Below you’ll find some of my most frequently asked questions, including the “personal” stuff! Whether it’s “how did I become a private tour guide in Israel” or “since when I’m giving guided tours of Israel” — it’s all here! To stay up to date on new posts, my free guides, and the latest recommendations, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. Happy exploring!
General Israel FAQS
To tour Israel comfortably, coming in April till early May is ideal. From mid-May, it’s getting hot here. During July-August, the temperature is reaching 40°C (100°F). Although it’s a little bit cooler and drier at places in higher elevation like in Jerusalem. On the other hand, the holidays fall in April like Passover and Easter, so it will be crowded. So like everything in life, it’s a trade-off. Also bear in mind that in April or in Sept/Oct prices in the tourism industry like hotels are higher. I’ve put together this article to help you decide when is best to visit Israel.
You will be surprised, but per capita, Israel is safer than the United States. Even with all the wars and all Israel has had since 1948, still, it’s safer than the U.S. My guests that I’m taking on my private tours always tell me how peaceful this land is to them. This article might convince you How Safe Israel Is.
I Have compiled the Ultimate Packing Guide for you when visiting Israel.
Driving in Israel requires an international driver’s license. You must be over 21 years of age, have a valid international driver’s license and an international credit card. Though I would recommend you read my article about Driving In Israel.
The Jewish day of rest (the Sabbath) starts from Friday evening (from sundown) till Saturday evening (sundown). Tel Aviv which is a very secular city, things like restaurants and movie theaters are open on sabbath although malls and markets shut down. Jerusalem is very religious by nature and things shut down apart from a few restaurants (that are not kosher) and one movie theater that is open. The Old City (apart from the Jewish quarter is open like a regular day).
English is officially taught at a very young age (3rd grade). In general, you can say that Israel is a very westernized, even an Americanized society. So in the big cities like Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem people speak decent enough English but if you’ll go to remote villages, there it might be a little tricky but still, people would love to help you out.
If you are into snorkeling or Scuba Diving well Eilat is the place for you! There are lots of options over there, from beginner levels to pro’s. You can take a PADI course or just rent a snorkel and explore on your own. I invite you to read my Article about Diving in Eilat.
Israel is a very good location to use as a base to tour some famous sites in the Middle East. Whether it’s on an overnight stay Touring Egypt from Israel. Like the Pyramids, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, that is still standing. Or a quick drive to the border, Touring Petra from Israel (Jordan’s best-known tourist attraction).
So, camels are easier to spot down south while Touring the Negev area. But also when going to the Dead Sea there are some spots for a quick photo on top of a camel. Check out my post about the Best Spots for a Photo on Top of a Camel.
Israel in general has about 300 sunny days. The rainy season starts around the end of November into December. There are for sure some places that are quite cold in the winter like Jerusalem (2,400 ft above sea level) or the Golan Heights (6,000 ft above sea level). But actually, the winter season here is not so bad. And when there isn’t a storm setting in, the winter is quite comfortable to tour the country, especially towards the end of winter meaning late Feb/early March. Just let’s hope you’ll be lucky and not hit any showers. You are more than welcome to read my guide When is Best Time to Tour Israel.
Not exactly. There are small parties in local hotels and pubs that cater to tourists but if you want a real Christmas Festivity in Israel, Nazareth could be a good option or even consider going all the way to Bethlehem (Palestine). Click on the link About Tours to Palestine for more information.
Yes, we do! There are actually two celebrations: One, at the end of the Jewish New Year. Usually, it’s around Sep according to the Jewish Calendar. And of course the other is on New Year’s Eve, you can find some Great Parties in Tel Aviv on New Year’s Eve!
75% of Israel’s tap water is actually desalinated water and is safe to drink so yes, you can drink the tap water. But, you will also find mineral water everywhere. It is important to make sure you drink a lot, especially when out walking and on hot days.
Depends where you are located, Tel Aviv has many options and I’ve compiled here my Top Recommendations Where to Eat In Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is not a huge culinary scene like Tel Aviv but still, there are very good options to eat in Jerusalem. You can read my post about The Best Restaurants In Jerusalem.
Very Easy! Every guest of mine can reach my Israeli number either by WhatsApp or Facetime 24/7. My guests are my top priority and I will do my very best to answer the phone immediately. My mobile phone number is:
And my Email:
It all depends on where you are from and what passport you hold. You Should check my guide about Israeli Visa Requirements.
So this really depends on which Arab country you want to travel to. Some will turn a blind eye at the border and let you pass, some will NOT let you enter the country. For more information read my Full Guide about this subject.
Israel generally does not have an issue with travelers visiting Arab states before arriving at the Holy Land. however, depending on your travel history and the passport you are holding you might expect some extra grilling at border control. I invite you to go over my Full Guide about the matter.
Simple as pie! There are car rental agencies already waiting for you at the Air-Port. For more information feel free to go over my Car Rental Tips & Recommendations Guide.
Israeli appliances run on 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. European two-pronged plugs would work with the Israeli three-pronged sockets that are installed in most places as a standard. Small appliances may need adapters and/or converter that is wise to purchase prior to your departure.
For sure! Just don’t shave a couple of hours before since the skin might be a little sensitive after shaving or waxing and you are good to go. jewelry made from silver or gold should be stored somewhere safe since metal might change color due to the sulfur inside the Dead Sea. Ideally, you need to go in and lay on your back and relax. Getting a newspaper before entering would be great then you could take an iconic picture of you floating in the Dead Sea and reading a newspaper. You can read my guide about Top Things to See & Do in The Dead Sea Area.
According to the Israeli Meteorological Service, the highest temperature ever measured in Israel was in June 1942 in Kibbutz Tirat Zvi. The Kibbutz is located in the Jezreel Valley area, its below Sea Level and for sure this one of the hottest places you can visit In Israel. But let’s face it Israel in the summer is grilling hot! Places like the Dead Sea Area and Eilat Are considered to be extremely hard to bear in the summer.
Israel if compared to the neighboring countries like Jordan, Egypt, and such is surprisingly expensive. Tel-Aviv each year is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world but still, you can find some good deals and bargains you just need to know where to look. Check out my guide Best Ways to Travel Israel on a Budget. But don’t expect to tour Israel on a budget of 10$ a day.
- POLICE: 100
- AMBULANCE: 101
- FIRE BRIGADE: 102
The fact that Israel has 4 different Seas (Med, Red, and the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee) means there are lots of nice beaches to visit. The Dead Sea has some around Hotel Strip and around the Sea of Galilee, there are some on the Eastside. Naturally, Tel-Aviv’s Beaches have some great options as well next to the Med Sea. Check out my guide about Israel’s Best Beaches to Visit.
Yes, you can! The western wall is open to anyone who would like to visit the holy site. Head covering or a scarf for women is provided at the site. For more information about What Makes the Western Wall So Holy? You are more than welcome to read my post about it!
VAT (Value Added Tax) is added on most of Israeli items and merchandise. The current VAT is 17% and tourists can claim it back upon departure. A tourist is someone who has been granted an Entry VIsa B2, B3, or B4. Goods purchased as aforesaid must be taken out of the State of Israel.
Prior to check-in, you need to present the formal documents and the purchased goods (in-hand) at the VAT refund counter located in the Departure Hall at Terminal 3 OR Terminal 1. Purchases must be more than 400 New Israeli Shekels and have been made in a business that actually participates in this refund. Simply having the receipt of an item is not enough, you’ll need to receive from the store the original copy of the government approved invoice/receipt form for the item purchased.
Israel is a modern, developed country with levels of health and hygiene equal to those of Western countries. Visitors entering Israel are not required to undergo vaccinations prior to their arrival. For more information at the Israel Ministry of Health web-page.
Most businesses in Israel accept major credit cards such as Visa/MasterCard/American Express. There are also lots of Bank Front ATMs if needed and money exchange services in all major cities like Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv.
Traveling and relocating worldwide with pets require operating under strict rules and regulations enforced by both countries of departure and destination. Rules and regulations are frequently added or updated. Under the directives for Personal Import of domestic animals as prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, it states:
- Personal import of animals to Israel is possible only through authorized terminals: Ben-Gurion Airport, The port of Haifa, Port of Ashdod and Eilat Port.
- Each animal entering Israel must have a certificate from a government veterinarian in the country of departure signed no more than 10 days before arrival to Israel.
- Cats and dogs must be above the age of 4 months, immunized and with a chip in frequency 134.2 K”H which can be scanned according to the international standards (ISO).
- Breeds that are considered dangerous according to the law regarding animal control of 2002 cannot be imported.
- The import of dogs and cats to Israel requires an import license which is waived for personal import of one or two dogs and the filing of a signed testimony that the dogs have been in the possession of the owner for a period no less than 90 days before arrival in Israel.
- For more information on this matter please go to this official webpage of the Ministry of Agriculture in Israel.
Tour Related FAQS
There are awesome books that I think you might find interesting as a part of your preparation to visit Israel. For those that are archaeology fans, I would recommend trying to get the ‘the Jerusalem Atlas’ by Dan Bahat. A very detailed and interesting book that gives a good background about Jerusalem from an archaeological standpoint. If you are interested I’ve compiled the Complete Reading List For Visiting Israel. This list is not just a reading but also online courses I’ve taken and some interesting documentaries that recommend you to see if you are interested to broaden your horizons about this fascinating country.
Tough question. Well, it depends on what is your prime interest. But in the end, I would recommend Jerusalem to anyone that hasn’t been there yet. For more information please read my post about Things To Do in Jerusalem If You Have Only 24h.
Passage to the two major tourist cities of Bethlehem and Jericho under the Palestinian Authority is generally direct and without prior clearance or required authorization. As regarding the rest of the Palestinian areas, there is also direct access for tourists. Israeli nationals must receive approval and clearance from Israeli security forces. While travel between the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Israel is freely available, tourists are advised to pay attention to limitations in car insurance coverage as well as health insurance. These vary according to company and contracts.
The tours that I offer are private tours so my guests get to decide when a tour would start. With that said, there are certain considerations we need to bring under account like opening and closing hours of national parks; Local sites; Markets that can close early.
Also, daylight hours are another factor, we should take advantage of the limited hours of daylight, especially in the winter. So usually tours start from 07:00-09:30 at the latest and end 9h later. In any case, when the sun sets that means the end of the tour and we will start heading back.
Once booked the tours are penciled in my calendar. So that means I’ve started rejecting clients for these days booked. I can try my very best I can to accommodate and change the dates if possible.
Although bear in mind that even if I amend the dates. Any changes regarding the dates of touring will involve a 150 USD fee for each day that is changed. So I strongly recommend booking the tours after you are 100% sure about the dates you want to tour.
My tours are private and custom-made according to the client’s wishes. My daily rate depends on the size of the group, type of vehicle, the time of year (high vs low season), ‘all inclusive’ or not, and other factors like my booking capacity and type of tour, and so forth. My basic rate is 100USD per hour and another 10 USD per hour for every extra participant. For example, a group of 4 will be quoted 140 USD per hour. A group of 6 participants will be quoted 160 USD per hour, etc.
Please, Contact me today and send me all the information about your group and I’ll quote you accordingly.
An entire day tour is 10h long. I’ll promptly pick you up at your hotel or Airbnb and about 10h hours later I’ll drop you back at your desired location. For more information on that matter, I recommend you to go over my terms and conditions.
Regarding payments: a 25% deposit is required to confirm the booking. The deposit will be collected upon signing the contract by the client. 90 days before the due date of the tour the 2nd payment of 25% will be collected from the client’s credit card. 60 days before the due date of the tour the 3rd payment of 25% will be collected from the client’s credit card. 30 days before the due date of the tour a 4th and last payment of 25% will be collected from the client’s credit card.
Regarding my Refund Policy:
The initial 25% deposit is not refundable. The client will be found eligible for a 75% refund if notified 90 days before the first tour due date. The client will be found eligible for a 55% refund if I was notified 89-60 days before the first tour due date. The client will be found eligible for a 25% refund if I was notified 59-45 days before the first tour due date.
The client will be found eligible for a 15% refund if I was notified 44-30 days before the first tour due date. 29 days before the first tour scheduled – no refund will be given.
For more information please go over my Terms & Conditions listed on my website.
Worth mentioning I can show some flexibility concerning the Payment & Refund Policy but that will affect the quote.
I think 7-9 days is a good amount of time to cover most of the land without feeling pressured on time. Add the flights and it’s a total of 7-11 days. You can go over my Christian 7 days Holy Land Itinerary.
Should I Get Travel Insurance?
Trip insurance is critical to protect your investment. You never know what is going to happen.
In General, I can accommodate any type of vehicle. The type of vehicle depends on certain parameters like the size of the group and their wishes. For small groups like couples or parents with a couple of young children, I would suggest using my 5 seaters 4X4 SUV Dacia Duster.
For larger groups or guests that would like a V.I.P service then I use a Mercedes V class 8 seater (that includes a chauffeur as well).
For even larger groups there’s the Mercedes Sprinter 17 seater (that includes a chauffeur as well). In general, I can accommodate any type/size of the group I’ll just need to know about it ASAP since I am outsourcing some of these cars.
I like getting the opportunity to introduce my guests to my fabulous country that even though tiny it is blessed with amazing landscapes and diverse geographical units and with thousands of years of archaeology and history you can’t go wrong. Not mentioning the exquisite food.
These days after being a guide for more than a decade, getting to know my guests is really what I enjoy the most. Each and everyone of guests is a world by itself as I see it. Trying to get to know them better in the limited time that I have and establishing a personal connection with them is what is most rewarding to me these days. Actually with some of my ex-guests I am friends with till this very day.
Yes. Like for most Israeli citizens serving in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is mandatory. I served for 3 years between 1996-1999 in an infantry unit, mostly in the west bank. I must admit I wasn’t the best soldier in the I.D.F. I was young and not really prepared for the hard military discipline but I did it! My service was quite calm compared to the years that followed after the year 2000 when the 2nd Palestinian uprising broke out.
I can’t say I have a favorite because I actually like the fact that I can change from one location or destination to the other and I am not bound to a specific site that I have to guide over and over again as I did in the beginning when I was a local guide in the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Imagine! Guiding through the Holocaust museum 3 times a day! 5 days a week, oh boy!
But I do feel that Jerusalem leaves the biggest impression on my guests. The city’s history, markets, archaeology, it’s complexity – all that is overwhelming and leaves a mark on anyone that comes and visits the Holy City. you just can’t stay indifferent to it.
In order to get certified, there is a rigorous process you need to go through. There is a 2-year course that gives you the basics about various subjects with Israel as its subject matter: Archaeology; History; Religions; Geology; Geography…
Apart from that, you have more than 90 days of field trips from very early in the morning till sunsets, in those field trips you get to visit each and every archaeological site, national parks, museums, and so forth. So after 2 years of that, you are finally certified, in the condition you passed the oral and written exam.
But I truly don’t think it’s enough so while I was doing the course that was given to me by the Ministry of Tourism I’ve decided also to complete my M.A in ‘Land of Israel Studies’ granted to me by Haifa University.
To this day in my spare time, I read archaeological magazines that publish the latest developments and discoveries in the field here in the Land of Israel. I visit museums to sharpen my guiding skills over there and of course non-stop reading of books related to my profession. In General, I am a curious guy 🙂
Mmm… I am thinking perhaps doing a Ph.D., not sure on what subject though. Maybe in history or maybe like the M.A that I got from the faculty of Land of Israel Studies. Pursuing a Ph.D. program there will actually give me a wide field of subjects to pick from. Another thought is world domination 🙂 meaning maybe guiding also in other parts of the world like around the Mediterranean basin like in Greece, Italy, and Turkey! We shall see!
Another plan of mine is to work with the elderly and to give them talks about various topics that I feel I’m knowledgeable enough. The idea is to bring cities to those people that can travel anymore and now live in Senior Housing like my Mom.
I enjoy playing piano, although I am just a beginner. I started about 2 years ago taking lessons and since then I’m slowly improving. Although when I work I don’t get to practice as much so my progress is slow. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to play Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement by Beethoven.
Improving my piano playing. I want one day to accomplish playing my favorite piano piece called ‘Goldberg Variations’ by Bach. I also enjoy writing and reading mostly so when I have some free time I like to read my favorite Russian writers.
Some dreams I already got fulfilled for example I wanted to learn Spanish and now I can read ‘Don Quixote’ by Cervantes in 16th century Spanish! I wanted to do this road trip across the U.S and in 2016 and later in 2017 I’ve visited all national parks (apart from 2) in the Western United States and went to Alaska for a month.
Well, my prime objective, in the end, is that my guests will be happy, have lots of fun, and will leave the country with the feeling they had a meaningful experience, especially if there are first-timers here in Israel.
How to do that is I guess the big challenge for a private tour guide. Some people are history buffs and they would like to know as much as possible so I’ll try to focus more on that aspect, checking out local museums like the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Some really dig archaeology so we can for sure focus the tour more on the biblical tels and such, perhaps visiting an archaeological dig and even participating in a dig.
When I get families with young kids that their attention span is not very long so obviously it would have to revolve around the kids more. So activities like 4X4 Jeep Tours could be neat or rappelling from the cliffs of Ramon Crater.
If it’s July-August and we’re confronted with an extremely hot day in a typical Israeli summer so kayaking down the Jordan river or jumping into an enormous freshwater spring in Gan-Hashlosha National Park could be another way to end a day.