Israel public transportation guide

Bus in Haifa, Israel

Although public transportation in Israel is not as developed as in most Western countries, it is still a good option and a very valuable tool for travel in Israel, especially for backpackers traveling on a budget. Thanks to a convenient railway network, alongside the buses of Israel, that can take you to most places in the country, getting around Israel by public transportation is a very possible option, that can be fairly convenient in some cases, depending on your itinerary. So if you’re planning on touring Israel by public transport, here’s our comprehensive guide.

For more specific information about trains in Israel, check our comprehensive guide for using Israel Railways.

The pros of touring Israel with public transportation

Affordable prices

Compared to most developed countries, public transportation in Israel is extremely affordable. With a maximum fare of 27 ILS per train ride, and 16 ILS per bus ride, as well as a 5.5 ILS fare for traveling within a city, using public transport will save you a great deal, compared to taking a rental car or taxi.

Avoiding traffic

As a fairly small country where most of the population is centered around a very small piece of land, Israel has long been notorious for its huge traffic jams, especially around Tel Aviv. Although public transportation won’t solve this issue completely for you, it’s the best way to avoid at least some of the traffic, as trains and buses, which often have dedicated public transport lanes, can oftentimes be a faster way to get around compared to taking a car.

Israel travel with public transportation: important things to keep in mind

Limited hours and days

One of the main drawbacks of public transportation, is its limited availability, especially when it comes to weekends. During the time of Shabbat, which is from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, there is hardly any public transportation in Israel. That is only except for Tel Aviv and Haifa, which operate limited inner city bus lines during Shabbat.

For that reason, if you are entirely relying on traveling in Israel by public transportation, it’s very important to plan ahead for weekends, and not plan any travel days in the time of Shabbat. When it comes to hours of operation, city buses usually stop working around midnight, while the schedule of inter-city buses varies greatly on the location.

Limited service in remote places

Another major limitation of the Israeli public transportation is that it has very limited service in remote places, especially in regions like the Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the Negev. Thus, relying on public transportation makes it very hard to explore the great natural sites of Israel, like Masada, the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Hermon.

In addition, some of Israel’s most beautiful cities, like Tzfat, Nazareth, or Zichron Ya’akov, are not connected to Israel’s Railway system and are not very easy to reach by bus, with very long travel times from the cities of Central Israel.

How to pay for buses in Israel

When getting on a bus in Israel, no matter if it’s a city bus or an inter-city bus, you cannot pay directly to the driver. Instead of that, there are two main alternative paying methods you can use one on the bus.

Rav Kav

Rav Kav, the public transportation card of Israel, is a small and yellow rechargeable card that you can use to pay on any public transport method in the country. You can charge it by either cash or credit card in various charging stations, located in main bus stations, train stations, convenience stores, and pharmacies across the country.

To pay for the bus ride, make sure that your card is charged with a sufficient amount of money, and then, when you get on the bus, simply tap the card on the machine that is located next to the driver. If it’s an inter-city bus, the driver may ask you where you will drop off, in order to determine how much to charge you.

If you plan on relying on public transportation during your Israel trip, we would recommend purchasing a Rav Kav in the TLV Airport arrivals hall, for 5 ILS. Alternatively, you can purchase it at most train stations in Israel for the same price.


In addition to being a popular app for information about public transportation in Israel, Moovit also enables users to pay for their rides on the app. Here’s how you can pay for a bus ride with Moovit:

  1. Enter your credit card details in the app
  2. Right after getting on the bus, select the Moovit Pay option in the app
  3. Select the bus icon
  4. Scan the QR code you will see next to the driver
  5. Select the bus line you took
  6. Select your destination
  7. Validate your ride

Public transportation special deals

Currently, there are only daily and monthly passes on offer in Israel. Here are some of the most attractive public transportation deals.

Daily pass

You can purchase a variety of daily passes, with prices varying by your travel distance. For example, unlimited bus travel within a city for 1-day costs 13 ILS, while a daily pass between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem costs 32 ILS.

Monthly bus pass

The cost of a monthly pass, which includes unlimited travel in all of Israel (except for Eilat), in every public transportation method but Israel Railways, costs 225 ILS.

Monthly all-inclusive pass

The price of the ultimate monthly bus pass, which includes travel in the entire country by either train or bus, is 610 ILS. This option is mostly suitable for travelers who plan to rely solely on public transportation and plan on taking very frequent train rides during their time here.

Other public transportation methods in Israel

Jerusalem Light Rail, Jerusalem
Jerusalem Light Rail/Tram

In addition to buses and Israel Railways, there are two other important public transportation methods to know, which can be quite valuable during inner-city travel.


Currently, there are 2 tram systems in Israel, with one being in Jerusalem and the other in Tel Aviv. The trams are generally considered to be the best way to get around in both cities, as they make for efficient and affordable options in Israel’s two most busy cities.

Cable cars

While it may sound a bit funny, cable cars are actually quite an efficient way to get around in Israel, as the cable car in Haifa, which goes from Merkazit Hamiftartz main station up Mount Carmel, all the way to Haifa University, is a very convenient way to avoid the traffic in Haifa, and enjoy a beautiful scenic ride at the same time.

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