Israel is a country that fascinates many, but how much does it cost to go to Israel? Well, it’s not exactly a cheap destination, but there are a few tips and tricks to make it more budget friendly which I’ll be sharing throughout this article.
People visit Israel for its history (both ancient and modern), its religious significance for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and even the beaches. For the purpose of this article, I have recommended a 7-day, 6-night itinerary to showcase the highlights of Israel. The focus is on the main religious and historical sites that are so important to the country since that is what most people come to Israel for.
That said, you may want to add a couple of days or even a week at the end to spend in one of the Red Sea resorts of Eilat, where you will need to increase the provided budget estimate. Also note that some people will add time to their holiday and visit Jordan, which is within driving distance of Israel. These estimates are made on a per person basis, so if you are travelling as a couple, be sure to double them (except for hotels).
- Local transportation
- Food and drink
- Random spending
- Israel trip cost
- Is it expensive to visit Israel?
- What is the cheapest time to go to Israel?
- How much does a trip to Jerusalem cost?
- How do you get around in Israel?
- What are the main types of attractions in Israel?
- What can you see in Israel in 3 days?
|Attractions||$500 (includes guides)|
|Food and drink||$350|
The above estimate is in American Dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home country.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.
Most international flights will fly into Ben Gurion Airport, which is listed as in Tel Aviv but is actually a pretty equal distance between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the cost of airfare to Israel for Canadians has increased quite a bit as El Al airline removed all flights from Canada, so Air Canada has the Monopoly. Americans will be able to find cheaper fares and Canadians can consider transiting through the USA or even through Istanbul to cut down on the costs. However, if you want a direct flight from Canada, you’re going to have to pay.
Insider tip: Entering Israel is pretty easy, but security measures when leaving Israel can be pretty intense. Make sure to allow yourself the full recommended three hours at the airport and expect to be questioned and have your luggage searched.
There is a wide variety of accommodation options throughout Israel; hotels, hostels, guest houses and even some resorts. Prices differ across the spectrum. For the purpose of this article, I have used the average price of a mid-range hotel as my estimate, which comes to about $175 per night.
As I will mention later on in this article, many of Israel’s cities (most notably Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) are quite large so I do recommend choosing a more central location to stay. The nightly cost may be a little higher however, that will balance out as it will save on travel time and public transit costs.
For suggestions in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I recommend the following:
Insider tip: Not all of Israel’s hostels are geared towards gap year students and backpackers. Abraham hostels are open for guests of all ages and have a great selection of private rooms as well making it a smart choice for budget-conscious travellers of all ages.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $300 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, which gives you up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels, which could easily have a value of over $500.
Regarding local transportation, Israel (and Palestine) can be a bit tricky for tourists.
Main cities, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Bethlehem, are relatively easy to get to by public transit, but overall Israel is not the easiest country to get around. Public transit is definitely lacking between smaller cities and major attractions such as the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, and Caesarea, meaning that most visitors rely either on tours for day trips or rental cars. That being said, driving in Israel is not for the faint of heart. Israelis can be very aggressive drivers.
As for the cities themselves, you’ll find yourself relying on buses and trams in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Both cities are quite large and while you can explore areas on foot, I don’t think you can walk around the entire time. Bus rides cost about $1.56 USD per ride, and taxis can be flagged down in the streets.
Another thing to note while travelling around the area is that you may come across two different kinds of buses to go to certain places. One bus will be for Israelis, while the other will be for Palestinians. As tourists, you can use either and both are safe and welcoming to tourists. however, if you are looking to save money, the Palestinian buses are a bit cheaper.
Israel has plenty to see and do, especially for those who are interested in history. From Jaffa just outside of Tel Aviv to the Old City and Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Baha’i Shrine and Gardens in Haifa, and the biblical city of Bethlehem in Palestine, you’ll have no problem keeping busy during your visit.
Due to the nature of the highlights (historical, biblical, and even regarding the conflict) I highly recommend you take guided tours. Not only does this take care of transportation, which can be tricky, but it also gives you a better, closer, and more in-depth experience. There is so much to see and learn that, on your own, you will likely miss most of it.
Something you will need to keep in mind is that this area is divided into Israel and Palestine, and there are rules about who can visit, which often applies to guides as well. This is another reason why it is best to pre-arrange your tours ahead of time to ensure you are going with a trusted company.
Food and drink
One of the best parts of visiting Israel is getting to try the food and drink, which most people end up really enjoying. Hummus and fresh pita, shawarmas, fresh pomegranate juices, falafel, and baklava are all popular. However, while some of these may be considered cheap street foods in other countries, food and drink in Israel (like everything else) are probably more expensive than you might think. That being said, these types of street food dishes are still more affordable than what you can expect to pay in restaurants
With that in mind, here’s a rough guide on what you can expect to pay for daily meals (including drinks).
- Breakfast – $10
- Lunch – $15
- Dinner – $25
Which comes to $50 per day.
When it comes to drinking and going out, Israel has a pretty good nightlife scene, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is known for its cool clubs and bars, while one of the highlights of Jerusalem is the small breweries in the Mahane Yehuda Market. You can expect to pay around $8 for a beer at a bar and double for cocktails.
One of the best ways to save on food and drink in Israel is to take advantage of Happy Hour. These are incredibly common in Tel Aviv and can save you anywhere from 10-30% off food and drink. It’s a great way to experience some amazing food for better prices.
When it comes to random spending, you’re probably just looking at snacks, drinks, and a couple of small souvenirs. Israel has some great markets worth browsing (especially in Old Town Jerusalem) but isn’t necessarily a shopping mecca. If you are buying at a market, make sure to barter with the vendors if no prices are indicated on the items you are interested in.
Israel trip cost
So how much does it cost to go to Israel? Well, for 7 days and 6 nights I estimate your costs to be around $3,375 USD. Israel isn’t necessarily a budget-friendly destination but with so much to see and discover, it is absolutely worth a visit. Keep in mind as well that this guide is tailored to mid-range travel so there is definitely space to save and reduce costs using some of the tips and advice above. If you want some more inspiration, check out my other how much guides to Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Jordan, Dubai and Egypt.
Is it expensive to visit Israel?
The cost of Israel tends to surprise a lot of people. Since Israel is in the Middle East it’s easy to assume that costs would be on par with Egypt or Jordan, but that is not the case at all. Prices in Israel are more like what you would find in big North American cities like New York or Toronto. This includes all aspects; dining, accommodation, transportation, and activities.
What is the cheapest time to go to Israel?
The winter months tend to be the cheapest time to go to Israel. However, keep in mind that winter in Israel is often warmer than what many North Americans experience, so this may not be a bad thing. Sure, you won’t end up on the beaches in Tel Aviv, but you also won’t melt while exploring Old Town Jerusalem like you would if you visited in July or August.
It’s also worth paying attention to the Jewish holidays when you travel. Primarily the High Holidays in the Fall and Passover in the Spring. These times of year are considered high season for the Jewish community and tend to be more expensive for travel.
How much does a trip to Jerusalem cost?
Jerusalem is the most popular place to visit in Israel so the costs I have listed above reflect what you can expect to pay in Jerusalem. If you are interested in the history of the city and looking to take guided or private tours then you can expect to pay a little more.
How do you get around in Israel?
Israel has a decent public transit network of trains and buses. Some places are a little trickier to get to by public transit but there are group tours you can take . This includes visiting sites like Masada or the River Jordan. You can also take milt-day tours to explore further away areas like the Sea of Galilee. Overall, as a tourist you don’t have to rent a car. If you are planning on using public transit in Israel, I suggest getting a Rav-Kav card which will work for buses and trains. You can buy one at the airport and load it when you arrive. Should you need to reload it again, you can do so at the bus and train stations.
One thing to be aware of as a tourist is that public transportation does not run during shabbat which starts sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Try not to arrange travel during these times or you will have to pay hefty taxi fees or rely on shuttles called sheruts that can be slow.
What are the main types of attractions in Israel?
Tourism in Israel typically falls under historical and religious travel. Israel has ties to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and its history dates back thousands of years. That being said, Israel also has a great food scene and Tel Aviv is considered to be one of the trendiest cities in the world so many young people like to come to experience that as well.
What can you see in Israel in 3 days?
Three days in Israel is enough to let you explore some of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The two cities are an hour away from each other by train and the airport is located between them so it’s an easy route to follow for a short amount of time. Make sure to explore The Old City and Shuk in Jerusalem. In Tel Aviv, you might like Carmel Market, the beaches, and Jaffa (the Old Town).