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Middle East >> Israel >> Getting around in Israel

Getting around in Israel

By Air

Israel’s domestic airline (which also flies overseas) flies between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Eilat. As the distances are short in Israel it is not economically viable to fly within the country.

By Train

Rail travel is efficient, reasonable and useful but only along the northern coast, from Nahariya down to Tel Aviv. There is only one circuitous rail line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Again, there are no trains on Shabbat and holidays.

By Road

Roads in Israel are usually in good condition, the sign posts clear, and the traffic very heavy. Israelis drive on the right side of the road. They are very talkative, not very disciplined drivers and very accident prone, so be careful when you rent and drive a car. If you are a Canadian or an American citizen you can rent a car for three months using your local driving license. Tourists from elsewhere have to be above 18 years of age and have to possess an International Driving License. Self-service petrol stations can be found in major locations.

Buses: The bus system is very efficient, modern, air conditioned, fast and clean. The Arab buses are slow and antiquated. The Egged Bus Company, the second largest in the world, after the American Greyhound, plies through the whole country except in Tel Aviv and in the West bank and Gaza strip where the Arab buses ply. Buses ply regularly from the Central Bus Stations (tachanah mercazi) in every town and city to the neighbouring areas. There are Information Desks at the bigger central bus stations. Tickets can be bought from either the ticket booth or the driver if you want a confirmed seat in the bus going to another city. As the buses work on a numbered system you can always ask an Israeli for help in case you are confused. Stand on the right side of the road when catching a bus otherwise you’ll land up in the wrong and opposite direction. The buses run till 2400 at night but do have a list of the timings of the bus if you are visiting another city. Egged buses stop running an hour before sunset on Fridays and start again on Saturday evening. It’s the same schedule on holidays.

Taxis: Private taxis are easily available on the streets, or by telephone. Check the meter to check that it is running so that you know what you have to pay. For long distances it is cheaper to use a shared taxi (sherut). These mini buses commuting between cities are as reasonable as buses. They ply on Saturdays when larger buses are on holiday and charge more on that day.

Cycling is another, though not a completely safe, way in the accident-prone roads of Israel. Sexual harassment is common and hitching a ride is not recommended for women in Israel and it is safer if women do not hitch hike alone in male company.

By Waterways

Israel can be reached from a Mediterranean port by ferry.

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