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Israel Travel Help
June 18, 2011 3:30 PM   Subscribe

TravelFilter: I'm going to Israel for two weeks in July. Help me figure out how to travel around and see everything.

I'm working on an archaeological site in Israel for a little over two weeks in July. I have two weekends from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon off and I'd like to go see touristy stuff, like the Old City in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. However, I'm staying at the Kibbutz Revadim and I'm not sure how hard it will be to travel on the weekend. The site I'm working at said that they will look at any travel plans people have on the weekends and give suggestions about safety and the like.

I'm 20, female and only speak English. I'm hoping that there will be other people at the site who want to do some sightseeing as well, but I won't know until I get there.

Suggestions? Recommendations for traveling or places I definitely shouldn't miss? Precautions?

Thanks!
posted by raeka to Travel & Transportation around Israel (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Israel is ludicrously easy to get around. Buses go everywhere and the whole country is tiny. All you need is an up to date bus schedule from Egged. There are also lots of easy organized tour outings from the Society for the Preservation of Nature that will take you places off the beaten path. And driving is easy outside the cities, if someone wants to rent you a car.

Now the weekend issue is a problem because most busses don't run on the Sabbath. On Saturdays you'll have to borrow a car.

Any decent guidebook (I loathe Lonely Planet's tone in its Israel guide; try a Blue Guide, almost always more comprehensively informative anyway) will have most of the info you need; but don't skip the SPNI page (http://www.teva.org.il/english/.)

Have fun!
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:54 PM on June 18, 2011


Definitely spend at least a couple of days and evenings, if possible, in Tel Aviv. It is a wonderfully vibrant city with great nightlife. Make sure you go to Jaffa as well. Keep in mind that Tel Aviv, being a more secular city, will be more functioning than Jerusalem on saturdays although there is no public transport in either (as mentioned above).

If I am not mistaken, there is usually a stand by the baggage claim in Ben Gurion Airport with free Time Out magazines in english. This should have plenty of information about events, sites, restaurants and nightlife.

Also given the purpose of your trip, I assume Caesaria will be interesting for you.
posted by beisny at 4:34 AM on June 19, 2011


Definitely spend one weekend in Jerusalem.

I would time your trip to Jerusalem so you get there before Shabbat starts - buses will be PACKED so plan accordingly. The Jewish parts of Jerusalem are basically shut down on Shabbat. It's something you should experience - very quiet, cars are off the streets. A great time to do a walking tour, go to the parks, etc. but don't count on shops or restaurants or any other attractions being open (hotel restaurants are an exception). You could attend Shabbat services. There are of course plenty of Orthodox options, if you are not Orthodox, try Kol Haneshama in Baka. On on Saturday night after Shabbat ends, the city comes back to life (relatively speaking, this is Jerusalem after all.) You can tour the Old City that night, come back in the AM and see things Sunday morning, maybe go to the Israel Museum (near the Knesset).

You will find Tel Aviv much more lively and accessible on Saturdays. Great day to go to the beach. There are restaurants open. No buses, as mentioned above, but the city is quite walkable if you're sticking to Dizengoff and the beach areas.

I would skip the Dead Sea. Go there when you have more free time.

It's much easier to get around on the weekends if you have a car, but it's not easy to navigate a new city, deal with parking rules, crazy Israeli drivers, plus know what neighborhoods you should NOT drive through on Shabbat (i.e: Mea Shearim). I'd hire a taxi (agree on a rate before you go!)

Good luck and have a great trip!
posted by dudeman at 8:06 AM on June 19, 2011


18 year old guy here, I'll be in Israel at about the same time as you. Based on what I know (I've only been once, but I have a lot of Israeli friends and my dad runs an Israel tourism business): the busses are great during the week, on weekends you're best off staying in central areas and taking taxis. In Jerusalem, have a general idea of what the neighbourhoods are like, i.e. don't go walking around Mea Shearim on a Shabbat afternoon in a tank top. There are more secular areas in Jerusalem too, though. There's a lot to do in Tel Aviv museum/restaurant/nightlife-wise.

If I were you, I'd make it a priority to walk around the Old City on Shabbat, the Machane Yehuda market is quite a sight right before Shabbat starts. The Israel Museum is a must for anyone, especially if you're into archaeology. Burnt House is a museum in Jerusalem which walks you through an excavated second temple period house. You can't miss Yad Vashem either. Caesarea is beautiful, though it might be a bit out of the way. The Dead Sea isn't really necessary, it's nice enough but a bit out of the way and not all that impressive unless you're longing for a skin treatment.

As beisny mentioned, pick up a Time Out at Ben-Gurion and see if there's anything that catches your fancy. Feel free to PM me if you want any additional info.
posted by csjc at 2:08 PM on June 19, 2011


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