Updated on February 10, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
What should I bring to Israel?
With this type of cultural and religious diversity it can be hard to know what to pack for your visit. Check out my comprehensive Israel Packing List, which will also touch on what to wear in Israel, what NOT to bring, and other FAQs.
What to Pack for Israel – 17 Essentials
1. Israel Power Adapter
2. Pashmina Shawl/Scarf
3. Neck Wallet
4. Jet Lag Relief
5. Packing Cubes
6. Travel Insurance for Israel
7. Long Skirt
9. Activated Charcoal
11. Quick-Dry Towel
12. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
14. Comfortable Flats
15. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A good VPN is essential for keeping your sensitive data private when traveling. You won’t want to risk having information like your credit card number, passwords, or identity stolen if the WiFi network you’re using isn’t properly protected. Connecting to the WiFi in places like cafes, airports, hotels, or Airbnbs can leave you vulnerable to hackers, and using a VPN is an easy and inexpensive way to ensure your safety. Additionally, you can use a VPN to visit sites from your home country if they are not accessible abroad.
17. Gorgeous Outfit
Other Israel packing list items not to forget:
Hiking Boots: Women’s and Men’s
Steripod Toothbrush Cover
Lip Balm with SPF
Travel Hair Dryer
Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes
Travel-Size Perfume or Cologne
Separate Small Change Purse
Hanging Toiletry Case
TSA Approved Travel-Size Bottles
Hard Copies of Vital Documents
Voltage Adapter For Large Appliances
Travel Neck Pillow
Lightweight Pajamas: Women’s and Men’s
Over the Counter Medications
Deodorant: Women’s and Men’s
ATM or Credit Card with No International Fees
Swimsuit: Women’s and Men’s
Watch or Alarm Clock
Noise Cancelling Headphones
What to wear in Israel
Outside the cities, prepare yourself for hiking, swimming, and plenty of sightseeing under the hot Mediterranean sun.
Israeli women tend to be very fashionable, typically opting for trendy, westernized clothing. Pack stylish outfits for evenings out in Tel Aviv and don’t forget to accessorize! You’ll want to bring swimsuits and warm weather clothing for the beach, and bikinis, shorts, and tank tops are completely acceptable. Remember to bring plenty of lightweight, conservative options to keep your knees, shoulders, and chest covered when entering holy sites like synagogues, mosques, and churches. Long skirts, maxi dresses, and flowing harem pants are all great options to keep you cool and covered when visiting these types of sites.
Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, like the stylish flats we’ve listed here, that will blend in with your outfit and won’t kill your feet after a long day of exploring. You should also prepare for hiking excursions by bringing lightweight hiking boots and athletic clothing, as accessing some of the best parts of the country requires a bit of a trek!
When in Israel, men will want to be comfortable but stylish and prepared for long days under the Mediterranean sun. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as are sandals for the beach and lightweight hiking boots for scenic treks through the countryside. You won’t regret bringing attractive, long pants and a nicer long shirt for visiting holy sites as well as for evenings out. To prepare for cool weather in the evenings and weather during the autumn and winter months, bring a fleece jacket or sweater. A basic T-shirt and shorts will work throughout the country as a versatile outfit, either as a casual ensemble for sightseeing in the cities or paired with a baseball cap for beach days along the coast.
Though it is a small country, Israel’s weather does vary quite a bit from north to south. However, the country has a Mediterranean climate making for an overall mild yearly weather forecast. If you plan to visit destinations in the south, such as Eilat or the Dead Sea, prepare for warm, humid weather year round. However, the rest of the country typically enjoys hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters with spring and autumn falling somewhere in between.
SPRING – March, April, May:
Spring temperatures range between 60 to 70°F (15 to 20°C) during the day, though evenings will dip down to the 40s-50s°F (5-10°C). Prepare for a bit of rain during the spring, but nothing too drastic, and areas around the Red and Dead Seas are warm year round. Spring is a lovely time to visit Israel, as it isn’t too hot to spend the day sightseeing or trekking through the countryside.
For Spring in Israel, bring a good windproof umbrella and a lightweight jacket for cooler evenings. Prepare for typically sunny days with trendy sunglasses and if you plan to head south, a stylish swimsuit and cover up to enjoy the country’s many seas.
SUMMER – June, July, August, part of September:
Summer in Israel is dry and hot. It typically will not rain and you can expect a season of warm, sunny days. Temperatures throughout the country range from 80 to 90°F (27 to 32 °C). The southern parts of the country are extremely hot during this time of year and visiting destinations like the Dead Sea and Eilat in particular can be unbearable, so you’ll want to limit your time in those places.
FALL – September, October, November:
Fall weather in Israel is much like that of spring, with temperatures ranging between 60 to 70°F (15 to 20°C) during the day and dropping to the 40s-50s°F (5-10°C) at night. Prepare for a bit of rain but nothing too unpleasant, and note that the southernmost parts of the country are warm year round.
To stay comfortable when visiting Israel in the fall, be sure to bring a lightweight jacket for chilly evenings, as well as a good windproof umbrella in case of rain. Plan for typically mild weather and sunny days with a good pair of sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes to take advantage of the pleasing temperatures.
WINTER – December, January, February, part of March:
Winter in Israel is mild but can become quite cold, especially at night and in the northern part of the country. Expect a good amount of rain, and Jerusalem usually experiences a day or two of snow per year as well. Winter temperatures range from 50 to 60°F (10 to 15°C), though it can get as low as the 40s°F (5°C) in Jerusalem and the Galilee in the north.
Beaches – Israel is located along the Mediterranean coast and is brimming with seas and bodies of water throughout the country. You will likely have many opportunities to swim and relax at the beach, especially if you visit during summer. Bikinis and short, European-style board shorts for men are the norm throughout the country, though you should also bring a cover up to wear if you plan to enter restaurants or beach bars along the Tel Aviv coast.
Holy Sites – Israel isn’t referred to as “The Holy Land” for nothing! The country is filled with significant historical, religious, and cultural sites dating back to the beginning of time. You are likely to encounter the typical places of worship such as synagogues, churches, and mosques, as well as important religious sites such as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Women will want to bring a long skirt or dress and men will need pants or long shorts to cover the knees, though both men and women should be sure to have chest, knees, and shoulders covered when visiting any of these types of holy destinations.
Shabbat Meal – Israel tends to be pretty casual and laid back as far as style goes, but if you are attending a Shabbat dinner, the traditional Friday night meal, you will want to make sure you look nice, but not overly fancy. Men should go with a nice collared shirt and shorts or pants, and women should bring a skirt or dress.
Nightlife – Though the culture in Israel is typically laid back and casual, in the bigger cities, particularly in Tel Aviv, nightclubs and trendy bars are incredibly popular for nights out. Even Jerusalem has its fair share of nightlife options, though you won’t need to dress up quite as much as you would in Jaffa or Tel Aviv. Women should wear a stylish outfit paired with heels or nice sandals, weather permitting, and men should have a collared shirt with acceptable footwear including nice loafers or leather shoes, but not sneakers.
Hiking – Some of the most popular pastimes in Israel are hiking and outdoor activities, so you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable and prepared to face the elements. In the summer, when visiting destinations like Masada which can be especially hot during the day, it’s important to bring sun protection in the form of a hat, sunscreen, and covered shoulders to protect from the sun’s intense rays. The hiking dress code throughout the country is casual, with people sporting typical athletic wear such as leggings, shorts, and T-shirts. A popular outdoor activity is camping or “glamping” in the Negev Desert at night which can be cold, so prepare with a lightweight fleece jacket and long pants.
Exploring the Streets – As a whole, Israelis generally prefer pretty casual dress. That said, when you’re exploring the streets of Israel, be mindful of where you’re going and if you stumble into a religious neighborhood, you should be sure to have something to throw on over your clothes to cover your legs and shoulders. Jerusalem tends to be a bit more conservative but in Tel Aviv, all bets are off! Shorts, tank tops, and T-shirts are the norm.
What NOT to bring to Israel:
2) DON’T BRING flashy items or expensive jewelry: The last thing you want to do while traveling in any destination is draw unwanted attention to yourself as a tourist and end up being the target of pickpocketing or scamming. Leave flashy or expensive-looking jewelry at home and perhaps opt to purchase local, inexpensive items instead.
3) DON’T PACK too much stuff: Israel is one of those fascinating countries where you’ll likely want to do a lot of shopping at local markets and bazaars. As souvenirs are largely inexpensive (after a bit of bargaining), you will want to leave space in your suitcase to bring home your well-earned treasures! Bring less clothing items that have more versatile use to maximize the space in your luggage.
5) DON’T PACK unnecessary valuables: You won’t want to risk having your valuable or sentimental items lost or stolen while in Israel. Markets and important religious sites can be very crowded and you won’t want to make yourself an easy target for pickpockets. Only bring what you truly need and be sure to lock up extra cash or credit cards in your hotel’s safe.
6) DON’T BRING heavy books: Bringing books while traveling can weigh you down and make for a bulky suitcase. Opting for a Kindle instead will help to avoid the difficulty of lugging your belongings from place to place, which you will be doing a lot of as you make your way through Israel’s many exciting destinations.
FAQs about traveling in Israel
1. Is the tap water safe to drink in Israel?
Yes, tap water in Israel is safe and drinkable nearly everywhere in Israel. That said, your body may not be used to certain minerals in the water, which may upset your stomach. If you are concerned, large water bottles are sold nearly everywhere throughout the country and are very inexpensive.
2.What language is spoken in Israel?
Hebrew is the main language spoken in Israel, though English and Arabic are also widely spoken and understood. Israel also has a large Russian population and attracts visitors from around the world, so it is not uncommon to hear a wide variety of languages being spoken throughout the country.
3.Is it safe to visit Israel?
Yes, it is safe to visit Israel. Though situated in a precarious position amongst unfriendly countries in the Middle East, Israeli security and the military are some of the best in the world, which has developed out of necessity. Though you should feel safe in Israel, it is always important to take regular precautions as you would when traveling anywhere, which includes not walking alone at night, avoiding demonstrations and protests, and always being conscious of your surroundings.
4. What is the best time of year to visit Israel?
Though summertime in Israel attracts a large amount of visitors, the best time to visit the country would be in the spring or fall months when temperatures are pleasantly mild and there are less tourists. Destinations like the Dead Sea and Eilat are warm year round and the rest of the country enjoys moderate temperatures throughout the year, so you will be comfortable visiting at any time.
5. Is Israel safe for women and minority groups?
Israel is a safe country for women and minority groups, including the LGBT community. Tel Aviv boasts the largest Gay Pride Parade in the Middle East and Asia and is one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world. Israel has been ranked as one of the world’s safest countries for women and female travelers, and is akin to any other Western country. Women may still experience their share of catcalling or receive unwanted attention in that regard, but overall should not feel unsafe when visiting Israel. Note, however, that women will be expected to cover up when visiting holy sites or religious neighborhoods out of respect for the culture.
6. Do I need to tip in restaurants in Israel?
Tipping is expected in Israel. In restaurants, tipping 10-15% of your bill is standard based on the quality of the service you received, with 12% typically being the norm. It is not expected, however, to tip taxi drivers while in the country.
7. Do I need a visa to visit Israel?
US citizens do NOT need a visa when visiting Israel for 90 days or less, though your passport must be valid for up to six months from your departure date from the country. European and Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Israel, though you should always double check before booking your trip if you are unsure.
8. What’s the best way to get around Israel?
Israel is a small but compact country with much to experience from north to south. By car, the entire length of the country can be crossed in around nine hours, though you will likely want to stop along the way. Israel has an excellent train and bus system that will bring you quickly and easily through the majority of the country, with frequent departure times and typically inexpensive tickets. The public bus system is also a popular method of transportation in the major cities, though Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are largely walkable.
9. What are Israel’s off the beaten path destinations?
If you plan to spend more time in Israel, or if you have been there before, you may be searching for off the beaten path destinations to explore.
Consider visiting Safed, also known as the “Blue City,” an ancient town perched high up on a mountain renowned for the mystical study of Kabbalah. In Jerusalem, take a food tour through the ultra-religious Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim, though make sure you’re properly covered from head to toe before entering.
Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, plan a trip to Hebron, the fascinating yet controversial city in the West Bank. Hebron is home to the Cave of the Patriarchs which holds significant religious and cultural importance for Jews and Muslims alike. If you choose to visit Hebron, be sure to organize a tour that will get you in and out safely.
10. How can I save money while traveling in Israel?
There are several ways to conserve your money when traveling in Israel. Opt for public transit to get around rather than taking taxis, as the bus and train systems throughout the country are efficient and relatively cheap. Try street food instead of sitting down for a more expensive formal meal. Typical street food in Israel includes delicacies like falafel, hummus, shawarma, and pizza, and is delicious, inexpensive, and safe to eat. Israel can get hot, especially in the summer, so you’ll need to drink a lot of water. The tap water in the majority of the country is safe to drink, so consider bringing a reusable water bottle and refilling it rather than buying endless single-use plastic water bottles.
11. What are the top things to do in Israel?
Though a relatively small country, Israel is incredible eclectic and boasts a variety of religious, historical, and cultural sites as well as unique beaches, spectacular hiking, cosmopolitan cities, and world-class museums. Don’t miss visiting the typical sites, such as Jerusalem’s infamous Old City, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, and Masada. Be sure to make time for the fascinating Bedouin tents in the Negev Desert, the Golan Heights and the Galilee in the north, and beachy Eilat on the Red Sea at Israel’s southernmost tip.
12. What types of foods are eaten in Israel?
Israelis eat a lot of typical Mediterranean cuisine, including dishes like falafel, hummus, shakshuka, and shawarma, as well as typical Jewish cultural cuisine from around the world. You are likely to encounter traditional Jewish delicacies such as challah bread, ruggelach, kugel, halva, and many fresh fruits and vegetables native to the region, namely pomegranates, figs, and dates. Also, ice cream, pizza, and french fries are unlikely but incredibly popular foods you’ll find almost everywhere in Israel.