Categories
Transportation Trip Planning Tips

Full Guide to Public Transportation in Israel

“How will I get around?” That’s one of the main questions people ask before arriving in an unknown country. In Israel, you can choose to explore the country in various ways. You can join an organized tour, rent a car, or use different forms of public transportation. In this post, I’ll try and make public transportation in Israel a bit easier for you.

Let’s start with the two most important things you need to know when using public transportation in Israel: Shabbat and the Rav Kav.

Post last updated on 6 December 2021.

Table of contents:

Public transportation on Shabbat

The Rav Kav, Israel’s transportation card

Useful public transportation apps in Israel

Main public bus companies in Israel

Taxis in Israel

Getting around Israel with public transportation

Public transportation in Jerusalem

Public transportation in Tel Aviv

Public transportation on Shabbat in Israel:

Shabbat is the holy day of the week for the Jewish people. It begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday night. According to the Jewish religious laws, you cannot ride or drive a vehicle during Shabbat. Israel is a Jewish democracy. That’s why most public transportation does not operate on Shabbat.

Taxis operate on Shabbat. Though, there are some places where there is also public transportation. For example, Palestinian buses operate in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Some public transportation lines also operate in Haifa because it is a city of both Jews and Arabs. And some private transport companies operate in the main cities, like Tel Aviv. Lately, Tel Aviv has started operating free public lines on Shabbat. But other than those, most public lines do not operate from Friday evening to Saturday night. You should take this into account when planning your trip.

Learn about options for transportation on Shabbat!

Read – There’s no public transportation on Shabbat.

The Rav Kav, Israel’s public transportation card:

The Rav Kav is Israel’s public transportation smartcard. You can use it to pay for bus and train rides in Israel. Today, it is a must on buses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. On the train and intercity buses, you still don’t have to use the card. But, I suppose that sometime in the future, it will become mandatory. Update: Following the coronavirus pandemic, you cannot pay any bus driver with cash. This means that without a Rav Kav, you cannot use ANY bus.

I recommend getting the Rav Kav anyway because it’s much easier to use it than to pay the drivers in cash. It will also save you some money, especially if you’re going to use a lot of public transportation in Israel. And if you want to make your life even easier, try using one of the new payment apps for public transportation, which I’ll write about later.

Important to note:

The Rav Kav doesn’t work on Palestinian buses.

The Rav Kav Card

Where can you get the Rav Kav?

Are you landing at Ben Gurion Airport? If so, you can get the card at the Public Transportation Service Center in the airport. It’s located in the Arrivals Hall. The service center is open Sundays to Thursdays from 8 AM to 1 PM and from 1:30 PM to 6 PM.

If you’re landing at Ramon Airport, there’s supposed to be a service center there, too. And if you can’t make it to any of those centers, you can get the card at any service center in the main cities or central bus stations. Tourists can pick up a special Rav Kav for tourists at Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Read more about this Rav Kav here.

The service center at Ben Gurion Airport

How much does the Rav Kav cost?

Someone told me that tourists can get the card for free by showing their passport. If not, it only costs 5 ILS. Then, you will need to load it with money to use it.

You can either load money into the “stored value” on your card or get an all-day ticket. An all-day ticket is a good deal if you’re planning to take at least three rides in one of the cities. With the “stored value,” you can pay for more than one person using the same card by clicking the number of people on the ticket scanner. This option is not possible on the light-rail train in Jerusalem. With an all-day ticket, you can only pay for one person

If you use the “stored value”, you can load 30, 50, 100, 150 or 200 ILS to the card. Whatever sum you load, you will get 25% more value on your card. For example, if you load 30 ILS, you will have 62.5 ILS on your card and if you load 100 ILS you will have 125 ILS.

For more information about options and prices, check out about the Rav Kav in Egged’s official site.

Where can you load your Rav Kav?

I recommend loading it in central bus stations and train stations. But, there are loading points all around the main cities, wherever you see the “Charge your Rav Kav here” sign. In Jerusalem, there are plenty of points on Jaffa Street and inside the Old City. In Tel Aviv, there are some points around Rothschild Boulevard and a lot of points near Gordon Beach. You can load money with shekels or a credit card.

If your phone has an NFC feature, you might also be able to load money using the HopOn app or the official Rav Kav app. Make sure to load before getting on the transportation. 

How do you validate your ticket?

There are several ways:

  • On buses – You can either validate it at the bus driver’s stand or use one of the Rav Kav scanners inside the bus. Though, in some buses, those scanners don’t work, so you’ll need to go to the driver. Place your card on the card scanner and wait for the green light, which tells you that you’ve paid for the ride.
  • On trains – Simply place your Rav Kav on the station barrier, and it should open. You’ll need to swipe the card again at your exit station so it can calculate how much you need to pay. If you don’t have money on your card, you’ll need to load it at the station.
  • On the light-rail train in Jerusalem – Place your Rav Kav on the scanner when entering the trail and wait for the green light, which tells you that you’ve paid.
Place your Rav Kav where the red circle is…

Useful public transportation apps for your trip in Israel:

Google Maps – This is my favorite. It has great maps in English and you can use it to see exactly where you need to go. It also shows the bus arrival times in LIVE. You can also try the Offline Maps.

Moovit – A good navigation app for public transportation. It is possible to type destinations in English, but the map is in Hebrew. It shows you approximate bus arrival times in LIVE, but I’ve noticed that it’s less accurate than Google Maps. Also, it underestimates the time it takes to get from one point to another. I always multiply the time it shows, so I won’t be late. Lately, Moovit has also added an option to pay on the public transportation rides directly from the app.

HopOn – I’ve downloaded this app a few months ago and use it every time I use public transportation. It’s a great app for paying for public transportation! Instead of using the Rav Kav card, I use HopOn to pay directly through the app. Paying on buses is a bit complicated because you need to scan a barcode, choose the bus line, and then choose your destination. But, paying on the train or light rail is very easy. The payment is reduced from my credit card at the end of every month.

Main public bus companies in Israel:

Egged:

Where will you find Egged buses? Almost everywhere. Egged is the biggest bus company in Israel. They usually operate as intercity buses, except for some cases in Northern Israel. Egged is also the main player in most Israeli cities, except for the Tel Aviv area. Their buses are completely green. Lately, they’ve also added a fleet of greyish buses.

Check for routes and timetables through the Egged website.

Egged bus by Grauesel at wikivoyage shared

Dan:

Where will you find Dan buses? In the central area of Israel. This bus company is the strongest in the Tel Aviv area. The Dan buses are white, with a blue stripe all along the bottom.

Dan bus in Tel Aviv

Afikim:

Where will you find Afikim buses? When going to the airport. This bus company links Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem. Afikim buses are white with a green arrow painted in a green circle on their side. Every hour, a bus leaves from Jaffa Street, near Jerusalem Central Bus Station, to the airport. From the airport, the bus leaves every hour from floor number 2 at Terminal 3, also passed through Terminal 1. The price is 16 ILS a way and it takes about 45 minutes to arrive at the destination.

Afikim bus

Nateev Express:

Where will you find Nateev Express buses? In the northern regions of Israel. You will need to take it to reach Safed, for example. There’s no Nateev Express line from Tel Aviv or from Jerusalem. so if you need to use this bus company, you’ll need to take a bus ride to a different northern town, such as Karmiel or Afula, and take Nateev Express from there. The Nateev Express buses are white and orange.

Nateev Express bus

Arab-run buses:

Those buses operate in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They are mostly colored white with blue or green stripes of them. Most of those buses depart from the East Jerusalem Central Bus Station on Sultan Suliman Street near Damascus Gate. Check the main East Jerusalem lines here.

Taxis in Israel:

Taxis are very common in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and you can hail them down from the street. Outside of those cities, you’ll see less taxis on the streets. If you plan to use a taxi, you should download Gett for Android or iOS. With Gett you can order a taxi wherever you are and pay through the app. You can also use Uber, but in Israel it’s just like ordering a regular taxi.

Rides inside cities will usually cost between 25 to 60 ILS, depending on the distance you take. The fare can go up during Shabbat. Taking a taxi from the airport to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or any other place can cost around 150-300 ILS at the least. There are also Sherut Taxis (Shared Taxis) from the airport, which are much cheaper.

Learn more about transportation from the airport!

Read – Entering Israel by air – all you need to know.

Taxis in Israel are white with a yellow cap. Sherut taxis usually have more yellow on them. Starting 18 August 2019, you can use your Rav-Kav on sherut taxis number 4 and 5 in Tel Aviv (but not on Shabbat, only on weekdays).

Getting around Israel with public transportation:

By bus:

Egged buses run regularly between the main cities in Israel. You can catch them from the main bus stations in each city. Some towns are reachable only by other bus companies. For example, Safed is reachable by Nateev Express. You can find suitable routes by using Google Maps or Moovit app.

Prices between the cities change. Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the price is 16 ILS per way. But, if you take a bus to a farther distance it will cost you more. For example, a bus from Jerusalem to Eilat costs 70 ILS. You can check the price beforehand by using the Egged website. After choosing your destination, you’ll get a timetable and you can click the orange “Price & Itinerary” on the right hand to see the prices.

Buses also stop at main attractions such as Masada and Ein Gedi. Again, it is best to check the route on the Egged site.

If you are travelling to or from Eilat:

it’s recommended to book a seat in advance. If the bus will be full, the driver might not let you board the bus. If he or she will, then you might find yourselves standing the entire way. If you plan to take a ride to Eilat and back, it’s also recommended to book the return ticket when booking the first ticket, because that will save you a few shekels.

Get more info about booking a bus ticket to Eilat.

Read – Buying a bus ticket in Israel.

By train:

The Israel Railway is well-connected throughout the country. It can take you from Nahariyya or Acre (Akko) in the north to Be’er Sheva in the south. Though, you’ll need to change some lines for that route.

If you want to visit Haifa, Netanya, Acre, Beit She’an, Tel Aviv, and Be’er Sheva, this could be a good option for you. There’s also a new train to Jerusalem, that passes through Ben Gurion Airport. Prices change according to destination. If it’s farther away, it’s more expensive. You can check fares on the Israel Railway site. See the full list of stations and lines here

Public transportation in Jerusalem:

Most main attractions in Jerusalem are very near each other. This means you can easily walk between them. You may want to use public transportation from the central bus station to the city center. Or, you can use public transportation to reach far points, like the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem, and Mount Herzl.

In Jerusalem, there are three types of transportation:

The light-rail train (or the tram):

This is the easiest way to get around Jerusalem. It costs 5.9 ILS for a one-way ride. You can buy a paper ticket at the machine in the station or use your Rav Kav or payment app. You must validate your paper ticket, Rav Kav, or payment app the moment you get on the train. To validate paper tickets, put them inside the slot of the validating machine inside the tram. Make sure you get a green light. Ticket inspectors get on the train very often, sometimes even twice during one ride.

The light-rail train currently (December 2021) has only one line, that connects most main points around the city. It is very frequent during the morning and afternoon hours. At night, its frequency drops and a train arrives every 15 minutes or so. It drives a bit slow, but during rush hours (7-9AM and 2-6PM) it is the best way to get around, as it skips all the traffic jams. In rush hours, it can be very-very crowded on the tram and there are never enough seats for everyone, so be ready for that.

The train operates from around 6AM to midnight. On Fridays, it operates only until around 3:30PM and on Saturdays it operates only from around 8PM.

The light-rail train route (from citypass.co.il)

Buses:

The main bus company operating in Jerusalem is Egged. You have to use the Rav Kav to take a ride on the buses in Jerusalem and the card must be preloaded before you board the bus. A bus ride costs 5.9 ILS. If you get on another bus within 90 minutes from your first boarding, you get a free pass. But, you still have to validate your card.

Buses in Jerusalem can get you anywhere, but it can be a bit tricky to take them. Most stations don’t have English signs in them. You will also need to figure out which bus direction you need for your destination.

One of the destinations which you’ll probably need a bus is the Israel Museum. Line number 66 or 66א goes from the city center to the museum. Try checking possible routes with Google Maps or Moovit.

Public Transportation In Tel Aviv:

Main attractions in Tel Aviv are a bit farther away from each other compared to Jerusalem. But, you can still walk between most of them if you’d like. The main way to get around Tel Aviv is by buses and the sherut taxis. In a few more years we might also have a light-rail running through Tel Aviv as well, but now it’s still under construction.

In Tel Aviv there are three types of transportation:

Buses:

The main bus company in Tel Aviv is Dan. The ride costs 5.9 ILS and you have to use a Rav Kav, so make sure to load it before boarding the bus. Bus stations don’t always have signs in English. Try checking which station and which bus line you need through one of the apps I suggested in the beginning of the post.

Sherut taxis:

They look like big taxis and have room for about 10-12 passengers. They have specific routes, which they take through Tel Aviv. You can see their line number on the windshield and if it’s good for you, you can wave for it to stop and get on it. Then, you can sit down and ask the driver how much to pay him for a ride to your stop (it should be around 7-10 ILS for a ride inside the city). It is not possible to use Rav Kav on the sherut taxis. Edit: Starting from 18 August 2019 it is possible to use Rav-Kav on sherut lines 4 and 5 (not during Shabbat, only on weekdays).

The sherut taxis have fixed routes, so it’s not like regular taxis. The two most popular lines are line number 4, which goes from Central Bus Station through Allenby and Ben Yehuda streets to the Tel Aviv Port, and line number 5, that goes from Central Bus Station through Rothschild avenue, the Dizengoff Center, Dizengoff street Nordau Street, Ibn Grvirol Boulevard to Weitzman Street and Kikar Hamedina.

What’s good with the sherut taxis is that they operate on Shabbat.

Sherut Taxis in Tel Aviv

Train:

The Israel railway has four stations in Tel Aviv: University, Savidor Center, HaShalom and HaHagana. Most likely is that you’ll only use it to get into the city and out of it. But, as I’ve already mentioned, you’ll need to buy your ticket at the ticket vendor area using the ticket machines or through the vendor and only then will you be able to proceed through the train station barrier.

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Wishing you an easy trip to Israel!

If you liked this post or found it useful, please don’t hesitate to like, share or comment (:

Also, if you think anything is missing or have any more questions, please send me a message through my Facebook pageBackpack Israel or email me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

And if you’re planning a trip to Israel, don’t forget to check out my FREE app – Travel Israel for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Transportation Trip Planning Tips

There’s No Public Transportation on Shabbat

I had to take care of two of my friend’s cats the other Saturday. She lives in quite a remote neighborhood of Jerusalem named Gilo. Someone was able to give me a lift to Gilo in the

I’ll begin with a story. A few years ago, I had to take care of my friend’s cats. She lives in quite a remote neighborhood of Jerusalem called Gilo. The problem was that she needed me to catsit them on Saturday, but public transportation stops on Shabbat starting Friday eve. Luckily, I was able to get a lift to Gilo. Without that lift, I had to take the bus early, before Shabbat started. That’s how I thought about this post – what if you’re traveling in Israel and want to see things on Shabbat? You don’t have a car and don’t want to pay loads of money on taxis… So, what can you do? 

This post was last updated on 9 September 2021. 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no extra cost to you. These links help me keep the blog alive, so thank you!

Table of contents:

What is Shabbat?

Let’s start with the basics – what is Shabbat, and why isn’t public transportation working during this time? Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week. It starts when the sun sets on Friday evening and ends when the sun sets on Saturday. According to the Bible, God rested on the seventh day. He sat down and rested from all the work he had done. “Shabbat” is the root of the Hebrew word “La-Shevet” (לשבת), which means “to sit down.” Because God rested on the seventh day, the Jewish people do the same. On Shabbat, most businesses are closed and almost all public transportation stops functioning. Though, there are places with limited public transportation. 

Religious Jewish people in Israel don’t use their phones on Shabbat, don’t use electric devices, and don’t drive or ride in a vehicle on Shabbat. But there are other people in Israel, who see themselves as Jews, but are traditional or non-observant. I, for instance, see myself as a traditional Jew. We don’t mind using the phone or driving or doing anything else on Shabbat. But, the government decided that as a Jewish state, there won’t be public transportation on Shabbat. That makes it hard for us to get to places we want to get to on Shabbat, such as the sea, museums, and friends.

What about public holidays in Israel?

There are also holidays during which the public transportation does not operate, holidays that are like Shabbat. Those holidays are:

  • Rosh Hashana – There are two days of holiday with no public transportation. It usually takes place around September-October.
  • Yom Kippur – The holiest day of the Jewish year. A whole day with no transportation. Most people don’t drive at all during this day. It usually takes place around September-October.
  • Sukkot – During the first day of the holiday, there is no public transportation. It usually takes place around September-October.
  • Passover – During the first day of the holiday, there is no public transportation. It usually takes place around April-May.
  • Shavuot – There is a one-day holiday with no public transportation. It usually takes place around May.

Read more about holidays in Israel and how to spend them during travel.

So how can you get around Israel on Shabbat and holidays? 

Try hitchhiking:

We Israelis don’t usually use hitchhiking because we’re afraid someone might kidnap us. But I’ve heard of a lot of tourists who use hitchhiking to get around Israel. Because many people drive on Shabbat, you might be able to catch a lift with someone to your destination. This method is good for those who want to get outside the city.

Here are some links that might be handy for hitchhikers:

  • Moovit Carpool – Moovit attempts to connect drivers to riders. You will need to pay a small sum to the driver to cover expenses, but it could be a nice way to get around and get to know new people. Read more about Moovit Carpool here.
  • Hitchhikers in Eilat and the south – This Facebook group is for people who want to get to or from Eilat and other places in southern Israel. Just post a request and see if anyone is going in your direction. 
  • Tremp – This website is very basic, but looks like a good place to try your luck. People post here if they are driving somewhere or if they need a lift. Though, it’s in Hebrew. Check out the Tremp website here.

Stay near attractions:

Plan your itinerary so that on Saturday, you’ll go to attractions that are within walking distance from your stay. That will save you money and will let you experience the area on foot. 

In Jerusalem – Use Shabus:

Shabus is a cooperative transport system that operates on Shabbat in Jerusalem. Every member needs to pay a small one-time sum and then pays 5.9 shekels for every ride inside the city. Since its first ride in 2015, Shabus has expanded and is also operating in other cities in Israel, like Rishon Letsion and Tel Aviv.

I used Shabus in the past and had a good experience. I was even able to pay for the ride via Paypal, which was nice. Though, it looks like their website is in Hebrew only. You can try contacting them directly through email – shabus.jer@gmail.com – if you want to use their service. 

In Tel Aviv – Use the Weekend Transportation:

Starting November 2019, public transportation is available on Shabbat in Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel! The buses are managed by the different municipalities. So, the service is free of charge because the law does not permit municipalities to receive payment on Shabbat. There are only seven lines at the moment, but the coverage is good, especially in the city center of Tel Aviv. Read more about the service and lines on the Weekend Transportation website

From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Use the sherut taxis:

If you want to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Shabbat, go to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and get a sherut taxi from there. Sherut taxi is a shared taxi. The taxis stand outside the station, at the eastern part of the station. Ask where is the sherut to Jerusalem and hop on. The price is 35 Shekels, and the shared taxi leaves once it’s full.

In Haifa – Use the public lines:

Haifa is a mixed city, with both Jewish and Arab residents. Therefore, there are some public lines during Shabbat. You can check the operating lines by searching for your destination on the Egged website.

Getting to and from Eilat:

Because Eilat is so far away from other parts of Israel, buses usually leave Eilat a bit before the Shabbat ends (around 1:30-3:30 PM). Also, some buses arrive in Eilat after the Shabbat has entered. You should check on the Egged site to see if, maybe, the line you want leaves before Shabbat ends or arrives after it begins. Use my guide to buying bus tickets to Eilat online. You can also connect to the Facebook group “Hitchhikers in Eilat and the south” and see if someone can give you a lift. Also, if you’re planning on flying into Eilat, usually, the cheapest time to fly is on Shabbat.

Rent a car:

Renting a car isn’t the cheapest way, but could be profitable if you’re traveling as a family or group of friends. My family rent a car quite often through Shlomo Sixt, and it is affordable. The only thing that costs a lot is the fuel, but that is also not TOO much. You can pick up the car on Friday morning and return it on Sunday. Three days of rental should cost around 400-600 ILS (about 125-190 dollars), not including fuel and other expenses.

How to get to Ben Gurion Airport on Shabbat?

Another issue is how to get to Ben Gurion Airport on Shabbat. Trains and buses aren’t working on Shabbat, but there are other options than taking a taxi.

From Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport on Shabbat – Your best option would be to take Abraham Hostel’s shuttle from their hostel to Ben Gurion Airport. You don’t have to be their guest to book it. It leaves every 2 hours and costs 70 ILS per person. This is the best worry-free way to the airport. 2021 Update: Currently, the shuttle isn’t operating because of the coronavirus situation. 

From Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport on Shabbat – The only option I know of is to call Nesher Tours Shuttles (their number in Israel is 072-2646059). I used their service once. They asked me to call on Friday to book the shared taxi for Saturday afternoon. So I called on Friday, gave them my address and phone number and hoped they’ll arrive. It costs 67 ILS, and you need to pay in cash. The driver called me a few minutes before he arrived. I was first to board the shared taxi, so I got to see how it went. The driver was very kind and patient. He waited a long time for many of the passengers.

Make sure to give them a phone number that can receive calls within Israel because the driver might want to get in touch with you on the day of the pick-up, especially if the address you give is tricky.

Conclusion:

Yes, public transportation is very limited on Shabbat, but you can still find ways to travel on the weekends. Slowly-slowly, more and more municipalities understand the need for public transportation on Shabbat. So, I guess that we will be seeing more options later on. Until then, hope this post was useful and helped you plan your travels on Shabbat and holidays in Israel.

And what about the rest of the week? Check out my full guide to public transportation in Israel.

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Have a great day,

Lior (:

Categories
Transportation

Let’s Talk About the Rav-Kav

The Rav-Kav has become an integral part of my life once I’ve moved to Jerusalem two months ago. I use it almost every day while moving around the city. It has changed my life! No need to look for money anymore.

And now, let’s talk seriously… The Rav-Kav is a great “smart card” to use on public transportation and it’s not only available for locals, but also for tourists, so you should get to know it. Update: From 2018, it’s a must on buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

First of all, the Rav Kav looks like this:

There are two types of cards: a Personal Card, which has your photo printed on it as well as your name. You can obtain that card free of charge. Another option is the Anonymous Card, which doesn’t come with a photo and costs a one-time price of 5 Shekels. The Anonymous Card can be obtained on the bus itself, but you will need to load it with cash later. The Personal Card can be obtained free of charge from the Rav Kav points in the main bus stations or from the booth in the Arrivals Halls at Ben Gurion International Airport.

The Rav Kav booth at the airport

Once you’ve purchased the card, you can load it on the bus with Israeli money and it will become your virtual wallet. Important update (December 2018): In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv you cannot load money on the bus. You must load money beforehand at main bus stations, loading points throughout the cities or through the HopOn app. With the Personal Card you will get a 20{f224ba440c8e8489685f5be0eb52a1764ff3ab93b94d860236479bc3f69cbf7f} discount on the amount of money you load onto the card, so the more you load, the better. You can load 30, 50, 100, 150 or 200 Shekels to your card and reload it when necessary. The money that’s kept on your Rav-Kav is called “Erech Tzavur” (ערך צבור), which means “accumulated value”. If you’d like, you will also be able to load your card with a daily pass. I advise you to do so if you’re planning to use the bus a lot, at least three times a day within a city. If you have an Anonymous Card, you cannot load a monthly pass or any other contract on it. Only on a Personal Card.


For more info about Rav-Kav, visit the official page about Rav-Kav on the Egged site.

And you are more than welcome to subsribe and like my new Facebook Page! (:

Happy week,

Lior

Categories
Jerusalem Transportation

Things I’ve Learned About Jerusalem

I’ve moved to Jerusalem! And I am planning to spend at least two years in this beautiful, special, enchanting city. My first month in Jerusalem is almost over, so I think it’s a good time to share the things I’ve learned about Jerusalem so far:

Most Restuarants in the Yaffo Street Area Serve Meat –

In Israel there are three types of restaurants: those serving dairy dishes, those serving meat dishes and those serving both. The third type isn’t Kosher, because if you make meat and diary food in the same kitchen, it isn’t Kosher. You have to seperate them.

In Jerusalem it’s hard to find a restaurant that serves both meat and diary food, because most of the restuarants in Jerusalem are Kosher, as it is a more religious city than others. So…. One night I decided to go with a friend to Yaffo Street. We walked through the alleys that come in and out of the main Jaffo Street, searching for a place to eat. I wasn’t interested in meat, so we were searching for a place serving dairy food. BUT THERE WERE NO SUCH PLACES! Almost every single restaurant we stopped by was serving meat. The ones that weren’t were too pricey. At then end, we decided to eat some diary for at Mamila Avenue, which is an open air mall located at the end of Jaffo Street, near the entrance to the Old City.

There’s Always Some Festival or Event Going On –

When I’m driving through the city in the bus, I look out of the window and look at the surroundings. Every couple of meters there’s usually a pole and on the pole there’s usually a big banner announcing about some festival or cultural event that’s coming up. I feel I’m surrounded by culture. I also found a cool Facebook group called “The Guide for the Alternative Jerusalemi” (in Hebrew of course), that posts events going on in Jerusalem every day. There’s always something to do here.

The Best Way to Get to the City Center is By Light-Rail –

I live a bit out of the city center, so when I want to get to Yaffo Street, the Shuk or the Old City, I need to get on public transportation. The transportation in Jerusalem is really great, but I feel like the best way to get to the city center is by the light-rail train. Jerusalem is the first city in Israel to have a light-rail in it. Now we’re working on adding a light-rail to Tel Aviv. It doesn’t get stuck in traffic jams, it’s not very crowded in the evenings and it costs like a bus ride. Don’t forget to pay for your ticket before getting on the train!

Rav-Kav is So Much Fun –

“Rav-Kav” is a card that you can charge with a certain amount of money and pay with it when riding the bus. When I lived in Eilat I didn’t need it, but now it’s so fun to just put the card on the scanner and not start looking for coins in my wallet. I’ve heard that tourists can also get “Rav-Kav” and that you can charge it as a day-pass or week-pass, but I still haven’t got an official answer from the “Rav-Kav” headquarters. You can find “Rav-Kav” stations in all main bus stations in Israel and ask about the card there.

The French Hill is American –

The French Hill is one of the more modern residential areas of Jerusalem and you won’t find much to do there as a tourist, but I still have to mention – the French Hill feels quite American. When I’m going down the street there, when I go to the commercial center, when I go shopping… I hear American English everywhere. Crazy.

The City is Still Open on Shabbat – 

When the Shabbat arrives, a long siren is heard throughout the city, but that doesn’t mean that Jerusalem goes to sleep. Of course, the religious people stay in their homes, don’t use their cars and just rest through the whole Saturday, but there are a lot of non-religious people in Jerusalem and they want to have fun!

To be honest, before I moved to Jerusalem I thought that I will have to spend my Saturdays at home. I thought that Jerusalem is closed on Shabbat. But I found out that there are places that are open during Shabbat, like the First Station. And you can get to those places by taxi or by “Shabus“, a really cool transportation system made possible by the Cooperative Transportation Association of Jerusalem.


If you liked my post, feel free to share it!

And if you have any questions about Israel, feel free to ask them in the comments or contact me.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Lior

Categories
Eilat Transportation Trip Planning Tips

Buying a Bus Ticket in Israel

A few days ago I got a message from a visitor to my site. She said that it could be great if I would have added to the site some info about bus tickets in Israel.


Before you read on, just making sure you know that there’s no public transportation during Shabbat and some holidays in Israel. Want to learn more? Read – There’s No Public Transportation on Shabbat 


In Israel you don’t have to purchase a bus ticket before getting on the bus (update: this will change in Jerusalem beginning June 2018 and in Tel Aviv beginning December 2018. You will need to get a Rav-Kav and purchase a ticket before getting on the bus). You usually buy your ticket from the driver the moment you get aboard. But there is an exception and it’s the Egged bus driving to and from Eilat. That bus has reserved seats in it, so if you won’t purchase a ticket before getting on the bus (you can do so starting from 2 weeks prior to your travel date), you might arrive and find out that there’s no empty seat for you. Then the driver might let you stand the whole way to your destination or refuse to get you on, and in that case you will have to wait for the next bus to come.

To purchase your ticket beforehand, you have three options:

1- Go to the bus station at least a day (and up to a week) before your ride and order a ticket from the ticket booth. You can also come on the same and try your luck – there might be an empty seat, but might not be.

2- Dial +972-3-6948888 and reserve your place through costumer service.

3- Reserve your place online, through the Hebrew ordering system.

In the two last cases you will not get your ticket immediately. You will get a reservation number, which you will use later in the self service ticket machine, situated in every central station in Israel.

Here is the full guide to buying a bus ticket from/ to Eilat:

In Israel, you usually pay for your bus ticket only when getting on the bus. But there’s an exception – the Egged bus leading to or from Eilat, which has reserved seats. You can pay for the ride to or from Eilat when getting on the bus, but then you’re risking the option of standing all the way or worse, having to wait for the next bus to come because there’s no room for you on the first one.

Buses Driving to/from Eilat

So which buses are those with the reserved seats? Here’s a list:

To/ from Jerusalem (spelled ירושלים in Hebrew) – line 444 (stopping at Mesada and Dead Sea), 445.

To/ from Tel Aviv (spelled תל אביב in Hebrew) – line 394 (stopping at Be’er Sheva), line 390 and line 393 (stopping at Be’er Sheva).

To/ from Be’er Sheva (spelled באר שבע in Hebrew) – line 394 (final stop Tel Aviv if coming from Eilat), line 392 and line 397.

To/ from Haifa (spelled חיפה in Hebrew) – line 991.

So how to buy a ticket to/ from Eilat?

Here’s the video guide and below you can find it all written down (for those who prefer the written word):

1 – Enter the Egged website

2- Click “Book online” on the header menu.

3- Click “Tickets to Eilat”.

4- Dial the costumer service through +972-3-6948888 or purchase your ticket online by clicking “Order Ticket Online (He)”.

5- A new window will pop up, directing you to the reservations system of Egged in Hebrew. 

Look at the picture below to understand what you should do:

6- After filling in all the data and clicking “המשך”, you will be directed to the timetable of your requested bus route. Choose the time that best suits you and click on “המשך” to get to the next step in your reservation.

7- Congrats! You’ve made it to the final step – payment. Fill in all the details. choose the method of payment and click “אישור הזמנה” to complete your reservation. In the picture below you can find out how to fill in everything:

Important note: When filling in your passport number, do not type an alphanumeric ID. The section only works with numbers, so type in your ID with numbers only (no letters).

8- After completing the reservation, you will get a reservation number, which you will use afterwards, so keep it!

If you’re planning on getting on the bus from one of the main stations, you will find in the station a self-service ticket machine, called “Eilatomat”.

One type of Eilatomat. Here you need to click on the button to your right (red circle)
The second screen. Press the left button

You will need to get your ticket from this machine by putting in your passport number (ID number) (מספר דרכון / מספר ת.ז. / מספר תעודת זהות) and reservation number (מספר הזמנה). The machine operates in English as well. You can get your ticket up to two hours before your departure time. I advise you to arrive at the station at least 20 minutes before departure. If you’re getting on the bus at a stop that has no station, show the bus driver your reservation number (write the number which appears on the screen after you complete payment). The driver should already have your name in his or her list.

Note – if you also buy a return ticket online, you will get a 20{f224ba440c8e8489685f5be0eb52a1764ff3ab93b94d860236479bc3f69cbf7f} discount on the ticket.

Still having problems with purchasing your ticket? I’ll be happy to help you. Send a message to my Facebook Page: Backpack Israel. I can also book the ticket for you at a service charge of 10 ILS.

Enjoy your ride!


Found my post useful? It would be great to get a like, a comment or a share 🙂

If you need help with planning your trip to Israel, have a look in the app I made with Travelkosh – Travel Israel on Google Play and iTunes

Head pic credit: Grauesel CC BY-SA 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons

Yours,

Lior