Why travel to Israel
Travel to Israel to discover a magnificent country on the Mediterranean Sea that is a place of pilgrimage for many religions, including Muslims, Jews and Christians. Many of its most sacred sights and tourist attractions are found in the golden city of Jersusalem, within its Old City. In the Temple Mount complex, you’ll find the iconic Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western (or Wailing) Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In complete contrast, there’s the beach city of Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern financial centre, with many shops, restaurants and markets. The country may be tiny, but it’s home to many exquisite landscapes, including lush hills and valleys, deserts and wadis. Whether you’re keen to discover history and religion on a Holy Land tour or wish to enjoy a variety of active pursuits that include desert oases and the Dead Sea, a holiday in Israel will be a fulfilling and exciting experience.
Why travel to Israel
- Explore diverse and beautiful landscapes, including the Judean Desert, one of the smallest deserts in the world.
- Laze on gorgeous beaches in Haifa.
- See incredible Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv’s UNESCO-listed White City.
- Jerusalem is the religious and historical epicentre of the world.
- Israel is home to the largest freshwater lake on earth, the Sea of Galilee.
- It’s also home to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea, at -424 meters.
There is nowhere quite like Israel, with its history, places of interest to so many different religions, diverse landscapes and immense beauty. The Middle Eastern magic it exudes offers a taste of Arab culture combined with so many other European cultures. Let Thompsons Holidays take you on a fantastic holiday adventure in the Holy Land in 2023.
Things to do in Israel
Diverse and scenically beautiful, Israel is full of fascinating sights and activities to suit families, solo travellers, groups of friends or couples on honeymoon. Whether you are on a pilgrimage to learn about your religion, exploring the history of the Holy Land, or simply enjoying the Mediterranean beaches, there is so much to do on a trip to Israel.
Each part of Israel has its own special magic. The cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are worlds apart in character, but so close to each other – just 45 minutes by car. Jerusalem is a combination of ancient places in its Old City and modern gold-stoned buildings, while Tel Aviv boasts Bauhaus architecture and some of the country’s most modern sights. Down South is Eilat, a great base from which to explore Petra and Jordan. And let’s not forget the Dead Sea and Masada… Israel is brimming with adventures.
Things to do in Israel
- Go snorkelling in Eilat.
- Float in the Dead Sea.
- Pray at the iconic Western Wall.
- Bargain for Arab wares in Jerusalem’s Old City.
- Soak up the sun in Haifa.
- Sail on the Sea of Galilee.
- Dine out on incredible food in Tel Aviv.
- Discover the beautifully restored Port of Jaffa.
- Explore Jerusalem’s legendary Temple Mount.
- Visit Bethlehem.
- Enjoy a falafel from a street vendor.
- Visit the ancient Roman cities of Caesaria and Acre.
History and religion can be found around every corner in Israel, a constant reminder of the holiness of this beautiful land, and how ancient it is. And then there is its scenic beauty, which is quite extraordinary and unexpected for such a small country. Let Thompsons Holidays take you on an incredible adventure holiday package to Israel, to learn more about this feisty little country, and savour its distinctive personality.
Know before you go...
When is the best time to visit?
- The best time to visit Israel is in Spring (April and May) and Autumn (September and October).
- Winters (late October to mid-March) are generally quite mild.
- Summers are hot and dry.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Tel Aviv: 8 hours & 40 minutes.
- There are not reasonably regular flights from South Africa to Israel.
- South African passport holders do not require a visa to enter Israel.
- A tourist visa, valid for 90 days, is issued on arrival.
- Passports must be valid for 6 months after departure from Israel.
- Israel is on the same time as South Africa.
- The official currency is the Israeli New Shekel (ILS).
- Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are prevalent.
- US Dollars are widely accepted, but the exchange rate is not good
- Tipping is customary in Israel.
- The official language is Hebrew. Arabic is also spoken.
- English is widely spoken.
- Judaism is the main religion in Israel.
- When visiting sacred sites and temples, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is safe to drink tap water in Israel except at the Dead Sea. Bottled water is readily available.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
- Vaccinations are not currently required but check with your travel clinic before you go.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, warm layerable clothing for winter or beach wear, depending on where you are going.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Bus travel is quite popular in Israel.
- Towns in outlying areas may have less sophisticated transport infrastructure – it depends where you are going.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!