Travel Tips

Weather

The weather varies from hot and dry in the summertime (April- October), to cool and rainy in the winter (November-March) throughout the Holy Land. Depending on where you are in the Holy Land the weather can be very different. In the north and the center of Israel and Palestine, the summers are hot and occasionally humid with cooler evenings. Generally, hilly areas are chillier (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, The Golan, etc.). Throughout the winter, the north and center of Israel and Palestine are prone to a lot of rainfall; whereas desert areas (the Negev, Eilat etc.) receive very little rain. In winter desert areas can become quite chilly at night.

Weather extremes in the region include slight snowfall in northern hillier areas in winter as well as occasional humid heat waves throughout the summer and fall.

Dress and Clothing

When packing for your trip, the weather, of course, should be your guide. As we just noted, although most of the year is hot and sunny, the winter can be cold especially in the mountains, and at night. It is also very rainy in the winter so it is important to bring raingear.

Having said that, sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses are nevertheless  essential items throughout the year.

Keep in mind that most of the buildings in the Holy Land are made of stone which keeps the interiors cool for the hot summer, but also makes it particularly cold inside in the winter too.

You can purchase virtually anything you need in the Holy Land during your stay, including clothing, cosmetics, and hygiene products.

If you are visiting during the summer you will need lightweight clothing - short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts, shorts, sandals, beach shoes and a bathing suit.  But it is also a good idea to pack a sweater or jacket, since nights in the mountains and the desert can be cool. 

If you are visiting in the winter, you will need warm clothing, a coat (preferably a raincoat as well), good shoes, an umbrella, gloves, a scarf and other warm clothing.  Weather in in the Holy Land is not cold as it is in Europe, but days can be rainy and cold, as well as warm and sunny. 

Comfortable flat shoes are very important as the Holy Land's many cities are very easy to walk through. Keep in mind that there are many stone sidewalks which can be uneven and  stairs or steps are quite commonplace as well. For those who may be slightly uneven on their feet, bringing a walking stick can be helpful.

Also, in the many holy sites in the Holy Land it is important to wear modest dress (not shorts or sleeveless and sometimes a head covering) when going to visit these places of interest. During the summer, we recommend that women keep a small sweater packed in their backpacks, or even a wrap skirt. These items can be particularly easy to slip on at a moment's notice if necessary. People of different religious belief dress differently, from long skirts and head coverings to shorts and no head coverings so dress can depend on where we are at any given time during your visit.

Overall dress is very casual so unless you are coming on business, it is very unlikely you will ever need a suit or tie.

Electric Current

In the Holy Land, electricity is mostly 220 volts, 50 cycles and in most major hotel rooms you can find a built-in 110-volt electric razor transformer. Electrical sockets tend to be three-pronged (although most sockets will accept two prong round plugs) but are still different than those used in Europe and the U.S. Packing an adapter set is very useful to those bringing in electrical appliances.

Language

The national languages in Israel are Hebrew, English and Arabic while in  Palestine the language is Arabic. Most everything throughout the area  is marked in Hebrew, Arabic as well as English. People tend to be bi- or multi-lingual in the Holy Land.

Work Week

In Israel, the workweek is Sunday to Thursday. Shops and businesses are normally open on Fridays but close early afternoon for the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath lasts from after sundown Friday to after sundown Saturday. Many shops that are open on Friday are closed on Tuesdays for the shop owners to rest. Shops closed Saturdays for the Sabbath tend to open up Saturday night. Muslims and Christians observe their own Sabbaths on Friday and Sundays, respectively.

Shopping

During the Israeli workweek (Sunday through Thursday), stores and shops are open from around 9.00 am until 7 pm in the big cities. Most shops in Jewish areas are not open on Saturdays, though there one can find many boutiques, wineries, restaurants, etc open in the non-religious moshavim as well as non-religious areas of the country. Many shops in neighborhood areas are closed from 2-4 pm for the traditional afternoon siesta. There are a large number of malls throughout Israel which have more flexible hours, and some of the retail tenants are open on Shabbat. For supermarket needs, the grocery chain Tiv Taam is opened throughout the country and the drugstore outlets of Superpharm are open as well in particular areas.

In addition there are also many smaller markets that sell everything from fruits and vegetables to arts and crafts. Local makolets can be found scattered throughout the residential areas of most neighborhoods and these sell most essential items including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fresh breads, personal hygiene items, meats, etc.

There are several major outdoor markets located throughout the region, two of the most famous of these, Mahane Yehuda and the Carmel market can be found in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, respectively, and are open most of the week. Exceptionally fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade local food specialties such as humous, tahini, grape leaves, shnitzels, olives, nuts, cheeses, breads, pastries and other prepared food items can be found amongst the numerous vendors in the markets throughout the Holy Land, , known locally as the "shuk" in larger cities and towns.

In addition, clothing, household items, cleaning supplies, etc are also available throughout the markets. Other worthwhile "shuks" to visit include the Jaffa Gate and the Damascas Gate markets in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Nahalat Binyamin crafts market on Tuesday and Friday in Tel Aviv, the Dalyiat HaCarmel market in the Carmel mountains outside of Haifa, the Jaffa "Shuk HaPishpishim" which is an antique market as well as adjacent Jaffa shuk. Several other smaller shuks can be found in several other towns throughout the region as well. 

Restrooms


Most public washrooms are clean and generally well-supplied, however we do recommend you travel with tissues just to be sure. Wheelchair accessible facilities are become more common all over Israel, less so in Palestine.

One More tip

The Holy Land is a place to refresh your mind and body . . . as well as your soul.  Don't neglect any of these three aspects when you visit the Holy Land.  Make time for each.