Beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

How Many Shekels Per Day in Israel?

Israel is the only “developed” country in the Middle East. This is to say it’s the only place in that part of the world with infrastructure and a general quality of life consistent with what you might expect in the United States or Western Europe.

As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cost of travel in Israel is expensive. Set realistic expectations about the cost of travel in Israel before you touch down so you aren’t disappointed when you arrive there.

Need help planning your trip to Israel? Hire me as your travel coach!

Cost of Transportation in Israel

To be fair, the cost of transportation in Israel is generally low. Indeed, the problem in Israel is not the cost of transportation, but rather its availability.

Traveling between destinations in Israel is not the problem. From Tel Aviv, for example, frequent trains to large cities like Jerusalem and Haifa and buses to tourist spots like Eilat exist. Prices reflect availability, with a one-way train ticket from Tel Aviv to Haifa less than ₪100 (about $28) and a one-way bus ticket for the five-hour journey from Tel Aviv to Eilat running just ₪75, or less than $20.

The issue in Israel is public transport within cities. Although plans calls for a light rail to open in Tel Aviv prior to 2020, previous delays with the system call into question whether or not this will actually happen. This isn’t unwarranted: The frequency of terrorism throughout Israel has called into question whether a rapid transit system in any particular city is practical.

Thankfully, Israel’s most cosmopolitan city is small enough to explore by foot, but the same can’t be said for other large cities like Be’er Sheeva, Haifa and Jerusalem. As a result, transportation in Israel can be though of as an expensive commodity. On average, I would allocate at least $25 per day for various transport-related expenses.

Hotels in Israel

Although it is possible to obtain cheap transport within Israel, provided that you’re traveling between two disparate regions of the New Jersey-sized country and not within a certain city, the same can’t be said for hotels.

Even a single bed in a dorm room in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem will run you at least ₪100, or around $28, per night at the minimum. Hotels will cost you even more — I didn’t even look personally. My best advice to you would be to couch surf in Israel.

Or, if you’re gay, meet someone online in advance of your arrival and plan to stay with him. Otherwise, a large portion of the cash you don’t spend traveling within a particular city will be devoted to lodging, causing unnecessary stress and worry, to the tune of at least $40 per day if you don’t have a place to stay.

Restaurants and Bars in Israel

Relatively speaking, eating and drinking (alcohol) in Israel are even more expensive than getting around and finding a place to lay your head. I say this largely because I anticipate spending a majority of my budget in any destination on lodging and transport and expect that my food and beverage expenditures will be much less by comparison.

A one-person serving of hummus at the famous Abu Dhabi restaurant on King George Street, for example, costs ₪27 (or about $7) as of September 2011. Likewise, a single well drink at a gay party in Tel Aviv like Drek at Block Party will run around ₪45, which doesn’t take into account that fact the parties in Israel generally charge a cover.

If you are lucky enough to stay with someone in Israel, I would recommend buying ingredients at a grocery store — or, if he or she cooks anyway, pitching in for the cost of groceries. Barring this, I’d say you should budget a bare minimum of $20 per day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Is Israel Expensive?

In a word? Yes. If you don’t have a place to stay, choose to eat at restaurants, go out to clubs at night and don’t stay within the walkable center of Tel Aviv, you will spend a bare minimum of $85 (approximately ₪320) per day, a cost that doesn’t include other incidental expenses.

This isn’t to say Israel isn’t worth it. In line with the fact that Israel is developed and civilized, the quality of food, lodging and transport you find there is higher than anywhere else in the Middle East, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s on par with Europe or the United States.

My advice to you is this: If you don’t have a lot of money to spend per day, don’t visit Israel — and even if you do, travel as cheaply as you can when you’re there.

The recent housing protests alone should be enough evidence that Israel is generally expensive, even for people who’ve grown up there. Don’t allow this unfortunate fact to spoil your time there.

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Israel

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is the author of 779 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabina April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

Yes! Israel is so expensive! I’m living in Tiberias in the northern part of Israel right now, and it’s still somewhat of an unpleasant economic shock to me after having spent four months living very cheaply in Dahab, Egypt immediately before arriving here although I spent seven months living in Tiberias before Dahab. Fortunately, during my current stay I am living with an Israeli friend for free, so that’s a huge help. When I lived here for seven months last year my rent was 1,200 Shekels or approximately 450 USD per month for a furnished apartment, which is much, much cheaper than in Connecticut USA where I am based. Food is horrendously high, approximately Connecticut prices, even when you’re buying almost all food at a supermarket and cooking at home, as I am doing.

As far as hotel/hostel lodging, also expensive. I just spent a few days in Jerusalem in a dorm room at a convent/guesthouse where I paid 29 USD per night. I stayed in another dorm room in Eilat several months ago for 25 USD per night. These figures are just way too high for a bed in a dorm, in my opinion. I have heard of a hostel in the Old City of Jerusalem where you can pay 1 USD per night for a mattress on a rooftop. Its name was Petra Hostel, although I think it might have changed names, and it is right inside Jaffa Gate. If you can handle sleeping on a roof, this is a great option.

As far as transport, although it doesn’t break the bank it is still expensive, in my opinion. I take a bus round trip once per week from Tiberias to Karmiel, a 50-minute ride in good traffic, and it costs 40.80 Shekels, which is over 10 USD. After having paid approximately the same amount several times for a cross-Egypt journey from Dahab to Cairo and back for the same amount of money and taking frequent one-hour-plus trips from Sharjah, UAE to Dubai and back for maybe 1 USD, this seems expensive to me. One of the many beautiful things about Israel is the fact that hitchhiking is both legal and safe, and I have done it quite a bit. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt because you have to wait for an indefinite amount of time for a ride, but at least you know you can definitely get whereever you want to go for free.

Thanks for writing this post!

Robert Schrader April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for the awesome, detailed comment! I know other readers will find this information valuable. It’s interesting that although our circumstances of visiting (and, in your case, living in) Israel are very different, many of the conclusions we draw are the same.

Caleb Leblanc January 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

geez.. your set of mind must be damaged or something… It could be like that if u want to think it that way because thats how you look at yourself.low self esteem@ Andrea

Robert Schrader January 14, 2013 at 6:25 am

Thanks for the reply, Calel!

mr brown October 1, 2013 at 6:22 am

yeah baby !

Kat January 9, 2014 at 7:07 am

“Israel is the only developed country?”

Robert Schrader January 9, 2014 at 7:10 am

In the Levant, yes!

blahsnkdkdkd January 23, 2016 at 7:47 am

no? lebanon is actually pretty developed.. wth.

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