“How much does it cost to travel around Israel?”
This is one of the first questions that people planning on flying to Israel ask.
Of course, the answer depends on your budget, but we might calculate costs roughly as follows (per person per day):
Budget 300 – 400 shekels (also written as NIS – New Israeli Shekel) a day ($70-$80)
Dorm bed – 100 shekels, food – 80 shekels, transportation – 40 shekels, attractions etc. – 150 shekels
Midrange 500 – 900 shekels a day
3-star hotel – 350 shekels, food – 150 shekels, transportation – 100 shekels, attractions etc. – 250 shekels
Luxury 1500 – 4000 shekels a day
5-star hotel 800 to 1500 shekels, food – 300 shekels, attractions etc. – 1500 shekels
Now let’s break those costs down to see where you can potentially save some money.
Cost of flights to Israel
The main factor here is obviously where you’re flying from. But there are some things you ought to know. I’ll start with the good news: the price of flights to Israel has gone down for two reasons:
* The Open Skies agreement with the European Union opened the market up to competition. A lot of low-cost European companies entered Israel and prices dropped. If you’re coming from the US then a stop in Europe may dramatically lower the price you pay.
* The Ministry of Tourism is paying those companies that land in the south of Israel (Eilat and Ovda airports), so if you’re planning on staying in the desert, you ought to check it out.
Find out more here: The complete guide to flying to Israel
If you can, try to avoid the high season, especially July and August. The price of flights (and everything else) is high and it gets extremely hot.
Cost of Accommodation (price per night):
Accommodation tends to be the biggest expense wherever you vacation and in Israel accommodation is not cheap.
Be sure to check whether your visit falls on Jewish holidays because then the prices go up.
Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv. Offers private rooms with bathrooms so you pay almost half what you would for a hotel and get to enjoy a great atmosphere too.
Price of Accommodation:
Shared hostel room, per person: 80-130 NIS ($22-37)
Three-star hotel, double room: 330-550 NIS ($100-150)
Five-star hotel, double room: 1000-2000 NIS ($300-550)
Rooms on upper floors, upgraded rooms and suites cost more.
If you’re coming to Tel Aviv to lie on the beach all day before relaxing in your hotel, then you should invest in a good hotel, but if you intend to spend your days exploring Israel, then I would recommend a hostel. There are some great hostels and most have private rooms with bathrooms.
Another great thing about hostels that many travelers tend to forget is that you have the option of cooking for yourself. Not only can this be a big saving but, if you’re like me, you might get tired of eating out and just want to cook your own food.
Cost of Transportation:
Transportation in Israel is fairly cheap compared to that in countries in Western Europe. Buses and trains reach most places in Israel. The touristy cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Nazareth are easily accessible with public transportation. The Golan Heights and the Negev are less easy to get to, but it is possible.
If you rent a car (which I recommend for traveling in the Negev and Golan Heights), be aware that the price of gas is high in Israel.
Taxis within Tel Aviv: 30-50 NIS ($8-12)
Train from Tel Aviv to Haifa: 35 NIS ($9)
Bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: 20 NIS ($5)
Bus ticket within cities: 6.90 NIS ($1.7)
Car rental, per day: starts at $35 for the smallest car.
Liter of gas: 6 NIS ($1.5, €1.5)
Trains in Israel. The pros: relatively cheap and you don’t need to buy a ticket in advance. The cons: can get very full, especially on Sundays and Thursdays; they don’t run from Friday midday until Saturday night. The line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is not yet running (beginning of 2019).
Cost of Food:
From street food to restaurants, Israeli food is great, but restaurants are expensive and alcohol is ridiculously expensive.
Always look at the menu before you order!
Falafel: 10-16 NIS (€3.5)
Cup of coffee in a café: 12-20 NIS (€3.5)
Beer in a pub: 20-35 NIS (€6-7)
Meal in a restaurant, per person: 80-250 NIS (€20-50)
The cheapest option is to buy your food in a local supermarket.
I can really recommend this option because you can learn so much about the local culture from visiting a supermarket.
I even did a video about it! (I think it’s my favorite.)
Many of the important sights in Israel are not impressive in themselves. You need to know the history in order to enjoy the sites, which is why the best way to see the country is with a tour guide.
But not everyone can afford it.
There are cheaper options, such as tip-based tours in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and, of course, my booklets.
Day tour without a car: starts at $350 a day
Day tour with a car: starts at $650 a day
Tip-based tours: 30-50 NIS ($10)
Cost of Attractions/Entrance fees
Entry to national parks costs 29 NIS per person. Most museums are more expensive, but prices are generally reasonable.
Masada: Entry – 29 NIS ($7). Cable car both ways 46 NIS ($12)
Israel Museum: 54 NIS ($13)
Cost of a budget day in Tel Aviv for one person
Night in a hostel (including breakfast): 90 NIS
Bus to Jaffa: 6.60 NIS
Tip-based tour/walk with my booklets: 40/25 NIS
Lunch in Shuk (Market) HaCarmel: 50 NIS
Tel Aviv Museum of Art: 50 NIS
Ice cream: 20 NIS
Food for cooking your own supper in hostel + one beer: 50 NIS
Total: 300 NIS ($78, €75)
Cost of a (non-budget) day in Tel Aviv for a couple
Night in a boutique hotel (including breakfast): 1500 NIS
Private guide (walking tour, without a car): 1300 NIS
Coffee and cake: 100 NIS
Two taxi rides: 70 NIS
Restaurant: 350 NIS
Total: 3,300 NIS ($860, €800)