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 Getting Around

Israel is a very small country, therefore most destinations are more than possible to incorporate into a day trip from wherever you are staying. (Eilat being the only exception).  

Israel is a very small country, therefore most destinations are more than possible to incorporate into a day trip from wherever you are staying. ( Eilat being the only exception).  
Public transportation is usually reliable and inexpensive, while driving can at times  be a little challenging.
 
Local tips for Public transport users:

From Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, train and bus services are not available (except in Haifa and Eilat, and limited sherut services - shared taxis, see below).

Day tripping on a Friday? Unless you have a car, or are willing to pay for a taxi (not shared), start thinking about how to get back to your hotel by noon at the latest.

Both youth and students usually get discounts at buses and trains. Showing a valid student ID will usually entitle you for 10% discount for one-way long-distance travel, while for short distance bus travel those below the age of 18 can usually get half-priced Kartysia - a pack of 20 tickets.

By Bus
 
Buses are the most common form of public transportation for Israelis and travellers alike. They are cheap, fast and reliable.   The extensive national bus system is run by a public corporation called Egged (Eg-ged) and is the second-largest bus network in the world.
 
Additionally, a private bus company called Dan operates solely in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
 
 
 
By Sherut
 
Faster than normal buses, sheruts are minivans,  that generally follow major bus routes but can be hailed from anywhere along the route as they have no set stops.  They are usually a little cheaper and  quicker than buses, their hours of operation are longer - and most importantly, in many cases the sherut runs 7 days a week, including saturday the shabbat.
 
 

By Train

 
Trains run intercity lines from Nahariya in the north to Beer Sheva in the south, via Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport (not all trains travel the whole route)
 
Suburban lines then radiate from Tel Aviv to Binyamina, Ashkelon, Kfar Saba, Rishon LeZion, Modiin and Bet Shemesh. There are also lines between Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem and between Beer Sheva and Dimona.
 
Tel Aviv has 4 train stations and Haifa has as many as 6, providing easy access to many parts of those cities. Trains run 2-3 times per hour in peak travel times and at least once an hour at off peak hours.
 
A high-speed train line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem via Ben Gurion airport is now under construction (as of November 2007, the line is open as far as Modi'in).
 
For now though, trains to jerusalem while offering a gorgeous scenic trip are very slow. You need to change trains in Beit Shemesh and your final destination is not very centrally located, and another short bus ride is necessary to get to the main touristic part of Jerusalem.  
 
Train fares are generally more expensive than equivalent bus fares, though offer a fast and very comfortable way to explore the country.  On sundays and thursdays some services do get a little crowded as young soldiers travel to and from their bases.  
 
 
 
By Taxi
 
In comparison to many other countries in the world, Taxis are inexpensive  in Israel and because of their affordability are widely used by Israelis. 
 
The driver should use the meter both inside and outside cities (in Hebrew, moneh), unless the passenger agrees to prefix a price. There are surcharges; for calling a taxi (3.50 NIS as of June 2006), for luggage (2.90 a piece) and for hailing a taxi at Ben Gurion airport (5 NIS).
 
As in all countries in the world, taxi drivers often try to take advantage of tourists and folks from out of town. To help you keep ahead of the scams, we have addded a few tips from locals.
 
Clearly instruct the driver that you require the meter from the beginning before you get in the taxi and then ensure driver starts the meter as you head off on your journey.

Or ask a local how much the ride should cost and negotiate the cost with the driver at the beginning of the journey.  

At the end of your taxi ride, always take the meter receipt from the driver. This has all the driver details and taxi number which can be used to loacte lost items if you happen to leave something in the taxi.

If by chance you are caught off guard and forget to do any of the above, remember it is not worth having a great conflict over a few dollars. Pay up learn your mistake and continue of with your holiday.  Many locals have the same conflicts and issues with taxi drivers so do not take it too personally.  

 
By Thumb
  
The British Foreign Office considers it unsafe to hitch-hike in Israel, like most other countries in Europe & the Middle East. This advice applies specifically to tourists and is not a comment on the safety of hitch-hiking for locals nor a comment specific to Israel.
 
Hitch hiking should therefore be done at your own risk. Should you decide to Hitch hike, the following are a few tips from young israelis who rely on this form of transport to get from place to place. 
 
Generally speaking, hitch-hiking in urban areas is less popular than intercity hitch-hiking.

Most major junctions have a shelter and are well lit throughout the night. 

A sign can help ( blank piece of paper inside a plastic sleeve and a dry-erase marker gives you a reusable sign).

When hitch-hiking, instead of a thumb, you extend your hand, with 1 or 2 fingers extended, pointing at the road.  

For short rides, the 1 or 2 fingers should point to the ground. Drivers staying in the area may point downwards while passing, indicating that they wouldn't make a good long-haul ride.

 
By Car
 
Traffic in Israel drives on the right.
 
Highway signage is usually in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
 
Talking on a cell phone without a hands-free system is forbidden.
 
Traffic in Israel drives on the right and road signs, though now mostly also in english, often confuse and sometimes frustrate visitors.
 
While  the government has done a remarkable job in transforming the countries' road signage to english in order to accomodate the huge rise in tourism in recent years, the signs are often confusing. Spelling of cities' names and sights may change from sign to sign and are not always clear so patience may be  necessary to keep the fun holiday spirit in its rightful place. 
 
Renting a car
Most international car rental companies and local companies have offices in the large cities and Ben Gurion International Airport.  It is recommended to reserve a car in advance from abroad.
 
To rent a car in Israel the driver must be over 21 years of age, and must hold a valid international driver’s license and an international credit card.
 
Road System
Israel has a modern highway network, connecting all destinations throughout the country. Most roads are well maintained. In recent years, increased investment into infrastructure has further improved the condition of roads. Most roads are numbered according to orientation and significance. In general, east-west roads are oddly numbered, and north-south roads are evenly numbered. The most significant national highways are numbered using one or two digits, while the least significant local roads are numbered using four digits. Exceptions to these rules do exist.
 
Traffic signs and regulations are generally standard and resemble those of Western Europe. Israel has a somewhat unique "protected" traffic light system. Whenever a green light applies to a certain direction of travel, it guarantees fully protected travel to that direction, with the exception of right turns on green, which might require the driver to yield to pedestrians in some cases.
 
Usually, each traffic light has an arrow on top, and the traffic light then controls travel to the indicated direction, with a green light guaranteeing that all conflicting traffic faces a red light.
 
However, the most unusual thing happens in the rare occasion when a traffic light has no arrows. Unlike most other countries, in Israel a green light allows protected travel into all directions, and one may even turn left without yielding to oncoming traffic, which faces a red light.
 
Turning right at a red light is strictly forbidden; however, many large intersections provide separate right-turn pockets that bypass traffic lights, usually only requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians and traffic. Such right-turn pockets are usually preceded by a single flashing yellow light with a picture of a pedestrian in it - this merely reminds the driver to watch out for pedestrians who may be crossing the pocket in the path of the turning vehicle.
 
Like in several other countries, the green phase is preceded by a red+yellow combination phase. A flashing green light indicates that the yellow light is about to appear, but can usually be found only on roads with speed limits of at least 60 km/h.
 
White road markings are used to separate both traffic traveling in the same direction and in opposite directions. Yellow lines are used to mark the outer edges of the road (do not cross these, except if stopping at a shoulder), and orange or red lines are used in construction zones.
 
Traffic circles (roundabouts) are very common; generally, one gives way to cars already in the circle. There are no all-way stop signs.
 
Headlights must be turned on (even during the day) on intercity highways from November to March. Motorcyclists have to have their headlights on in all months of the year.
If one must exit the vehicle on the shoulder of a highway, there is a law requiring that one put on a neon yellow reflective vest in order to promote visibility. These will usually be found in all rental cars.
Seat belts must be worn at all times.
 
Speed
Israel uses the metric system of measurements. Default speed limits are 50 km/h in residential zones, 80 km/h on intercity roads without a physical separation median between opposing lanes, and 90 km/h on intercity roads with a physical separation median.
 
By default, all major freeways (identified by the standard blue European motorway sign) have a speed limit of 110 km/h; however, in practice, speed limit signs bearing a lower limit (usually 90 km/h or 100 km/h) limit the speed on these roads. Currently, only one freeway, toll highway #6 (Cross-Israel Highway) actually allows 110 km/h in most sections.
 
Police presence on the roads is generally very significant, and speed and red light cameras are common.
 
Parking
Parking regulations are indicated by curb markings. Red and white markings mean parking is prohibited (though depending on the locale and its parking regulations, one may park at a red and white overnight). Do not stop near curbs marked red and yellow, because these are usually reserved for certain vehicles, such as buses at bus stops. Blue and white markings permit parking only with a parking permit purchased at a machine. And of course, do not park in handicapped zones.
 
 
Internal Flights
 
Israel is a small country, and for this reason it is only worthwhile to consider flying between Eilat and Tel Aviv or Haifa. Several companies operate flights from Eilat to Haifa, Ben Gurion Airport, or Sde Dov in north Tel Aviv.  Airfares are reasonable, but are still much higher than bus fares. 
 
There are also private companies that operate special flights from anywhere in the country upon request.


Israel Airport Authority
Telephone: ++972 3-975-5555
 
Arkia 
Telephone: 03-690-2222,
 
Scheduled flights:
From Tel Aviv (Sde Dov or Ben Gurion Airport) to Eilat
From Haifa to Eilat
From Eilat to Haifa
From Eilat to Tel Aviv (Sde Dov and Ben Gurion Airport)
 
Israair
Telephone: 03-795-5777
Israair Website  

scheduled flights:
From Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport) to Eilat
From Eilat to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport)
 
El Al
Telephone: 03-971-6111
El Al Website
    
Scheduled Flights:
From Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport) to Eilat
From Eilat to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport)
 
 
Private and Public Tours
 
Israel is blessed with a professional cadre of trained and experienced guides and tour operators. You can avoid, albeit at a price, the hassle of doing it yourself. The price can be low if you book one of the regular tours run by such companies as Egged, United or Dan all of whom offer day, multi-day or week-long trips to different parts of the country.
 
There are also large tour operators who put together custom made packages such as TouringIsrael.Com, IsraelExperts.com, Kenes, Desert Eco Tours and Amiel.
 
Finally, at a somewhat higher cost, there are private guides and companies that run private, tailor-made tours, such as Joe Yudin, Jeff Abel, Guy Tours, Genesis 2000 and RentAGuide IsraelDeluxe.com to name but a few.
  

* Info courtesy of Wiki Travel

Travel Israel - Israel Travel Guide > Getting Around



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