Traveling in Israel

Old Nov 8, 10, 3:05 am
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Traveling in Israel

I've been getting asked a lot how accessible Israel is, how to travel around, etc. I figured it'd be good to post this, so that at least, when people search it, they'll find some helpful links.

Israel has a very extensive network of public transportation, combining train, bus, and light rail.

The capital, Jerusalem, is in the midst of building a light rail system. The first (of 8) lines is tentatively supposed to be operational by May 2011. http://www.citypass.co.il/
The city of Tel Aviv is also building a light rail system. There are meant to be 7 lines, though the project has been delayed again, and no word in estimated completion date.
The city of Haifa has Israel's only subway system, and the world's smallest subway, the Carmelit. Information can be found here (Hebrew only) http://www.carmelit.com/carmelit/?

In addition to these 3 rail projects, many large cities have networks of internal bus lines. Jerusalem has one of the largest networks, exclusively from Israel's largest bus company, and the world's second largest bus company, Egged.(There's also a Facebook page about Jerusalem buses.)

Tel Aviv, Israel's second largest city, and unofficial cultural as well as business capital, uses a combination of Dan, Kavim, and to a lesser extend, Egged.

Be'er Sheva uses MetroDan, which is a joint venture by Dan (Israel's second largest bus company) and Metropolin, another Israeli bus company.

For intercity transport, there are a number of bus companies. Tel Aviv's New Central Bus Station, the world's largest bus terminal, is a hub for Egged, Dan, Kavim, Connex, Metropolin, Nativ Express, and Superbus, which is virtually all of Israel's bus companies. It is also down the block from Tel Aviv Haganah, Israel's second largest train station. BEWARE: It is a poorly constructed building, and very hard to navigate. Don't be shy to ask!
From here, one can get buses to most places in the country.

Jerusalem has a smaller, but nicer Central Bus Station, located on Jaffa Street. This is across the street from the site of the new high speed train station. When completed (in 2017,) this will be a high speed train that will connect Jerusalem with Tel Aviv in 28 minutes, via Modiin and Ben Gurion Airport. In the meantime, getting to Tel Aviv is best done either via Egged 405 to Tel Aviv's New Central Bus Station, or Egged 480 to Arlozorov Bus Terminal, next to Tel Aviv Savidor-Center train station. (Currently, there is a train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv that leaves infrequently and take 1 hour and 26 minutes. It leaves from Malcha, near the Malcha Mall and Teddy Stadium, and stops at the Biblical Zoo, Beit Shemesh, Ramla, and Lod, before Tel Aviv.)

These are important transport links:
Otobusim - Buses (English)
Otobusim - Buses (Hebrew)
Israel Rail, 03-611-7000 or *5770 (from Israeli cell phone)
Egged, *2800
This site links you to many other Israeli bus companies: Egged - Useful Links
Connex (Veolia Transportation) - routes around Modiin and Ashdod: *6686
Superbus - Modiin Illit, Ramla, Lod: 1-700-700-181
Metropoline: *5900
Afikim

NOTE: Most lines do not require advance ticketing. Simply board the bus and buy your ticket. For longer routes (over 1.5 hours,) there tends to be a discount to purchase a rountrip ticket. This can usually be done on the bus as well, but if at a central bus station, it pays to ask! Other people entitled to discounts on longer routes: children under 18 and people over 60.
Bus lines to Eilat DO require advance ticketing!

Last edited by joshwex90; Jan 29, 11 at 1:14 pm
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Old Nov 8, 10, 3:26 am
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Flying in Israel

Israel doesn't have a very large domestic flight network. There's one main airport, TLV, Ben-Gurion International Airport, located about 20 km from Tel Aviv and 50 km from Jerusalem. Most international flights use TLV. This is the hub for all Israeli airlines, El Al, Arkia, Israir, as well as LY subsidiary, Sun D'Or Airlines.
There are currently two airports by Eilat, ETH located inside the city, and VDA located about 40 km north. (Both of these airports are supposed to close at some point and merge into one larger airport just north of Eilat, but that has yet to happen.) Between these two airports, all three Israeli airlines provide service to Tel Aviv (either TLV or SDV which is also slated to close) as well as some service to Haifa.

How do I travel from TLV to the rest of the country? There are a number of options.
Train: In the main arrivals hall, turn left until the door marked "Israel Rail." The entrance to the train station is located right outside the door. From here, there are trains to Modiin (Pa'atei Modiin and Modiin Center), though eventually (supposedly by 2017) this will continue on to Jerusalem. In the other direction, the train heads north to Nahariya, stopping 4 times in Tel Aviv (Haganah, down the block from TA's New Central Bus Station; Hashalom, across from the Azrieli business center and Azrieli mall, and across from the Kiriyah, Israel's version of the Pentagon; Savidor-Center, next to the Arlozorov bus terminal; and Tel Aviv University), Binyamina, Atlit, 6 Haifa stations, Kiryat Motzkin, and Akko. Transfers can be made to anywhere on the rail map in Tel Aviv. (The rail network is slowly growing.)
Bus: There's a shuttle (Egged 5) from Terminal 3 to airport city, from where numerous buses to TA and Jerusalem run. A continuing ticket can be purchased on the first bus.
Rental Car: There are numerous rental agencies at TLV, including Hertz, Budget, Avis, Eldan, and Sixt. See bottom for links!
Sherut: This is a shared taxi. There is "Nesher," for NIS 55, to Jerusalem, and "Amal," to Haifa. (I don't the price of Amal.) They seat 10, and go as they fill up.
Taxi (Monit): There's a certified taxi stand outside the arrivals hall that will take pax around the country. Certain destinations have fixed rates. (Jerusalem for 2 pax, plus 4 suitcases, can cost a total of NIS 250.)

Hertz, phone number: 1-700-507-555
Avis, phone number: *2722
Budget
Eldan
Sixt (Shlomo Sixt)

Last edited by joshwex90; Mar 3, 11 at 7:39 am Reason: incorrect distance listed from TLV to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; added links for car rental agenices
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Old Nov 8, 10, 3:43 pm
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Great posts!

Did you forget about the sherut to Haifa, or does it not exist anymore? (I used it last 5 years ago).
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Old Nov 8, 10, 3:53 pm
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Originally Posted by ELAL View Post
Great posts!

Did you forget about the sherut to Haifa, or does it not exist anymore? (I used it last 5 years ago).
I don't think there is one anymore. Last I heard, there was still Nesher, and more limited sherut service (which I guess is a double lashon :-P) to Tel Aviv. Now, there's mostly the train to Haifa.
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Old Nov 9, 10, 3:40 am
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Originally Posted by joshwex90 View Post
Israel doesn't have a very large domestic flight network. There's one main airport, TLV, Ben-Gurion International Airport, located about 14 km from Tel Aviv and 31 km from Jerusalem.
Great Post!

I'm pretty sure that TLV-Jerusalem is more like 50 km
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Old Nov 9, 10, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by damaxer91 View Post
Great Post!

I'm pretty sure that TLV-Jerusalem is more like 50 km
Indeed you are correct, and TA was also wrong. I believe I was thinking in miles, but wrote in km instead.
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Old Nov 10, 10, 4:02 pm
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Thanks so much for these posts!! I'm currently planning my trip to Israel for next year - so great to have everything in one post
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Old Nov 10, 10, 4:40 pm
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Driving in Israel

Driving in Israel can be daunting. There is a mix of roads throughout the country, some being highways on par with American/European standards, 6 lanes with divider, interchanges only, speed limits as high as 120 km/hour. Other roads are 2 lane roads, with people from behind passing you if you're going to slow, or, where not allowed, tailgating. (As a note, many Israeli drivers will tailgate, regardless of location or speed.) Stay alert while driving!
Israelis drive on the right side of the road.

This is a list of most Israeli highways/roads: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highways_in_Israel

Currently, there are 2 main highways between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Highway 1 which links up with the Begin Highway in Jerusalem and the Ayalon Expressway in Tel Aviv, and Highway 443. Highway 1 is a standard freeway, whereas 443 does have traffic lights at some major junctures. However, (partly because of this,) Highway 1 can back up tremendously, especially during rush hour, and especially at the entrances to each of the cities.
Highway 6, also known as the Yitzchak Rabin Expressway, is Israel's newest highway. It is a toll road, though without any tollbooths. Cars are charged automatically as they enter and exit. Rental agencies charge nominal fees to use Highway 6; see these two threads: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/middl...l#post14805905 and http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/middl...toll-road.html
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Old Nov 11, 10, 6:49 am
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443 also cuts through the West Bank and there may be some military checkpoints there especially after partial opening for Palestinian vehicles.
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Old Nov 11, 10, 1:31 pm
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Originally Posted by William S View Post
443 also cuts through the West Bank and there may be some military checkpoints there especially after partial opening for Palestinian vehicles.
This is a true. There are 2 checkpoints heading northwest (Jerusalem-TA) and 1 in the opposite direction. It does indeed pass through the West Bank for a coupe of miles, inside the Israeli security fence, however. It's the more convenient road for getting to Modiin, as well as Lod and Ramle.
As for it being open to Palestinian vehicles, there is a small stretch that is open to them. Checkpoints however are the same, as the new checkpoints are by the entrances to the road for Palestinian cars. As a note though, few Palestinians are actually using the road, and it's basically a non-factor.
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Old Jan 16, 11, 9:19 pm
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New Express Lane - Highway 1

More information about Highway 1, the main expressway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Recently, an express lane opened up, which is free for public transportation and cars with 3 or 4 passengers in the car (depending on the time of day). The permitted number is listed on electronic signs on the highway. Also listed is the toll cost (fluctuates between NIS 6 and NIS 75). The toll is for people who do not meet the requirements but wish to take the express lane anyways.
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Old Jan 16, 11, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by joshwex90 View Post
More information about Highway 1, the main expressway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Recently, an express lane opened up, which is free for public transportation and cars with 3 or 4 passengers in the car (depending on the time of day). The permitted number is listed on electronic signs on the highway. Also listed is the toll cost (fluctuates between NIS 6 and NIS 75). The toll is for people who do not meet the requirements but wish to take the express lane anyways.
what are they going to do take a pic and look at each pic of every car that was in the Express lane? how will they know if as a single person in the car if I paid the fee or not?
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Old Jan 17, 11, 5:16 am
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Originally Posted by craz View Post
what are they going to do take a pic and look at each pic of every car that was in the Express lane? how will they know if as a single person in the car if I paid the fee or not?
Yes, they take a picture of every car's license plate in the lane, just like they do on route 6.

I you have 3 or more passengers and you want to get a toll exemption you must stop at a "checkpoint" at the entrance to the lane and register. Otherwise they will charge you the fee.
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Old Jan 17, 11, 8:33 am
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Originally Posted by craz View Post
what are they going to do take a pic and look at each pic of every car that was in the Express lane? how will they know if as a single person in the car if I paid the fee or not?
Just like Highway 6, you will automatically get charged the toll. You can "opt out" by going to a checkpoint, similar to tolls by the Hudson River crossings, where a discount is given for 3 or more people (carpool) with EZ-Pass. There, just say you have 3 (or 4) people in the car, and the toll is waved. Simple
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Old Jan 27, 11, 4:23 pm
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Thanks, Joshwex. This is extremely helpful. I'll be renting a car while in Israel, and I haven't driven there before. I plan on only traveling between major destinations (J'lem, where I'll be based, and Tel Aviv, with potential trips to Cesaria, Haifa, and/or maybe Tiberias). Looking forward to having my own wheels there as opposed to being stuck on tour buses.
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