Israel’s Basic Information Guide

The official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, but English is widespread. There is sometimes a threat of civil unrest in Israel and surrounding areas, in particular at the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, so it’s very important to check with the Australian Government for security updates before you depart. Public holidays are confusing here and can affect your trip with Jews stopping work for Sabbath from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, some Muslims at sundown on Thursday and Christians all day Sunday.

Visa

Australians traveling to Israel on holiday will need to obtain a single entry three-month tourist visa upon entry, which is free of charge. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Israel.

Currency

The currency of Israel is the New Israel Shekel (NIS), Shekel for short or Shekalim for plural. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and NIS fluctuates constantly so it’s a good idea to monitor the rate before buying cash. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.

Food

Staples felafel, humus, tehina and side dishes couscous or gefilte fish are standard fare in Israel. The food reflects the diversity of the populations, while mostly Jewish they have returned home from all over the world and bought the modern cuisine with them. Restaurants open around 6, but it’s common to eat dinner around 9pm here.

Nightlife

Known to some as the ‘city that never stops’, Israel’s cultural hub Tel Aviv offers a vibrant and fun nightlife for tourists and locals and arguably the best scene in the country. There are clubs and dance parties, cinemas, theatre productions, street food and restaurants, live music and other performing art/street shows that run all year - and all night. The fun starts around midnight in clubs and you can wear what you want in most places (although modesty if your friend here). Beach parties can be found in cities along the Mediterranean Coast.