Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are both popular travel destinations in Israel. Tel Aviv has a modern vibe and offers beautiful beaches, vibrant markets, fantastic nightlife, and historical places like the Old City of Jaffa. On the other hand, Jerusalem is best known for its Old City, which holds some of the world’s most important religious sites. There are also excellent museums and the famous Machane Yehuda Market. No matter where you plan your base, you will most likely want to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv at some point during your trip. So, how to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and vice versa? Here’s my complete guide.
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A word about using public transport in Israel
If you plan to use the train or bus while in Israel, you will need to pay either with a Rav Kav public transportation card or via a public transportation payment app, such as Moovit or Rav Pass. I use the payment apps because this way, the app automatically calculates the number of rides I did and charges me accordingly at the end of each month. With the Rav Kav card, you have to purchase daily passes or a monthly pass in advance. The only problem with the apps is that you have to have an internet connection to use them, so it might not work for you if you don’t want to purchase an internet package.
To learn more, read my full guide to public transportation in Israel.
How to get from Tel Aviv Airport to Jerusalem?
Before I begin with the different ways to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, let’s talk about the Tel Aviv Airport, better known in Israel as the Ben Gurion International Airport. Tel Aviv Airport is not located in Tel Aviv itself. Actually, it is located about 25 kilometers from Tel Aviv and 50 kilometers from Jerusalem. So, if you want to start your trip in Jerusalem, you can travel straight from the airport to Jerusalem. Here are your options:
- By train – The cheapest option is to take the train, which would cost you 18 ILS. The train station is right outside the terminal. It runs from 1 AM to 11:30 PM. From 1 AM to 6 AM, it runs every hour, and from 6 AM to 11:30 PM, it runs every 30 minutes. Get off at “Yitzhak Navon” station in Jerusalem. The ride takes about 25 minutes, and the way up from the station takes another 10 minutes. Note that the train does not operate on Shabbat (from Friday afternoon to Saturday eve). Read more about transportation on Shabbat here.
- By taxi – The other option is to take a taxi from the airport’s taxi station, located outside gate number 3 in Terminal 3. A taxi to Jerusalem should cost around 200-250 ILS on a regular day and time. Late at night or on weekends, the cost rises to around 300-350 ILS.
How to get from the city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
The fastest way: By train
The train is the fastest way to get to Jerusalem, especially if you’re planning to travel in the early morning or afternoon rush hours. The first train leaves around 5:30 AM, and the last train leaves around 12:30 AM (midnight and a half), depending on the station.
There are four train stations in Tel Aviv:
- HaShalom – This is the most central train station in Tel Aviv, located next to the Azrieli Towers, not from the Sarona Market.
- HaHagana – This train station is located in South Tel Aviv, so it’s your best option if you’re staying in Old Jaffa or the neighborhood of Florentin.
- Savidor Center – This is another central train station near HaShalom.
- University – This train station is located in North Tel Aviv, right next to Yarkon Park. It’s a good option if you’re staying near Tel Aviv Port.
The ride costs 24 ILS one-way. To pay, scan your Rav Kav transportation card or payment app over one of the terminal gates. The gate will open, and you’ll be able to enter the station and start checking the screens for the platform you need.
No matter which train station you depart from, it would take about 30-40 minutes to reach Jerusalem. The train station in Jerusalem is called Yitzhak Navon Train Station, and it is located right next to the Central Bus Station. The station in Jerusalem is about 80 meters below ground level, so if the elevator is full, you’ll need to take a long set of escalators up to street level. The way up takes about 10 minutes.
Once you’ve exited the train station, you can take the light-rail train to the Jerusalem City Center. Its station is located right next to the train station, on Jaffa Street. Read more about getting around in Jerusalem.
If you want to return from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, you can simply return to Yitzhak Navon Station and take the train to one of the stations in Tel Aviv.
Note that the train does not operate on Shabbat (from Friday afternoon to Saturday eve).
The cheapest way: By bus
If you’re on a budget, you can take the bus. It can take about an hour during rush hours but costs only 16 ILS. To pay, you can either scan the barcode with your payment app or scan your Rav Kav card on the ticket scanner next to the driver.
Two lines can take you from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:
- Line 480 (Egged) – This line leaves from platform number 3 at the Savidor Center bus terminal, right next to the Savidor Center Train Station. It’s an open-air terminal, so it’s very easy to navigate. The line operates all day and leaves every 30 minutes.
- Line 405 (Egged) – I’m telling you about this line only to let you know about the possibility, but I wouldn’t recommend it. This is because it leaves from the Central Station in Tel Aviv, one of the spookiest and most complicated places in Tel Aviv. Even Israelis have a hard time navigating through it. If you want to take the challenge, it leaves from the 7th floor, operates all day, and leaves every 30-40 minutes.
If you want to get from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, you can get on bus line 480, leaving from platform 15 in the Jerusalem Central Station.
Note that the buses do not operate on Shabbat (from Friday afternoon to Saturday eve).
The most comfortable way: By taxi
If you prefer to take a taxi, that’s also possible. Just keep in mind that when they see tourists, some taxi drivers charge too much for the ride. A taxi ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should cost around 250 ILS. It could cost about 350-400 ILS on weekends or late at night.
Instead of hailing the taxi down on the street, it’s best to use one of the taxi ordering apps, such as Gett (for Android or iOS). The drivers who use Gett are supposed to turn on the meter, but they do have ways to get around it, so it’s always best to make sure they’re using a meter. If you can’t find a taxi driver who is willing to turn on the meter, make sure you know the price before starting the ride. Uber exists in Israel but is not common and is used only by taxi drivers, so it’s not the same as outside Israel.
Another option that is not exactly a taxi but could be comfortable if you’re staying at Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is to take the Abraham Shuttle, which leaves from Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv to Abraham Hostel Jerusalem at 8 AM. It costs 40 ILS, which is quite reasonable. Currently, it operates only three days a week – on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday – but frequency might get better when tourism restarts.
The easiest way: By organized tour
If you only want to go on a day trip to Jerusalem, you can join an organized tour. Usually, the organized tours focus on the Old City of Jerusalem and include a tour of the four quarters, the Western Wall, the Via Dolorosa, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Some also include a visit to the Machane Yehuda Market in the new city of Jerusalem.
One of the most recommended tour operators for budget travelers in Israel is Abraham Tours, and they offer a day tour to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. If you want to also visit Bethlehem on your trip, you can choose their day tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Tel Aviv. I must admit that I have not tried these tours, but I have gone on other tours with Abraham Tours and was really happy with their guides and organization.
If you prefer a private tour, you can contact me at [email protected]. I’m a tour guide in Israel, specializing in Jerusalem, and I can arrange a private tour from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I don’t have a car, but I can help arrange a taxi.
Why don’t I recommend a rental car?
In general, I don’t tend to recommend a rental car for people who want to visit Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. The traffic is awful, people drive like crazy, and it’s super challenging to find parking unless your hotel has its own parking lot. Read more about parking in Israel. Also, the public transportation between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is frequent and easy, so why not use it?
The only exception is Shabbat. If you’re traveling on Shabbat, which is from Friday afternoon to Saturday eve, a car might be handy since there is no public transportation. But remember that you will need to pick it up before Shabbat enters and return it only on Sunday morning.
There are many ways to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and vice versa. The fastest way is probably to take the train, the cheapest way is to travel by bus, and the most comfortable way is to take a taxi. But if you only want to go on a day trip to Jerusalem, you might just prefer taking an organized tour, that will take you easily from one place to another. No matter which way you choose, I wish you a great time exploring these beautiful cities!
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