Visiting Israel

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Israel with a four year old

April 2010

I will be traveling in May to Israel with my daughter who is four (almost five if that makes a difference) Last time we were there was in the summer when we had lots of relatives with kids take us around. This time around is during school so we will be on our own a lot more. Although I am very familiar with Israel, not so much from a kids perspective. We will be staying in the suburbs of Haifa and I would like to make several day trips. We do not have a car so the places need to be accessible by public transportation. Anywhere within a two hour or so distance is fine although some shorter excursions would be nice too.

Also anyone ever taken a cruise ship from Haifa? We will be going on a four night cruise to the Greek Islands during our stay. I don't know the name of the company only that it leaves from Haifa. Just looking for general opinions on how these cruises are with children. Ready to Travel!

My family visited Israel a few months ago with young children (ages 5 and 2.) My children absolutely loved Jerusalem Zoo. It is very spacious, surrounded by beautiful hills -- you could easily spend the whole day there. But I am not familiar with the public transportation -- perhaps it would be too far to travel from Haifa. Traveling mom

Travel to Israel/West Bank with children

Jan 2009

My husband and I are thinking about visiting Israel and West Bank with young children (4 and 1.) Does anyone have any advice on family travel in that region? In general, our children are quite experienced world travelers; we are looking for region-specific tips. Thanks in advance, Rasa

There are lots and lots of indoor and outdoor things to do in Israel with kids. There are books written about things to do in Israel with kids. As far as West Bank (I'm assuming you're wondering about security) I would say that if you are judicious in your choice of locations it's no more dangerous than daily activities here in the US. We've spent three summers with young kids in Israel, mostly in a town that's over the Green Line (which makes it technically West Bank). Naomi

I just got back from Israel on the 5th. I went with just my 6-year-old, and we traveled into the West Bank by bus to spend a Shabbat with my cousin and his family. Getting there and back was quite anxiety-provoking for me but ended up uneventfully. The bus from Jerusalem to the settlement of Beit El, where we were going, was an armored, bullet-proof bus. That in and of itself felt scary. Once we were in the town itself, it was quiet and peaceful. Please email me and I can answer any specific questions or give you more details of our experience. It was intense! Debbie B

Safety of travel to Israel

Feb 2008

We are U.S. citizens (two parents with children ages 12 & 8) who are planning to come visit our family members in Israel during the summer of 2008. For the most part we will be staying in our relatives' place in Haifa. If anyone on the BPN can help us find out, as of today, about the relative safety of certain locations we would like to visit during our stay in Israel. These are:

  • Dead Sea, Eilat, Sea of Galilee, Yaffo, the Negev desert, Bethlehem
  • Acre, North of Haifa
  • East Jerusalem - Church of the Holy sepulcre, Wailing Wall, The Way of the Cross, King David Tomb
  • West Jerusalem - Mount Zion, Museum with the Dead Sea scrolls
  • City of Nazareth, near Galilee

We understand that there are no safety guarantees and no way to know how the situation could change tomorrow, but could you please tell us if any of the places to visit that I named above are now considered generally unsafe for American tourists to come by. We have consulted the site of U.S.Dept of State and the travel warnings, but remain unclear as to the safety of these specific locations. Thank you for your advice, Maria

My sister lives in Jerusalem with her kids and I posed your question to her. Her reply is as follows:

In general all the places inside Israel are as safe as any place in the modern world. East Jerusalem is also quiet and so is Bethlehem these days. But they can check back with me closer to their travel and get an update.

By ''inside Israel'' she does not mean the West Bank/Occupied Territories, so that is why she mentions Bethlehem and East Jerusalem separately. Conditions in those places are more likely to change; the rest of the places you mention are more likely to remain stable and quiet. --Happy travels!

Traveling to Israel without kids

Nov 2004

I am traveling to Israel for 10 days at the end of the month without my daughter, and will spend a week traveling the country in the company of other adults. I would like to have some ideas of fun things to do and great places to go and see, and welcome restaurant and hotel recommendations in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat specifically. Also, I would love to have some recommendations for inexpensive spas or retreats in the Dead Sea area, and also dive companies or agencies for diving in the Red Sea. I will be traveling with a group, so the ''single woman traveling alone'' phenomenon does not apply--I will likely have companions for most days on the trip. Thanks. Elizabeth

There were allot of questions in the post requesting info on Israel. So my answer is incomplete but here goes:

Tel Aviv: Neve Tzedek--great old neighbourhood. Was the first neighborhood built in Jewish Tel Aviv outside the Yaffo walls. Became chi-chi in the 90's. Great stores. A few cute bars and cafes. Suzanne Dalal dance center is there, home to three dance companies. Get tickets if you can. A really good Italian place in the plaza of the dance center. Sorry. I can't remember the name. I love Suzanna's across the street from the Suzanne Dalal Dance Center. Great food. Awful staff.

There is an amazing bakery on Shderot Yehudit called Uzi. Its off the tourist trail, but if you go to Israeli Mall you're a short walk from there. Friday morning is the best time to go. Just down the street from Uzi is David's falafel. My absolute favorite.

While we're on falafel...most of my friends swear by the two falafel places in Jerusalem near the Hebrew University campuson the Giva Hazarfatit (Frenchh Hill). Its a student mecca.

In Jaffa there is Abulafia. These guys make the best Arab pasteries and pita. If you're in Jaffa anyway and its cool out ask around for someone making warm ''sachlab''. The orchid (that's what sachlab means) desert can be made cold (more puddingy) or warm (thick drink). Its white, creamy and served with cinnamon.

There are all the obvious tourist stops in Tel Aviv - the beach, the art museum, the Diaspora Museum etc.

Jerusalem: The American Colony is a gorgeous old hotel. In the summer the garden cafe is open, in winter there is a basement pub. Hangout for diplomats and journalists. Its in East Jerusalm just on the edge of west Jerusalem. For safety's sake take a cab or have an Israeli drive you. Don't get lost in East Jerusalem.

The Cinamateque has a greaet restaurant called Cacao. Overlooks the walls of the old city.

Ask locals about the mood in the old city. I love walking around the Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters but if its not safe you'll have to stick to the Jewish quarter. Its still amazing but the Armenian Quarter has the Church of the Holy Sepulcre (sp?) and other great attractions. Its worth visiting the Ethiopian church. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Isarel (SPNI) has walking tours in English and Hebrew (and Arabic if you like). Call them at 02 625 7682.

Of course go to the wailing wall. I never get tired of the place. My husband would disagree, but I find solace in the cool stones that have seen so much.

National SPNI has adventure travel options and they can arrange individualized tours for you and your friends. Contact them in advance and talk to Noga.

Dead Sea spas are so expensive. Do a treatment in Tel AViv instead at Villa Spa. They have individual treatments and packages.

Dive Clubs: Lucky Divers and Red Sea Sports Clubs in Eilat are both good. If you're going to Sinai there are good clubs in Dahab as well.

Eilat in general is an icky resort place. If you ask me head out of town and go hiking in the Red Canyon, Timna, and other areas. Again SPNI is great for ideas. Stop at the field school. Its on the road towards the Egyptian border. They have organized tours, or can just sell you a good trail map for doing your own hikes. Even in winter carry plenty of water.

Have fun. Give my regards to the sand and sea. Sharon