Is Israel Safe to Visit? And Other Things to Know About Israel Travel

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Israel was somewhere I wanted to visit for a while. My mom went when she was around my age and had some great stories about floating in the Dead Sea and exploring the Old Town of Jerusalem. Yet when I told people (other than my mom) that I wanted to travel to Israel I was met with plenty of hesitation. Many questioned me if Israel was safe to visit because in the western part of the world, including my home country of Canada, Israel is often perceived as dangerous.

Clearly, I went anyways. In fact, I’ve now been multiple times and even spent 3 months living in Tel Aviv. I love this part of the world but it isn’t always easy. So, before you start planning your trip to Israel, I’ve got a few tips and suggestions based on my own experience. From me to you, here are 8 important things I think you should know before you travel to Israel.

Yes, Israel is Safe to Visit 

Wave splashing against a rock against a back drop of Old Jaffa skyline in Tel Aviv

Well, as safe as anywhere can be these days. Yes, they have some incidents but tell me a country that doesn’t.

I realize that probably sounds surprising as Israel only ever seems to make the news when there is violence. However, having spent a considerable amount of time there, including being at bar during the Tel Aviv Terror attack in April of 2022, I still would argue that Israel is generally safe. After all, how many shootings take place in the USA every day? The sad reality of this world is that violence can occur at any place and any time, and while being in close proximity and experiencing the panic of a terror attack was alarming, overall I never felt unsafe exploring as a tourist in Israel (or Palestine). 

What many people find alarming is the soldiers. Once you land in Israel it’s hard to avoid the huge military presence in the streets, especially in Jerusalem. I found this very shocking my first visit. After all, I’m Canadian and we don’t do guns. So walking around and seeing a number of heavily armed police and solders, many of which are very young (Israel has mandatory military service when you are 18) took awhile to get used to. However, overall the soldiers are very friendly and curious and many will strike up a conversation with you.

Tours and Day Trips are a Great Way to See the Country

The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

My first visit to Israel was a press trip with local company called Abraham Tours. At first I was wary of a guided tour-heavy experience because I don’t normally consider myself to be a tour type of person. I like my freedom and the ability to do what I want on my own time. However, Israel has so much history and so much to learn that, without the day tours, I wouldn’t have known or understood a thing. Since I’m big on hearing the stories behind places, this was pretty important for me.

You can take multi-day trips to Israel but for independent travellers, day trips are perfect. You can spend the day learning and exploring with a guide but create your own schedule and still have plenty of time to explore on your own. There are tons of tour options throughout Israel ranging from historic to religious to adventure. I’ve taken several with Abraham Tours and highly recommend them. 

Ein Standing in a stream in Gedi National Park in Israel

Another great perk about these day tours is that they make it easy to get around Israel and Palestine. There is a public bus and train system but some places can be long and difficult to get to. For example, the bus stop for Masada  is actually quite far away from the actual site. 

If you don’t plan doing day trips, you can consider renting a car for some days. Just know that Israeli drivers can be pretty crazy! 

A Visit to Israel Really Should Include a Visit to Palestine

You can’t visit Israel without knowing about the Israel/Palestine conflict. And, in my opinion, I don’t think you can visit one without the other (assuming your passport will allow you to do so). Every story has two sides and I think you owe it to yourself, as a traveller, to take the time and learn a bit from both. 

While I have been to Palestinian cities and areas several time, I have not gone on my own. I believe that Bethlehem is quite easy to access by public transit however I have also preferred to go with a tour. It’s not that I don’t feel safe in Palestine alone, Palestinians in my experience have always been warm and friendly. But rather I prefer to explore with a local to meet the people and hear the stories. Especially when it comes to seeing the refugee camps which can be a very sensitive area for many residents. 

Again, I recommend Green Olive Tours for visits to Palestine. These are more political tours (if you want more historic ones, look to Abraham Tours). These are heavy tours that require you to come with an open mind but I really recommend them. My favourites were the tour to Nablus, Bethlehem, and the Gaza Border Tour. 

Israelis Take Some Getting Used To

Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem

This was a hard one for me to process because I will literally smile and talk to anyone. However, some Israelis are really hard to crack. My first time, in 2018, was tough. It wasn’t that I felt unwelcome, its just a felt like I didn’t matter and nobody could be bothered with me. I was pushed aside and ignored in markets to the point where I sometimes left without being served. In turn, this made me feel a little more reserved and shut off and, in all fairness, probably not the most approachable person. 

My second visit in 2020 was a different experience. Perhaps because I was more comfortable having been before. Maybe because I was with a friend who knew the country pretty well. But I was definitely more authoritative this time around which made a huge difference in markets. Since I was more comfortable, I was also chattier with the locals which made a HUGE difference. 

After living in Tel Aviv I’ve learned that Israelis take awhile to warm up to you. Many are blunt and direct. The men especially are incredibly forward. However, despite their sometimes tough exterior Israelis are generally warm and kind once you get to know them.

Israel is NOT a Cheap Travel Destination

Hannah and Brittany at Cafe Cucu

The cost of things in Israel really surprised me. It’s a pricey country in every aspect; food, accommodation, tours etc. It may be a Middle Eastern country but you can expect North American pricing. In fact, Tel Aviv is considered to be one of the most expensive places to live-in the world.

Accommodation and tours will be the priciest and it’s hard to work around those, but there are a few handy tips for saving money on food and drink. First off, fresh groceries there are reasonably priced. Especially produce. I paid way less on fresh vegetables and in-season fruits in Israel than I do in Canada. For going out, take advantage of Happy Hours. You can save 30% or more on drinks and/or food at many restaurants. 

PS: Speaking of food, if you are planning to visit Israel, make sure to check out my Tel Aviv foodie guide and post on the best places to eat in Jerusalem

Packing Appropriately for Israel (and Palestine) Can Be Tricky

Standing in Temple Mount in Israel

Part of the magic of this part of the world is how diverse it is in terms of religion and culture. However, it also makes it tricky to figure out what to pack and how to dress.

For tours to the historic or more religious parts of Israel, you’ll want to be more covered up. If you are planning on visiting Palestine as well, you’ll need to cover up. This means longer sleeves, pants or skirts past your knees, and no cleavage.

However, parts of Israel are also very trendy and fashionable, especially Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is very casual but it really feels like anything goes here. You’ll see a mix of the religious jews covered up and young girls walking down the tayelet (boardwalk) wearing just bikinis. 

Finding a balance of what to wear was tough at first but after all my time there, I’ve pretty well figured it out. If you’re looking for packing tips check out my article on what to wear in Israel.

Getting in is Easy, Leaving is Very Nerve-Wracking

airplane at sunset

Every time I arrive in Israel, I breeze through immigration. My first visit, I don’t even think the officer looked at me as he scanned my passport and handed me the required papers to enter the country. However, leaving is a whole other story.

I’m always questioned. My bags are always searched and twice I’ve actually been taken aside and scanned and questioned away from the crowd. It’s pretty intense, but it’s part of the process. As a solo female traveller with plenty of stamps in her passports, including multiple from Arabic countries, I’m a huge red flag. While the experience isn’t fun, everyone has always been kind and friendly and there have never been any issues. 

That being said, when you leave Israel make sure you get to the airport early (like the full 3 hours early) to give yourself plenty of time. 

A Visit to Israel (and Palestine) will be one of the Most Fascinating Trips of Your Life

I didn’t love Israel my first visit, however, I’ve been back multiple times and now love this part of the world. It is absolutely a place that I recommend everyone to visit should they get the opportunity. Most people come for history, religion, or conflict but don’t forget to also enjoy the food, the beaches, the nightlife, and the beaches. 

This part of the world really is a unique travel destination and is definitely worth exploring. Yes, it is safe to visit Israel and, while I am happy to share the stories of my personal adventures here, I truly believe that this is a destination that everyone should experience for themselves.

A Note on Travel Insurance in Israel

Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine multiple times. While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance as they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found, plus, they are who I use and I have had great experiences with them. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.

Planning a trip to Israel? Here are 8 things to know before your visit Israel. #Israel


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  4. Ben on April 4, 2021 at 7:16 am

    I enjoyed reading this even though I live here and primarily I have been dreaming (during this Covid period) of going to other countries.

    Just a few thoughts:
    As someone who grew up in the states and has been to Canada many times, Canadians are among the most friendly people on earth so it’s kinda hard to compare. But Israelis are actually very friendly, they just don’t have some of the same social mannerisms as North Americans. They often don’t say “you’re welcome” and that usually wont wait and hold open the door for you in public areas, or wave thank you when a car stops to let them cross, but when you need something most will go out of the way for a complete stranger and will risk their lives to save a stranger. But if I’m being honest the lack of you’re welcome or holding a door does bother me. But it’s truly not connected ti friendliness, get ti know Israelis and you will see they are very friendly but the culture is definitely different.

    I agree with you that Palestine is worth visiting if you feel safe, but I think it should be like 2 separare trips or since people have come here from far at least I recommend to do one first and then the other and not back and forth as much as possible so you get a distinct feel for each place.

    About security I have had my bags put in scanners but never searched, and never more than a few minutes of questioning, and usually less. And I have been to Malaysia Of course I’m Jewish with an Israeli passport and The Israelis would not know i’ve been to Malaysia since it was not on my Israeli passport. But my understanding is a bit of patience and honesty and you should have no problems. Ultimately the security works and keeps people safe. And btw I have on at least 2 occasions arrived back to Israel from USA with a note in my bag that it has been searched by TSA Never had that anywhere else though it could be that other countries don’t bother to leave a note.

    Btw Malaysia is super friendly, one of the few countries I have found to be friendly like Canadians. Sending my love to Canada!
    Keep traveling and keep sharing

    • Hannah Logan on April 5, 2021 at 11:13 am

      Ugh I hear you on daydreaming about getting back to travel. A year of no travel is making me crazy.
      I agree being Canadian leads to high expectations about friendliness however I have been to 60 countries and would still say Israel, at first, isn’t friendly. I did experience some people who did go out of their way to help- I was actually in Israel when the world shut down for COVID and the start of the lockdown-nightmare. But I think they need a little convincing maybe to open up to strangers and tourists. Perhaps different for expats. As for Israel and Palestine as two separate trips- not feasible for most people. Chances are those who visit will only get to come once which is why I said make sure to get to both spots. I found them equally fascinating. I definitely plan on coming back (when I can) to explore more!

  5. Mark H Needleman on April 4, 2021 at 10:35 am

    I agree. I spent a month in Israel in 2019 and it was perhaps the most fascinating place I’ve ever been and I have traveled to many places

    I didn’t get to see every place I wanted to and look forward to going back as soon as possible

    • Hannah Logan on April 5, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Hopefully we can get back to travel soon!

  6. Farasiko MATAWALU on April 4, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Yes sure it’s such a wonderful place to visit. I also Israel way back in 2007. When l was in the old city of Jerusalem it was a different atmosphere altogether compared if you are in Tel-viv. It was really a good vacation for me and l always dreamt to visit again. I was able to visit almost places where Jesus Christ our Savior visit and even to end up to Mount Sinai. I just count myself very lucky because l make use of that glorious opportunity.

    • Hannah Logan on April 5, 2021 at 11:10 am

      yes, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are SO different. Both fun to explore though!

  7. Terri Swainsbury on April 6, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve visited Israel seven times, the last time in 2011. I was part of a church group. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide.(same one each time). I always felt safe during these visits to this wonderful country. Would love to go again.

  8. Nyin on August 18, 2021 at 10:50 am

    I have taken 2 trips to Israel. Israelis are very helpful but many lack American manners. They forget to say thanks and goodbye, but they will carry your luggage up a flight of stairs without being asked.
    Tell Aviv is a fun, party, artistic city and friendlier
    As far as going to Palestine, you must go on an organized tour. It is simply too dangerous.

    • Hannah Logan on August 23, 2021 at 9:26 am

      Agree re: Israelis. Different kind of friendly than we are used to in North America. However, I don’t necessarily think you need a tour to visit Palestine at all. Depends on the area, of course, but I’d feel safe going to Bethlehem on my own for sure.

  9. Nyin on August 23, 2021 at 9:47 am

    In my younger more adventurous days, I went to Bethlehem with a girl I met in Israel. All of a sudden everyone was screaming, running around like crazy. The people on tours had security guard that ushered them to buses, machine guns drawn. Tourists like me scrambled with no plan…we ran to a store, but the owner locked us out.
    We were fine in the end. It was a knife attack that started the chaos.

    • Hannah Logan on August 23, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Scary for sure but, sadly, that can happen anywhere. I’ve had friends in Israel when there have been attacks like that too.

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