Visitors are often concerned about health and safety when traveling to Israel, but those concerns are unwarranted.
Israel has plenty of first world doctors and offers well-equipped, modern hospitals as well as Terem and Magen David Adom clinics, which is our national emergency medical service. Visitors will find that good medical care is always nearby. In fact, many hotels will arrange for house calls with local licensed physicians, although you’ll have to pay privately for care (typically inexpensive).
Pharmacies are well-stocked and carry many international name brands, although prices can be a little high even for over-the-counter drugs.
Finding quality health care is rarely an issue in Israel, but visitors may also have concerns about food, drinking water and other safety issues.
Food and Drink
The drinking water in Israel is safe and drinkable, with the exception of the Dead Sea. Just like with any other country, the water here may still cause some digestive issues due to its mineral content. Drinking clean and filtered water is important, so you may want to go with bottled water just to be on the safe side.
If you’re visiting Egypt (Sinai) and/or Jordan, you will absolutely need bottled water. The tap water is not drinkable in these areas.
If you’ll be spending some time in Israel, there’s a startup called Lishtot Detection Ltd. that produces a keychain-like device that can detect contaminants in water, like lead, E.coli, copper, mercury and chlorine.
At least half of Israel’s restaurants are kosher and virtually all hotels serve kosher food. Many restaurants serve vegetarian dishes, as kosher restaurants cannot serve both meat and dairy dishes.
When it comes to general safety, there’s more good news: Israel is a low-crime country. The biggest danger visitors will likely face is Israeli drivers. Drivers are known for tailgating, and theft of vehicles and personal belongings from rental cars is common – just as it is in other countries.
Expect security to check your bags when entering markets, shopping malls, transportation hubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels.
Other Health Concerns
If you’re traveling outdoors in Israel, it’s important to be aware of scorpions. They’re common in desert and Mediterranean regions, but one bite will send you to the hospital. If you are bitten by a scorpion, it’s important to seek emergency medical care immediately.
Scorpions aren’t as big of an issue in cities, but they can be problematic at the beach or countryside. Always shake out towels, shoes and socks before using them. And shake out your sheets if you’re staying in the desert.
Visitors with respiratory issues may find the Dead Sea to be helpful. Situated far below sea level, the Dead Sea has the most oxygen-rich atmosphere on earth. The air here is dry and pollen-free.
But if you plan to spend an extended period of time outdoors, especially in the summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Dehydration and sunburn are major concerns when visiting Israel, so come prepared. Make sure that you drink at least six liters of water each day – more if you’re traveling in the desert.