- Tsh Oxenreider | At Home in the World: Reflections of Belonging While Wandering the Globe
So, is it safe? Yes, the country is surprisingly safe. Like in any other countries, you want to be on the side of caution and avoid sketchy areas. In Israel, try to avoid going to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since we moved to Israel, a lot of people have been asking us questions about a myriad of things before visiting. Finally, here is our comprehensive guide:
GETTING TO ISRAEL
HOW TO GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO TEL AVIV
- Airport Shuttle
Using WithFlo.com is one of the cheapest ways to get from the airport to Tel Aviv (starting at $15+). For more information, please visit their website. We used their Private Transfer Service when we arrived here with our three dogs. We made sure to bring a bigger car to be able to fit the dog crates and our extra luggage. The flight landed a bit early, and we waited for them for a few minutes, but other than that, the service went smoothly, and we were dropped off at our apartment in Tel Aviv.
This the most expensive way to and from the airport. They usually charge at least $40 for a one-way trip. If you are in a rush or have no choice but to ride a taxi or you just simply find it more comfortable to ride a taxi by all means you are welcome to do it. You will see taxis waiting outside the airport, just follow the signs.
We recommend doing this if your hotel is near a train station. However, the train station in Tel Aviv is usually on the outskirts, and you still have to take a taxi to get to your hotel. For more information about Israel Railways, click here. We usually take the train to go to the airport, but first we take a taxi to get to the nearest station, for instance, the nearest station to us is the one in Azrieli Center, and from there we take the train to the airport.
- Car Rental
At any airport around the world, you will always see Car Rental kiosks but you can always book a car in advance for peace of mind. Driving around Israel, especially Tel Aviv is quite stressful. Oftentimes, parking is difficult to find. We recommend to rent a car from Jerusalem and drive the car to outskirts of Israel but not in Tel Aviv.
Local Tip: You can also rent bikes around Tel Aviv. You get the first 20 minutes free! Our advice: if you plan your route well and drop the bike off before the time expires, you can use the bike for free!
BEST TIME TO VISIT ISRAEL
WHERE TO STAY IN ISRAEL
On the other hand, if you decided to stay in Tel Aviv, for a budget-friendly option, Abraham Hostel (yes, again!) has another hostel in Tel Aviv! For a boutique hotel experience, book the Brown Hotel or The Rothschild Hotel and if you are feeling fancy, The Norman Hotel.
Local Tip: If you wanted a neat and cozy hotel by the beach in the heart of Tel Aviv, book Hotel TLV 88.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It is important to understand that in Israel, the Sabbath Day (a day of rest) is followed faithfully most especially in Jerusalem. Typically, Friday afternoon the stores, malls, cafes, restaurants, and establishments close their business to observe the Sabbath Day. Some businesses resume their services on Saturday night. However, Tel Aviv is a different story. You can still find restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores that are open. While planning your trip, take Shabbat into consideration. This is the best time to relax on your trip and take it easy - lay on the beach or go to a park.
People have asked us a lot of times if they can wear shorts while visiting Israel. Tel Aviv is very progressive and modern. Tel Aviv is very relaxed and casual. However, while visiting religious sites, you do not want to insult your host culture by not being modest. Women need to cover their shoulder and legs. Bring a scarf, just in case, so you can also use that as a head scarf. Some sites, you need that too. You know what they say, "when in Rome do what Romans do."
- Food and Tipping
The food here in Israel is Middle Eastern like hummus, shawarma, grilled meats with Middle Eastern flavors. On the other hand, international cuisine is readily available here, whatever tickles your fancy Tel Aviv will have it. While visiting in Israel, try to go to brunch and eat the Israeli breakfast. Brunch is a huge thing here in Israel! Don't skip it. A lot of the restaurants here are kosher, but some restaurants are non-kosher. For vegetarians, luckily, you are visiting the right country. There's a lot of vegetarian restaurants here in Israel, and restaurants often have ample vegetarian options. Tipping is typically 12-15% of your bill. If you are using a credit card, you have to tell the waiter to add the tip before they swipe your card.
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