Israel Travel Tips

Israel Ends COVID-19 Tests and Masking Requirements

Good news for Israel travelers (or those who plan to come): As of Saturday, May 21, foreign (and Israeli) travelers no longer need to do COVID-19 tests to enter the country, neither before boarding a flight nor after landing.

Israels Minister of Health also announced that face masks will no longer be required on international flights as of May 23, 2022. Masks remain mandatory only in hospitals and homes for the elderly. (Please note that regulations in the country of departure may be different.)

These latest decisions regarding COVID-19 greatly simplify traveling to Israel. As regulations and requirements are changing often, please make sure to check the official Israeli government websites and/or the embassy of Israel website in your country. You find useful links on my COVID-19 information page.

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Photographing Wildlife in Tel Aviv

A couple of weeks ago Australian wildlife and travel photographer Margaret Weiss (website: https://margaretweiss.com.au/) and I went to the “Rosh Tsipor” bird-watching center to photograph birds. Tel Aviv with all its parks has got quite some wildlife. The Rosh Tsipor bird-watching center is located in the Hayarkon park in Tel Aviv right next to the neighboring city of Ramat Gan.

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Israel Opens to Unvaccinated Tourists

As announced in the media, Israel is opening its borders to unvaccinated tourists, starting March 1, 2022. The continuous decline in COVID-19 cases led the Israeli government to remove restrictions for tourists.

Travelers to Israel still have to test negative on their pre-flight PCR, as well as on their PCR upon arrival to Israel. For further information and links to government websites, see under “COVID-19 in Israel” on my website.

Israel plans to further ease regulations. As of March 1, Israel is to abolish the “green pass” system for public venues that required visitors to show their vaccination proof to enter. However, wearing masks is still required on public transport (bus, train, taxi, etc.) as well as in public buildings and shops.

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Israel Reopens Border to Tourists

As Israel reopens its border on January 9, 2022, tourists and foreigners will once again be able to visit. Israel also removed its list of “red” countries (with high Covid-19 numbers), allowing travelers from all regions to enter.

Visitors planing to travel to Israel must adhere to the regulations of the Israeli Ministry of Health. In general, travelers are required to be fully vaccinated and produce a recognized vaccination certificate. See also the “Who can travel to Israel and how, as country reopens to visitors on Sunday” article in the Times of Israel.

For further information and helpful links to official websites, see my “Covid-19 in Israel” page.

For early visitors: Now you have the chance to visit the country’s many historic and holy sites without the usual queues.

Stay healthy!

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Jericho

The West Bank town of Jericho is part of the land controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Inside the West Bank, it is probably the biggest tourist and pilgrim attraction after Bethlehem. With good reason I believe, as the history of Jericho is one of a kind that you find nowhere else in the world. In the following article I describe the most important archaeological sites, in chronological order.

View of Jericho, West Bank, Israel
Quarantal – view of Jericho (click to enlarge)

Tell Es-Sultan (Tel Jericho)

Jericho is thought to be the oldest city in the world. How old? About 11,000 years old. It was before pottery had been invented. Archaeologists call that period PPNA, short for Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. A later period of Jericho falls into PPNB. To see this most ancient part of Jericho, we need to visit the Tell Es-Sultan archaeological park near the cable car station. A modest entry fee lets you climb the “tell” or settlement hill.

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Israel Closes Borders to Tourists (Again)

Following the outbreak of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Israeli cabinet has voted to close again the borders to tourists. As of now, no foreign tourists are allowed into Israel, unless they have applied for and received a permit by the “exceptions committee”. The Times of Israel has published a summary of the new rules.

If you plan on visiting Israel, have a look at my COVID-19 in Israel page. There you’ll find links to the official government websites for new information and changes!

Almost throughout the pandemic, the Israeli government has placed severe travel restrictions on all non-residents and tourists wishing to enter Israel. From time to time these restrictions were lifted for fully vaccinated travelers. Let’s be hopeful that Israel will soon be able to reopen its borders.

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Israel Open for Tourists Starting November 1

If you ever wanted to visit Israel, now is the time. Starting November 1, 2021, Israel is opening its gates to tourists. This time both travelers in groups and individual travelers will be granted entry, provided they meet certain conditions.

Entrance to Israel is granted to fully vaccinated travelers only. Depending on how long ago the last vaccine was taken, a “booster” shot may be necessary. Israel accepts the European digital vaccination certificate as proof. If you do not hold such a digital certificate, you will have to apply for approval.

Nativity Church, Bethlehem
“Queue” to the grotto at the Nativity Church, Bethlehem

So far only very few tourists were able to visit the country. I have recently guided such a group and it was an incredible experience. Nearly everywhere we went we got the “red carpet treatment”. COVID-19 has emptied many holy sites and we had literally free access anywhere we wanted, without the usual queues.

This will change as more people travel to Israel. So now is perhaps a once-in-lifetime chance to experience Israel without the crowds.

For more information and helpful links, see my information page on COVID-19 in Israel.

Don’t forget to book your tour guide soon – the schedule is filling up.

See you soon!

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On the Road Again

After a really long COVID-19 induced “vacation”, I’m finally on the road again. This time I’m guiding a group of young people from Germany on their first Israel tour. Why I mention “first Israel tour”? Because Israel can be addictive.

Israel is gradually opening its borders to tourists. Entry to the country isn’t easy. First of all, you need to be part of an organized tour. You need to be fully vaccinated, and if your last vaccination has been more than 6 months before your scheduled return from Israel, you are required to take a “booster” or 3rd vaccination. You also need a travel insurance specifically covering COVID-19.

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Tourist Groups to Visit Israel Starting September 19

Organized tourist groups will be allowed to visit Israel starting on September 19, provided they fulfill a number of conditions. Among these conditions are:

  • Only tourists participating in a group tour will be accepted.
  • Only travelers from countries that are classified yellow or orange by the Israeli Ministry of Health are allowed. For an official list, see here.
  • Only fully vaccinated tourists having received a vaccine approved by Israel are allowed to enter.
  • Tourists must present proof of a second vaccination recognized by the Israeli Health Ministry. The proof must show that the second (or third) vaccination was received within the last six months before arrival to Israel.
  • Travelers must apply for a permit via their travel agent / tour operator and them with all necessary documentation.
  • A PCR test is required no more than 72 hours before boarding the flight.
  • A second PCR test is required upon arrival to Israel.
  • In addition, the traveler has to take a serological test at the airport in Israel.
  • The tourists are then brought to the hotel where they must stay until the results of the tests are received, which usually takes less than a day.

More information and helpful links can be found on my COVID-19 information page. Please contact your travel agent / tour operator for up-to-date information.

Disclaimer: I’m providing the information in the hope that it will be of help to you. However, with travel restrictions sometimes changing by the day, the information presented here may neither be accurate, nor complete, nor up-to-date.

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Travel Restrictions

Yesterday (August 23, 2021) saw another rise in COVID-19 infections. 9,831 people have tested positive for Corona, the highest number since the last wave of infections 9 months ago. The USA as well as the European Union have issued a travel warning for Israel. On the other hand, Israel has shut it’s borders to tourists, requiring entry permissions and quarantine for non-residents (and sometimes for residents too).

About 65% of Israels population is vaccinated. There are still many eligible adults who refuse the jab. Israel is trying to encourage the “refuseniks” through information and media campaigns. The country has also implemented more severe penalties for people breaking the COVID-19 regulations. Mask-wearing in closed public spaces and on public transport is mandatory.

Children of 12 and above are also requested to vaccinate. Children age 5 to 11 are eligible for the vaccine if they are considered at risk.

Several weeks ago Israel started to issue “booster shots”, first to people above the age of 60, now to younger people too. Health officials have determined that efficacy of the vaccinations drops over time. With Israel being one of the first countries to vaccinate its population, many people have received their first two doses 8-9 months ago. As of today, 1.575 million Israelis have already received their 3rd shot.

Despite the non-vaccinated Israelis making only 35% of the entire population (including small children and babies), they make up about 50% of all new COVID-19 cases in recent days. On a per 100,000 citizens basis, the non-vaccinated patients in critical condition far outnumber the vaccinated Corona patients. The Israeli Ministry of Health provides daily statistics on vaccinations, infections, hospitalizations, severe cases, and deaths and lots of statistical data, unfortunately in Hebrew.

You can find more information and links to government websites and travel guidelines on my “COVID-19 in Israel” page.

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