While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. – Genesis 8:22
When is the best time to visit Israel? The short answer is anytime. However, depending on your preferences, certain times of the year are better than others.
Consider the Weather
For most of the year, Israel boasts beautiful, almost predictable weather. It is said that Israel has over 300 sunny days each year. But if you want an ideal time to travel, then consider the period from March to May (spring) and September to November (autumn). These off-peak periods also afford the benefits of lower prices and somewhat smaller crowds at popular sites.
Spring is beautiful in Israel. The grass is bright green and the flowers are in full bloom. The temperature generally falls between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and typically goes no lower than 45 degrees in the evening. Lower lying areas, such as Tiberias and the Dead Sea are much warmer. Temperatures can range anywhere from 85-95 degrees at midday. While there may be rain in the springtime, you will rarely encounter more than a brief shower.
Autumn in Israel provides similar weather, although you will have less rain and slightly warmer temperatures. The flowers are no longer in full bloom as the region prepares for winter.
The winter months from November to March are often cold and rainy, and some places in the higher elevations—including Jerusalem—can have snow and even dip below freezing.
If you visit Israel in the winter and still crave a taste of summer, head south. It is possible to have a swim in the Dead Sea, and sometimes in the Mediterranean. Crowds also tend to be smaller in the winter months, which makes it a good time to travel if you want lower rates.
If you opt to travel during the peak summer months of June-August, you will find Israel to be quite dry and hot. Not surprisingly, summer the most popular time to visit Israel. Consequently, airfare and hotels are more expensive, and attractions are more crowded.
Israel During the Holidays
Visiting Israel during major Jewish holidays can be an unforgettable experience, particularly if you have family or friends who live there. Anyone who has experienced major holidays in Israel will tell you that on most occasions, the country comes to a virtual standstill.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
In September and October, Israel celebrates the festivals of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Both holidays fall in close proximity. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, lasts two days, while Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar—the Day of Atonement—lasts one. While both holidays involve a great deal of preparation, Yom Kippur is observed by almost everyone in Israel, and there is no travel unless it is on foot. Even the airports are shut down. Be aware if you are making plans to be in Israel during this time, it is generally more expensive and crowded.
Traveling to Israel in April can be a challenging due to the observance of Passover. This is one of the most sought-after times for Jews all over the world to visit Israel — to be with family and friends or to simply fulfill the cry at every Passover Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem!” While travel during this eight-day holiday is less prohibitive compared to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the major religious, historical, or cultural sites, can be quite crowded.
From Friday afternoon to Saturday evening each week, Jewish Israelis observe Shabbat, or Saturday, as their holy day of rest. Public transportation is impacted throughout Israel, while public offices and most businesses close. Unless you have a car or tour bus, travel on Shabbat can be complicated. El Al, the national airline of Israel, does not operate on Saturdays or on major religious holidays.
Other Holidays That Can Impact Travel
Purim is a festive, Mardi Gras-like holiday that commemorates the story of Esther, Queen of Persia, who saved the people of Israel from execution by Haman, the Persian king’s advisor. The holiday has taken on a carnival atmosphere, and in many Israeli cities and towns, the streets fill with people of all ages dressed in colorful and sometimes quirky costumes.
Hanukkah is celebrated for 8-days in the latter part of December, with the lighting of the hanukkiah (9-branched candelabra), family-oriented festivities, and eating jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot).
Christmas is also a popular time to celebrate, particularly in Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. Expect large crowds and higher rates during all these holidays.
Taking a trip to Israel requires careful, deliberate planning, and there is much to consider when choosing the best time for your trip. There is truly no other place in the world like Israel. Sar-El Tours has the time-tested experience and knowledge to help you plan a journey of a lifetime. For over 25 years, Sar-El Tours has worked to become one of the largest and most-trusted agencies focused on Christian tourism to Israel. Sar-El provides over 300 highly knowledgeable, licensed Israeli tour guides who work with you to ensure your trip to Israel is outstanding from beginning to end. Visiting Israel is a life-changing experience – let Sar-El Tours be your partner in Israel.