Weather, Geography and Climate
With around merely 40 rainy days a year on average, Israel is known for its sunny disposition, yet keep in mind this is a 4 season country. Summers are long, lasting from April to October and the height of heat and humidity is usually around July-August. Fall and winter last from November to March.
The southern city of Eilat enjoys nearly 360(!) sunny days a year, making it the hottest city in Israel.
The total area of the State of Israel is 8,630 sq. miles (22,145 sq.km.), of which 8,367 sq. miles (21,671 sq. km.) is land area. Israel is some 470 km. (290 miles) in length and about 85 miles (135 km.) across at the widest point. The country is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the southwest and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.
Mountains and plains, fertile land, and desert are often minutes apart. The width of the country, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east, can be crossed by car in about 90 minutes; and the trip from Metulla, in the far North, to Eilat at the country's southern tip takes about nine hours.
Israel's climate ranges from temperate to tropical, with plenty of sunshine. Two distinct seasons predominate: a rainy winter period from November to May; and a dry summer season which extends through the next six months. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the North and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas.
Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions (including Jerusalem), hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semidesert conditions in the Negev. Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall at higher elevations to periodic oppressively hot dry winds, which send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.
What to pack?
Israel is a modern, developed country, and you can purchase virtually anything you need during your stay, including clothing, cosmetics, and hygiene products.
If you are visiting Israel during the summer you will need lightweight clothing - short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts, shorts, sandals, beach shoes and a bathing suit. It’s also a good idea to pack a sweater or jacket, since nights in the mountains and the desert can be cool.
If you are visiting Israel in the winter, you will need warm clothing, a coat (preferably a raincoat as well), good shoes, an umbrella, gloves, a scarf and other warm clothing. Weather in Israel is not cold as it is in Europe, but days can be rainy and cold.
It’s a good idea to bring a small bag for day trips. If you are traveling to Eilat or the Dead Sea, it’s a good idea to bring a bathing suit, since it is warm enough to swim there even in the winter.
Sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses are essential items throughout the year.
If you are planning on hiking, you will need good shoes and a lot of water, either in a canteen or in several bottles. You will need a sleeping bag, tent, and camping equipment only if you are planning on sleeping outdoors. Most youth hostels supply sheets and blankets.
Immigration & Customs
Upon arrival in Israel, visitors go to passport control and must present a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their departure.
Please note, Israel has incorporated a new and modern technological system instrumental in meeting the needs of the various Immigration, security, Airport and Tourism authorities as well as providing the tourist with the credentials necessary to prove his visa status without stamping the passport. At a press of a button, the Border Control station will print a card including the principle details of the traveler as in the first page of the passport. The card will also depict the date of arrival and visa information. This card is called The “Electronic Gate Pass”.
The Gate Pass is an official form of identification while in Israel. We ask all tourists to keep the card at hand at all times as proof of their status.
Arrival by Air and Land Crossings – Incoming travelers continue to the passenger luggage area after having their passports inspected. Carts are at their disposal. From there, they continue to customs control and to the airport exit.
General information regarding the laws and policies of the Customs Authority can be downloaded:
Passport and Visa
All visitors to Israel must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they are departing the country. People with no nationality must hold a valid laissez-passer, as well as a visa back to the country that issued it.
Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel up to three months from the date of their arrival, in accordance with the conditions of the visa issued to them. Visitors intending to work in Israel must submit a request to the Ministry of the Interior for a special visa.
Israel no longer stamps passports at airports and most Land Crossings. Nonetheless, because at times technical difficulties arise, and at times, the border control must revert to back to the method of stamping passports, we recommend that tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries officially request that an Israeli stamp does not appear on their passport. The tourist must notify the clerk of this request before documents are stamped.
The “Electronic Gate Pass”
In accordance to section 13 of the law regarding entrance to Israel of 1952, an official inspector or police officer can request identification and proof of legal status in Israel. With this in mind, at a press of a button the Border Control station will print a card including the principle details of the traveler as in the first page of the passport. The card will also depict the date of arrival and visa information. This card is called The “Electronic Gate Pass” and it is a new and modern technological system instrumental in meeting the needs of the various Immigration, security, Airport and Tourism authorities as well as providing the tourist with the credentials necessary to prove his visa status. The “Electronic Gate Pass” replaces the system whereby passports were stamped. At the airport, this card allows the traveler to exit the arrival terminal without further delays.
The Gate Pass is an official form of identification while in Israel. We ask all tourists to keep the card at hand at all times as proof of their visa status. At the airport and designated Land Crossings, this card allows the traveler to exit the arrival terminal and continue to the luggage pickup area.
The tourist is asked to keep the card at hand at all times.
We welcome visitors to Israel. Many countries have a Visa Waiver Program with Israel, which allows their citizens to visit Israel without a visa arranged in advance. Before embarking on a trip, visitors desiring to stop in Israel on their way to other destinations must check if they need a prearranged tourist visa. The list of countries in the following link specifies from which countries tourists are required to present a prearranged visa.
All Visa Waiver Program travelers must present a machine-readable passport at the port of entry in order to enter Israel without a prearranged visa; otherwise, a visa is required. This applies to tourists arriving with a passage card from countries with a Waiver Program.