Israel on Arrival - From trains and buses to cabs and sheruts

Living in Israel, I'm constantly asked by visitors where to find up-to-date travel information...and not just for when they land at Ben Gurion airport.  It's an excellent question so I've put together a few pointers for the first-timers for once they’ve cleared customs:

1. Israel Railway - Israeli trains are fast, efficient, cheap and probably the number one option in terms of getting to and from the airport.  The train can take you to three different stops in Tel Aviv (the third one is the Sabidor 2000 central station, which connects with a bus terminal) and costs 16 NIS for a single ticket (about $3.50).    When you come out into the main arrivals area, follow the train sign (remain on the floor, don't take an elevator anywhere), walk one or two minutes and then you will see the railway entrance.  You can either buy a ticket at the counter or use one of the self-service machines (they take cards and have an English language option).  The journey into Tel Aviv will take approximately 15 minutes but you can take trains further north or south - up to Haifa and Acre and down to Be'er Sheva, with plenty of other cities inbetween.

Here's the link to Israel Railways in English...

2. Flo Shuttle - Flo is a relatively new business but proving to be a hit.  For approximately $17, they will pick you up at the airport and drop you (in one of their mini-vans) at your destination in the wider Tel Aviv area…a handy door-to-door service.  They operate on the hour, every hour, and are very friendly.  However, bear in mind that you need to pre-book.

3. Taxi - Taking a cab is surely and easy and comfortable option, but don't forget that, at certain times of the day, you are going to hit traffic…the highway to Tel Aviv can be extremely congested at peak hours.  You can find a cab in Terminal 3 at Level G; they are all under the supervision of the Israeli government.  A journey to Tel Aviv will cost you around $45 (and with no traffic/at night should take around 20-30 minutes).  Alternatively, pre-book one at a competitive price…I recommend “Hadar” who can be reached at (03) 971-1103.  They are cheap and reliable.  

4. Shuttle (Sherut) - If you’re travelling to Jerusalem, consider the shuttle (or, in Hebrew, ‘sherut').  This is a shared minibus, which accommodate ten people and can be found at Level G (near the taxis).    The cost is more-or-less the same as Flo - about $17.  Best to pre-book but it's certainly possible just to jump in and tell the driver your destination.

5. Public Bus (Egged) - Egged buses 947 and 950 run from the airport to Jerusalem - you will need to take a shuttle bus first to a junction, then transfer onto Egged.  But it’s certainly a cheap option…about $6-7 and will drop you at Jerusalem's central bus station in about 35 minutes.  There is talk of setting up a new bus line that will take passengers directly from Jerusalem to the airport, so watch this space.

One last thing - and it's very very important!  There is no public transport in Israel on Shabbat (from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, when night falls) and on religious holidays (Passover, Jewish New Year, Succot, etc).  So if you arrive at these times, you will not be able to take a train.

Next time I'll be looking at ways of getting around Israel.  But, for now, welcome, or as we say in Hebrew, 'Bruchim Habaim!'