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Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

Vancouver, Canada
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Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

Hi I will be travelling to Israel this fall for the first time. I turning 19 soon and am going to experience the middle east and also for religious pilgrimage to the holy sites of Orthodox Christianity. I will be visiting istanbul to see the Hagia Sophia prior to landing in Tel aviv, one question I have is are there direct taxis or buses to Jerusalem, since that is where i will be staying. Also am i able to visit the west bank, like the cities of bethlehem, jericho, and hebron? I also am wanting to take tour either to petra or cairo, but they both leave from Eilat, is there a bus that transports me directly to eilat from Jerusalem? I am very excited and it is my first time travelling alone, so any tips and advice would be great! One other question is how is the safety right now in israel/jordan due to the ongoing war in Syria and Iraq? I've always wanted to visit Damascus, but I know that is unlikely due to the war. Also what are some great budget efficient places to stay in Jerusalem for a week or so? Since i will be staying in other cities also. Any advice is highly appreciated, Thanks!

Kamloops, Canada
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1. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

You can take a Sherut from Ben Gurion airport into Jerusalem and it will pretty much take you right where you need to go or very close by.

My wife and I stayed at www.jerusalem-little-hotel.com in Jerusalem and they have a Hostel too which is cheaper. We chose this place because it was fairly close to the old city, its right across from Ben Yehuda street and a taxi stand, the light rail runs right past it, and the Sheruts drop off and pick up just behind it so it was super convenient. Another popular choice is www.abrahamhostels.com however its a bit further away from the old city. We also stayed at www.iyha.org.il/Eng/masada-hostel near Massada, and www.iyha.org.il/Eng/acre-hostel in Akko.

My wife and I visited Bethlehem and Jericho. We crossed on our own at Rachels crossing but met up with a guide who lives in Beit Jala and she drove us around. We did it this way because we only had one day and wanted to see the Monastery of St Saba and Monastery of St George in addition to Bethlehem and Jericho. At the end of the day she dropped us off back at Rachels crossing and we exited on our own and took a taxi back to the old city and our hotel.

There are Egged buses www.egged.co.il/eng from Jerusalem to Eilat.

Route 444

Departs Jerusalem at the following times and arrives in Eilat roughly 5 hours later.

7AM, 10AM, 2PM, 5PM

Cost: 82 NIS ($26 CAN)

If you have the time and are able to rent a car you could visit the dead sea and Massada and drop the rental car off in Eilat. My wife and I used www.eldan.co.il/en and it worked out great.

I wouldn't bother with a tour to Petra. Just get to Eilat and cross the border into Aqaba where you can get a bus or taxi. If you have the time consider spending a day and night in Wadi Rum. The guiding companies can arrange to have someone meet you on the Jordanian side of the Arava crossing and take you to Wadi Rum and they can also arrange transport to Petra. If you want a recommendation we used www.bedouinlifestyle.com and it was great. Attllah was very attentive to our needs and arranged transportation as well as rearranged the tour to accommodate our schedule. After Wadi Rum head to Wadi Musa and once there its super easy to visit Petra on your own and if you still want a guided tour you can hire a guide at the entrance. This website www.jordanjubilee.com will be very helpful in planning the Jordan portion of your trip.

Destination Expert
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2. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

You have great information above--just a few comments

a. consider the Abraham hostel in Jerusalem

b. a 19 year old is not going to be able to rent a car

c. Consider the transportation only deals via Abraham hostel to Dead Sea and Masada. ( you do not have to be a guest there to sign up for this)

d. To go to Cairo is a very long bus ride through the Sinai. This isn't the safest place at the moment. Stick with Petra.

e. Israel is safe, there is no concerns re: Syria or Iraq

f. I do not see Damascus as a tourist destination at this point. Anyway, you can't go from Israel to Syria. If they know you've been in Israel--they will deny entry.

Haifa, Israel
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3. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

"Sherut" means a shared taxi going from the airport to Jerusalem. Operated by a company named Nesher. The cost is 64 shekels per person (around $16).

Please find a list of additional guesthouses you may consider in Jerusalem.

Some are not low cost such as Austrian Hospice


Edited: 25 June 2014, 08:21
Gippsland, Australia
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4. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

Yes you can go to the West Bank. You must remember to take your passport and visa in case you are asked to show it at the checkpoint. I suggest you check out the day tours at www.abrahamtours.com for their options.

These tours are organised by the people at the Abraham hostel so are a particularly good option if you choose to stay with them.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

Wow thank you so much. Sorry for the late reply! Great information, hope situation changes so I can make this a reality! Thanks again.

6. Re: Travelling to Israel for the first time, advice?

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