Israel for the Solo Female Travelers
Israel is a fantastic travel destination for solo female travelers but it is worth doing a bit of homework before your trip. With its complex history, multi-cultural society and political situation Israel can be explored without many worries but here are a few tips to make your time in the Holy Land even better.
The legal drinking age in Israel is 18 but some clubs are open only to those over 21 or even 24. Dress code is casual and drinks in clubs are generally overpriced. Israeli clubs only get started late, some as early as 10:30pm but most really start buzzing (or don’t even open their doors) at midnight and continue until sun up. The busiest party nights are from Thursday to Saturday. At Tangier (Yehuda HaLevi 93, Tel Aviv) Sunday is unlimited drinks night for ladies for 39NIS. Other bars and clubs have happy hours and unlimited drinks bar bracelets. As a general rule girls don’t pay a cover charge for clubs or bars although there are exceptions.
Solo Female LGBTI Travelers to Israel
If you are a solo LGBTI travelers you should know that Israel has an anti-discrimination law which protects the rights of the LGBTI community. LGBTI is accepted by many throughout the country. But of course there are religious and conservative communities where you may not receive fair treatment. In the West Bank “same-sex sexually activities” are prohibited and there have been reports of abuse and harassment of LGBTI individuals by authorities and residents. Tel Aviv is without a doubt the most gay-friendly city in Israel. LGBTI nightclubs in Tel Aviv include Apolo Bar for men only and Amazona for women.
Israel, West Bank and Gaza?
Depending on who you talk to you will hear a different opinion about the political situation in Israel and also about which areas are safe to travel in. It can seem confusing to first time visitors.
The State of Israel has 1st world facilities, modern cities, a good infrastructure and very little danger. You can travel freely in Israel with the exception of a few Arab villages which you should not visit alone.
West Bank –
The West Bank (also called the Occupied Territories) is mostly populated by Arabs but there are small pockets of Jewish settlements. In the West Bank responsibility is shared by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA); the division of duties is complex. The PA governs security and civil administration in Area A of the West Bank and civil administration in Area B while Israel provides security in Areas B and C. Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron are all in the PA controlled Area A of the West Bank.
It is possible to enter and travel in the West Bank independently without any additional visa other than the visa issued when entering Israel and your passport. There are Israeli check-points/border controls between the West Bank and Israel. However as a solo female traveler I strongly recommend that you visit the West Bank with an organized tour like Yourway Israel Tours. Visit Bethlehem and Jericho on an organized tour to save all the hassle of border crossings and to be safe.
Hamas has been the governing power in Gaza since 2007. No matter where you sit on political issues Gaza is not an option for tourists – solo or otherwise.
East Jerusalem –
Jerusalem does not have a wall down the middle dividing it into east and west. The distinction is a social, socioeconomic and political one. Palestinians consider East Jerusalem their capital yet it is currently under Israeli authority. Most of the residents in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods identify as Palestinians and most of these communities are in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is also home to Jewish communities and several tourist attractions. Travelers can come and go freely from East Jerusalem. But the area is prone to unrest due to the dissatisfaction of Jerusalem Palestinians.
As a solo female traveler only visit East Jerusalem if you are confident that you know where you are going and who you are going with. The East Jerusalem tourist sites like the Old City and Mount of Olives and others are safe to visit. You can safely stroll the streets of West Jerusalem at night. But you should not venture into East Jerusalem alone at night. Even in the daytime solo female travelers should try to find a travel companion if entering East Jerusalem. Take extra caution at Islamic religious sites on holy days and Fridays and in Jerusalem’s Old City, specifically around the Damascus , Lion’s and Herod’s Gates.
Regular Safety in Israel
When you do venture down the path-less-traveled, let the front desk of your hotel/hostel know where you are going and even send a text message to someone at home. That way if anything happens the authorities will at least know where to start looking.
All that said “regular” crime in Israel is moderate and you will probably be safer than in US tourist locations. If you do become the victim of crime in Israel call the emergency number “911” and in the West Bank call “100” for the police and “101” for an ambulance.
If traveling from the USA you can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program designed by the US government to keep travelers safe. You fill in your essential information and it is used in the case of an emergency. You also get up-to-date messages from the Department of State of changing security and safety developments.
What to Pack
Pack light as being a solo traveler you will probably be hauling your belongings alone. However when visiting Israel you will find yourself going from beach to city and from urban jungles to real forests so you’ll need a range of foot wear. Definitely have a pair of flip flops for the beach and especially for the Dead Sea where the beach sand can be scorching. Also make sure you have some kind of hiking shoes. In Israel there are plenty of times when you will be outdoors in the desert, scaling a hill or walking through a forest. Then there is Tel Aviv with its amazing nightlife so bring along your dancing shoes. Be sure to carry a shawl, T-shirt or skirt when out for the day in case you venture into a religious area.