Driving in Israel is easy. The roads are good (despite complaints you may hear from locals – remember that we are over 7,000,000 people living in a very small piece of land, many of them living or working in the center of the country.) Traffic jams are common in rush hours, and in a few specific holidays when EVERYONE has to drive to eat their holiday dinner with their families. Road signs are reasonably understandable.
You are advised to try and know your destination’s name in Hebrew, English signs are common, but translation is occasionally poor. For example, you may find a sign to the “RAKEVET” (the Hebrew word for “Train”.) Israeli drivers are definitely a challenge, but no worse than any other Mediterranean ones.
The country is well mapped and the main highways easy to follow. The country is well mapped by GPS systems although sometimes you will have to persevere with the spelling on transliterated road names.
Overview of Road Numbering
Roads with even numbers are basically North-South; odd numbers are East-West.
Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Road 443 is an also an alternative to Road 1. On the coastal plain there is a choice between road 2 (coast road) faster and great views of the coast near Haifa, road 4 the old route a bit further inland and road 6 – the new toll road.
Kvish 6 (Road 6) is a main north south highway. It is a good fast road and generally very efficient. Please be aware that it is a toll road – the charges are reasonable, but, it does not have a pay by cash or credit card option – payment management is by membership or by post. Please check with your car hire company for their policy.
In the Tel Aviv area the 431 is a brand new road that links Rishon LeZion with Modiin via Road 1 and Road 6 and is a great option for avoiding the jams of the south Tel Aviv area.
Getting in and out of the Tel Aviv area during rush hours is a lengthy business – you are advised to plan to use off peak hours. The main road (1) in and out of Jerusalem can be a challenge as well although it is much improved due to substantial infrastructure work.
Traffic updates are frequent on Reshet Bet, Galei Zahal and Galgalatz radio stations (Hebrew) and you can also get the Reshet Bet updates on your phone by calling *955 (Hebrew). On line
the main traffic site is http://www.iba.org.il/moked/ it is in Hebrew but Google translator will help (note that AMOS = congested whilst the translator recognises it as a name). In the Tel Aviv area http://www.ayalonhw.co.il/ has a dynamic visualization of the state of the Ayalon (the main north south route through the Tel Aviv area.)
If you drive over the Green Line or in Judea/Samaria then there are security considerations on some roads, and there are some checkpoints. Also note that you can easily enter the Palestinian territories which can be illegal or dangerous in Israeli registered vehicles.