A pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian Territories opens up a world of ancient tales, faith-driven worshippers, intricate cuisines and contemporary attitudes. From the glistening northern coastlines to the depths of the Dead Sea, simple mountain village communities to cosmopolitan cities full of bars and boutiques; a vacation here is a varied and complex adventure. It will challenge your perceptions on faith and spirituality, bring you face to face with the significance of centuries-old traditions, serve up some mouth-watering food, and, most importantly, will surprise you at every turn.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually have less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending what trip you're on while in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, you may find yourself travelling by:
There’s no easier way to cross the dunes and head deep into the desert than in the back of a jeep. This is safari travel, Middle East style.
Israel and the Palestinian territories offer diverse experiences throughout the year, so there’s really no one ‘best’ time to visit. The shoulder seasons of April–May and September–October are ideal in terms of weather – pleasantly mild temperatures and little to no rainfall. However, many people choose to travel to the area over Christmas to experience winter festivities in Bethlehem, or in summer when coastal hubs like Tel Aviv and Haifa come alive at beach resorts and with outdoor nightlife. There’s a range of things to do in any weather, from skiing in the highlands to enjoying the sun near the Red Sea, so no matter what time you choose to go, it's a great place to take a vacation year-round.
Above all, it's important to note that travel will be affected during religious holidays, with the majority of shops, businesses and public transport shutting down for major public holidays and events. Be sure to consider how Jewish or other religious holidays, like Ramadan, may affect your stay.
Israel and the Palestinian Territories grant on-arrival visas to tourists of most nationalities. If you have evidence in your passport of visits to certain Islamic countries, Israeli border officials will scrutinise you regarding the purpose of your visit to Israel. The delay can be difficult and lengthy; however, patience and a friendly demeanour are advised when dealing with officials. Instead of an entry stamp, you will receive a loose entry card on arrival. Keep this in your passport until you leave, as this is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
It is important to be aware that many Arab and Islamic countries deny entry to any person that has evidence of a visit to Israel. Syria, Iran, Libya and several other countries are included in this list. If you wish to travel to other countries in the region after Israel, please note that you may be refused entry if your passport, luggage or possessions indicate you have been to Israel.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
Tipping 10-15% for good service is standard practice in restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as on tours. Taxi drivers and other service workers like hotel staff generally don't expect tips. Tipping is not compulsory in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, but if you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip is appropriate.
Internet access is widespread in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, so accessing the internet via wi-fi hot spots is easy in Israel's cities. Rural areas will have less internet connectivity, so beware of this when travelling through remote regions of the country.
Most accommodation and some eateries offer wi-fi networks, which are usually free to use with an access code. If you wish to stay connected for the majority of your trip, it may be wise to purchase a prepaid SIM card with a data package or a wi-fi hotspot.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Israel and the Palestinian Territories’ major cities and built-up areas. Expect limited to no phone coverage in more isolated areas like the Negev Desert.
Global roaming can also be activated when travelling through Israel and the Palestinian Territories; however, be sure to check with your service provider to find out about any fees you may incur when using this option, as sometimes this can be expensive.
Most toilets in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are of the modern, flushable variety, but if you’re travelling in remote areas, you may still find squat toilets in use.
Israel and the Palestinian Territories' unit of currency is the shekel. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Tap water is considered safe to drink in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, unless marked otherwise. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
The vast majority of large hotels, restaurants and shops will accept credit cards. For smaller purchases, such as bus and taxi fares, markets and paying for something less than roughly USD 8 (ISL 30), it is advised to have cash on you to cover these costs.
ATMs are easily found in Israel and the Palestinian Territories' cities and major towns. They’re less common in rural areas, so prepare accordingly before travelling out of urban centres. In general, ATMs in Israel offer a more competitive exchange rate for local currency than buying Israeli shekels outside of the country.
Israel and the Palestinian Territories generally share a Mediterranean climate, with the summer months providing loads of sunshine and scorching temperatures that can reach upwards of 40°C. June to August usually sees the highest temperatures, with milder weather prevailing during autumn (September–October) and spring (April–May). Winter (around November–March) means cooler temperatures and light rain. Snowfall can sometimes occur in the highlands and even in Jerusalem
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to Travel Insurance.
Compared to many of its Middle East neighbours, Israel is quite progressive when it comes to a stance on LGBTQIA+ rights. Homosexuality is legal and some protections are in place regarding gender identity discrimination. Although same-sex marriages are not performed here, they recognise same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Since 2015, the Israeli Health Ministry has allowed transgender people to change their registered gender legally without sex reassignment surgery.
Tel Aviv has a thriving gay scene, with many of the bars and nightlife geared towards this. Tel Aviv also hosts a Gay Pride Parade each year in the second week of June, which attracts over 250,000 attendees from across the world.
In the Occupied Palestinian Territories the law does not provide any explicit protections for LGBTQIA+ persons, but there are no formal laws against same-sex sexual activities. Officially, same-sex relations are not illegal but social and cultural attitudes towards homosexuality can be conservative and laws against ‘indecency’ are sometimes used, on an irregular and unpredictable basis, to criminalise same-sex acts.
There are still many conservative regions around Israel and the Palestinian Territories, so be aware of the situation you find yourself in when you are travelling. In these areas, public displays of affection are not encouraged.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Visitors to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with mobility issues will find most areas accessible and easy to get around, with modern infrastructure, despite the old architecture and ancient sites.
Many of Tel Aviv’s beaches can be accessed by ramps, and some hotel beaches have beach wheelchairs available for use. In Jerusalem, the Old City has an accessible trail for those requiring a wheelchair, and many of the sites are wheelchair-friendly.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.