In Israel, people drive on the right-hand side of the road (just like in the US and several European countries). For foreigners in particular, there are GPS and maps available in English. Renting a car and driving in Israel is generally easy to get around the country.
The roads are good (despite complaints you may hear from the locals – remember that we are over nine million people living in a very small piece of land, many of them living or working in the center of the country.)
Traffic jams are common in rush hours, and in a few specific holidays when EVERYONE has to drive to eat their holiday dinner with their families. Road signs are reasonably understandable.
You are advised to try and know your destination’s name in Hebrew. While English signs are common, translation is otherwise occasionally poor. For example, you may find a sign to the “RAKEVET” (the Hebrew word for “train”). In addition, Israeli drivers are definitely a challenge, but they are no worse than any other Mediterranean ones.
The country is well mapped and the main highways are quite easy to follow. The country is well mapped by GPS systems although sometimes you will have to persevere with the spelling on transliterated road names.
Overview of road numbering
Roads with even numbers are basically North-South; odd numbers are East-West.
What are the recommended routes?
Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Road 443 is also an alternative to Road 1. On the coastal plain there is a choice between Road 2 (coast road), which is faster and offers great views of the coast near Haifa. There is Road 4, which is the old route and a bit further inland. And there’s Road 6, which the more recent toll road.
Kvish 6 (Road 6) is the main north-south highway. It is a good fast road and generally very efficient. Please be aware that it is a toll road – the charges are reasonable, but it does not have a pay by cash or credit card option – payment management is by membership or by post. Please check with your car hire company for their policy.
In the Tel Aviv area, Road 431 is a brand-new road that links Rishon LeZion with Modiin via Road 1 and Road 6. It is a great option for avoiding the jams of the southern Tel Aviv area.
Getting in and out of the Tel Aviv area during rush hours is a lengthy business – you are advised to plan to use off-peak hours. The main road (1) in and out of Jerusalem can be a challenge as well, although it is much improved due to substantial infrastructure work.
Like in many other countries, parking in Israel varies greatly depending on the place. While parking is mostly not a problem, it is otherwise especially tricky in big cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Parking is enforced just fairly strictly in the cities and also the rest of Israel, and it is simple to establish whether parking is allowed by judging the color of the curb. These regulations are pretty general, but it also depends on the municipality. However, they are still good general guides, so make sure to pay attention to those signs. If you are not certain, don’t hesitate to ask around.
- Red and white – this marking means parking is not allowed in general (but you can park at night in some places).
- Red and yellow – reserved spaces for specific vehicles such as bus stops, so you can’t park there at any time.
- Blue and white – parking is allowed as long as you have purchased a parking permit. You can get the permit from machines at the side of the road and also kiosks
- Handicapped bay, over the side of the road, or over a driveway – parking is strictly not allowed.
Traffic reports and updates are frequent on Reshet Bet, Galei Zahal and Galgalatz radio stations (Hebrew) and you can also get the Reshet Bet updates on your phone by calling *955 (Hebrew).
The main traffic site is http://www.iba.org.il/moked/. It is in Hebrew but Google’s translator will help (note that AMOS means congested, while the translator recognizes it as a name). In the Tel Aviv area you can look at this link: http://www.ayalonhw.co.il/. It has a dynamic visualization of the state of the Ayalon (the main north-south route through the Tel Aviv area.)
If you drive over the Green Line or in Judea/Samaria, then there are security considerations on some roads, and there are some checkpoints. Also, note that you can easily enter the Palestinian territories which can be illegal or dangerous in Israeli registered vehicles.