Many people tell me they're love to visit Israel but they're not sure if it's safe to do so. After all, Israel comes up in the news with scary images of riots and rockets. Surely not a place one would want to spend time in, right?
The fact is Israel is a very safe country to travel to. Crime rates are low compared to other countries. The risk from hostile war-related activities to anyone traveling within Israel itself is very small. Overall, you're safer traveling in Israel than you are in most European countries or in the US.
I should know. I've lived here all my life and I have also traveled extensively in Europe and the US & Canada. In this post, I'll discuss the actual risks associated with traveling in Israel and how you can avoid them. Keep reading for a thorough risk assessment!
Now, I can see why you might be worried. The press does a terrible job explaining what is actually happening here. And they tend to mix Israel up with its neighbors.
In fact, let's begin with some myth busting!
- Israel is not Syria and is not affected by the war in Syria.
- Israel is not Gaza or the West Bank (though some settlers would have you believe otherwise).
- Our buses are very safe to travel in.
- You are at greater risk from terrorism in Europe or the US, then you are in Israel.
Note: I went over this post and updated it for 2019. There wasn't a lot that needed updating - thankfully! The only thing that needs to be mentioned here is that we've been having an ongoing outbreak of measles. More on that further down the post.
How dangerous is Israel compared to other Western countries?
Whenever we travel abroad - away from Israel - my mother becomes very worried. Especially when we go to the US. And she's actually right.
According to the UN's report, the murder rate in the US is almost five times higher than the murder rate in Israel. Israel has a murder rate of 1.3 people per 100,000 which is lower than that of Belgium or Finland and fairly close to that of France or Germany.
Of course, crime isn't the only thing that may bother you as a traveler. When it comes to general crime rates, Israel fares even better. Ranked at #37 in the world, its score is better than that of Canada, Norway, New Zealand and definitely much better than that of the United States. The same is true for the general safety index, by the way. Which presumably takes into account conflict-associated risks.
I can attest to the same.
Walking around in Paris, Rome or London is less safe than in Tel Aviv. No two ways about it. When we travel, we're constantly worried about pickpockets and petty crime. I can't recall the last time I heard of anyone getting mugged or encountering pickpockets here in Israel. You also won't see con artists in street corners.
Now, I'm not saying there are no thieves in Israel. I'm just saying they're not something you associate with just walking outside here. Not even at night. And the statistical data supports that.
The weather in Israel is safer too
We have traveled extensively in the USA. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, heat waves, blizzards, and floods. We've had to change our plans because of inclement weather more than once. And "inclement weather" in the US can be totally crazy. We're talking
- Heat waves of over 110F
- Cold fronts with sub-freezing temperatures
- Wildfires that will affect air quality for thousands of miles around them
- Hail that can tear holes in your car
- Hurricanes that cause the evacuations of entire cities
Really dangerous stuff. Granted, the locals know how to handle these things, mostly. As a traveler, they can put your life at risk, or at the very least, force you to drastically alter your travel plans.
But that's all in America.
We don't have those things in Israel, fortunately.
Yes, summers can be hot but it's super rare to get a heat wave that will bring temperatures above 100F. Plus, everywhere is airconditioned. Unless you're planning on hiking in the desert, you'll be ok. Winters are pleasantly mild. We do get the occasional winter storm but I'm sure our storms will make the average American laugh. Oh, and it may snow for 2-3 days every winter in high places. That's about it.
Of course, Europe has its share of bad weather too. Heat waves in countries which are not prepared for heat have taken a heavy toll on human lives in the past few years. So have extra cold fronts, locally known as "The Beast From the East".
So, weatherwise, you're far safer in Israel than in most countries in the world.
But isn't Israel in a constant state of war?
Israel is surrounded by Egypt, The Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. We have peace with Egypt and Jordan. We're at a state of war with Lebanon and Syria. As for the West Bank and Gaza, "it's complicated".
That's as far as official relationships are concerned.
But what does it actually mean for you as a traveler?
Almost all of the time - nothing.
Let me explain how our wars work here. We haven't had a major "existential" war since 1973. That's over 40 years ago. What we do have is a low-intensity conflict (that's actually a professional term) with the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas in Gaza.
Normally, that doesn't mean a whole lot. Once every few years, things heat up for one reason or another and there's a small war (or operation).
I won't go into the politics of this - not in a travel blog. I'm just focusing on what this means for you as a traveler. During these mini-wars, we usually get rockets fired at Israel. When the war is with Hezbulla, the rockets cover the northern part of the country. When it's with Gaza, they cover the southern part.
What happens then?
Israel has a superb infrastructure when it comes to home defense. Most homes have their own shelters - including within apartments. I'm actually typing this from my office which is also our shelter. These rooms have super strong walls, special anti-blast windows and doors.
There's an automated system in place which calculates where the rockets are headed specifically. Almost all of the rockets will get intercepted, but just in case, the system turns on the sirens in specific areas and also sends everyone in that area an automated text message, telling them to find shelter.
Overall, with so many layers of defense, it's rare for anyone to actually be physically hurt by rockets. Having said that, the whole thing can be upsetting and even traumatize some people.
Just remember, all of the above is rare. Only once every few years and then it lasts for a couple of weeks. Hurricanes are far worse than any of our wars in that respect.
Are some areas in Israel safer than others?
The area around Gaza is different from the rest of Israel. When things escalate, people who live there can experience a constant barrage of mortar shells and rockets. When hundreds or thousands of these are fired, some make it through the anti-rocket systems. Even then, it's rare for anyone to get physically hurt - though it could happen. But living under constant attack does take a heavy psychological toll.
I hope I haven't scared you off with the description of war there. The point is, as long you're not traveling in the area surrounding Gaza during an escalation period, there's really nothing to fear. And remember, the country is small, getting out of harm's way is as easy as driving for half an hour.
I would actually encourage you to travel all over the country, just be aware of the news and if you hear about potential escalation with Gaza or Lebanon, be on the alert. It's perfectly legitimate to change your plans when that's the case and go visit the Dead Sea or Jerusalem until things calm down.
In fact, just so we don't lose track of the fact that this is a fun trip for you to take, I'll link you to my guide about visiting the Dead Sea and the one about visiting the Old City of Jerusalem. Both include safety tips, though, in the case of the Dead Sea, they have nothing to do with the conflict in the Middle East.
What about the terror attacks?
Time to bust another myth.
I can see where the fear is coming from. Back in the late 1990's Israel experienced a series of very nasty terror attacks. The terrorists targeted crowded places and buses. Yes, it was scary back then.
That's over and done with.
Ever since they built the wall between Israel and the Palestinians, things have been really quiet. That's almost two decades now. No bombs, no suicide bombers, no firing in the streets. The worst that can happen - and that's rare too - is a crazed individual trying to carry out a terror attack using a knife.
What's more, public establishments such as shopping malls check people as they enter. You basically go through a metal detector, and a guard may or may not ask you to open your bag for inspection. It's super quick and easy and it adds a lot to our sense of security.
Frankly, I feel much safer in Israel than I do in Europe or in the US in that respect.
Think about how many terror attacks there were in Europe over the past few years. None in Israel. Think about all the mass shootings in the US. Nothing like that in Israel. It's just safer here.
Won't I be seeing soldiers with guns guarding the streets?
In most places, you won't.
If you happen to see soldiers carrying guns, that's just military personnel leaving or returning to their base. They're traveling. They're not on guard duty.
There are two exceptions to this rule -
- If you go past a military base, you'll see soldiers outside the base. They're guarding their base - not the street. The street simply isn't dangerous.
- You'll see armed border patrol soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem. More of them during the holidays. They're there for the unlikely event of rioting (more on that in a minute). In a way, they're there to deter potential rioters.
Honestly, I've seen more armed military personnel when visiting Paris and Rome. Israel has very little of that - and limited mostly to the Old City of Jerusalem.
When are the safest times to travel to Israel?
You can always visit Israel, any time of the year, and feel safe. For other considerations, check out my post about the best time to visit Israel.
That said, there are certain days where tensions may run higher than usual. That doesn't mean anything will actually happen, but security forces will be on the alert. During these days, it's best to stay away from religious places and possibly from Jerusalem's Old City as a whole. It's not actually dangerous but if you're sensitive to local vibes you may notice the tension.
Generally, try to avoid the holidays of the three main religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Things will not only be tenser but also just more crowded.
Fridays are always a bit of an issue in the Old City of Jerusalem because that's when the Muslims pray in the Dome of the Rock. You won't be allowed to visit there at all on a Friday - if that's on your itinerary. The Dome of the Rock is also more problematic during these three Jewish holidays: Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot.
Update: I've prepared an entire post about the holidays in Israel and how they affect you as a traveler.
I've mentioned Jerusalem several times here already, so it's worth addressing the question -
Is it safe to travel to Jerusalem?
Jerusalem is safe but it's also a complicated city. It will probably be the highlight of your trip so you definitely should not avoid it. Just worth keeping a few things in mind.
Jerusalem used to be divided until 1967. The Western part was under Israeli sovereignty and the eastern part under Jordanian rule. During the Six-Day-War Israel took over eastern Jerusalem and annexed it. According to Israel law - Jerusalem is unified. Not so according to international law which still regards the eastern part as occupied territory. The eastern part of Jerusalem now has a mix of Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers. Almost by definition, things there are more volatile. In fact, many Israelis avoid visiting east Jerusalem at all, with the possible exception of the Old City.
The Old City of Jerusalem is in the area which used to be under Jordanian rule. Technically, this is east Jerusalem through and through. However, because of its religious and cultural significance, you won't find many Israelis who have never visited the place. In fact, schools usually take the kids at some point to visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Now that you know all that, I can say again that visiting the Old City of Jerusalem is safe and should not be avoided. However, just know that tensions can rise during certain times, especially Fridays and religious holidays. Not dangerous but not necessarily pleasant either.
And since we mentioned Jerusalem... I have to mention the other capital of Israel.
Is Tel Aviv safe?
Yes, it is. Very much so. You can walk in central Tel Aviv, day or night and feel very safe. Jaffa is safe as well and very touristy.
The only area in Tel Aviv which locals tend to avoid after dark is that of the Old Central Bus Station. And even then, I've never heard of anything happening to anyone there. It's just one of those "bad neighborhoods" that people will avoid.
There's plenty to see and do in Tel Aviv but above all, the city has a wonderful relaxed and easygoing vibe. Well worth experiencing.
Is traveling to Bethlehem safe?
I get asked that very often so it's worth mentioning here too.
I actually have no idea how safe traveling to Bethlehem is. Bethlehem is not in Israel. It's in the West Bank, under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. As an Israeli citizen, it's actually illegal for me to visit Bethlehem.
Not so for tourists of other nationalities. As far as I know, it's legal for them to visit the West Bank, including Ramallah, Jericho, and Bethlehem. I know many who have and they all said they enjoyed their visit and felt safe.
The question, in the end, is would you feel safe traveling in the West Bank? I can't answer that as I've never done so myself. I can tell you that both the UK and the US travel advisories specifically say that no one should attempt to travel into Gaza but are more lenient about traveling in the West Bank. To quote the British on this -
You should take care when traveling anywhere in the West Bank.
Does the conflict in Syria affect travel to Israel?
No, it doesn't.
I've seen a couple of posts about the safety of travel to Israel which claimed otherwise. Very clearly, they were written by someone who's not in Israel.
Yes, there's a terrible war in Syria. Yes, it's right across the border. No, it hardly ever affects anyone in Israel. There were maybe one or two instances where the forces in Syria shot something into Israel by mistake. They didn't hit anything or anyone.
We have family living in the Golan Heights, across the border from Syria. We've visited them countless times over the past few years. There were times when we could clearly hear the fighting in Syria - it was that close - but that was all it was. Just sounds. In fact, my brother-in-law regularly rides his bike up the nearby hill from which he can look into Syria. He used to do that when there were ongoing battles on the other side, and watch the exchange of fire. It really is that safe on the Israeli side of the border.
This is the view of Syria from Mt. Bental, a small hill on the Israeli side. The place is a popular tourist attraction, even today - read my post about the Mt. Bental post and how you can visit it.
Don't let the war with Syria affect your decision on traveling to Israel. It shouldn't even stop you from visiting the Golan Heights. In fact, check out my guide about visiting the Golan Heights - one of our favorite family destinations in Israel.
Health Considerations when traveling to Israel
This is a newly updated section for this post, added in 2019. Up until now, I didn't see any need to write about public health aspects but that has changed in the past year with an ongoing outbreak of measles.
I'm actually what you might call a "medical science buff". Much like a history buff, I'm a keen amateur but not a qualified expert. Epidemiology and public health are actually my favorite topic so I've been following the situation closely.
The bottom line is there's an ongoing outbreak of the measles, thanks to local anti-vaxxer groups. Vaccination rates are still generally high across the country but there are certain groups where parents tend not to vaccinate, and that's where we're seeing most of the current outbreaks. So far, the main problem is with Ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) communities in Jerusalem and a few settlements in the West Bank.
However, measles is the most infectious disease there is, so, unfortunately, there have been cases elsewhere in the country as well.
What does that mean for you?
To get the best possible protection from measles, you need to have had two doses of the vaccine sometime throughout your life. If you only had one dose ever (more likely to happen if you're older than 35-40 years of age), check with your doctor about getting another shot at least three weeks before traveling. It's a good idea to do that anyway, as there are outbreaks of measles in Europe and the US as well.
While on the topic of public health, here are a few other things to address.
- It's safe to drink tap water in Israel (we all do that all the time).
- Hospitals are generally very good (though ER's can be very busy and if your case isn't classified as an emergency, waiting times can be long).
- Food in restaurants is as clean as it is elsewhere in the western world. The health department does hold inspections. Even in felafel stands.
As always, practice good hygiene, wash your hands often and you should be ok.
Travel is always somewhat unsafe
I always keep that in mind. We went on a long road trip to Alaska by car last summer. That was probably more dangerous than anything you could ever do in Israel, just for the risk of having an accident along a road with no cell reception.
We visited London, Rome, Berlin, and Paris and I can assure you, I felt less safe in any of these locations than I do here in Israel. Part of that is simply knowing more about where you live. Another part is actually fairly objective. In the past decade, these destinations have seen more terror attacks than Israel has. We still went there though and had a great time.
And remember, the news makes things look worse than they actually are.
Last summer, as we were traveling in Denali National Park in Alaska, my Mom called us to warn us about a hurricane. In Florida. Because the local news here mentioned the United States, and she knew we were traveling "there". It's easy to get confused when you're unfamiliar with another country.
In summary -
Enjoy your trip to Israel! And if you have any other questions, please do leave me a comment. Also, if you've traveled to Israel and can share your own experience with safety concerns here, that would be great. Hopefully, you've had a good experience and can help put others at east.
The links to “Contact Us” nor the link to “Study Trip Preparatory” are working – interested in more info about up-coming trips to Israel.
The Contact Us link works for me –
I’m not sure what the link to “Study Trip Preparatory” is. Maybe you’re confusing us with another site? We don’t offer trips to Israel (or to any other destination). Sorry!
Nice blog and happy new year! Now the US Embassy has just issued a new advisory that “rocket fire could take place without warning”.
What would be your opinion on this? For potential travelers it sounds very concerning to be honest, and with the current unpredictability of our brouhaha with Iran, we are entering “unchartered waters” of the likes the world has not experienced.
Here at home our president is dealing with a thriving economy but is saddled with impeachment and now potential war games with Iran. I don’t think ANYONE can predict with any degree of certainty what the outcome will be and therefore it would be prudent to approach all activities (such as travel to the Middle East) with an abundance of caution.
I think I mentioned that in the post that in some areas you could experience rocket fire. It’s not accurate to say that rocket fire could take place without warning” everywhere in the country. It’s not the case in Jerusalem, for example, or the Golan Heights.
I can see why this could be a cause for concern for a tourist. I really can’t blame you for worrying. However, in my view, this is a lot like mass shootings – or just regular shootings in the US. No one can predict when and where those will happen. I know some people here think that traveling to the US is very dangerous because of that. And technically, it really is more dangerous than staying in Israel, rockets and all. So, in a way, this is a philosophical question. How much do you allow fear to dictate your travel plans? For ourselves, we’re coming to the US in March and will do our best to enjoy our visit, even in shopping malls and large stores. And yes, I confess, I probably will be looking over my shoulder when traveling in crowded areas in Florida…
Oh, and the latest events in Iran don’t really bother us too much. I wish we could call it “unchartered waters” but living in the Middle East, these things happen from time to time. I believe Iran already retaliated by shooting at American targets somewhere in the Middle East? We didn’t think much worse was going to happen (and it didn’t).
Safe travels, in Israel or in the US!
I have not been to Israel. Will it be safe to bring my son with learning disability to travel to Israel?
I don’t see why not. It shouldn’t be any different than traveling with your son anywhere in the States. Enjoy your trip!
You have “inclement weather more than ones. ” should be: “inclement weather more than once. “
Hi! Thank you for your informative blog. It was interesting and made me feel more safe about my mom visiting Jerusalem this fall. My mother, who is 74 years old, will be traveling with a religious group of Greek women from Greece in October. They will be spending a week in Jerusalem…some other places as well, but I do not have the itinerary available at the moment. My mother only has a US passport, but is a dual citizen of both the US and Greece. Would it be recommended that she go through the effort of obtaining a Greek passport and traveling with a Greek passport or should she be ok traveling with her US passport? Since the whole group is Greek, I’m feeling a little apprehensive about her being targeted in any way. Any advice on this?
I can’t see where she might be targeted by anyone for being an American citizen? I can’t speak for places outside of Israel, but within Israel, the US is popular and there is a solid American embassy with great connections with the local government. I don’t think anyone would have any issues traveling with an American passport. I hope this helps and safe travels to your Mom!
Thanks great information ! good tips
I love your blog, Anne! I just returned from Israel on a 15 day tour and I feel like we hit all/most of the “high points”. I felt completely safe the entire time I was there. I did an afternoon trip with a small group to Bethlehem and I felt safe there as well. You do cross a checkpoint, but it was no big deal for us. Israel is incredible – I would encourage anyone to go and experience it without fear!
That’s awesome! Thanks for providing that feedback, Anna, especially on Bethlehem.
Can you please suggest which will be better, going in a group tour or travelling on our own? Also we want to tour as non-religious. We don’t know Hebrew too, will communicating be a problem? I am planing to travel to Israel in October along with my wife and infant kid. Please suggest.
Hmmm good question. I think there are pros and cons to going with a group. Tour groups have a bus that takes them from one spot to another. Saves you the need to worry about driving. On the other hand, it’s not flexible and IMO, most tour groups tend to focus on religious themes. Having said that, I do see tour groups in other types of attractions too. Also, religious and historic are intertwined in Israel, so you may want to visit the same sites for historic and cultural purposes.
I would start by checking to see what kind of tours you can find around the time of your visit. Check to see what they offer and how they’re priced and take it from there. If your budget allows for it, there’s no end to what you can do – including hiring a personal guide who will drive you around and tailor the trip to your needs.
It is perfectly ok to travel on your own too. You can rent a car and drive around. Using public transportation could work for visiting the big cities (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa) but not so well for sightseeing in the Galilee, for example. Language issues won’t be a problem. Almost everyone here speaks English, at least well enough to communicate with visitors 🙂
I hope this helps and good luck in finding the best solutions for your needs!
hi were planing to have tour group from jerusalem to petra jordan its safe?
I don’t know much about the state of things in Jordan but I haven’t heard of any issues with Petra. I’m sure the Jordanian government makes sure it’s very safe and tourist-friendly.
We are planning an extended travel to Israel in late July. Our son is interning in Jeruselum and we will visit with him and then travel to different locations. Our itenerary looks like: 3 nights staying with a friend in Renovot, near Tel Aviv, 3-4 nights in Jersuleum and then we’d like to go North to Haifa or Akko and base out of one of those cities to then see Golan Heights, if safe, The Sea of Galilee and any other important sites. Can you recommmend what are must see’s in cities above Tel Aviv. We plan on taking a tour to Masada while in Jeruselum and Tour the Underground and major sights too. If you were to base out of a city in the North would you stay in Haifa or Akko? Or should we base out of Jeruselum?? Thanks so much for any help you can offer……
Sounds like a great trip plan. I would actually opt for staying in the Galilee instead of either Haifa or Akko. Assuming you’re renting a car, I would look for AirBNB or even on booking for low-cost options in the Upper Galilee. That should put you within one hour from the Golan Heights but also from Nazareth and Akko.
There’s so much to see and do in the Galilee and Golan. A lot depends on your preferences. For Christian sites, you have to see Nazareth and the west shores of the Sea of Galilee. If you like nature, then the Hula Nature Reserve is a great option. You can read here about the Golan Heights which could easily fill up a day of sightseeing. I also talk about safety issues there (it’s really one of the safest areas in the country).
I think I would try to get 2-3 nights in the Upper Galilee and then return via the coast and see Akko and a bit of Haifa on the way back to the center of the country. Definitely get out of Jerusalem though – it’s a long drive from there to the north.
Just keep in mind it’s going to be super hot just about everywhere. If you want to hike, plan on a very early start to your mornings, take lots of cold water with you and use sunscreen. Enjoy your trip!
Thank you so much. Great suggestions and we were planning on not renting a car, so we could just take buses/tours from Haifa to all the areas you suggested. We are definitely getting out of Jerusalem, staying about 4 nights, then moving up north. Hmmm, I’ll look into staying in Galillie so we can do Golan Heights, thank you for the suggestion. So incredibly exciting to visit a part of this world we’ve never ventured to. We really appreciate your help!!
If you’re not going to rent a car, then you should base yourself where the organized tours go out of. I suspect that’s actually going to be Tel Aviv though you may find tours going out of Haifa too. I’m afraid visiting the Golan Heights with an organized tour could be a challenge. These tours aren’t in great demand as stand-alone tours, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, unless you rent a car, you should stay within one of the large cities and not in the Galilee. I hope this helps.
We are planning to be in Israel in June/July 2019, and I am very concerned with the Trump administration & Netanyahu posturing for war with Iran. Should we still come to Israel based on these threats? They want war, and I’m afraid they’re going to wag the dog to get one.
I lived in Tel Aviv during the second Intifada so I’m well versed in Israel’s typical threats, but war with Iran is different.
For what it’s worth, no one here is even remotely worried about war with Iran. Not even close. The way the conflict is structured right now, Iran operates via its local agents and not directly. I don’t know about Trump, but I haven’t heard Netanyahu talk about Iran locally in a very long while. I hope this helps.
Very encouraging education on our trip to Israel. Thank you sir.
So incredibly glad I found your article. My son and niece are graduating from high school next week and my dad is intent on sending them to Israel for a month. I was panicking until I read this. That being said they are not Jewish and I haven’t been able to find a single tour group that they could go with that isn’t based on religion. Do you have any suggestions?
If they go for a whole month, maybe they could travel on their own? Or were you looking for locally organized tours of specific locations? That would be challenging to find a non-religious tour in English unless you go to specific places and get their guided tour of the facility. I’m thinking mostly of museums etc. For example –
I hope this helps!
Just got back from traveling in Israel and the West Bank. Felt very safe despite the exchange of over 650 rockets between Israel and the Gaza Strip, none of which seemed to penetrate more than 10 miles into Israel. I strongly recommend that your son and niece travel with a tour group as tour companies typically have large infrastructures behind them guiding the tour guide and bus driver around traffic, where possible, and car accidents, etc. One can also imagine a tour company would steer a group out of a difficult situation should one occur and also help them find medical assistance should illness occur during their trip. If Christian, look for churches who have organized trips with Israeli tour companies such as “Voice of Faith.” Find out a little about the tour company they will hook up with to make sure they have infrastructure beyond the tour guide and bus driver.
Thank you so much for your very helpful post. I will be traveling to Tel Aviv for a week on business in early June. I’m staying an extra week to be a tourist. My biggest problem is deciding which places to visit. I will be a solo female. I don’t like big bus tours and prefer when I can walk or hike while seeing sites. Any suggestions or cautions for a solo female outside the usual for any of woman traveling alone? Note I travel internationally for work often. Does it make sense to simply stay in Tel Aviv and take day trips from there? Lastly, I’m a runner. Any recommendations or cautions? Sorry, I just feel clueless and have to make plans quickly.
Tel Aviv is a great city for women traveling on their own. Very liberal and safe. You should definitely run along the promenade in Tel Aviv – it’ll take you all the way to Jaffa and back. You can also run in Hayarkon Park – fantastic paths and great atmosphere.
For sightseeing, you could spend 2-3 nights in Jerusalem and take one of the days to travel to the Dead Sea. Haifa is another great urban destination that’s easily accessible via public transportation. From either Haifa or Tel Aviv, you can take the train to Akko and spend a day sightseeing there (see my Akko guide here). So, this is what I would do –
3 nights in Jerusalem (using one day for a tour of the Dead Sea)
2 nights in Haifa (using one day for a tour of Akko)
2 days in Tel Aviv
I hope this help. If you’re comfortable with renting a car, that would open up more options in the Upper Galilee and the north of the country. but that might require more planning. The itinerary I suggested above can be done with public transportation is shouldn’t be a problem for a solo traveler. Enjoy your visit!
The U.S State Dept has a travel advisory out on Israel. You should read it. Also many travel insurance companies will not cover your claims if there’s a travel advisory for the country you’re traveling too and that advisory was out before you took your trip.
There is always a travel advisory on Israel. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this affecting insurance but I guess it’s worth checking vis-a-vis your specific insurance policy.
Thank you so much for your article. My sister and I leave for Israel with a group and tour guide on May 15-May 26. Today, as I was attending church many of my friends came up to me and said “I had better rethink my trip to Israel and plan it for another time” because of what is happening over there. After reading your article on the safety of Israel, I am feeling better about our trip. Currently, has the fighting heightened and do you have any concerns for our trip and the time we are going? Are measles still prevalent there? My tour guide who has been running tours to Israel for several years did not mention to us about the measles epidemic. Thank you so much for this informative information and thank you in advance for your response to my email.
We did have a rough couple of days in the south of the country but a ceasefire is in place again. As I explained in the post, these things do happen occasionally. If you travel to the south of the country, you could end up experiencing them (not likely, but not impossible). Again, right now, it’s peaceful again.
As for the measles, as long as you’re vaccinated with two doses, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re vaccinated with just one, you’re still very likely protected but it’s a good idea to discuss getting a second dose with your doctor. It’s not just Israel that’s having an outbreak. Most European countries have it too, and even some US states. So, anyone flying through an international airport should be up on their shots.
Have a fantastic trip!
Hi, I’m planning to travel to Israel with my 1 year old in november this year. Any tips on traveling with toddler?
Israel is very child-friendly. Traveling with a one-year-old is challenging regardless of where you go. In our experience, the destination is less of an issue as the little ones enjoy the little things and don’t care much about sightseeing. This would be about finding the right tempo for you two. My suggestion would be to travel quite a bit near home to see what works best for you.
Oh, and wait for the measles shot at age 1 + three weeks for the vaccine to kick in before you come. I’m embarrassed to say we do have quite the outbreak of measles here this year.
Hi, great tips. We are planning a family trip in end June 2019 to Telaviv and Jerusalem from India. In view of heightened tensions is it ok to travel? Also which place is better and safer to stay: Telaviv or Jerusalem. We also are planning a day trip to Petra. Is that ok?
Thanks in advance for your advice!
Apologies for the late reply (I was actually out of the country myself). As I just replied to another blog visitor, statistically, you are safer in Israel – either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem – then in most other big cities. Right now, it’s also peaceful with no issues. Do keep in mind that this is the Middle East and things can escalate without warning. Should that happen, then Tel Aviv is usually more of a target for rockets/missiles than Jerusalem. It’s not dangerous per se thanks to the advanced missile interception systems that are deployed all over the place. Should it happen, there will be air raids sirens and your hotel will instruct you on where to take shelter. I realize just how crazy it sounds and yes, it can be scary. Not really dangerous, but still scary.
As for Petra, I’m not an expert on Jordan but as far as I know it’s as safe as it ever has been.
Hello. I am planning to travel to Tel aviv, a day trip to Jerusalem and the dead sea and day trip to Petra in Jordan on May 24th to the 28th… Is it safe to do so. Just been watching the news with everything going on I need to make sure, since I am traveling with my two daughters.
Sorry about the late reply – I had been traveling myself last week.
Things are relatively quiet right now. We feel very safe to travel around the country – no problem at all. Having said that, this is Israel so a short round of active confrontation is never entirely out of the question. You’d still be safe (safer than in many other countries) but it could be unpleasant to experience air raid sirens and the explosions of intercepted missiles. Statistically, the odds of you being in harm’s way are smaller compared to traveling in Paris, London or New York. I hope this helps.
How did your trip to Isreal go and did you have any issues when you were over there? Did you go to Jerusalem and all the holy places like Old City or Bethlaham? We are taking a trip next week for 10 days and I’m a little nervous and want to make sure everything is ok.
Your blog is very informative, thank you for that!
My sister and I are -normally- visiting Tel aviv next week (April 3-8). However, in view of the rocket attacks of last week and of 14 March we are very concerned and actually thinking to annul our trip. Can you advise us please?
Many thanks in advance!
Right now, things have quieted down. The general outlook is that they’ll stay quiet in the near future as looks like neither Hamas nor Israel wants to escalate. So, fingers crossed, this week and next week should be ok. What you could do is call the hotel to make sure they have a protected area (Mammad) where you can stay if there’s an air raid siren warning. That’s what I would do, knowing the risk and the odds. But you have to be mentally prepared for that to happen – there is no guarantee that it won’t. Just like you have to be prepared for tornado warnings when visiting the Midwest in springtime (that happened to us twice, actually!)
Whenever I see photos of tourist destinations or public streets, I rarely see children. Is it unsafe to bring children to Israel or Bethlehem, or unadvised?
I don’t know about Bethlehem (which isn’t really in Israel) but there’s definitely no problem with bringing children to Israel, including to Jerusalem. Everyone does that all the time.
Thank you Anne. It’s been a life dream to go! I sure hope we can.
Great post. Thank you! Planning to travel 5/14 a 5/25. What about the impact of elections on travel?
Sorry about the late reply. A bit of a hectic week here (we’re actually traveling to Italy tomorrow for a week!). Good question about the elections. You should know that there’s free public transportation (trains and buses) available beginning the day before the election at 8PM and lasting all day long during election day. This is also a work-holiday in Israel which means some places will be a bit busier. Having said that, I don’t think it’s going to be too bad – should be a nice exciting atmosphere all in all. I would personally avoid the Old City of Jerusalem on the day though, just in case some hotheaded radical decided this was a good time for demonstration or riots. Enjoy your time in Israel!
My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Israel and Jerusalem in July. Is that a good time to visit? How is the weather that time of year?
Thank you for your blog here, very informative
July and August are the hottest months here. Jerusalem is not very humid, so the heat is more bearable there. The average daytime temperature in Jerusalem will be in the 80’s. In Tel Aviv it is going to be in the 80’s as well but also humid. Some people love the heat, even in Tel Aviv, as they hit the beaches, so it’s also a matter of preference. There could also be heat waves, with temperatures getting into the 90’s and 100’s but fortunately they’re the exception and not the norm.
Thank you for your response. We do like the heat, so it should be fine. We may hit the beach too, great idea!
I may end of getting updated on some of my shots tho, haven’t had since I was a child, that was over 40 yrs ago…eek!
this has been so informative – thanks for taking the time to write it 🙂
I’m glad you found this post helpful, Caz, thanks for letting me know.
I just returned from a 2 week trip to Israel to initially scope it out as I am considering making aliyah in my later years. I felt SO SAFE in Israel. Even with the rare rockets sent to Tel Aviv. I felt safe. I have no problem with the soldiers hanging about. They are there to protect us. Plus the young men (and women) are so handsome! Spending 2 years in the military creates strong young adults with experience in high tech which ultimately results in new innovations for start-ups. The young people I spoke with are so much more mature than same age in America. Israel is the most amazing place I have ever been and I’ve done my share of traveling. By the way, crime rate of Israel? Less than 2%. Crime rate of New Jersey? 34%. Pontificate on that.
Hi Anne, I’m so glad you enjoyed the trip and felt safe. Those rockets we had last week surprised everyone but yes, ended up being entirely harmless (as happens in most cases). Thanks for bringing up the comparison to New Jersey. I have to say that personally, we felt safe traveling in the US as well. I guess maybe that’s a question of where you’re going exactly.
Just caught your blog. Thanks! Headed to Tel Aviv from the US today
I hope you enjoy your visit and be safe!
I am planning a trip in December to Israel. Are there any specific inoculations required to enter the country other than measles?
Just the usual. Regardless of even traveling, it’s good to be up on your shots for tetanus and whooping cough (needed at least once every 10 years). We do have whooping cough too and it’s very infectious (though fortunately not common). A flu shot early in the season is always a good idea (again, regardless of travel). I just got my hep A and hep B shots too, just in case (for future travels to other countries, you only need to get them once in your lifetime so I wanted to put that behind me). But that’s about it, no special “exotic” diseases here. Enjoy your trip!
You’ve probably realized that Israel lies in the Middle East and is surrounded by less than welcoming neighbors. And yes, you’ve probably also heard about the ongoing tensions and occasional terror attacks, thanks to a blood-thirsty media looking for a story…but seriously, this country is safe!
Thanks for stopping by and adding a comment, Gilad. I totally agree!
We are thinking of changing our timeshare for a week on the Sea of Galilee. Can we get around Israel as an independent tourist like we did in France and Italy? Most the fun for me is planning. Would we rent a car or public transportation. I liked your reference to Alaska. We’re driving the Alaskan Highway this coming summer…
I think the Sea of Galilee definitely calls for a rented car. I posted here about renting a car in Israel, including the pros and cons. I think if you read that, you’ll see why it’s a good fit for your kind of trip. I think Tiberias (or anywhere else around the Sea of Galilee) is a terrific destination that will allow you to explore the lower and upper Galilee as well as the Golan Heights. It would require a car though.
Driving here is a bit like driving in central Italy. Wilder than northern Italy but more relaxed than Naples 😉 Overall, very doable, IMHO. English is an official language in Israel, so signs are always in English as well as Hebrew and Arabic. And pretty much everyone speaks English to some extent.
And enjoy the Alcan and Alaska! I hope you read our Driving to Alaska guide? It’s an awesome road trip!
Hi guys, I’m planning on visiting Israel with my boyfriend. Is it safe for a (unmarried) couple, man/woman, to travel in Israel? Or is it safer/ better to travel in a group? Also we’re a mixed race couple. I’m brown, he’s white. Would that be a problem in any way?
Hi Laura, no problem at all. Single women, couples, gay couples – anything goes. Israel is very liberal in that respect. Also, no problem for mixed race couples either. You will also see Jewish people of all colors 🙂 From very fair Ashkenazi Jews to black Ethiopian Jews. Enjoy your trip!
Hi, Good article about Israel! I am travelling with my family next week. Is it safe to travel now?Please guide me!
Hi Pri, Yes, as safe as always here this time of year. Always good to keep track of the news but nothing to worry about. Remember that even if you happen to be here during an escalation, it rarely affects the civilian population. Enjoy your trip!
Can I use US$ instead of Shekels? I am on a tour in October and was advised that I do not need to buy Israel currency.
I’m not sure who advised you that but they’re wrong. Unless you happen to be with a group and will not need any money at all on a daily basis, I can’t see how you won’t need shekels. Local shops work only with shekels. I’m not sure it’s even legal for them to accept payment in dollars – though it may be – but they certainly won’t be able to give you change in dollars. Maybe street vendors in super touristic areas like the Old City in Jerusalem can work with dollars. Most Israeli stores won’t.
Getting Israeli money is super easy though. Just walk to the first ATM you see – even in the airport – and get a few hundreds shekels so that you have some spending money on you. Your international credit card should be ok in most places as well but if you just want to get a bottle of water or something, cash will be easier.