This article is a quick tourist guide for all people traveling to Israel.
Air Connections: Israel is served by its own airline, El Al Israel Airlines and Arkia Airlines as well as many other major international airlines, e.g. Continental Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Alitalia, Swissair, etc., as well as many charter flights.
Area: 8,020 square miles - 20,770 square kilometers (about the size of New Jersey).
Bank, Currency and Credit Cards: Israel has a sophisticated banking system. Most of the world's currencies are recognized as legal tender in Israel and are freely exchanged at banks or may be used in making purchases. Israel's currency is the shekel. Tourist services are quoted and guaranteed in U.S. dollars and major credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, Visa and Master Card/Access/Eurocard) are widely accepted throughout Israel. Each bank has different hours of operation. However, all banks are open Sunday - Friday 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM. Bring your passport and a book to read. Many banks have separate lines for foreign currency exchange - don't be shy to ask where to go. You may change dollars into shekels legally by going to a bank, or by patronizing an "official" money changer located throughout the main shopping areas of the large cities. In addition you can withdraw up to 1,000 shekel a day from the ATM's (in Israel they are outside most major bank branches throughout the country) with a credit card or ATM card.
Cellular Telephones: Very popular and reasonable. You can rent them at Ben Gurion International Airport or contact your hotel concierge. It is illegal to drive while holding a cell phone. When renting a car, ask your rental agent for a hands-free set.
Climate: Israel enjoys a fine climate most of the year, with rainfall usually periodically only between late October and April. Even in December and January, rainy periods are interspersed with many, many, sunny days. There is little or no rain in the Dead Sea and Eilat regions.
Electricity: The electrical current in Israel is 220 volt AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. 110V appliances can be used only with a step-up transformer or appropriate adapter.
Entering Israel: You'll receive an AL-17 form upon entry. Save it until departure.
Public Telephones: Most of them operate today with a plastic credit card size phone card, available at post offices and your hotel newsstand. Cards of 20, 50 and 100 units are available . A reasonable way to communicate. You may access AT&T, MCI and Sprint for overseas calls from pay phones by dialing a 177 (toll-free) number - check for your service's number before you leave. Overseas operator and overseas directory information is available by dialing 188. Domestic directory information is available by dialing 144 (free from public phone). For collect calls within Israel, dial 142.
Religions: Israel is home to a number of religions including the Jewish, Islamic and Christian religions. Other religious communities include Samaritan, Armenian, Eastern Orthodox, Druze and Bahai. All denominations are free to worship in their own way and each religious body has the statutory right to observe its own weekly rest day and holidays. The Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) and festivals are official holidays in Israel.
Shopping: Stores in Israel are open daily from Sunday through early Friday afternoon. Some observe a "siesta" from 1pm to 4pm, reopening until 7pm. Some malls close later in the day and are open Saturdays after sundown.
Value Added Tax (VAT): There is 16.5% value added tax on most goods and services in Israel. At retail stores, this tax is always already included in the price. Upon making a purchase of $50 or more at a gift store that has an agreement wit the VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the store and have it s tamped there. You will be eligible, upon presenting the form and the item, for a 17% refund at the airport prior to departure. Tourist services, such as hotel accommodations and meals taken in hotels, paid with foreign currency are exempt from VAT tax.
Vaccinations: Not required for tourists entering the country.
Weights and Measures: The metric system is used exclusively.