Getting Around Israel

Transport Overview

Travelling around and getting from place to place in Israel is easy for two reasons. First, the country is small and so the distances are short. Second, there are plenty of public transportation options that are well-developed and cover even the (apparently) most out of the way places.

Buses

The most affordable and reliable method is using the public bus system. Rooted in the Socialistic character of young Israel, the country was divided by two cooperatives and the drivers were share holders of the bus system. A lot has changed since, including massive privatization. But you will find the bus drivers who are still very reliable, and the system is frequent and timely. As this is still the main mass transportation option, the prices are very affordable. See Bus Service

Taxis

Taxis are also a safe travel option. Israeli taxi drivers (like almost anywhere else in the world) can sometimes be impatient and impolite. But there are enough exceptions, and many of them are great story tellers with impressive knowledge of the country and so can be unofficial tours guides as well. Taxi regulation is fairly strong, and the prices (insist on using the meter) are low. During the day the meter should display fare band 1 but after 9 P.M. and on weekends it should show fare band 2. The taxis are well marked (white color, with a large registration number on the side). A standard car size taxi is legally allowed to carry up to 4 passengers, however, small. Larger groups will need to split or try and get one of the fairly rare larger vehicles.

Taxis are also an option between cities and can be a reasonable option if there are a group of you travelling. You can either take the journey by the meter but in most cases you should agree on a price in advance. Major inter-city routes are determined by an official price-list (mechiron) and be aware that they can charge for bags.

Trains

The national railway system is another story. Government has put a lot of effort in improving the railway system, and the number of passengers and routes has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. Unfortunately. the system still lags behind the other public transportation systems. Please see Trains for more information.

The railway is most efficient on the coastal plain and the route to Modiin and Ben Gurion Airport is very popular. This is comparable to other airport rail links worldwide – fairly efficient and much cheaper than a taxi, but you have to carry your bags and then complete the journey in the city by bus or taxi. If you are travelling to places served, then taking the train can be an efficient and economical way to get out of the airport and avoid the traffic.

Take the train to Jerusalem if you have some time to spare and you want a scenic view of the mountains.   See The Jerusalem Railway

vehicles on the road
Sherut taxis

Sherut

Another option on principal inter-city routes is a “sherut” (share taxis) – these are minibus services that charge similar rates to buses but leave as soon as they are full. They are safe and reliable. They also offer a service after the last bus. They are generally located outside the main bus stations offering freedom of choice.

Driving

Driving in Israel is easy. The roads are good, despite complaints you may hear from locals. Remember that we are 7,000,000 people on a very small piece of land, so traffic jams are common in rush hours, and in a few specific holidays when EVERYONE drives to have the holiday dinner with their families. The signs are reasonably understandable. For more information please see Driving in Israel

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