Useful country information

Train operator in Israel:

Israel Railways (IR).  For train times & fares in Israel, visit www.rail.co.il.  Trains link Haifa, Tel Aviv and (as from April 2005) Jerusalem.

 

 

Ferries to Israel:

Poseidon Lines & Salamis Lines (Greece-Cyprus-Israel, both still suspended).  UK agent is www.viamare.com 

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from 02:00 on the Friday before the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.

Currency & dialling code:

£1 = approx 6 Shekels.  Currency converter.  Dial code +972.

Tourist information:

www.goisrael.comIsraeli/Palestinian situation:  to check the latest situation, visit the Foreign Office's travel advice internet site at www.fco.gov.uk.

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Israel. 

Page last updated:

14 April 2014


London to Haifa, Tel Aviv & Jerusalem

Israel is incredibly isolated from the rest of the world as far as land or sea travel is concerned.  There are only two or three options for travel from London (or anywhere else in Europe) to Israel, and there are major problems with each option:

Option 1:  By train all the way via Istanbul, Syria & Jordan...

You can book the London to Istanbul train journey through any UK European rail ticketing agency, as shown on the London to Turkey page.  You can book the train from Istanbul to Adana either at the station when you get to Istanbul, or through a travel agency in Istanbul, as shown on the London to Syria page.  You can book the buses from Adana to Aleppo when you get to Adana.  You will need to book the Aleppo-Damascus train at the station in Aleppo, and the Damascus-Amman train at the station in Damascus.  In planning a trip like this, you may find this technique helpful.

Option 2:  By train+ferry to Greece then direct ferry from Piraeus to Israel...

The journey from London to Israel used to take about seven nights.  The journey involved travelling to Athens to pick up one of the several weekly year-round sailings from Piraeus to Haifa in Israel.  However, both Poseidon Lines and Salamis Lines' Piraeus-Cyprus-Israel ferry services were suspended in 2001 because of the political situation in Israel, and they show no sign of resuming.  A car ferry service for motorists and freight may or may not be operating, you can check the latest situation with Viamare Travel.

Option 2a:  By train+ferry to Greece then ferry to Israel via Cyprus...

In summer 2008, a passenger cruise ferry started sailing at least weekly from Rhodes (and on some dates Crete) to Limassol in Cyprus between June & October taking 1 night, then weekly between April & October from Limassol to Haifa in Israel taking 1 night.  To see if it's still operating, see www.varianostravel.com/Cruises/ferry_service.htm but I don't think it is, or at least, it's not taking one-way regular foot passengers.  For train & ferry travel from the UK to Rhodes, see the London to Greece page.  It may seem a bit daunting to plan a multi-stage train + ferry journey from the UK to Israel via Athens, Piraeus, Rhodes & Cyprus, but you may find this planning technique helpful.

Onwards train travel from Haifa...

From Haifa, air-conditioned trains of Israeli Railways run regularly to Tel Aviv and Beersheeva. Visit the Israeli Railways website for train times and fares.  The railway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been rebuilt, and from April 2005 trains once again link Tel Aviv with Jerusalem.


Train travel in Israel...

Israel has a modern and rapidly-expanding train network.  The line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, closed for some years, re-opened in early 2005, and fast air-conditioned trains also link Tel Aviv with Haifa.  However, there are no international train services to or from Israel.

Tel Aviv ► Jerusalem

Trains leave Tel Aviv’s Merkaz station (also known as Tel Aviv Central – Savidor) for Jerusalem's Malha station every hour from 05:54 to 19:54 on Mondays-Thursdays and Sundays, journey time 1 hour 40 minutes for the 82 km (51 mile) journey.  They also call at Tel Aviv's Hashalom station 2 minutes after leaving Merkaz.  Trains return from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv every hour from 05:43 to 21:43 on Mondays-Thursdays and Sundays.  On Fridays, trains run hourly in each direction until around 13:00, there is no service on Friday afternoons and just one late-night service on Saturdays after dark.  Jerusalem Malha station is some way from the old city or indeed the central part of the new city, but a taxi will cost less than £5/$8.

Fare: 22.50 shekels (£3.70 or $2.50) one-way, 40.50 shekels (£6.70 or $10) return.  Child under 10, 17.50 shekels one-way, 35 shekels return.

Haifa ► Tel Aviv ► Ben Gurion Airport  & Be’er Sheva

On Mondays-Thursdays and Sundays, two trains an hour link Haifa with Tel Aviv (Merkaz station) and Ben Gurion airport. Haifa-Tel Aviv journey time 50-60 minutes for the 85km (53 miles), Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport 19 minutes. One train an hour links Tel Aviv Merkaz with Be’er Sheva, some trains starting back in Haifa. On Fridays, trains run hourly in each direction on both routes until around 13:00, there is no service on Friday afternoons, or on Saturdays until after dark

For other train routes, train times & fares in Israel, see www.rail.co.il.


Find hotels in Israel

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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