Tips to Help You When Planning a Trip to Israel

Magic Carpet Journals passes along tips about travel to Israel

AntThis outfit worked well for me in Jerusalem.icipating a large influx of visitors during the Millennium, Israel took steps to accommodate everyone. Tourist facilities were increased markedly, with more rooms being made available in hotels, kibbutz guest houses, and B&Bs. Also, the Tel Aviv Airport is being expanded. Although the expansion is not due to be complete until 2004, it was better equipped to handle larger numbers in the year 2000. There are sites where congestion can be a problem, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as only a limited number of people can pass through at any given time. Therefore, I would like to suggest that anyone planning a trip to Israel  plan to avoid visiting during the normal increase of pilgrimages at Easter and Christmas.

This modern country offers all the amenities one would expect in any large, modern country. In Tel Aviv I stayed in the Tel Aviv Hilton and the Crowne Plaza, both located beside the Mediterranean, with a fantastic view of the beach and azure blue ocean. While in Jerusalem, I was a guest in two world-class hotels, the famous King David Hotel and the newer David Citadel Hotel, formerly known as the Jerusalem Hilton, both within a few short blocks of the Old City. I felt safe walking about the streets of both cities, as security is a feature Israel works hard to maintain. A wide range of other accommodation is available throughout the country. An upscale YMCA is located right across the street from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Budget accommodation can also be found at religious hostels. While visiting the Sea of Galilee I experienced the hospitality of the Nof Ginosar Hotel, owned by the Kibutz Ginosar. The Kibutz Ginosar also has more economical guest house accommodation available as do other kibbutz.

I flew El Al, the Israel national airline, which has an excellent and well deserved safety record. I was very impressed and reassured by their security procedures. El Al and Canadian Airlines have just recently announced a new partnership agreement, which is good news to Canadians wishing to connect to a gateway in Toronto or Montreal while traveling to Israel. For an enroute stopover in Toronto, the Sheraton Gateway is conveniently located at the airport terminal. I found it very convenient, saving much time and trouble.

Some special notes must be made for those traveling to Israel and the Middle East. Temperatures can vary greatly when traveling there. In a few short hours you can go from the ocean to the desert, also elevations can vary quite markedly. Check with the Tourist Bureau to establish what the temperature norms are for the time of year when you will be visiting. Then remember the travelers adage, layer, layer and layer! Even in the hot summer take along a light sweater for evenings as it can feel chilly. Cotton is still the best fabric to wear in hot climates. Some of the new rayons travel well too.

Sunscreen is highly recommended for use on all exposed skin. Even if you apply sunscreen be sure to take along a hat to provide protection from the hot sun. Everyone wears one, so do not feel self conscious about it. Do not forget your sun glasses as the sun can be very bright. However, my glasses have photo-gray lenses and they worked for me.

When visiting religious sites, modest dress is necessary, therefore shoulders and knees must be covered. That means that long skirt slits must be closed. A safety pin saved the day more than once, so stick some into your pocket. With my Tilley Hat at CaesareaParticularly while visiting Jerusalem and the area around The Sea of Galilee, remember decorum counts as a mark of respect to your hosts. Shorts and t-shirts are fine for archeological sites and most other places. Remember a bathing suit for the Dead Sea.

Sore feet can ruin a vacation, so be sure to take along a good pair of walking shoes - runners are fine. You need something quite stable especially when walking through some of the archeological sites. Also keep your planned activities in mind. If you expect to swim in the Dead Sea, you may like to bring something you can wear to walk into the water. We had to walk over hot sand and stones, so my friends and I were glad to have something to protect our feet. Wearing them in the water was not a problem as we bobbed like corks anyway, shoes and all!

No list of tips would be complete without including the first and foremost rule of smart travelers. They will always tell you to keep your suitcase light! That advice can never be stressed too often. I salute the person who can carry all their luggage onto the plane themselves. They are the wisest travelers! Careful planning beforehand can help to make your visit to Israel an unforgettable experience you will treasure for a lifetime.

Story and Photos by M. Maxine George

For further information contact:

Israel Government Tourist Office, 180 Bloor St. W. Suite 700, Toronto, Ont. M5S 2V6

Telephone: (416) 964-3784 Fax: (416) 964-2420

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. 151 Bloor St. W. Suite 701, Toronto, Ont. M5S 1S4

Telephone: (416) 967-4222 Fax: (416) 967-1643

Hilton International - Israel

Tel Aviv Hilton, Independence Park, Tel Aviv, Israel 63405

Telephone: 972 (0) 520-2222 Fax: 972 (0) 3 527 2711

David Citadel Hotel, 7 King David St., Jerusalem, Israel

Telephone: 02-621-1111 Fax:02-621-2323

Israel Ministry of Tourism, 4, Mevo Hamatmid St., Jerusalem

Telephone: 02-5678726 Fax: 02-6233686

King David Hotel, King David St., Jerusalem, Israel

Telephone: 02-6208888 Fax: 02-6208882

Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv, 145 Hayarkon St., Tel Aviv, Israel

Telephone: 03-5201111 Fax: 03-5201114

Nof Ginosar Hotel, Kibutz Ginosar, Israel E-mail:

Telephone: 972-6-6792161 Fax: 972-6-6792170

Sheraton Gateway, Toronto International Airport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada L5P 1C4

Telephone: (905) 672-7000


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Last Updated on February 14, 2004 by M. Maxine George editor.  © 2003 Magic Carpet Journals. All rights reserved