Israel is one of the best backpacking destination in the world, it has so much personality, history and culture that you could spend weeks here and still be thirsty for more. Israel though doesn’t come cheap, it’s developed, it has a lot of foreign investment, their education and health care is great so don’t expect to backpack around on a South East Asia budget. That being said, if you’re smart, frugal and eager to come you can do it for cheaper than the guide books suggest so let’s have a look at how much it costs to travel in Israel.
There was a severe lack of awesome hostels in Israel as recently as 5 or 6 years ago, but things are changing. You can find brilliant hostels in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Mitzpe Ramon and Tel Aviv now, but how much do they cost? Generally speaking in a more famous town a dorm will be around $20 ($25 in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), in the sticks expect to pay around $15. Privates are pricey though, starting at $40 as a bare minimum.
AAAAAAAAAW, Israel food. Amazing. You can eat swarma, falafel or hummus from a street venfor for around $4 per meal, if you want to take one step up and go to a restaurant, you’re looking at around $10 for a basic place. Water is expensive ($2 for a big bottle) and booze is a killer (beers in a bar are $5+)
Another great thing about Israel is that it’s not massive, so essentially getting from the absolute south to the absolute north should only take 4 or 5 hours. Budget for around $5 per hour of public transport, i.e. 2 hours from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv will be about $10 (but you get wifi on the bus!). Also, getting there from Europe isn’t bad either, there are so many cheap flights from the hubs like Frankfurt and Heathrow.
This will be your major expense. There are sooo many amazing things to do in Israel in such a small country that you’ll want to do something every day. Visit a kibbutz, swim in the Dead Sea, trek in the desert, hike the Jesus Trail, visit the West Bank, the list goes on and on. While some of the things you can try and save money by doing independently, the trickier activities are simply better left to the experts, so jump on a tour from your hostel. The tours generally cost around $35-$60 per activity (roughly a one day event).
All in all you could squeeze by on about $40 a day with no tours, but throw a few cool activities in per week and you’re looking at around $50 per day or so. Not too bad considering you’ll have one of the best backpacking trips you’ll ever experience in your life, I can almost guarantee it. Backpacking in Israel was everything I hoped and more, I can’t wait to go back. Happy travels!