what you need to know to plan your travel to Jerusalem
Israel travel is not the arduous boat and camel-back journey it used to be. You can pretty much just hop on a plane and come on over! Still, a little advance planning can go a long way in smoothing your journey.
Here's the information you must know to plan the
"getting here" part of your trip, information you need to know before
you leave home and travel to Jerusalem.
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To travel to Israel you will need:
Israel has agreed with many countries (79 at last count) to do away with visa requirements between them.
This means if you’re a citizen of one of the lucky 79, and chances are you are, you can buy a ticket, grab your passport and come on over. You can check if your country is on the list at the website of the Israel Embassy in Washington, DC. The catch is you must be traveling as a tourist and not plan to stay longer than 3 months.
If your Israel travel plans are to stay longer than 3 months, your country does not appear on the drop- list at the site listed above, or you want to study in Israel, you’ll have to get a visa. To do so, you must go in person to the Israeli mission closest to you and fill out a visa request form.
The vast majority of people who travel to Israel arrive by air, most of them through Ben Gurion Airport. (Find cheap flights to Israel or click here for the many ways of going to Jerusalem from Ben Gurion Airport).
A small number arrive at Eilat Airport, most of them to enjoy the seaside fun of Eilat holidays.
Once upon a time, there was a ferry between Limassol, Cyprus and Haifa, but that has been "suspended" for the last several years.
There are also several land border crossings, but only a few are open to all travelers:
Citizens of most countries may enter Israel from Egypt through the Taba border crossing, and from Jordan through the Jordan River border crossing in the north, the Rabin crossing in the south near Eilat and Aqaba, and the Allenby Bridge border crossing.
Citizens of Israel (including those with dual citizenship from another state) may not enter through the Allenby Bridge crossing unless they are part of an official Israeli diplomatic delegation. At the Allenby Bridge crossing, you may be issued one of two stamps – one that entitled you to enter Israel, and one that is valid only for entry to PA-controlled areas of the West Bank. Be sure to get the correct stamp for your purposes.
The transit fee at land-to-land border crossings as of January 1, 2011 is 96 shekels per passenger, except at the Allenby Bridge crossing, where the tariff is 167 shekels. Children under age two are exempt.
Israel uses the New Israeli Shekel. (Click here to find out more about Israeli currency.)
Most Jerusalem businesses, hotels and restaurants will accept major international credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Israeli banks provide ATM machines in most neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
If you have US Dollars or Euros, you can easily change currency at the reception desk of major hotels, and there are some money changers around. The former won't give you the best rate and the latter will charge a fee.
Another option for changing money is the Post Office, where you can buy or sell US dollars and Euros without a transaction fee. Transactions are in cash only, unless you have an American Express card, in which case you can buy up to $1000's worth of currency.
The Post Office will also cash travelers' cheques made out in US and Canadian Dollars, Euros and Japanese Yen into Israeli shekels.
The main Post Office in Jerusalem is located at 23 Jaffa Street.
Also be sure to check out our page of useful information for Jerusalem travel for other important, practical trip-planning stuff like what to pack, what the weather in Jerusalem is like, and the dates of Jewish holidays and official Israel holidays.
You might also want to browse through our growing collection of Israel travel tips - ours and those contributed by other seasoned travelers.
No specific immunizations are required for travel to Israel. However,
you should make sure that all your vaccinations are up-to-date and your
children have been immunized according the recommended schedule in your
country of origin.
The Center for Diseases Control in the United States suggests that travelers also get the flu vaccine, which includes protection against H1N1 (swine flu).
You may also want to bring insect repellent, since West Nile Virus, a disease carried by mosquitos, although rare, does exist in Israel.
Protect yourself from insect bites by: