A record number of people visited Israel in the first half of 2018, according to the Tourism Ministry. About 2.1 million tourists visited the country between January and June, 19% more tourists than the same period last year.
An influx of tourists is great for Israel and the local economy, but those visiting the country may experience sticker shock. I’ve heard prices are on par with Scandinavia and North America. Tourists coming from Asia in particular may be shocked at the cost of traveling around.
That got me wondering if it’s possible to explore Israel on a budget. And as it turns out, you can.
Choose Your Accommodations Wisely
For tourists, the biggest expense when traveling in Israel will be accommodations. Even when using coupons to save money on your accommodations, you’ll still spend the bulk of your budget on hotels.
Inns and hostels tend to be more budget-friendly options. Look for places that include breakfast with your stay. This will at least eliminate the cost of one meal each day.
Use Public Transportation
It’s not always easy to find cheap accommodations, but you have lots of low-cost options when it comes to transportation.
Use public transportation whenever you can. This is the cheapest way to get from city to city. Taxis are expensive, particularly when you’re traveling long distances.
Once in town, you can continue using public transportation to see the local sights. But many cities in Israel are walkable and very bike friendly. In Tel Aviv especially, bikes are the best way to get around town.
To use the city’s green bicycles, just register with your credit card and pay for the amount of time you wish to use the bike. Here’s a little tip to save money on bike rental costs: change your bike every 30 minute at one of the 150 stations in town, and you won’t have to pay anything more than the registration fee. The first 30 minutes are free.
If you want to eat international food, expect to pay more. Stick with small, local restaurants that serve local dishes. If your goal is to explore Israel and its culture, that should include food. Ask the locals where they eat.
If you’re on a really tight budget, many hostels have kitchens that guests can use. Preparing some of your meals in the kitchen can help you save quite a bit of money.
While you’re wandering around, visit the local markets to buy fresh fruits and snacks to stay full during the day.
Use Free Walking Tours
If you have a list of places you want to see while in Israel, you might consider booking organized tours. They’re really not as expensive as you might think. You traveled all of this way. Don’t skip out on visiting the place you have dreamed of visiting. Tours are the one area I would recommend not skimping out on.
But if your budget doesn’t allow for any tours, there are many free walking tours in big cities, like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
As you can see, it’s possible to visit Israel on a budget. It will take some careful planning, but it’s entirely possible and doable.