Fascinating and contrasting feelings and sights await those who are planning a trip to Jerusalem. Whether it is the via Dolorosa, the Western Wall, or the Dome of the Rock, there is an indescribable feeling being inside one of the holiest places in the world.
A melting pot of cultures can be seen as Jews, Christians and Muslims live in close proximity to each other and interact on a daily basis. Be prepared for modern nightlife in Tel Aviv, diverse landscapes and beautiful beaches as Israel borders the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Dead Sea.
Planning a trip to Jerusalem: Check to see if you need a Visa
Israel has visa exemptions for many countries. You can see the list of countries to which Israel has visa exemptions here.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States, among many other western nations who are exempt. Again, ensure you consult official government sources while you plan your trip to Israel.
Something very unique to the State of Israel is The Law of Return, 5710 – 1950. It determines the right of every Jew to immigrate to the State of Israel. Jews returning to Israel are considered people who were away – or whose ancestors were away – from what is today called the State of Israel and are now returning to their ancestral lands. With regard to the law, “A Jew is a person born to a Jewish mother, or who is a convert to Judaism, and is not a member of another religion.”
While I do not talk much about the conflicts over this ancient land, I find this very interesting.
Will You Get An Israeli Passport Stamp in Your Passport?This question swirls all over the internet and I can assure you, it is a non-issue. No, you will not get a passport stamp. A blue card is placed inside your passport and you are given a pink card upon exit.
Why does it matter? Well if you do not plan to travel around the Middle East, it does not really matter. However, some countries will not allow entry to travellers who have visited the state of Israel. Thanks to the blue visa paper instead of the stamp, it is really a non-issue. You can see more photos of the passport process if you are interested in my post about entering Isreal from Jordan.
Consider a Visit to nearby Jordan
Petra is a bucket list worthy destination and for good reason! It is right at the top of Lonely Planet’s 2020 list of the top places to visit in the world. If you have time, I highly suggest a visit to not just Petra but to try and spend about 5 days in Jordan.
More information on visiting Jordan can be found here:
Should you visit Jordan or Israel or both?
Mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Jordan
Book Your Tickets
Depending on where you are coming from, you are going to want to sort out your airline tickets in advance. Israel has one main international airport, Ben Gurion International Airport (Airport Code TLV). It is located about 45 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem (mostly highway driving and takes about 40 minutes with light traffic).
How will you get to Jerusalem?
If you are planning a visit to Jordan before you come to Israel, check into everything you need to know about crossing the border. While the distance between Amman, Jordan’s capital city and Jerusalem is not far (less than 100km as the crow flies) it is a process that takes half a day. Read how to get from Amman to Jerusalem before you go any farther.If you are flying into TLV or coming from Tel Aviv or another city, you will need to sort out your transportation.
Purchase Travel Insurance
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to planning a trip to Israel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday.I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.
Plan how many days you want to spend in Jerusalem and where else in Israel you plan to visit. As mentioned above, I suggest a few days in Jordan as well. Petra is well worth a visit, and again while it is not far, as the crow flies, it takes half a day to get there from Jerusalem due to highway restrictions.Jerusalem 3 day tour to Petra: This guided 3-day tour will take you to Jordan’s most extraordinary sights! From the ancient Roman city of Jerash, through the modern, contrast-rich capital Amman, to the world wonder Petra, and the nearby vast desert of Wadi Rum.
Plan Your Activities
What are the most important things you want to do while in Jerusalem? Research those first and put them at the top of your list. Maybe it is a tour of the old city or perhaps a full day trip to enjoy all of the highlights.
Do you want to day trip out of the city? Does souvenir shopping need to be on our list? Are there foods in Israel that you are dying to try? I have listed some popular tours below to give you an idea of how much there is to do in Jerusalem. You are going to want to have a few days here to really get a sense of the city, and visit the neighboring highlights!
From Jerusalem to Masada & Dead Sea: See the ruins of King Herod’s palace at Masada and The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. The tour also includes a roadside view of the Good Samaritan and the Caves of Qumran.
From Jerusalem to the West Bank Day Trip: Explore the best of the West Bank on this comprehensive full-day tour leaving from Jerusalem. The tour visits Bethlehem, Jericho, Qasr el Yahud on the River Jordan, and Ramallah, giving you the full picture of this historic and fascinating region.Day Tour of Jerusalem: Head out on a full-day tour of Jerusalem and see the main sights. Drive to the Mount of Olives, see the Old City and New City, walk through the Christian and Jewish quarters, and visit the Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Yad Vashem.
Meet the Ultra Orthadox Jews: This tour is designed to give you a glimpse into the rich cultural and religious identity of the ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem. During the tour, visit a traditional neighborhood, which isn’t typically visited by tourists.
Jerusalem Pub Crawl: Discover the coolest pubs and clubs of Jerusalem on a 3-hour evening drinking tour, and see where the locals like to party. Experience an alternative side to the Holy City from the historic monuments, with free shots and VIP entrance all evening.
What to Buy in Israel?I have an entire post dedicated to what to buy in Israel. You will find popular souvenir ideas as well as some unique ones you may not know to look out for! If you are planning some time to visit Bethlehem or other areas of the West Bank, check out what to buy in the West Bank.
Book Your Accommodations
Israel’s high season is basically March to October as spring and fall offer decent weather and the summer months see tourists on summer break. You can read more about the best time to visit Israel.
I suggest you start with this site to get an idea of what is available when you plan to visit. I love the easy cancellation options. If you are into the self-catering facilities that AirBNB offers, then check out these
Learn a few Hebrew WordsA few words in the local language goes a long way. While most people you will meet in Israel will speak English, familiarize yourself with these words and phrases before your visit
Shalom means Hello, goodbye, and peace. This is probably the most universally known word in Hebrew.
Sabbath means “day of rest” which is where we get the word sabbatical from meaning, a year of rest. These all stem from Hebrew name for Saturday, shabbat.Shabbat
Shabbat runs from sundown Friday until the end of Saturday. It is a day of rest, as mentioned aboveBevakasha
Bevakasha means please
Mayim means water, and on a hot day in Israel, you are going to want some. You can say, “some water please” like this, mayim, bevakasha!
Pack Your Bags and Prepare for your TripWhile a detailed packing guide is coming, one thing you do not want to overlook a travel adapter plug for Israel.
You now have everything you need to know for planning your trip. What you need now is to pack!
Books to Read on Israel
Click on the books below to read more about each one