Driving in Israel can get pretty aggressive, but it certainly pays off, as you get to see so much more of the country! Plus, with your own transportation, you will be able to stop for those 500 bathroom breaks your kids keep asking for (plus, your kids are going to fall in love with Israel’s gas station convenience stores).
So here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Israel.
Do I need a car to get around Israel?
Getting through Israel by public transportation is definitely possible, but it can prove to be tricky. The fact is, buses won’t take you everywhere, which means that if you want to take some fun day trips or go on hikes, you may have a hard time getting to your location of choice.
Buses and trains also don’t run on Shabbat, which can make things tricky if you’re planning to do things any time between Friday afternoon and Saturday.
Plus, having a car means you’re not schlepping all your kid and baby gear around constantly.
What car rental companies work in Israel?
Most of the big car rental companies operate in Israel, like Budget, Avis, Hertz, Sixt, and Enterprise, so if you have a membership with one of these rental companies or a deal through your work or credit card, you can definitely take advantage of that. If you do not have an Israeli drivers license, rentals are actually cheaper, so that’s fabulous news.
What do I need to rent a card in Israel?
All you need to rent a car in Israel is just a good ol’ passport, an English language license, and a credit card.
Where should I rent my car?
Many of the bigger rental companies have locations at the Ben Gurion airport, though it can be more expensive. Also, if you want to start your vacation in Tel Aviv, you may want to wait to rent a car later in your journey. Getting around without a car can be pretty simple in Tel Aviv, and parking is scarce and expensive! You can find different rental locations throughout the country (and some good deals!) by checking Kayak.
Should I rent a car seat or bring my own?
We recommend bringing your own car seat, one that you know how to install and won’t struggle with. Plus, you don’t need to pay extra to bring it on the plane. But you can certainly rent one! Call your car rental agency and see if they can provide you with a carseat (though know that there will be an additional fee).
What should I do if I’m in a car crash in Israel?
If you’re ever in a crash or witness an accident, you should call 100 – the police, from an Israeli phone number. You can call 101 for an ambulance and 102 for the fire department, if they are needed.
What do I do if my car has been towed?
If your car gets towed in Israel, call 106, the municipal hotline, and they will help you find it.
What do I need to know about parking in Israel?
You can’t park where the curb is marked in red and white. You can usually park where the curb has no markings (of course, use your own discretion)/ Places where the curb is marked in blue and white are legal parking spaces but do require you to pay a local fee. You can pay by meters if they’re around (and you have change!) or you can use apps like Pango or CelloPark. Always make sure to read what the parking sign nearby says — some blue and white zones have limited hours.
There are plenty of car parks throughout the country, but they can be expensive. Upon entering a car park, you will usually be greeted by a security guard who will ask you to open your trunk (you will hear some variation of baggage be’vakasha, which means “trunk please,” or they’ll just look at your expectantly).
Some things to know about driving in Israel
There’s lots of traffic
Israel is a country with lots of drivers and lots of traffic. So using a navigational app like Waze (which, coincidentally, was invented in Israel!) can be a real lifesaver. Keep lots of snacks and entertainment in the car just in case you get stuck in traffic, because traffic is annoying enough without your kids yelling “I’m hungry!” or “I’m bored!” every 30 seconds.
Parking in Tel Aviv can be difficult
Parking in big cities can be a real struggle and Tel Aviv is no exception. Street parking is hard to get and Israel has pretty rigorous parking laws that could earn you a hefty ticket if you aren’t careful.
Israelis are known to be aggressive drivers
We don’t want to generalize, but some Israelis drivers do exhibit an unusual amount of road rage. Excessive honking is part of the deal. Do not be alarmed, but do drive cautiously and be on alert. As always, make sure everyone in the car has their seatbelt buckled and that all carseats are properly secure.
Some of the laws are different
You can’t turn left on a red light in Israel, so don’t try!
There are toll roads
Israel has a few toll roads. The most famous one and the longest is Highway 6, or Yitzchak Rabin Road, which runs across the center of the country and which can save you a lot of time if there’s traffic. There’s also a Highway 1, which leads to the airport, and the Carmel tunnels in Jerusalem, which are much smaller toll roads. Check with your car rental company about taking toll roads, as the may have transponders that bill the cars directly for use of the roads.