Some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive, all in one handy place.
Why hire a tour guide in Israel?
So many reasons! Israel is one of the most complex countries in the world, whether you are looking at history, current affairs, geography, geology or even flora and fauna. A good guide will be able to distill and synthesise this information for you to match your interests and help foster your understanding.
A tour guide will also help you make the most of your vacation. Don’t waste time getting lost in the alleyways of the Old City of Jerusalem; or searching for that special shop, restaurant or item in a museum – your guide will be able to take you straight to your destination giving you more time to explore or relax.
Israel also offers a potentially bewildering amount of options for sightseeing, eating and also accommodation. I pride myself on getting to know my clients before they arrive so that I can tailor a bespoke itinerary to be just right for you. There are also many fascinating places that are not on the main tourist radar / don’t appear in the main guidebooks that I love to help people discover.
Also, although visiting Israel is broadly safe, there are some areas best avoided and at certain times things can be a little more tense. A guide will make sure that you are staying in safe areas and are able to relax and enjoy your vacation.
Which leads onto the next question….
Is it safe to visit Israel?
Yes! Unfortunately a lot of the imagery of Israel overseas focuses on the regional conflict, but actually Israel is a very safe place to visit. First, in terms of personal safety, the chances of you getting robbed or attacked in the street are infinitesimally small. People walk around the main city streets late at night on their own without fear or concern.
Also, the vast majority of the time, the tensions between the populations in this region do not make themselves visible to tourists. Mostly things are actually very calm, and even at times of greater tension, tourists are not targets. Unfortunately terrorism today is a global problem (as witnessed in the UK, France, the US and more) and Israel is actually better equipped to deal with it than most places.
At the rare times of greater tension, I always ensure that I am in constant communication with the authorities about any areas where it may not be sensible to go, and adjust itineraries accordingly. I am also trained in self-defence techniques (although have never been close to having to use them).
If all of this does not reassure you, I can happily put you in touch with clients who have toured with me at times of the greatest tension who can tell you how they felt while I was managing their trip and safety.
Having said all this, I am obviously not in any position to make 100% guarantees. But the statistics make a visit to Israel safer than to most major global cities.
Do you guide in the whole of Israel?
I certainly do! I am licensed to guide in the whole country and will be happy to build you a tailored experience that covers the whole of Israel.
Where should I stay and can you help book accommodation?
Israel is a small country and it is just about possible to use Tel Aviv or Jerusalem as a base to visit all the highlights. However, I don’t recommend this as it involves a significant amount of long drives. To make the most of your time here, you would probably want at least one or two nights in the north, and one or two nights in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv respectively. Of course, this all depends on your itinerary which we would build together. I can help you book accommodation should you wish and can often (but not always!) source prices which are cheaper than online rates.
Can you do tours for children?
Of course! I love working with children and have many years of experience in doing so. Touring with children requires a special approach as they will normally have shorter attention spans and less energy than the adults; they can also be more affected by jet lag. I have various materials to keep young people engaged and interested and can also recommend specific attractions which they will enjoy.
I have always wanted to do/see/meet X – can you make it happen?
I can certainly try! Please feel free to share your biggest dreams and I will be delighted to see how we can make it work. I am always up for a challenge.
What is the electricity in Israel?
The electric current in Israel is 220 volts, C, single phase, 50 Hertz, the same as in Europe (See an image of the socket here). Most Israeli sockets are three-pronged but most accept European two-pronged plugs. If your appliance does not work on 220 volts, you will need an adapter.
Should I bring cash with me? Is it possible to pay for things in US$, Euros or Pounds?
Normally you are better off changing into Israel Shekels once you arrive in Israel. Also, most foreign banks will let you use your card to withdraw from Israeli cash machines (make sure to inform them you are going to Israel before you fly) and there is a machine at the airport by the baggage reclaim where you can take out cash, although changing money at the airport normally means you are getting a bad rate.
In Israel you can pay for many things by credit card: hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, most attractions, taxis (if you order using an app such as Gett or Uber) and my fees also. But you will need some cash for tips (most restaurants don’t let you put a tip on the credit card), taxis or other transportation not ordered via an app, and for souvenirs in the markets.
Except in very touristy areas, businesses will only accept Israeli Shekels, but I personally am happy to receive payment in US $, Euros or Pounds if it is more convenient for you.
When is the best time to come to Israel?
There is no bad time to visit Israel, but the best weather for touring (not too hot, and low chances of rain) is around mid-September to mid-November and Mid-March to May. Peak season when prices will be higher for hotels is around Christmas, Easter and the Jewish holidays in September/October and Passover. These holidays don’t have a fixed date in the Western calendar but using this link you can check the dates.
While it can be a great cultural experience to be here around the Jewish holidays bear in mind that days marked in bold on the calendar on this website are days when public transport will not be running / guiding and travel services will be more expensive. You may also want to consider that during Passover (Pesach) the culinary experience will be somewhat different as most hotels and restaurants will not be serving any products containing wheat.
Having said this, I guide people all year around and make sure to match the itinerary to the weather conditions and personal preferences of my clients.
What clothing should I bring?
Israel is very informal and very few places have dress codes. While it is possible to enter high-end restaurants and nightclubs in shorts and sandals most Israelis will opt for at least jeans but jackets and ties are certainly not required.
The only places where you do need to consider your dress are the holy sites. Different religions have different guidelines but as a rule both men and women should bring clothing that enables them to cover their shoulders, chests and knees – this can be in the form of a scarf or shawl that you put on at the relevant moment. There are some sites where tight leggings or yoga pants can also be a problem.
Also bear in mind that even in the summer Jerusalem can be cool in the evening and early morning and you may want to bring some layers. It is important to have a hat that you like as the sun is very strong (even in the winter) and a hat helps prevent sunstroke and dehydration.
How much do you charge?
Because every client is different I can’t really put pricing on my website. As I tailor each itinerary, each price works out a little bit different. I suggest you get in touch and I will quickly be able to give you a rough idea of your costs, before refining further for an exact quote.
Any more questions? Get in touch via the contact page and I will be happy to answer.