May is a perfect time to visit Israel. The weather is usually warm but not too hot, which means it’s a good time to be outdoors. But it’s also a great time to be indoors, with International Museum Day. Here are all the tops things to do in Israel in May.
Visit one of Israel’s fascinating museums
May 19 is International Museum Day, and Israel’s museums also take part in the celebrations. So, if you happen to be in Israel on this date, you can enjoy free entry to a long list of fascinating museums. Usually, major museums that participate in the event are the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Science Museum Jerusalem, the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, and the Madatech in Haifa. But there are many more museums that open their gates for free on this day. Some of the museums offer free entry on May 19 and some on May 20.
Celebrate Lag BaOmer
Jewish holidays always move around the calendar. We celebrate them according to the Hebrew calendar, which is different from the widely used Gregorian calendar. But Lag BaOmer almost always falls in May. This year (2022), the celebrations will start on the evening of 18 May.
Lag BaOmer is usually celebrated by lighting bonfires all around Israel. In recent years, because of the dry and hot climate, the Fire and Rescue Authority asked not to light bonfires because they could lead to wildfires. But people still light a lot of bonfires, the air fills with smoke, and it’s best to keep windows shut. If you want to experience the celebrations from up close, check if there is any central bonfire planned near you.
Visiting Meron on Lag BaOmer
Many people also come to visit the resting place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. In fact, the holiday is meant to commemorate Rabbi Shimon’s day of death. He was a 2nd century tannaitic sage, who was the first to publicly teach the Kabbalah, the mystical Jewish school of thought. Many see him as the author or the editor of the Zohar, one of the most foundational books of the Kabbalah. According to tradition, when Rabbi Shimon passed away, a great flame of fire encircled his home. That is why we light bonfires on Lag BaOmer.
You can also travel to Meron for Lag BaOmer. Just consider that the resting place of Rabbi Shimon might be very crowded. Following the terrible disaster that happened there on Lag BaOmer 2021, the police decided to close the place for visitors. On Lag BaOmer, they might open it for the celebrations, but there will definitely be limited access.
Instead of visiting the tomb, you can use this day to hike up nearby Mount Meron | Read my post >> Climbing Mount Meron on the Israel National Trail.
The weather in Israel in May is usually quite pleasant, especially in the evenings. So, it’s a great time to go outdoors and try camping in Israel. There are many organized places with running water and facilities, but if you want to go hard-core, you can do wild camping. Israel is full of free camping sites, where you can set up a tent in the middle of nature. Keep in mind that in nature reserves, wild camping is only possible in designated places. | Read more about it >> Camping in Israel: The Basics.
Visit the Christian sites in Jerusalem
May is the perfect time to visit the Christian sites of Jerusalem. It’s just after the Easter season and just before the hot days of the Israeli summer. So, you probably won’t experience the huge crowds accompanied to Easter and won’t suffer from the heat while visiting the churches that are usually not air-conditioned. Make sure to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the churches on Mount of Olives, and the Room of the Last Supper. You can also walk the Via Dolorosa and go visit Ein Karem, the traditional childhood town of John the Baptist. Jerusalem is full of churches and monasteries, so you have a lot to see.
Participate in events happening this May
There are a lot of annual events in Israel, but they don’t always happen on the same dates each year. So, I’ve gathered some top events that are planned to happen this May (2022) in Israel:
David Ben Gurion, our first prime minister, declared Israel’s independence on 14 May 1948. The Hebrew date was the 5th day of the Iyar month. Because we celebrate according to the Hebrew date, Independence Day always shifts from April to May and vice versa. This year (2022), the celebrations will begin on the evening of 4 May and continue throughout 5 May.
On the evening of Independence Day, there are usually LIVE performances and firework shows all around Israel. During the day itself, people usually go to public parks and do BBQs or picnics. You can join the celebrations with a picnic basket, too.
On 13 May, the streets of Jerusalem will be filled with bike riders in one of Israel’s biggest cycling events. There are three routes: 10-km long, 30-km long, and 50-km long. If you like to cycle, it’s a great opportunity to experience Jerusalem on a bike. You can register for the event here. If you’re not cycling, you should be aware that many roads will be closed on this day. You can go cheer them!
How is the weather in Israel in May?
Usually, the weather in May is pleasant. During the day, it is usually between 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). During the night, the temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). In higher places, like Jerusalem or Safed, nights can be chillier. Rain is quite rare, but still possible.
With climate change and all the crazy weather around the world, I recommend checking the forecast about a week or two before coming, so it won’t surprise you.
May is a great time to visit Israel thanks to good weather and the fact that the attractions are less crowded. I hope you’ll have an excellent visit to Israel this May.