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Fast Facts you need to know about Israel before traveling

Are you planning to book flights to Tel Aviv for making an unforgettable trip to Israel? This small country in the Middle East is undoubtedly the most exciting destination in the world. Your trip to Israel is bound to amaze you. Get set to arrive in a place which is viewed as a confluence of cultures where Jews, Muslims and Christians coexist and intermingle with each other.

But before you actually embark on a trip to Israel, here are some fast facts that you will need to know before arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main international airport at Tel Aviv.

Best Time to visit Israel
Tourists from world over mostly visit Israel either for sightseeing or spiritual tourism. Israel is in fact a Holy Land for the people of three Abrahamic faiths – Jews, Christians and Muslims. If you are visiting the country for seeing the places of religious interest, any time of the year is considered to be best time to visit. However, before planning your visit it is always important to consider weather conditions and the holidays in the country.

The summer months here is usually from April through October. The weather conditions, particularly along the coast, can be humid and quite hot. The winter season is usually from November to March. The temperatures tend to be cooler with possibilities of rainy days as well. Keeping in view the weather conditions in both the seasons, plan your visit to Israel accordingly.

Tourists also need to remember that Israel is a predominantly Jewish State. You should also make your travel plans taking into account important Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Passover. These are peak travel times with the busiest months being October and August. Even though you decide to visit the country during these months, make sure that you begin your travel preparations much in advance and accordingly make your hotel reservations.

Another important fact to note is that Shabbat or Saturday is considered to be a holy day of the week. So avoid traveling on Saturdays because of the strict observance of Shabbat across the country or else your travel might be impacted. Most of the businesses and government offices are closed on Shabbat, which usually starts from Friday afternoon and concludes on Saturday evening. However, you will be pleased to know that most restaurants are open in Tel Aviv on Shabbat, but the public transportation such as buses and trains either don’t operate or have a restricted schedule. The work week in Israel starts from Sunday.

Dining in Restaurants
Whether you are visiting Tel Aviv or any other city of Israel, there are plenty of restaurants available serving local Israeli delicacies and Middle Eastern cuisines. Kosher food is served in many larger hotels in the country. However, the law of the country doesn’t mandate that all restaurants are required to serve kosher food. There are a number of restaurants in Tel Aviv and other cities which serve different types of Western, Continental and Middle Eastern cuisines as well other than kosher. You will be easily able to identify kosher restaurants with their prompt displaying of a kashrut certificate provided by the local rabbinate.

Currency Exchange
The greatest worry for every tourist to a foreign country is regarding currency exchange, and Israel therefore is no exception. The New Israeli Shekel or NIS is the currency of Israel. The value of 1 Shekel is 100 Agorot (Agora in singular). The banknotes come usually in the denominations of NIS 200, 100, 50, and 20 shekels. The coins come in the denominations of 10 agorot, 50 agorot, 1 shekel, 2 shekels, 5 shekels and 10 shekels. The common mode of payment is through cash as well as credit card. The ATMs are widespread and can be found in all the cities. The tourists always have the option and will find it easy to withdraw cash in Euros and Dollars with the facilities being provided by some ATMs. Most of the ATMs in Israel are either of Bank Hapoalim or Bank Leumi, the two major banks in the country.

Communicating with people
Tourists visiting Israel from English-speaking countries or even those who are not from English-speaking nations but speak English well won’t find it difficult in communicating with the local Israelis. You will find many Israelis speaking in English, so getting around in Tel Aviv and other cities of the country won’t be difficult at all. However, knowing a smattering of Hebrew language would surely be of great benefit for you. The knowledge of the local language helps a lot.

Visa Requirement
If you are a U.S. citizen visiting Israel from any part of the United States, you won’t require a visa for your stay in Israel for a period of up to 3 months from your arrival date. However, you will need to carry your passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure.

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