The western wall & dome of the rock in Jerusalem
 

Jerusalem's Western Wall & Dome of the Rock...

Israel by train?

Once in Israel, it's easy to get around on an efficient and inexpensive train network, between Ben Gurion Airport, central Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko and Be'er Sheva.  Trains typically run every 30 minutes - or every hour or two to/from Jerusalem.  Although reaching Israel by land or sea at the moment is tricky, with the war in Syria and a dearth of ferries in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

small bullet point  Useful country information - visas, currency, etc.

small bullet point  Train routes & times

small bullet point  Fares & how to buy tickets

small bullet point  Be'er Sheva-Tel Aviv-Haifa-Akko-Nahariya route

small bullet point  Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by train

small bullet point  Ben Gurion Airport train

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  A train ride from Tel Aviv to Haifa & Akko (Acre)

small bullet point  How to travel from Europe to Israel without flying

small bullet point  Suggested hotels


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator in Israel:

Israel Railways (IR), www.rail.co.il.

 

Ferries to Israel:

There are none.  Poseidon Lines & Salamis Lines (Greece-Cyprus-Israel) suspended since 2001.  UK agent www.viamare.com 

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from 02:00 on the Friday before the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.

Currency:

£1 = approx 4.7 shekels (NIS).  $1 = 3.8 shekels.  Currency converter

Dialling code:

 

+972.

Tourist information:

www.goisrael.com.  Most of Israel is perfectly safe to visit, even for families with children - in spite of what you might see on the news.  You should check the latest Foreign Office travel advice at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Visas:

Citizens of the UK, EU, USA, Canada, Australia & New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Israel.  See http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ConsularServices/Pages/default.aspx to check.

Page last updated:

8 August 2021


large bullet pointTrain travel in Israel

Train times & routes...

Which station in Tel Aviv?  See location map

Tel Aviv Savidor station   Tel Aviv Savidor ticket hall

Tel Aviv Savidor-Center station. There's a baggage check at the entrance to stations with X-ray machine & metal detector.

Fares & how to buy tickets...

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Israel Railways self-service ticket machines   Ticket gates to platforms at Tel Aviv HaShalom station

The ticket machines accept notes, coins & cards...

 

Ticket gates at Tel Aviv HaShalom...

Be'er Sheva ► Tel Aviv ► Haifa ► Akko ► Nahariya

Tel Aviv ► Jerusalem

Fast train Tel Aviv to Jerusalem   Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon station

Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon station just outside the old city walls, with a double-deck fast train to Tel Aviv boarding in one of its underground platforms.  Photos courtesy of David Frankal.

Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon station   Inside Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon station

Ben Gurion Airport train...

Ben Gurion Airport station for trains to Tel Aviv, Haifa & Jersualem

When you walk out of the ground floor exit from terminal 3 signed 'Trains', this is the entrance to Ben Gurion Airport Station.  You can buy from the ticket machines in English, or use the staffed ticket office located on the other side of that wall.  There are automatic ticket gates just visible in this photo, then lifts & escalators down to the platforms.

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What are the trains like?

There are essentially just 3 types of train in Israel:  The red double-deck and blue single-deck used on most lines, and the Danish-designed IC3 trains used on the line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  All these trains have toilets, power sockets & free WiFi.

Seats on an Israeli double-eck train   Red double-deck train

1.  The red double-deck trains...  Each train has a locomotive at one end.

Seats on an Israeli single-deck train   Blue single-deck train

2.  The blue single-deck trains...  Each train also with a diesel locomotive at one end.

An IC3 train from Tel Aviv arrived at Jerusalem Malha   Seats on an IC3 train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

3.  The Danish-designed IC3 trains on the classic route to Jerusalem Malha station...  These trains have diesel-electric power under the floor.  They operate the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem line as they are the only type which can cope with the tight curves on this once-narrow-gauge line dating from 1892.  As from 2017 you need to switch trains at Bet Shemesh when travelling between Tel Aviv & Jerusalem.

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A train ride from Tel Aviv to Haifa & Akko...

The historic old city of Acre, today's Akko, makes a great day trip from Tel Aviv, see www.akko.org.il...

Tel Aviv HaShalom station, exterior   Through the ticket gates

Tel Aviv HaShalom station - through the quick security scan at the entrance.

 

After buying a ticket, go through the ticket gates...

Tel Aviv HaShalom station interior   Tel Aviv HaShalom station platforms

Time to buy a coffee & some Fuze Tea for the train...

 

Waiting for the next train - they run every 30 minutes...

On board the train to Akko   Wifi & power sockets on the train

The rail line through Tel Aviv is sandwiched between carriageways of the Ayalon highway...

 

The train is air-conditioned & carpeted with power sockets & free WiFi...

Tel Aviv HaShalom station platforms   Ticket gates to platforms at Tel Aviv HaShalom station

We pass farmland & the odd level crossing...

 

...And even the occasional banana plantation.

Mediterranean coast from the Tel Aviv-Haifa train

...Before running along the Mediterranean coast.

Haifa Centre station   Haifa port

Haifa Bat Galim.  Note the exit turnstile.

 

The train passes Haifa port...

The view of the old city on the sea as the train approaches Akko

There's a great view of the old city of Akko (Acre) as the train approaches Akko station...

The train arrives at Akko   Akko railway station

The train arrives at Akko...

 

Akko railway station...

Akko (Acre) old city - the port

A taxi to Acre old city costs around 30 NIS...

St George's church, Akko   Akko old prison

St George's church, Akko...

 

Akko prison museum, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acre_Prison.

Spice stall in the souqs of Acre

Spice stalls in the bazaar...

Sunset over the Med, seen from the train

Safely back to Tel Aviv by train, as the sun sets over the Med...

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large bullet pointEurope to Israel without flying

Israel is incredibly isolated from the rest of the world as far as land or sea travel is concerned.  There used to be two or three options for travel from London (or anywhere else in Europe) to Israel, but at the moment there are major problems with each option...

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large bullet pointFind hotels in Israel

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Recommended hotel in Tel Aviv:  Lily & Bloom Hotel

The Lily & Bloom Hotel occupies a 1930s Bauhaus-style building which was originally a bank.  Located just off Allenby, near the junction with Rothschild Boulevard, the Lily & Bloom hotel has friendly staff, great clean rooms and does an excellent breakfast - and of course there's free WiFi.  It's a short taxi ride from HaShalom station, and 15-20 minutes walk from Old Jaffa.  If you'd prefer to stay in the old city of Jaffa rather than busier, more modern Tel Aviv, try the highly-rated Margosa Hotel, Jaffa.

Lily & Bloom hotel, Tel Aviv   Room at the Lily & Bloom hotel, Tel Aviv

Recommended hotel in Jerusalem:  The King David Hotel

If your budget will stretch, the most famous hotel in Jerusalem is the King David Hotel.  Opened in 1931, the building was used as the British administration HQ during the British Mandate period 1917-1948 - the south west wing was blown up in 1946 by zionist activists.  Today, it's an excellent luxury hotel with great character, 15 minutes walk from the Jaffa Gate into the Old City.  The rooms at the rear of the hotel have views over the city wall.  More about this hotel at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel.  Also at the upper end of the scale, the American Colony Hotel gets great reviews.  For cheaper options, just check Booking.com.

Rear of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem   A room at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem

The famous King David Hotel, Jerusalem.  Below, the view of the old city from rooms at the rear of the hotel.

View of Jerusalem Old City from the King David Hotel

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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