Top events in Israel

December
16

In homes, workplaces, and in the street, hanukkiot candelabras are lit in the evening with one extra candle each night for a week....

February
20

2012 saw the city host its first international ice festival – an unusual event to find in a Middle Eastern city. Such was its popularity that an...

March
04

A day of fancy dress and a mini-carnival. Purim commemorates events in ancient Persia, in which an attempt to kill the Jews was decisively...

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel
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Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel

© 123rf.com / Joshua Haviv

Israel Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

20,770 sq km (8,019 sq miles).

Population

7.7 million (2013).

Population density

371.1 per sq km.

Capital

Jerusalem.

Government

Republic. The state of Israel was founded in 1948.

Head of state

President Shimon Peres since 2007.

Head of government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since 2009.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round three-pin plugs are standard; many European two-pin plugs fit the sockets.

Israel has always been an alluring destination. From the days of prophets to the modern day nomad this tiny slice of land at the far end of the eastern Mediterranean has long attracted visitors. Throughout the centuries this dramatic stretch of land poised between Africa and Asia has seen its fair share of turmoil, where battles for its control have ensued and conquests occurred.

Today Israel is a politically sensitive country, yet its appeal for visitors is simply enormous, and the day-to-day issues facing its residents have little effect on those coming to appreciate its astounding historic relics, impressive religious sites or breath-taking natural beauty.

Israel is a small country with great appeal, and while some arrive in the Holy Land on a spiritual quest, others arrive in search of cultural enlightenment, sunny white-sand beaches or becoming one with nature. From the barren, rocky deserts of the south, dotted with oases, ancient ruins and the great Dead Sea in its midst, to the green, rolling hills and valleys of the north steeped in Biblical history, Israel offers a variety like nowhere else. The old cities of Nazareth, Akko and Tzfat are a step back in time, while modern Haifa and Eilat, and the vibrant seaside city of Tel Aviv represent the secular, cosmopolitan side of the country. The Dead Sea, Red Sea, Sea of Galilee and Mediterranean Sea each emanate their own character, their appeals ranging from unique geological phenomena to tranquil spirituality or vibrant holiday resort.

And then there’s Jerusalem. Few cities in the world can attest to the life that Jerusalem has experienced. As the meeting point for three world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam - it is a fascinating living museum of ancient buildings, cobbled alleys and fervent worship. Market streets weave through the jumble of ecclesiastical buildings, each of the four quarters as different in its architecture as they are in the beliefs of their inhabitants. At the core of the Old City are three of the most significant religious buildings on the planet – the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock.

Israel is a modern country with excellent facilities for tourists. High class hotels, well-equipped budget hostels, charming guesthouses or desert eco-kibbutz are all represented, while those looking for something tasty to eat will find the country is positively bursting with good food. From the street snacks such as falafel and hummus to gourmet restaurants and trendy cafes, the choice is enormous. Public transport is efficient, the locals are welcoming and the weather idyllic.

There are crumbling temples, ruined cities, abandoned forts and hundreds of Biblical sites. There are extreme sports, cultural tours, nature and wildlife experiences, hiking and cycling opportunities and relaxing sea- or lakeside retreats. Most of all however, Israel is an incredibly diverse country with an eclectic population that will provide a wealth of unique experiences to entertain, challenge and move every visitor.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 23 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • Gaza

  • the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar along the border with Lebanon (the ‘Blue Line’)

  • east of Route 98 along the Syrian border

On the early evening of 22 October in the Ammunition Hill area of Jerusalem on Route 1, a car collided with passengers at a public tram stop, killing 1 and injuring several others. A heavy security presence is in place. Be vigilant while travelling around this part of Jerusalem.

Gaza

Don’t attempt to enter Gaza by sea, breaching the restrictions imposed by the Israeli navy. The FCO advise against participating in flotillas or overland convoys to Gaza because of the risks involved.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt is reportedly open to Egyptian passport holders, foreign passport holders and those requiring urgent medical attention. If you are in Gaza and leave via this route, please inform the FCO by calling +44 207008 1500. Check the Egypt travel advice before you consider entering Egypt at Rafah.

Israel

A ceasefire was agreed on 26 August after several weeks of conflict that included intensive rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel, and Israeli airstrikes and a ground operation in Gaza. You should exercise extreme caution when travelling near to the border with Gaza, and follow local Israeli security guidance closely.

Violent protests broke out in a number of Arab towns in Israel (including Qalansawe, Taybeh, Tira, Baqa al-Garbiyye in the Triangle, Ar’ara in Wadi Ara, and Nazareth) during the conflict in Gaza. You should exercise caution around protests and follow guidance from the local authorities.

West Bank

The situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank remains tense and the security situation is volatile. A heavy Israeli security presence is likely. Be extra vigilant and take great care when travelling anywhere in the West Bank, particularly in areas close to refugee camps, in and around Israeli settlements and in the cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. You should be especially vigilant after Friday prayers and on religious holidays.

Demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest can occur at short notice and often turn violent. There are frequent demonstrations at the Qalandiya checkpoint between East Jerusalem and Ramallah. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations or large gatherings.

Stay alert in and around the Old City in Jerusalem, especially after Friday prayers and on religious holidays. Isolated protests and demonstrations can occur both in the Old City, and in East Jerusalem. Leave the area immediately if there is evidence of tension or unrest. Road blocks are in place which may affect access to the Old City.

Occupied Golan Heights

Rocket attacks and sporadic gunfire have occurred without warning since 2012. On 27 August 2014, the Israeli authorities closed parts of Route 98 (from Bar’on intersection to Alonei Habashan) due to an increase in fighting on the Syrian side of the border, especially by the Quneitra border crossing, which has reportedly been seized by Al-Nusra Front and other Syrian rebel groups.

Entry Requirements

Visa and other entry requirements are complex. Make sure you are aware of Israeli immigration policies before you travel. Allow additional time for increased security measures and checks at airports during Israeli holidays and during the peak summer tourist season.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism.

Overseas Business Risk

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Travel Insurance

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