Planning a visit to the world’s cradle of religion? Want to know a little more about cultural etiquette and how to dress? Here you’ll find loads of handy travel info from health precautions to the local food, souvenirs to look out for and what currency you’ll need.
What’s the food like in Israel?
Food in Israel is extremely diverse and generally very good. A well known favourite is falafel – small fried balls of mashed chickpeas, usually served inside unleavened pita bread with houmous (a cream of chickpeas, tehina, onion, lemon and olive oil). Another popular dish is Shawarma, sliced turkey meat which is also served in pita bread. Also try Me’orav Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite mix) which contain several types of meat, or Schnitzel. Fresh fruit and salads are very popular in Israeli cuisine and a Fatoush salad is a must try – chopped onions, cucumbers and herbs are mixed together and topped with fried bread and sometimes feta or grilled halloumi cheese.
Kosher food means anything that is allowed by the Jewish religious laws concerning food. In short, pork and shellfish are forbidden and meat and dairy products must not be cooked together or eaten at the same meal. Most of the hotels in Israel are Kosher (including those we use on our group tours), so breakfast is dairy, and during lunch and dinner it is not possible to have milk in tea or coffee. In religious cities like Jerusalem many cafes and restaurants are Kosher.
Regular Western style food and drinks are readily available for the not so adventurous. Fast food chains like Pizza hut, McDonald and Burger King are readily available.
Alcohol is available at many hotels and restaurants (excluding the Palestinian territories). Maccabee and Gold star (costing approx USD$5 a bottle) are both palatable pale lagers and certified kosher. Israeli wine is produced by hundreds of wineries, ranging in size from boutique enterprises to large companies producing over ten million bottles per year. The modern Israeli wine industry was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Laffite-Rothschild. Much of the country is suited for viticulture, prices are a little high though still a top drop can be enjoyed with every meal.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Israel?
The tap water in Israel is generally considered safe to drink, but as a precaution against stomach upsets you may want to drink bottled water, which is readily available from shops, hotels and restaurants.