Visiting Israel: What to Know

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I’ve just returned from an amazing whirlwind trip to Israel. During my week-long visit I was able to see most of the small country, and I’m so obsessed with Israel I’m already planning my return visit (we’ll definitely be doing an Israel guidebook for women in the next two years).

Here are the hot-burning questions everyone wants to know about Israel, and some very good reasons on why you should visit.

Is it Safe?

YES! I can’t tell you how many people told me to “be safe” before traveling. It seems like every photo I put up on Facebook consisted of “Looks fun, stay safe.” It makes sense—this is, afterall, the Middle East. But Israel, overall, is a pretty safe country. I never once felt threatened, nor by the people, or by the environment.

You will see soldiers here and there, but they’ll likely be eating at a restaurant or sitting with other soldiers drinking a beer. They have guns, but they’re not in your face. Aside from the West Bank or Gaza, there are hardly any checkpoints in which soldiers stand guard. I never once felt unsafe while here. Maybe that’s why the Israelis constantly describe Israel as “the safest country in the world.”

here is the change

The Money: I hate to break it to you, but Israel is not cheap. The conversion rate is about 3.75 shekels to $1 USD. Sounds good in theory, but everything ends out being the same, if not more, than what you’d pay in the states. For example:

  • Falafel and Coke: 28 shekels/ $7-$8. For street food!
  • Goldstar Beer (local beer): 20-30 shekels/ $7-8
  • Restaurant food: 40 shekels +
  • Pack of Tums: 20 shekels

Rent in Tel Aviv? Can range anywhere from $600-$1500 per month. It’s not particularly expensive, but it’s by no means cheap. So, if you’re planning on living on the cheap here, be sure to figure out where the local markets are, use them, and save your pennies!

The Role of Women: Israel is a very diverse country and the role of women seems to range wherever you go. As a whole, I’d say it’s still a pretty chauvinistic country for women in relationships—you’re pretty much expected to do whatever your man needs and take care of the family—but in modern places like Tel Aviv, women can (and do) do whatever they want. It’s also a safe place for women. I saw many women walking alone at night, and personally felt secure wherever I went. I also liked the fact that something like 1/3 of the country’s entrepreneurs are women.

The Dress Code: Conservative-ish. Tel Aviv is a place where anything goes and you won’t get any weird looks in dresses or tank tops(think of it as the Miami of the Middle East) but in cities like Haifa and Jerusalem, you will stick out if you’re not semi-covered up. These countries are also home to large Orthodox populations, and while you don’t have to cover up head to toe like they do, you should show respect by covering your shoulders and chest.

If you visit any of the religious sites in Jerusalem, be sure to cover up, or bring a scarf or sweater to throw on as you enter.

 

*Something you might not know: Although it’s the holiest place on earth, Jerusalem also has a banging nightlife in and around Zion Square. Smoke hookah, drink beer, party with the 18 year olds on a birthright tour—you’ll see “the other Jerusalem.” It’s a lot of fun!

Stay tuned! We’ll be posting about Israel through the week!

Have you ever been to Israel? What do you think some of the highlights are?

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About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, Go! Girl Adventures and creator of the Women's Travel Festival. She loves traveling and aims to inspire and empower women of all ages to get out there!

14 Comments

  1. I spent 4 months in Israel many, many years ago and would LOVE to go back. I was working in Eilat most of the time, but got to see the must-sees of Jersualem, Dead Sea, Masada, Gailiee, and Tel Aviv. Oh the memories!! 🙂

    • There is inexpensive falafel if you know where to look – Jerusalem’s Old City. Amin on El Wad Street sells a falafel in pita for 5NIS, that’s $1.30; there’s a small restaurant around the corner from the VII Station of the Via Dolorosa that sells maybe the best hummus with felafel and salad in a pita for 8NIS, about $2.

  2. I’d love to visit Israel one day. It’s really nice to hear you felt safe there.

    You said it’s still a pretty chauvinistic country for women in relationships – what about single women? Did you find any differences there?

    • Hey Megan! Awesome question. I saw a ton of single women there, both local women and foreign women. It seems the attitude for single men and women is “easy come, easy go.” There’s little judgement– you do what you want to do, you know? Israelis are pretty frank and open about sex (which I thought was kind of surprising), and both the men and the women can be aggressive when it comes to finding what they’re looking for that night. If you want to go out and have fun, Israel is awesome. They love to party!!

  3. Hi Kelly, so glad you had a wonderful time in Israel, I just discovered your blog now and I look forward to reading more. When you come back here be in touch and I will organize for you to participate in a Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt (www.jerusalemscavengerhunts.com) – it is an amazing and inspiring way to get to know the story of Jerusalem. (Yes, I am proud to be one of the women who are 1/3 of Israel’s entrepreneurs, and I would be delighted to host you on this program in Jerusalem!) Be in touch!

  4. Hi! I lived in Israel for two years! I loved it and would go back again in a heart beat! This was where I learned to LOVE coffee and some amazing wine. Living by the beach was not bad either. 🙂 My family was always worried about us, but once they came to visit- they did not know why. I often took family or visitors into Jerusalem from Tel Aviv alone and had no fears. It was a wonderful place and pretty safe, as long as you knew how to prepare yourself (just in case). When going to downtown Tel Aviv or to Jerusalem, you just have to be cautious…and smart, like any big city. I loved seeing all the sites- my favorite, aside from the Old City- was Caesarea! Enjoyed reading your blog!

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