: $350
  • Daily meals at $40 a day: $280
  • Additional sightseeing expenses at $50 a day: $350

A total of $1990 for two people - or just under $1,000 per person!

How? Read on to find out.

What's the cost of a flight to Israel?

Clearly, that depends on where you come from. The cost of flying to Israel is different if you start your journey in Greece or in Australia.

Since I constantly check flight prices to pretty much anywhere in the world from here, I have a good estimate for flight costs. As you'll see, there's quite a range of prices - I'll show you how to lower your costs in a minute.

Price range for return trips to/from Israel

The following is a price range for return flights - i.e. including the cost of a flight to Israel and back to the same destination.

  • Flights from/to Europe - $80-$400
  • Flights from/to the USA and Canada - $400-$2,000
  • Flights from/to Australia - $800-$2,000
  • Flights from/to the far east - $400-$2000
  • Flights from/to South America and Africa -- $1000-$2000

How to find cheap flights to Israel

There are three ways in which you can lower the cost of your flight to Israel.

Budgeting Tip #1

Go off-season

The high season here is in July and August. IMO, definitely not the best time of year to visit this country. It's too hot to enjoy hiking and most outdoors activities.

Places like Eilat and the Dead Sea are scorching hot. Tel Aviv is humid and stuffy. Jerusalem is bearable on most days - but not much more. You'll want to spend your time either indoors or at the beach. Not a horrible way to spend your vacation in Israel but there's so much more you'll be missing out on.

Coming on any other time of the year would mean not only better weather conditions but also cheaper flights.

Budgeting Tip #2

Look for low-cost flights.

Israel has an "open sky" policy which means we have lots of international low-cost airlines flying through Ben Gurion Airport. This has significantly reduced the cost of flights.

If you don't mind coming with a small trolley-type suitcase and not reserving specific seats, you can find flights from Europe to Israel for as low as $20. That's not a typo. The cheapest I've seen was a return flight from Budapest for $25. Yes, return.

There are now cheap flights from the US as well, through Europe. The Icelandic airline WOW has flights that go as low as $400 for a return flight from Chicago to Israel.

Budgeting Tip #3

Try fare hacking.

Since there are now several low-cost routes between Europe and the US, and quite a few low-cost routes between Europe and Israel, you can get creative and combine two flights. I've done this before successfully and as an added bonus, combined short trips to Amsterdam, London and Rome to our US trips.

How much does a hotel stay in Israel cost?

Once you have your flights, you're probably wondering about the cost of accommodation in the Holy Land. Well, I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that some hotels here can be way too expensive than similar hotels in Europe or the US.

The good news is that you don't have to use them. There are plenty of super affordable options. I'll share some budget tips in a minute, but first a general estimate.

A room for one night in a hotel in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Eilat is going to cost you anything between $150 and $400.

How to find cheap places to stay while in Israel

Here are my tried and tested tips.

Budgeting Tip #4

Book early

This is true everywhere in the world, pretty much. The earlier you make your reservations, you'll get a wider selection of hotels. The good cheap ones are taken fast. If you read my post about the cost of visiting Alaska, you'll see there how I saved hundreds of dollars just by making our reservations super early. You can do the same with your trip to Israel.

I always make my reservations through Booking.com (affiliate link) and I do my best to go with fully-refundable reservations that can be canceled as close to the date as possible. That way I can keep checking and if I find a better deal, I switch to that.

Budgeting Tip #5

Visit out of season

Same as with the flights, coming between September and June you'll find cheaper accommodation options almost everywhere. Just keep an eye for both Jewish and Christian holidays as prices may go up during these times.

Budgeting Tip #6

Consider a vacation rental

There are a lot of Airbnb options to choose from in Israel. If you're coming with a family, an apartment via Airbnb might be the best option for you. Pay attention to the cancellation options here too, to make sure you stay flexible. If you don't have an account with Airbnb yet, use my link here to sign up and you'll get $40 off your first booking! There are also quite a lot of apartments and other vacation rentals available through Booking.com, so I would check those out as well.

Budgeting Tip #7

Try hostels and campgrounds

There are many quality hostels catering to young - or young at heart - travelers. Using these can really bring down your accommodation costs. Most - if not all - are also listed in Booking.com, allowing you to easily compare prices.

Cost of transportation

Once in Israel, you need to move around from one place to another.

Public transportation

Most visitors rely on public transportation. Fortunately, that's a relatively cheap option. The cost of a single bus ride within one of the big cities - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa - will cost you around 6 shekels or $1.5. Taking the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is going to cost you just 16 shekels - approximately $4. If you're staying in Jerusalem and want to visit the Dead Sea, you'll have to pay 37.5 shekels (about $9).

Renting a car

If you come to see more than Jerusalem or Tel Aviv - and you should! - consider renting a car. I wrote a whole post about why you should rent a car while traveling in Israel. That post includes an analysis of the cost too, but for our needs here -

Renting a small vehicle off-season is going to cost you around $35 a day. If you opt for a large car during high-season, expect to pay $50-$60 per day. The price includes insurance.

The price of gas fluctuates in Israel just like it does in any other country. You should expect to pay roughly the same amount as you would in Europe, or double what you're used to paying in the US. The good news? Israel is a small country, and driving distances are relatively short.

Budgeting Tip #8

Renting a car could make financial sense for some people, on some days. For example, a family of four that wants to get from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea will have to pay over $50 for bus tickets in one direction. Renting a car would be a little bit cheaper and so much faster. The total of the bus trip - including waiting times - would be over three hours. Closer to an hour and a half to two hours by car.

How much should you budget for daily spending while traveling in Israel?

Now that we've covered flights, transportation and accommodation, we need to talk about the daily costs that you're likely to have while traveling in Israel. I'm talking about food, activities and just general shopping.

How much should you pay for food while traveling in Israel?

Naturally, the answer depends on your style of traveling and preferences in food. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from just about anywhere but not all of them are cheap. Here are some typical options -


The traditional Israeli breakfast has eggs, cheese, bread and a large portion of salad - as well as coffee and juice. At least. Some places offer so much more on top of that. Sitting down for a breakfast at 10AM means you'll be able to skip lunch.

  • A typical Israeli breakfast in Aroma - a popular local chain - would cost you around 40 shekels or $10.
  • A more fancy breakfast in a cafe or restaurant will cost 50-80 shekels.

Full lunch or dinner

In most restaurants, sitting down for a meal that includes a main course, side dishes and a drink is going to cost you anything between 80 and 150 shekels per person. Or more, if you visit a gourmet restaurant.

Budgeting Tip #9

A meal in a Middle Eastern restaurant could easily mean way too much food and a very high bill - even when there's no way for you to finish up all of that food. Here's why -

As soon as you're seated by the table at a typical Arab or Middle Eastern restaurant in Israel, your waiter will usually start bringing small plates with a selection of salads and other side dishes. It's going to look like this -

Delicious stuff. For real. The problem is you usually get these before you ever see the menu. And I have been to many places where they don't even give you a menu with prices unless you ask for one very clearly. Sometimes, the waiter will take your order for main courses and then bring out the "salads". Now, even though you never explicitly ordered these plates, you will be charged for them. Israelis know that and expect that. If you're not used to it, it could come as a surprise.

Usually, this set of "salads" or "entrees" will cost you 35-50 shekels per person. That's for anyone seated by the table, regardless of whether or not they actually eat from these.

So, what's my tip here?

Either very clearly refuse the salads as they start coming out or factor them into your meal and budget. If you're in for a delicious vegetarian meal, the salads may be enough for you. Slowly sampling them all with fresh pita bread and some hummus can be a perfect meal that will only cost $15-$20 per person.  Just don't end up ordering main courses for lots more money - when you won't be able to finish everything and will end up with a huge bill.

And then there's the felafel

If you want to save time and money, you can always pick a felafel. Fresh and delicious, a felafel can cost anything between 10 and 30 shekels ($2.5-$7), depending on the location. Budgeting Tip #10

Shopping in the supermarket

What we like to do while traveling is just go to a local supermarket or grocery store and get simple, wholesome and affordable food. If you do that in Israel, a fresh ciabatta bread or similar will cost you about 4-6 shekels per piece (approx. $1). Our delicious cottage cheese (try it - it's really good!) will cost about the same. Fresh fruit and vegetables will cost anything between 4 to 20 shekels per one kilogram which is roughly $0.5-$3 per pound.

Activities and things to do

There's a gamut of prices for activities, of course. Here are some examples -

  • A guided walking tour of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv - Anything from free (tip-based) by Sandeman to several hundreds of shekels per person.
  • Visiting a national park - 14-28 shekels ($4-$7) per person depending on the park
  • Entry to the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem - 54 shekels ($14) for an adult
  • Kayaking or rafting on the Jordan River - 93 shekels ($24) per person

Budgeting Tip #11

There's plenty you can do in Israel for free! There are so many things to see just walking the streets or hiking outdoors. Going to the beach - either in the Sea of Galilee, the beaches of the Mediterranean or the Dead Sea - can be free of charge if you go to the right beaches. Or just wandering in the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem - including visiting the many churches and other sites. You could easily create a magical itinerary with very few expenses on excursions and sightseeing. (Note to self: I should probably create a blog post around that!)

So there you go, you have all of my tips now and hopefully they can help you cut on the cost of your trip to Israel. If you have any questions or feedback - please do let me know by leaving a comment below - thank you!

And in case you want to pin this post on Pinterest, here are a few images -

How much does it cost to travel to Israel? Here's a full breakdown - including 11 budgeting tips that will help lower your trip costs by half! How much does it cost to travel to Israel? Here's a full breakdown - including 11 budgeting tips that will help lower your trip costs by half! How much does it cost to travel to Israel? Here's a full breakdown - including 11 budgeting tips that will help lower your trip costs by half!

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  1. First time in Israel tour was 1993 2nd time from 2012 > 2019 taking a small group from South Africa but in 2017 we stayed 2 days in Tel Aviv . In Tel Aviv you can arrange with your hotel to book a free Diamond Tour , they will pick you up and drop you back to the hotel..Another interestinh placet we vsited was n the evening was Sarona Market. But hotels in Israel they are better than American hotels ive frequented America from New York down to Virginia not meantioning Atlanta and Cleveland TN. Israel buffet food in most hotels is excellent.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Gwen. I agree, buffet food in Israeli hotels is amazing. Especially the breakfast options.

  2. Hi Anne the information was very informative. I’m visiting the Holy Land in July 2022 would you be kind enough to draw up an itinerary for me please.
    Kind regards

    • Hi Bernie,
      Unfortunately, I can’t really prepare itineraries for people. There’s a lot that would go into doing that for a specific traveler. You can Google “travel planners” and hopefully find someone who can do this for you for a fee.

  3. Hi Anne

    Your information is amazingly helpful
    From India
    I am planning to visit Israel October 2021 ( i am 70 and have my shots )
    Please guide me with an itinerary mainly for the holy lands including the muslim side and the dead sea
    I have been to Petra so I don’t need to go to Jordan.
    As I have walking problem I would like to go at a slow pace but I have to do it.
    In 2015 when on a cruise we were all set to visit Israel but there was some problems and the ship did not go there at that time my leg was ok lol
    So once you guide me with the itinerary I can start booking flight and hotels.
    Thanks Anna

    • Hi Liz,
      I’m so glad the information here helps. And how awesome that you’re vaccinated and can start planning for later in the year! Most people here of the eligible age groups have had their shots too and we’re seeing a nice decline in the numbers, so hopefully next fall would be ok.
      Unfortunately, I don’t really deal with preparing personal itineraries. That would be too time-consuming and not something I could do. There are travel consultants who can help with that (paid services) and there’s also online planners that you can try. If you have any specific questions about any places, let me know. I’d be happy to try and help.

  4. My understanding is that my cell phone I bring with me from America will only need an adapter because it’s takes up to 220 voltage and Israel. Therefore it would not need a converter? But when I try to plug my phone charger into the adapter that I have here now at home it won’t go in the adapter? I don’t know what to do could you help me

  5. Hi Anne, my husband and I are hoping to take our first trip to Israel in Sept 2020
    Is that a good time of year?
    How do we find a guide who is very knowledgeable and honest. Would like to have a guide that can show us Israel from a locals point of view than everything touristy. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Eilean,
      Keep in mind that in 2020 Rosh Hashana is on September 18th. That means some things will be closed between 18-20 while others will be super crowded with families. Anytime before the 18th will be better. You then have Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The holidays will end on October 10th. In my opinion, it’s best to visit after that date. It will be post-holidays, and the weather should be a bit cooler than in early September.
      You can read more about the holidays in Israel and how they can affect travel in this post.
      Unfortunately, I can’t really recommend a guide as I’ve never tried any of them. I do know that you need to study quite a lot to become a certified tour guide here, so I would ask about that when hiring. I’m seeing a lot of recommendations here – maybe that page can help. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

    • Hi Eileen, I will also be in Israel in September- September 1- September 14. One week based in Tel Aviv, one based in Jerusalem. Maybe we can share some expenses on day trips, etc. Please respond if you are interested.

  6. Anna, my husband and I just returned from Israel. We did a group tour that took care of everything, literally: Flight from New York; luxury buses through the ten days, 3 meals a day (more than I needed,), accommodations in hotels averaging $150 to $250 per night (from their website), and all fees for activities. The cost was $3,850 per person. Definitely want to go back and have more control of our time at places. Will definitely use your tips for our next trip. Question can local guides be hired for explanation of sites? Thank you.

    • Hi Yvonne,
      So glad you enjoyed your trip to Israel! Yes, there are plenty of local English-speaking guides that will be happy to show you around. This might be a good idea for single-day trips around places like the Galilee where the guide also takes you around in his or her car. For places like Akko, you really don’t need a guide. There’s good public transportation and you get your own audio guides for the visit. I would start by trying to come up with an itinerary of things that you want to see and then check each one to see where you might want to hire a guide.

    • Hi Yvonne,
      What was the name of the tour company that you used. We are thinking a tour co might be best for our first trip. Or do you think it’s pretty easy to maneuver without an organized tour?

  7. hi there, thanks for these information. I am planning to go next year for holy trip and I am deeply curious about what the total cost will look like. Can you help me with this?

    • Hi Omotola,
      The total cost would depend on how you set up the trip. You can get the ranges in this post, and see for yourself. A group tour might actually bring costs down a little bit. Enjoy your trip!

  8. Hi thank you so much for the good information. I am planning to go there next year and these tips will surely be helpful

  9. We are going to Israel for the first time ever in October this year. Found your articles very helpful. Given the fact that my husband and I are in our 60’s is there any place we should stay away from in Tel Aviv? We are both in good health, but are a bit worried about making any “mistakes” about where we should or should not be going. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Tel Aviv is generally very safe. During night time, you may want to avoid the area near the Old Central Station. I don’t think it’s dangerous per se, but not very pleasant. If you can, stay by the promenade, it’s always active, day or night and it’s fun and safe. Overall, it’s hard to make mistakes about where to stay in Tel Aviv. I would keep price and proximity to what you want to see and do the main priority. Enjoy your trip!

  10. Hi, this is of a great help. One question, is there a specific day and time that the shuk lower the produces prices? Thank you so much for your great help.

    • Hi Anna,

      That usually happens on Friday afternoon. It’s usually between 1-2 PM and 4-5PM which is the closing time for Friday. It could be a bit earlier during shorter autumn days. I hope this helps.

  11. Thank you so much for your very practical, down to earth, clearly delineated, fact based ideas. I will use each one of them…really

    • That’s great to hear! Thank you! And if you have any questions, just leave me another comment here and I’ll be happy to try and answer them!

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