Transportation in Israel



Israel is a relatively small country and thus it is fairly simple and cheap to travel between different places. Depending on where you are going, you can choose between trains, buses, taxis, etc.



Domestic flights are only an alternative between Haifa (in northern Israel), Tel Aviv (in central Israel) and Eilat (in southern Israel). However, even between these cities there are often cheaper and more practical options.


Recently the train service in Israel, run by Israel Railways, has expanded a lot and going by train is often the best alternative between the major cities (except for Jerusalem). The trains are comfortable and safe, come regularly and on time and cost about as much as the buses. Tickets do not have to be reserved in advance, as they are sold at the stations. Return tickets give a certain discount, as well as international student cards. Please note that the trains do not run on the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening) and during Jewish holidays.



The most popular, cheapest and simplest way to travel between and within Israeli cities is often by bus. You buy the ticket from the driver or in the bus terminal and here too there are reduced return tickets and student discounts. The largest bus companies are Dan (mostly in central Israel) and Egged (in large parts of the rest of the country), but several smaller, private bus companies also operate in Israel. Most bus lines do not run on the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening) and during Jewish holidays.


Shared Service Taxi


Between and within most Israeli cities there are shared service taxis (“sherut”). They are minibuses that, more or less, follow the same route as the regular buses, for about the same fare. However, they also stop between the regular bus stops, to let passengers on and off. The shared service taxis do not follow any timetable and most of them run every day (including the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish holidays).




There are very many taxis in Israel and they are relatively cheap. You can stop a taxi on the street or order one by telephone. According to the law, the drivers are supposed to operate the meter, but they do not always do so. There are additional charges for telephone orders, luggage and rides during the night and/or weekends. Between cities you can also go by taxi, but it is often much more expensive than going by train, bus or shared service taxi.




In most Israeli cities and at the Ben Gurion Airport you find several international and local car rental companies. You can reserve a car before arriving in Israel or do so once you are in the country. The minimum age to rent a car is 21 and you need a valid international driver’s license, as well as an international credit card. The Israeli traffic rules are very similar to international ones. It is important to note that the newest and nicest highway, number 6, from northern to southern Israel, is an electronic toll highway.




In the beautiful Israeli nature you find a large number of bicycle trails, for example around the Sea of Galilee. In some parts of Tel Aviv there are also bicycle paths. Several other cities, such as Jerusalem, are full of hills and slopes, making it difficult to go by bicycle, especially during the long and hot summer.


By Foot


Within Israeli cities it is highly recommended to go by foot. The distances are normally not very big and by walking you will not miss anything interesting. There are also very many walking trails in the beautiful nature. The most famous one is probably “Shvil Yisrael” (“The Israel National Trail”), that extends from the northernmost tip of Israel to the southernmost part of the country, at a total length of 940 kilometers. Shvil Yisrael takes you through forests and deserts, as well as to the sea and it takes between 30 and 70 days to finish the whole trail, if hiked continuously. You can also walk through one or a few of the twelve smaller sections that the trail is divided into. There are always different groups of people walking on Shvil Yisrael and the trail is a perfect way to make new friends and to get to know Israel.


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