My boss put the thought of an Israel visit into my head yesterday (he rated it over Morrocco) but if l were to spend 10 days in the country what would the main sites to see be? Prob flying from UK into Tel Aviv.
Also what would the weather be like end of Sept for travelling, and finally transportation should we hire a car?
Do you need a visa to visit Israel (on UK passport)?
I have heard that if certain other countries see an Israeli passport stamp in your passport it can make it difficult for you to enter that country - is this an urban myth or which countries can make your life more difficult?
At the minute lm trying to weigh up what to do!
Heather - it's great that you want to visit Israel!
First to the visa question - visitors from the UK receive a tourist (B2) visa upon arrival... so don't worry about that. However, if you have visas in your passport from visits to countries that are hostile to Israel (either don't recognize Israel's existence or don't have diplomatic relations with Israel), you may be questioned extensively on arrival here. Just smile and be patient and understand that for us, it's necessary to be sure of our security.
And yes, there are countries (Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.) which won't let you in (or give you a very hard time) is you have an Israeli visa stamped in your passport. So, when you arrive and BEFORE you hand your passport to the passport control/customs official, ask that the entrance visa be stamped on a separate piece of paper. Just be sure to keep that piece of paper in your passport and available while you are in Israel and then return it at passport control as you depart.
The weather in September can go from extremely HOT (& humid along the coast and dry in Jerusalem and the desert areas) to cool evenings (depending on where you are - such as in Jerusalem or the Negev Desert). But generally, it's still summer in September.
THIS COMING SEPTEMBER (2007) includes our High Holy Days so look again at your calendar as many hotels, B&Bs and other accommodations might already be quite booked up or prices will be at their highest level. We begin this special holiday season with Rosh Hashannah on the evening of September 12 and concluding at the beginning of Shabbat on September 14. Yom Kippur falls ON Shabbat this year (evening of September 21s until sundown on September 22nd) but please note that on Yom Kippur there is NO public transportation nor even taxis available. Also, there is no TV or radio or open tourist sites or entertainment of any kind available, etc. etc. etc. - in other words, the only venues open on Yom Kippur are synagogues! Hospitals and other emergency sites are open as needed. Of course, the non-Jewish areas ARE open.
Following Yom Kippur, we celebrate for a week during our festive holiday of Succot, which begins on the evening of September 26th. The first and last days are treated like Shabbat (no public transportation available, no shops open, etc. but some tourist sites will be open) while during the intermediate days (call Hol Ha'Moed), there will be all sorts of special activities and tours available that tourists are invited and encouraged to join.
Transportation in Israel is quite good and not expensive - intercity buses go everywhere, sheruts (shared taxis) travel between the major cities at about the same price as the bus, and of course, there are taxis and intra-city buses.
Renting a car is a great way to see areas that are not accessible by bus or cost more to see by taxi. And the best way to rent a car is to do it online ahead of your arrival. If you want to keep it for your whole visit, pick it up and return it at Ben Gurion airport. The only caveat is that in Jerusalem, especially, as well as in some other Israeli cities, it's not advisable to drive as the roads are very crowded, many are one-way (always, it seems, going the wrong way!) and there is a lot of construction on the roads in Jerusalem as we are building a light-rail system. Plus, in Jerusalem (and elsewhere) parking is always at a premium... better to take cabs - but two notes on taxis: if there is a lot of traffic, negotiate a price ahead of getting into the car (ask around for the usual price between destinations) and if the traffic is light, insist on using the meter!
Now for the main questions: what to see and do in Israel! Ahhhhhh - the list, really, is endless - but the question back to you has to do with YOUR interests - do you want to see/experience religious sites, historical/biblical sites, commemorative sites, vacation fun - like rafting on the Jordan River, climbing, hiking, swimming or floating (as ON the Dead Sea), nature reserves, parks of all kinds - or maybe concerts, lectures, festivals and art exhibits, etc. etc. etc. - Israel has all this and more to offer!
Just a note about site openings - while many Jewish sites might be closed on Shabbat, many, such as national parks & nature reserves and some museums, are open on Shabbat and during major holidays. The exception is Yom Kippur when ALL national parks, nature reserves and tourists sites are closed.
So, Heather, I suggest you let us know just what YOU had in mind, and we can help fill in the gaps.
One last note - if you will go to the "Travel Helpers" page and click on "Israel", you'll find a long list of people (myself included) who are ready and eager to help you plan a wonderful and memorable visit to what I think is the most beautiful country in the world!
Suzanne thank you so much for your input - Israel is looking more & more appealing - l have a few colleagues my boss and one of my staff who have been to your country and they speak so highly of it! Others have looked at me as if mad - questioning about safety - but hey lve lived in Northern Ireland all my life - lm used to seeing soliders walking down the street with guns or road blocks where cars get searched - l understand how it is!!!!!!! Trish my colleague spoke really highly of all the Israelis she met during her visit saying that everyone was so helpful and always willing to share and answer questions tourists have about the country and all the history!
We were looking to visit most likely toward the end of Sept so we should miss out on the holy days during Sept!
So now l just need to research some more and pull together an itinerary of where we want to go - 10 days doesnt seem like much when the country has SO much to offer!
Rest assured l will be torturing the Israeli travel helpers with lots and lots of questions!
Heather - not to discourage you from visiting in September, but one more, important note about our holiday of Succot. First, it's for a week... and it's one of the three "pilgrimage" feasts mentioned in the Bible, so many, many, MANY Jewish families from all over the world will be visiting relatives all over Israel for that week.
As well, since 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has presented what has become the largest single tourism event every year here. Called "The International Christian Celebration during the Feast of Tabernacles, the ICEJ has consistently brought about 4,000 Christians from all over the world to be in Jerusalem during that week-long period! One year, the total was 6,000+.
Thus, hotel rooms are always at a premium. If you have any idea of your dates, try to get bookings NOW! You can always figure out exactly what you want to do, where, as you get closer to departure! If you'll give some idea of your accommodation budget, I'll try to make some suggestions with weblinks to help you make contact.
Ah, and flights might also be difficult, so call your travel agent, El Al and other airlines that fly from there to here (airport code TLV) as soon as possible to see what's available.
Hope it works out...
[ Edit: Edited on May 13, 2007, at 11:46 AM by suztours ]