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Trip to Israel

Hi Rick.
My granddaughter and I are going to Israel in May 2019. We will stay in a studio apt. not too far away from Old City. I have rented a car, so we can get around. I've been trying to get someone to send me a detailed map of Israel and one of Jerusalem, so I can plan our trip, but have had no success. I can't find out whether or not I can drive in the Old City or if there is parking it. Do you know how I can get this information? I really want to make the most of the 6 days we will be there.
Thank you for any help you can offer.

Posted by
1192 posts

There are lots of maps of Israel and Jerusalem for sale on Amazon. Look around, there; you'll likely find just what you need. There is very limited driving and parking access in the Old City - and access MAY be limited to residents; you would do much better to either walk there or take a taxi to whichever gate you want to enter. When I rented a car in Israel several years ago, it was AFTER our time in Jerusalem, as Daughter and I were heading for the Dead Sea and then on up into the Galilee. I had no desire to try to drive in the chaotic Jerusalem traffic, and hired the same taxi driver who took us from our hotel to the car rental agency to then drive ahead of us to steer us out of Jerusalem and onto the highway east. (However, regular poster Chani will know much more, if she chimes in. Anything she says will be accurate.) Your question also makes me concerned that you are trying to plan without access to some solid resources; most of the info on this forum is Europe-related. If you have not already done so, you would do well to purchase and read carefully a Fodors, Frommers, or Lonely Planet (my preference) travel guide to Israel (all available also on Finally: Rick Steves does not personally answer questions on this forum. It is a forum of travelers who ask each other questions and reflect upon the grand adventures - and sometimes misadventures - of travel, together, in a kind, supportive, and helpful on-line environment.

Posted by
381 posts


Last fall when I went to Israel, I assumed the car rental company would give me a map of Israel, as happened on previous trips.


And nowhere in the airport was such a map available.

If you like using maps, best to get one online ahead of time, because most people (not I) seem to believe they are passe, given GPS and mapping on phones.


Posted by
842 posts

We have always found that having a guide in Israel is the way to go whether it be in Jerusalem or other parts of the country. I would look at possible guides for any of the day trips you take. There is a lot to see and navigate in that country. Like poster before, hopefully Chani will see your post and provide her thoughts.

Posted by
1194 posts

For planning purposes, I use Google Maps. It outlines restricted roads etc. It also shows public transport etc.

I echo others concern about your driving. Jerusalem old city is fairly small so walking is best.

Personally, I’d use a shuttle and car service if I were only going to Old Jerusalem.

Haaretz advice on parking

Posted by
5697 posts

Went to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with a female friend (in our 50's) a few years ago and we either walked (on our own or with several local group tours), rode city buses, or took a guided day tour to Masada and a Dead Sea resort. City maps in the guidebooks were good enough for what we needed.

I loved the Chagall windows in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Don't forget to have respectful clothing if you will be going into major churches and ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods (sleeves down to the elbow, knees covered) -- one woman on our walking tour ignored these requirements and arrived wearing hot pants and a tube top, and she wasn't allowed in until she rented choir-robe-type garment to cover herself. Long flowy skirt was very comfortable in the heat.

Posted by
14150 posts

Having a car to visit the old City is a waste of time. Access and parking is limited. Public transportation in Jerusalem is very good and taxis are plentiful.

The old City is for walking. Consider taking full or half day tours of the old city. Some will include other sights in Jerusalem but they will provide the transportation. I did that but we still had to park outside the city walls and hike in. When I went back on my own, I took a city bus and I could have gotten off and either of two entrances depending on where I wanted to go.

Posted by
15477 posts

Driving in the Old City is madness. A lot (most?) of the streets are pedestrian-only, some of those that are driveable are limited to buses and taxis only, and much of the parking is for residents only. Driving in the rest of Jerusalem is somewhat better, but not much. Traffic can bog you down anytime during the day, some streets are only for buses and taxis, parking in the center is often expensive and in neighborhoods in the center parking overnight on many streets is limited to residents only. Unless your apt. includes a private parking place, you may have trouble parking nearby. You have to pay by the hour for most street parking and it's not always obvious how to do it. Parking meters and machines that issue parking stubs may be out of order, or instructions may only be in Hebrew. And there are lots of police giving out parking tickets.

I don't trust google maps in Israel since they've been wrong too often when I've used them. I don't know if the google map app works okay here or not. Israelis use WAZE. You can download it at home and get used to it - it's not the most user-friendly. I think you can set WAZE to display street names in English in Israel but I'm not sure how. It automatically displays in English in the U.S. but switches to Hebrew in Israel.

Confession - I do not live in Tel Aviv. I live in a little-known outlying suburb. I avoid driving into Tel Aviv like the plague. Now it's even worse. A couple of years ago they started tearing up some of the main streets to build a light rail system. about a year ago a friend was visiting from New York and I drove into Tel Aviv to pick her up and take her to dinner in Jaffa. It took me well over an hour longer than anticipated because of detours and as a consequence extreme traffic jams. I have not driven into Tel Aviv since then. On the other hand I drive to Jerusalem at least once a week, but I know the city like the back of my hand.

The only reason I would suggest a car in Jerusalem is for a day trip to the Dead Sea.

Posted by
1194 posts

I’ve thought about this a little more...

  • I’d suggest taking the bus from the airport to Jerusalem (it runs every hour). Caveat - it stops running early on Friday and doesn’t start again until after Shabbat.

  • Use public transit in Jerusalem

  • Hire a guide or go on trips anywhere else (Dead sea, Bethlehem, etc)

  • Consider renting a car just for your day trip.

Posted by
784 posts

You can get a sense of the old city by 'walking' the area using Google Street View. >>> map here

I was there long ago. I regret not visiting the Temple Mount. I think you had to leave your shoes and camera outside on the pavement before you could enter. I didn't feel comfortable doing that. I'm guessing that's changed since I was there. If I went again, I'd definitely consider a walking tour.