Latest update: 8 August 2022
Tel Aviv in Israel is booming as a city trip destination. Rightly so! You may be a little concerned about security in Tel Aviv. So let me explain what you should take into account for your city trip or holiday to Tel Aviv. This is my travel advice for Tel Aviv, full of practical tips.
When to go to Tel Aviv?
Visiting Tel Aviv: which month?
In theory, you can go on holiday to Tel Aviv all year round. In practice, I advise you to avoid the summer months. I’m there at the beginning of July, and the city has already heated up considerably. It is perfect weather for lounging on the beach, so my friends and I definitely do that too. But we also want to explore the city, and as soon as we leave the coastline, the heath is overwhelming. Between the buildings, there’s hardly a breeze. The only remedy is to go to many cafes for drinks and ice cream. Not a bad way to spend your day, but it is pricey.
Visiting Tel Aviv: which day?
We make a rookie mistake. We fly to Tel Aviv on Saturday. That’s the rest day in Judaism: the Sabbath. It means there are no buses and many shops and restaurants are closed. We manage to make a reservation at a restaurant on Saturday evening to ensure some food. Partying on Saturday night? It is possible, but the best night outs are on Thursday and Friday. Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.
Israel is not Europe, but it does participate in the European Football Championship and the Eurovision Song Contest.
Fly to and from Tel Aviv
Because Tel Aviv is not in Europe, you have to be at the airport well in time. It is necessary (especially on the way back) because security takes their time to ensure that you don’t have any nefarious plans. At Schiphol, Amsterdam, this happens during boarding. Security guards study your passport extra carefully and ask you a few questions about your holiday in Israel. Expect questions like “What are you going to do?”, “Where are you staying?” and “Who are you going with?”. If your answers are satisfactory, you get a small sticker on your passport indicating that you can board the flight. Did you know that your passport must be valid for another six months if you travel to Israel? So please check yours in advance.
Upon arrival at the airport in Tel Aviv, Customs will question you again. They ask me, among other things, how long I will be staying, whether I will also go outside Tel Aviv and whether I have a job. I get a small piece of paper with my details on it: that is my visa for Israel. I can’t lose it (although they don’t ask for it when I leave) —unfortunately, no new stamps in my passport this time.
At Ben Gurion Airport
The way back is a different story. I think that’s strange because I am leaving the country now. Why make such a fuss about my departure? Anyway, try to be at the airport about three hours before departure. I need that time as the process takes ages. At the check-in desk, people are ready to question you. One by one, my friends and I answer questions. This time they are very specific. Where did I have lunch? Have I met Israelis? Did someone give me a present to take to the Netherlands? I once again get a sticker as soon as I have answered the questions satisfactorily.
We check in a suitcase for the hold luggage, and the lady behind the counter advises us also to hand in our hand luggage. Free of charge. According to her, that saves us a lot of hassle. I’m glad I do because she’s right. The procedure at the bags takes forever. All items are turned over four times, viewed again, and run through scanners. Next, the security guards pick out two of my friends for searches and interrogations. We wait for them around the corner but are ‘kindly’ requested to continue with the comment “this is gonna take a while“. I know we’re not doing anything wrong, but it still scares me. Finally, after fifteen minutes, we are reunited.
Money and tips
In Israel, you pay with the shekel. With your European debit card, you can withdraw money almost everywhere. Debit card payment in shops and restaurants is often a bit more complicated. However, a credit card does always seem to work. If you don’t have a credit card, I recommend getting a Revolut card. That is a kind of prepaid credit card. You transfer money from your account, and it is on the card within a few seconds.
Taxi drivers don’t expect a tip; waitstaff does. In fact, if you give too little, they will shamelessly point that out to you. The standard is 10%.
Tip! Make sure your debit card is set to ‘World’. “Europe” is not enough.
Taxi and taxi apps
From the airport, there is a fixed price to the city. Count on anywhere from 110 to 200 shekels, depending on the size of the car and the luggage you have. It is also relatively easy to get a taxi for five or more people at the airport. In the city of Tel Aviv, that’s almost impossible. Taxi drivers are only allowed to transport four people and strictly adhere to this rule. There are five of us and therefore often opt for two taxis. We usually use Uber or Gett to order taxis.
Safety in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is the safest place in Israel regarding terrorism and bombing. You will see heavily armed soldiers everywhere on the street. They are not so much on guard duty. Usually, they are just on their way from A to B. That means I end up sitting next to a man with a huge gun on the bus. For me, that’s a strange sensation. Everyone in Israel is conscripted: the men for three years, the women for two years.
Tip! Always check the official travel advice from the government. The Dutch national government always has the most up-to-date information about security in Israel and, therefore, Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv is a modern and prosperous city, but some people are not in a fortunate situation. In the parks along the roads, you will regularly encounter crack-smoking bums, which, unfortunately, also find it necessary to urinate and masturbate in public. . Does anyone have any tips on how to delete that image from my mind? But hey, just leave them alone, then they won’t hurt you.
What else? Tel Aviv is just like any other city: watch your belongings, don’t take unofficial taxis, don’t leave your drink unattended in the club, watch where you go at night, preferably go together, and as a blond-haired woman, you can count on some looks and comments on the street.
Some more practical Tel Aviv tips…
- Most bars and restaurants have wifi.
- Dutch electric plugs fit into the Israeli socket.
- If you plan to travel a lot by bus, a Rav-Kav is a good option. It’s a kind of public transport chip card. Available at the central bus station.
- The bus station is a maze, but the Israelis are happy to help.
- Security guards at museums and other tourist spots will usually want to check your bag.
- Tours are best booked in advance, for example, with the GetYourGuide.
- I think DIY Tel Aviv is a fantastic travel guide for practical tips. It is basically a printed PDF, so don’t expect an inspirational book with beautiful pictures. They really are inside tips, and those are the best, aren’t they? DIY Tel Aviv is updated every year, so it always has recent information. Highly recommended in addition to your travel guide with beautiful pictures. Available at Book Depository and Amazon.
More Israel inspiration?
Useful links for your Israel trip
- Travel guides. I recommend buying DIY Tel Aviv. It doesn’t have pretty pictures, but it does have insider tips. The newest edition is 2020. Nice to have next to your travel guide with beautiful pictures. Buy it at Book Depository, or else through Amazon.
- Flights. Compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Transportation. Book bus trips, trains and more in Israel via Busbud, Omio, or 12Go.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Airbnb. Book hostels via Hostelworld.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals, go to WithLocals or Hi,hi Guide. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have plenty of options. These are some for the Dutch among us: ANWB vakanties, Sawadee, Tui or Vakantie Discounter?
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