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getting around in Israel

I need some help on how easy it is to get around in Israel for an English-speaking guy with no local guide.
16 years ago, January 28th 2007 No: 1 Msg: #10305  
N Posts: 2

I want to visit Israel with a friend for a few days in early April - for Easter and some religious tourism, in order to visit places of Christian importance.
Could someone please recommend me a cheap convenient place to stay in Jerusalem and also tell me how easy is to get around in Israel without a local guide using English. I know no one there but I hope that it should be to easy to get to destination without understanding the language or the writing. I managed to do that in Greece, where also I didn't understand anything from the language or writing, and people on the street although friendly, were usually little able to express themselves in English.

Some specific points I would need help on:
- transportation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
- public transportation
- what currency should I carry? can I pay with other currency than NIS? should I have mostly cash or only a credit card? How much should I expect to spend per day for sightseeing?
- general security of the country for a Christian

Many thanks!! Reply to this

16 years ago, February 6th 2007 No: 2 Msg: #10511  
Hi, Me and my partner went to Israel just over a year ago and we are also English speaking. I don't know if I can be much help but will pass on a couple of things.

We stayed in the old city in Jerusalem. I highly recommend this. We both felt the safest when we were within the walls of the old city and you really know that you are in Jerusalem when you are woken up by the angelic voices of the armenian worshippers very early in the morning. Staying in old city Jerusalem is a more expensive otpion and as wer travelled on a budget we had to stay in a hostel called "The Petra" in the old city. It was very basic and not super clean in my opinion but we had our own room with ensuite (of sorts...). There is also dormitory accomodation there. (watch our for head lice though- they were the pits!) I think it is amoung the cheapest to b e found in the old city and another one which is similar in position and price but slightly better in presentation is called the "Jaffa Gate Hostel". My partner stayed there last time and loved it. Both of these are to be found in the "Muslum Quater" from memory - but everything is so close to everything else. If you can afford to spend more, a mid-range option is the 'Christ Church Guest House"(Armenian Quater I think) which has recieved good reviews and i wouldn't mind to stay here next time although it is substantially more expensive. They are all in basically the same area, with the old city of Jerusalem at your feet. Check the net for prices as I can't remember exactly but do remember that Jerusalem is expensive to stay in and you tend to pay more for less but it is worth it just to be there.

We had little problem Being English speakers. Most people seem to have some level of English - if only very basic. We spent our time experiencing the old city of Jerusalem and also wider Jerusalem for it's religious sites. For this we obviously needed no tour guide as it is all so close and with map in hand and free advice from the travel office in the old city - travelling the immediate area was quite simple. We did travel to Masada and the dead sea Coast.(go there for sure) We took public transport for this. I suppose if you have your travel Israel book - you shouldn't have too many probs and you can always ask at the travel/ information office in the old city if you want to be sure about where you are going and how to get there - they speak good english and are easy to find. I think jerusalem is a great base for this reason.

Travel from Tel-aviv to jerusalem by public transport or by taxi. I know that many hostels you are staying at provide information about a shared mini-van that collects and drops off at the air-port at designated times each day. You can enquire with the place that you book with - try to get their direct email so you can ask them. You could also find info at the air port about which bus to catch to get you to Jerusalem. You will likely find other travellers on the same flight who you could also ask where they are headed and split the cost of a cab. There is alot of public transport options for getting around Israel, we found out alot by speaking to other travellers on our journey about safe routes etc.

We always felt safe in the old city no matter which quarter we were in and felt that our religious persuasion caused no huge problems. I suppose we spent most of our time in Israel territories and not palestinian. It just turned out this way for this trip. A few Hebrew phrases is nice I think - mostly Shalom - which covers hellow, goodbye and peace but if you are in the muslum quarter then leave this one out definately.

They seem to take NIS everywhere we went so grab some at the bank outlet at the air port straight away.

Sorry I don't have much info on guides because we never really needed one but I am sure just like anywhere else, you will be able to pay for and find one.

I can't remember how much entrances cost but I do remember that Jersusalem was more expensive than other places we had been but still within reason. Eating in Greater Jerusalem is probably slightly cheaper but for a few extra bucks a meal you can have an awesome slice of pizza or falafel in the peace and quiet of the old city and a toasted bagel for breakfast (which is their biggest meal in the old city it seems) which can tide you over for most of the day. It costs nothing just to be in the old city and walk around and take in most of the sites around you though. The Holy Sephulcre is free, the Western wall, the dome of the rock, the garden of Getsemane and Getsemane church of all nations. You pay a fee for the Garden tomb from memory.

I loved Israel and want to return. Next time I want to visit Bethlehem and Galilee.

I don't know if I have been any help to you.

Reply to this

16 years ago, March 7th 2007 No: 3 Msg: #11645  

I live in Israel for 1 and a half year now and I wanted to share this with you:

Getting around Israel should not be a problem if you don't know the language. Some people live here without speaking it.
The public transport is quite good here, there are trains from and to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a number of busses and sheruts (minibusses).
If the person you speak to doesn't speak English there is always someone around who does.

The road signs are always in three languages, Hebrew, English and Arabic.

Safety as a (Christian) tourist, I guess it's like any other tourist or if you live here. The last year there has been one suicide bomber in Israel, so it has been relatively quiet, apart from the war with Lebanon of course. Just check the news and the travel advice for Israel before you leave, cause things change quickly here.

The best currency to carry is Shekels. But using your credit card is no problem, it might be a problem with smaller businesses, but that't the same in other countries as well. People use credit cards for everything here, they pay for chewing gum that costs 1 dollar with their cards e.g.. You will find plenty of ATM's to get the currency as well.

Safety in certain areas:
When I am in Jerusalem I avoid the Arab quarter, because I don't feel safe there. Extreme Moslims and extreme Jews are clashing there, there are incidents on a regular basis.
I wouldn't go to the Palestinian territories, I have friends that do, but you never know what kind of fighting is going on there, there are also kidnapping happening. If you want to go there you will have to pass heavy security checkpoints, so you can't just end up there.
I personally (and a lot of Israelis with me) also don't like to go to Arab populated villages in Israel, because I don't feel safe there either. You can recognise them by the minarets and green lights on the minaret at night.
I don't want to scare you but just know which areas you are going and that there are risks involved.

If you want more info, check out my website dedicated to getting around israel with lots of info:



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16 years ago, April 17th 2007 No: 4 Msg: #13015  
Check out http://www.drive-israel.com for useful route maps pointing out holy sites, ethnic crafts, boutique wineries (free tastings), day spas - good stuff that is not so well known. The site provides all contact info and directions to get there. Reply to this

16 years ago, April 18th 2007 No: 5 Msg: #13039  
N Posts: 2
Thanks for the helpful replies, indeed we had problems in Arab areas, but we managed to fulfill the trip, from a spiritual point of view. Thanks again. Reply to this

16 years ago, April 19th 2007 No: 6 Msg: #13076  
We want to visit Israel (again) at the end of the year and hope to go to Bethlehem on Christmas day. We also would like to visit Jericho. Could you tell me if you went to either of these places and what experience and difficulties (if any) that you had. Did you go to Galilee? If so, where did you stay and what did you see that was worthwhile. Would love to hear a bit about your trip. We really only have experience of Jerusalem.

Thanks. Reply to this

16 years ago, April 19th 2007 No: 7 Msg: #13086  
N Posts: 1
im living in the galilee, but know very well every aria in israel. i would be glad yo help you whith any subject or question.
going to Bethlehem is not a real problem. you need to take a bus from jerusalem to the checkpoint and then take a taxi to the city.
if its a budget trip you can stay in nazareth, zefat or in youth hotel in other places. there is a lot of thing to see. tell me what interesting you (nature, culture, religion citis, hiking...)
and i would try to help...
enjoy israel Reply to this

16 years ago, April 23rd 2007 No: 8 Msg: #13234  
N Posts: 9

Israel is pretty easy to get around in while speaking English. Most people can speak atleast some basic English and many speak English well. Carry NIS, its accepted everywhere. A credit card is also very useful.

here are some links that I hope can help you:

For transportation questions: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Israel

security related: travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_922.html

Here is a link for an interesting Christian tour while in Israel, maybe it will give you some ideas: holylandssuntours.com

Reply to this

16 years ago, July 31st 2007 No: 9 Msg: #17129  
N Posts: 3

You shouldn't have any problem getting around Israel with just English, though it sounds like you will only be in and around Jerusalem and not other places like the Gallilee. Like others have said, most people there know at least a little English and you should have no problem communicating the basics though. That being said, it would be nice to know a few words in Arabic and Hebrew, just make sure you use them in the right way and to the right people!

The NIS will work anywhere and should be all you need to carry. I have, however, been able to use USD in the Arab quarter of the old city. You will not have a problem using your credit card at most places around Jersusalem, though you will some NIS with you for the old city. As far as toursim goes, I think all of the major sites are free (the Holy Sepluchre, Garden of Gethsemane and the Churhc of Many Nations, the Via Delorosa), while some of the lesser known might cost money (like Ciaphis's house). Likewise, the sites in Bethlehem and Nazareth are also free.

Overall, the region has been fairly stable and calm as of late. Security has tightened immensely in Israel, especially at the borders and around Jerusalem. As long as you use common sense, you won't have any safety issues.

Be fun and enjoy!

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16 years ago, August 21st 2007 No: 10 Msg: #18281  
N Posts: 2
Hi all
I just posted some info about the City of haifa (one of the 3 big cities in Israel)
read it here: The city of Haifa - a great destination for a unique vacation

If you want to read about Tel Aviv - the biggest city in Israel: here is the Tel Aviv Jaffa Hotels Association website with a lot of info ( read this: Tel Aviv - Jaffa On The Mediterranean )

Almost every person in Israel can talk English, most, very well. Reply to this

13 years ago, February 23rd 2010 No: 11 Msg: #104615  
Hey, Hawaii is an exotic locale. You definitely need good tour provider, such as PerilloTours.com to experience the wonders of Hawaii to the fullest. They cover everything right from sightseeing to accomodation.
Reply to this

12 years ago, April 13th 2011 No: 12 Msg: #133740  
We're going to be in Nazareth with a Saturday night and a whole Sunday to ourselves (away from our companions). We're thinking about going to the Dead Sea and spending the night there. Is that a good idea? How easy is it to use public transportation?
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