I have decided to finally visit Israel this year. While it’s insanely hot during summer, with temperatures rising up to 40°C at some places (Masada, Dead sea), winter in Israel is much more bearable for people like me, who likes the lower temperatures. The key fact here is that while Alaska reported pretty cool -37°C, we were enjoying +20°C and swimming in the Dead sea in Israel at the same time . Israel in winter is very easy to enjoy. Although it also come with a price.
3 reasons why is Israel in winter the right choice for you
Of course there are probably way more reasons why to visit Israel at any time during the year, however these 3 are the main ones which everyone could consider.
- Decent weather – Nobody travels to Israel in winter. You simple don’t think about it as a choice at this moment of the year. Mainly because you usually think about when is the true winter coming finally and where to go skiing afterwards. The reason people don’t usually go to Israel in winter is that it isn’t guaranteed that you will have only sun during your stay. It might rain. During April-October the average number of sunny days in Jerusalem is 28. You would have to be pretty (un)lucky to experience rain in the city in summer months. Decemer-February the number of sunny days is 20. Which is still great. It means that you will most likely have decent weather for all the travelling you want to do there. Although the main difference is in temperature. It can be sunny and 23°C in Eilat, 25°C and really strong sun in Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, and 12°C in Jerusalem at the same time. Even though Israel is relatively small country the weather is very different in all of it’s areas. I mean in winter. There is “hot” and “really hot” in summer in the whole Israel.
- Minimum people – There are so many people in summer. Everywhere. Combination of high temperatures and crowded place can make your vacation not so relaxing. Everybody knows that. So why don’t you go to Israel in winter? I must warn you. It’s not perfect and you can be cold. But I prefer to put on another layer and wear a hat, if necessary, rather than be sweating all the time. Also please consider that if you want to visit Old City of Jerusalem, it’s streets are very narrow and are crowded even in winter.
- Cheap tickets – The main transportation to Israel for most of us is by plane. The tickets in off-season can be up to 50% cheaper than in the main season. That makes sense so why don’t take advantage of this? It was 34€ round trip this January from Bratislava (BTS) to Eilat (VDA). This is a no brainer price. You can pack light and remember. Less thing you bring, the more memories you can bring back with you. There are two most usable airports in Israel. The main is considered to be Ben Gurion (TLV), which is directly between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It’s about 30-60 minutes from there to either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Can be more, it greatly depends on traffic. The second one is 40km north of Eilat (VDA).
Which accommodation to choose – 2 options
Basically you have two options when travelling on your own (without travel agency). You have to remember that Israel is pretty expensive. Well, it depends on the country where do you live/get paid actually. I can only tell you that the Israel average monthly wages is about 10 000 shekels ($3000). With this in mind you can either choose to go with:
- Booking.com – you surely have heard of this. One of the biggest web for making reservation in more than 1,5 million hotels around the world. Very safe. Numerous great deal, you can choose the type of room and your meal plan. You can also get 10% discount with this link.
- Airbnb.com (recommended) – simply the perfect way how to find accommodation, not only in Israel in winter, but anywhere and anytime. Really, if you haven’t tried Airbnb you are missing a lot. When you are staying in a hotel you feel like a tourist (and you are). But when you live in a regular apartment in an (extra)ordinary street in city center (like we did, Jaffa Street, Jerusalem) you suddenly feel like you belong there much more. You also experience the place from a totally different point of view, more like you live there. When I don’t use Couchsurfing I use Airbnb.
What to eat – 3 best meals in Israel
You surely have already heard a lot about Israelite cuisine. You probably didn’t hear about two types of McDonald’s in Israel – “normal” and “kosher”. There is no need to try either one of those, unless you need the wi-fi. What you shouldn’t miss during your visit of Israel are these three things.
- Falafel – I can’t tell you how much I fall for this meal. I could eat it every day and still be excited to have another one. Best thing about Falafel is that you can get it basically anywhere. In a restaurant, on the street, in a tea house, beach, … The list goes on. It’s made of chickpeas and/or fava beans. You can choose with which additional ingredients you want it. Hummus, a bit of spices, pickle, salad and french fries worked best for me. And all of this in delicious pita. It’s totally your choice and depends on your preferences, just tell them how to make your falafel best for you. Another great thing is that it’s incredibly cheap for Israel. You can find great falafel for as much as 10-15 NIS. If you are looking for best falafel in Jerusalem, definitely try this one here. It’s small stand at the edge of a huge street market, easy to miss. And you would definitely not like to miss it, trust me.
- Hummus – Another meal you have to try once you are in Israel. It’s a spread made of crushed chickpeas mixed together with tahini, lemon, olive oil, salt and garlic. Simple and delicious. You can put it inside your falafel or you can buy a plastic box in every market for about 10 NIS and take it as a delicious snack with you. Simple fresh bread and hummus worked for me like a charm when hungry.
- Dates – One of the best fruits (together with mango obviously). They are sweet, full of vitamin and sometimes called superfood for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. They are the perfect energy packed for your trip. Even one or two dates after a lunch can boost you for several others and you can keep exploring Israel best places.