When to Go


Israel’s a four season destination. There’s no real bad time to come for a visit. But each season’s got its advantages and disadvantages.

Our Climate

The most predominate characteristic of Israel’s Mediterranean climate is the distinction between rain and dry seasons. Any rain that’s likely to fall will occur between November and April. The rest of the year, you can be assured that rain will not interfere with your touring plans.

Winter

The winter in Israel generally lasts from December to March. There will be plenty of sunny days during this season, but there will also be some short outbursts of showers from time to time. Along the coast and in the desert areas daytime temperatures will be pleasant and cool—you’ll need a light jacket, though, particularly in the evenings. In Jerusalem and the mountains, expect chilly days. You’ll definitely need a light winter jacket with some layering underneath for the days when it might be downright cold. With the exception of the week between Christmas and New Years, you can expect few crowds at this time. And winter’s when the countryside is at its greenest.

Spring

Israel’s spring is short and lasts from April to early June. By this time, the rain will have passed. Temperatures for the most part will be very pleasant. There are also short periods known as “hamsin” during this season when hot desert winds will blow in from North Africa, increasing our temperatures significantly for a few days and causing a drop in humidity. If you have the flexibility of scheduling your visit at any time of the year, I often recommend early June as an ideal time for touring.

Summer

Summer’s the longest of our seasons. It lasts from late June until early October. Along the coast and in Galilee, you can expect hot and humid days—similar to what you’ll find in south Florida, but without the rain. In Jerusalem and other mountainous areas, the days will be hot and less humid and the nights will cool down considerably. The desert areas will be very hot during the day. You can be assured there’ll be not one drop of rain to interfere with your summer trip to David’s Land. The extra hours of daylight during this time will allow you to extend your touring into the early evening hours.

Fall

Like spring, our short autumn season is a great time for planning your trip. If you’re flexible and can’t visit in early June, another ideal time to tour Israel is late October. The Israeli autumn, like spring, is short—it lasts from late October and through November, or maybe even the first week of December. By the end of October, the temperatures have finally cooled down. And you may start getting a few rainy days by this time. A light jacket or sweater will come in handy.

Festivals and Holidays

The Jewish holidays play a major role in day to day life in Israel. And if you’re here during a major festival, these special days will certainly have an impact on your visit.

Shabbat

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday night. Shabbat is observed in all Jewish areas of the country, but the manner in which it’s observed differs markedly in different circles.

In Jerusalem, Shabbat brings much of the city to a quiet standstill—all stores and business are closed, as are nearly all restaurants and cafes.

In Tel Aviv and other secular areas of the country, however, Shabbat is an entirely different experience—Shabbat can be a time for family fun and relaxation. Businesses and stores here, too, are for the most part closed. But restaurants, cinemas and other places of entertainment are filled with Israelis enjoying their day of rest.

Holiday time

The two major holiday seasons in Israel take place in the spring and the late summer/early fall.

The week long Passover holiday usually falls in late March or in April. Most Israelis are on vacation this week and joining them on the roads and in our national parks are tourists from around the world seeking to experience the Land during this important time of year.

In September and/or October the High Holiday season is ushered in by Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Following shortly thereafter are Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the week-long Sukkot festival. With the exception of Yom Kippur when the entire country comes to a complete standstill, the rest of the autumn holiday season is very similar to the spring festival of Passover—tourists abound and all the attractions are very crowded.

If this will be your first visit to Israel and the primary purpose of your visit is not to celebrate the holidays in David’s Land, then my recommendation is to try and refrain from planning your trip for these periods. You’ll avoid the crowds and the high season prices.

A word about December. Chanuka is a minor festival in the Jewish calendar. This eight-day period is a normal working time in Israel and you won’t experience any business closures (or big crowds) during this time. Christmas is observed only by the churches and in Christian Arab towns and villages.

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