Israel stands in the top 3 of the most expensive countries in the world if it comes to household equipment, food, and accommodation. Exactly the kind of items and services you need as a traveler. In contrast to the costs stand that Israel has one of the most diverse cultures and beautiful nature our beloved planet has to offer.
With these tips, we will advise you in making your trip more affordable with still having a great and relaxed time doing so.
Rent a car
Renting a car in Israel is the most cost and time-efficient way to move around the country. During our trip, we rented a car for 5 days, which brought us from Jerusalem to Eilat and back up to Tel Aviv for around 25 euros a day (excluding fuel). Public transport in Israel is more expensive, a round trip from Jerusalem to Eilat costs around 70 euro per person, and takes more than 5,5 hours. In Israel, there are many scenery spots which lay off the main roads and are not accessible by public transport. This was the first time for us during our traveling that we took a rental car instead of public transport or bike. But it gave us the ultimate freedom and we had an amazing extraordinary experience which we otherwise didn’t have.
Rental companies which provide cheap cars are Eldan, Budgetcar and Hertz.
Note!: In Israel when you are under 24 years old, you need to buy an extra insurance when you want to rent a car, it’s around 10 euro more per day. Still cheaper than public transport! 😉
If you have more time to spent in Israel, then hitchhiking might be a good option instead of going by public transport or rental car. In Israel is very common to hitchhike and many travelers make use of this way of traveling. It is a very cheap way to explore the country and meet Israeli people, but it can take long before you get a ride.
The cheapest way to gain some calories in Israel is to go out on the street and have a bite at one of the many food vendors. Most of the time these foods are even cheaper than the supermarket and of a much better quality. We noticed that many vendors (Especially in Jerusalem) ask a higher price to foreigners, so most of the time you can bargain off at least a quarter of the asked price.
Get food on closing time
Besides bargaining your food on the street market, another way to retrieve relatively cheap food is to go out around closing times. A lot of food sold by food vendors is prepared fresh and cannot be sold the next day. Most vendors will give a huge discount at the end of the day making your stomach twice as full for the half of the price.
Take a tour on Sabbath
All around Israel, Sabbath is a rest day which also causes public transport and Jewish taxi’s to close. During Sabbath many Christian and Arab taxi drivers are still working but, are having much harder time to get passengers than on a normal working day. With most of these taxi drivers, you can negotiate about a tour for a cheaper price. For example, a tour from Jerusalem to Bethlehem costs around 79 euro per person. We did this tour including another tour to the Mount of Olives for 50 euros per person, just because of Sabbath.
Bring your tent and go camping
Instead of sleeping in the very expensive, noisy and crappy hostels in Isreal, why not stay in a 5 billion star hotel for only 5 euro per night? Because sleeping accommodation is so expensive in Isreal, you have a 2-person (crappy) room for around 50 euros. It is very common to go camp, there are many camping sites and most of them are located near the best scenery Israel has to offer. Even during winters Israel has a pleasant climate, in December the temperature is around 19 degrees.
Note!: Not all campgrounds are all year open, inform at the camp when they are.
Enjoy the many free sights that Israel has to offer
As mentioned previously, Israel has many scenery spots and best of all, they are totally free! (With exception of the big attractions, like Masada, Ein Gedi, Timna Park etc.) Information about these scenery spots isn’t very easy to find, the only information we found were signs near the road indicating a scenery spot. When we drove around with our rental car, we found many of these spots along the way. Getting to one of these scenery spots is actually a small adventure on itself, taking you along beautiful trails where you can hike without meeting someone else for hours. The trails are well-appointed, so you do not get lost quickly.
The best scenery spot we’ve been to is called Hidden Valley. We discovered this hidden gem near Eilat, more about that coming soon!