Backpacking Israel on a budget

Eilat Beach, Israel

While Israel is an amazing country to visit by all means, one of the main drawbacks of visiting Israel is its high prices, which can sometimes even prevent travelers from visiting it entirely due to fear of a high cost. However, if you plan your trip well enough, and are willing to compromise on a few things, traveling in Israel on a budget is very possible for anyone. So whether you are backpackers or travelers looking to visit Israel on a relatively low budget, Here is our comprehensive guide for cutting costs during your trip here.

How to save on accommodation in Israel

Camping in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Camping in Mitzpe Ramon

Avoid staying in the big cities

Due to extremely high real estate prices, the highest expense of your Israel trip is very likely to be accommodation. However, there are many ways to save and stay at a relatively affordable price in Israel. One of them is to avoid staying in the big, touristic cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Of course, by no means are we saying you should skip visiting those magnificent cities, which many consider to be the biggest highlights of the entire country. Instead, we would recommend planning your trip so you will spend a minimal amount of nights in them. Thanks to the small size of Israel, and the proximity of many other cities to each other, it is very easy to stay in places like Herzliya or Netanya, and do day trips to Tel Aviv, or stay in Modi’in and take a short train ride to Jerusalem.

This method will help you save a lot on accommodation, as every city outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is usually much more affordable.

Go north

Generally, the northern part of Israel is considered to be the cheapest in the country, especially when it comes to accommodation. The city of Haifa is the best in Israel when it comes to value for money, and accommodation in the Galilee is much cheaper compared to most of the Negev. Thus, planning to stay more in the north will help cut your costs considerably.

Go camping

Every nature lover knows that camping is the best way to experience a natural site in a meaningful way, and in this case, it’s also a great option for those looking to travel in Israel on a budget. Thanks to an abundance of great camping sites around the country, at very attractive prices (and sometimes even for free), sleeping under the stars is one of the most affordable and unique things you can do in Israel.

For more information, check our full guide for camping in Israel.

Do a Workaway

Compared to most countries, Israel has a very developed scene of Workaway options, in which you can volunteer for a few hours a day, in exchange for free accommodation and food. The most common and recommended Workaway options in Israel are in the field of agriculture. You can find those all around the country, and mostly in the Golan Heights, Jezreel Valley, and the Arava Region in the desert.

How to eat in Israel on a budget

Hummus plate, Israel
Hummus, one of the most affordable dishes in Israel

Eat Local

While eating out in Israel can be extremely expensive, with many dishes in international restaurants costing at least 65 ILS, there are still many affordable dining options, especially for those looking to try the great local food of Israel. Thus, if you want to eat out and still manage to stay on a budget, we would recommend sticking to restaurants serving local dishes, such as Falafel, Hummus, and Sabich. Usually, you’ll be able to find Falafel for as little as 10-15 ILS, and Hummus or Sabich for about 25-30 ILS. Pro tip: Hummus is typically a bottomless dish, so it’s a great option if you’re looking to fill up for a long time and save on other food expenses.

Cook by yourself

As eating out regularly is relatively expensive in Israel, cooking some of the meals by yourself can help you save a great deal of money during your trip. Thanks to great fresh produce, with an emphasis on vegetables, which are considered by many to be the best in the world, you can make delicious and healthy meals by yourself, at very affordable prices.

Go to local markets

Generally, the markets of Israel, such as the Carmel Market of Tel Aviv, the Machane Yehuda Market of Jerusalem, and many other markets across the country, offer great dishes and products at much lower prices compared to restaurants or supermarkets. So if you are looking to save some on food, planning to have many of your meals in the markets is a great way to both get a local experience and cut your costs.

How to save on transportation in Israel

A train in Israel
Train seats in Israel

Use public transportation

As public transportation in Israel is much cheaper than in most Western countries, using it regularly is a much cheaper way to get around, compared to renting a car or taking taxis. It is especially true when it comes to traveling around the big cities, like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or Haifa, where you can easily get around by public transportation for only 5.5 ILS per ride.

Take bikes and electric scooters

In some of the big cities of Israel, and especially in Tel Aviv and Eilat, you rent bicycles or electric scooters, as very fun, efficient, and affordable ways to get around the cities. While taking an electric scooter is a bit more costly than bicycles, both options are a great alternative to buses and taxis, which will amount to higher prices, and of course, be much less memorable ways to explore the cities.

Plan ahead for weekends

As you might already know, traveling in Israel during weekends and holidays is more complicated than in most countries. Every weekend, on Shabbat time, which is between Friday afternoon and Saturday night, there isn’t any inter-city public transportation and very limited service of buses in select cities. For that reason, it’s very important to plan ahead and spend your weekend in a place where you can get around without public transportation. In addition, don’t plan on doing a long-distance ride on the weekend, as it will only be possible to do it by taxi, which will be very costly.

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