By Plane-Ben-Gurion Airport is the country’s international arrivals center. It’s a 45-minute drive west of Jerusalem and a 25-minute drive in the opposite direction to Tel Aviv. There are a number of options to get from Ben-Gurion into Jerusalem.
Sherut-A popular, reasonably priced way to get to Jerusalem from Ben-Gurion Airport is by these 8 to 10 passengers vans with a fixed per-person rate (NIS 65, baggage included). The sherut stand, run by Nesher Sheruts, is to the left as you exit the arrivals area of the terminal building. Confirm that the destination of the Nesher van is Jerusalem, give your luggage to the driver, and climb in. When all the seats are claimed, the van will take off. For no additional charge, the driver must take you from the airport to the doorstep of the hotel or residential address of your choice anywhere in Jerusalem. If your hotel is in the Old City, a sherut will generally take you near but not inside the Jaffa Gate or Damascus Gate. Depending on conditions, sheruts may not serve addresses deep inside East Jerusalem.
Sherut from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport-For the return trip to the airport, your hotel will be glad to make an appointment for Nesher Sheruts to pick you up (let the hotel know about 2 days before your departure). If you want to make your sherut reservation in person, the office of Nesher Taxis and Sheruts (tel. 02/625-7227), known for its extremely reliable airport service, is upstairs at 23 Ben-Yehuda St., near King George Street. The company picks up passengers round-the-clock, 7 days a week. Be sure to specify sherut rather than a special, which means a much more expensive private taxi. Note: If you need transportation to the airport on the Sabbath, you must make your reservation by Thursday—although sheruts run during Shabbat, the Nesher office is closed on Shabbat and is not available for reservations in person or by phone. If you are with a group of three or four people, it could pay to take a taxi.
Private Taxi-The fixed-price rate for a private taxi is NIS 280. There is a higher tariff for the Sabbath, holidays starting at 4pm on Fridays (or the eves of holidays) and weekday nights after 9pm. If you happen to have three or four people in your party (standard taxis take only up to four passengers, and the fourth passenger is at the driver’s discretion), the cost for this most convenient option is really little more than that of a sherut. Agree on a definite price ahead of time. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but if you have a number of heavy bags, the driver may quote a slightly higher fare. If your driver doesn’t charge extra for help with bags, offer a tip of NIS 10.
Rental Car-All major car-rental companies have offices at Ben-Gurion Airport. Traffic, road construction, and parking problems make having a rental car in Jerusalem more hindrance than help.
By Train-On weekdays, 20 trains a day arrive from Tel Aviv at Jerusalem’s Malha Station, on the far western edge of the city. From there, you must take a municipal bus into the center of town. Trains are slower and less frequent than buses, but the route is a bit more scenic. Officially the trip takes 1 1/2 hours; the fare from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is NIS 25, with small discounts for students and children up to age 10; kids under 10 are free. For current schedules and fares, visit www.rail.co.il.
By Bus-There is direct, scheduled bus service from most major cities to Jerusalem. Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, buses leave as soon as they are full; the trip takes 1 hour, and the fare is NIS 22. Most buses arrive and depart from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, at the western entrance to the city, right on Jaffa Road. From there, you can easily pick up municipal buses to all parts of West Jerusalem.
To Bethlehem, West Bank: Arab-owned buses run (as far as the Crossing Point from Jerusalem into Bethlehem) from a bus station across the street and a block east of the Damascus Gate. At press time, bus no. 22 went to the Bethlehem crossing. Returning from Bethlehem, you can request to be let off near Jaffa Gate or the New Gate (if you are staying in West Jerusalem). Fare is NIS 6.
By Car-Route 1 (Hwy. 1) is the main road to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport; it runs right into Jaffa Road, the main street in downtown West Jerusalem. You know you’ve reached the western entrance to the city when you go under the new Chords Bridge, a highly sculptural structure shaped like a white harp in the sky, over which the new Jerusalem Light Railroad passes. Signs at the city entrance direct you to the downtown center, via a slightly circuitous route, as private cars are barred from most of Jaffa Road. If you’re going to hotels on Herzl Boulevard, or points in the extreme western part of the city, follow signs for Herzl Boulevard/Government Center. The newer, often less-busy Hwy. 443 from Tel Aviv runs parallel to and north of Route 1 and leads to the northern part of Jerusalem. Parts of it traverse territory lined by high cement security walls, so you don’t see much of the landscape. If you’re coming from the coast north of Tel Aviv, this is the fastest route.
From the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, or Eilat and the Negev: The most direct way is via Route 90, which follows the Jordan Valley. From Route 90, turn onto Route 1 just south of Jericho and make the steep ascent up to Jerusalem. At the edge of the city, follow signs to the “Centre.” This route takes you to the northern walls of the Old City, approaching Damascus Gate. Keep right if you’re heading for the center of West Jerusalem, and left for East Jerusalem.
Parking is difficult in Jerusalem. Many hotels have limited or no parking facilities. There are parking garages in downtown Jerusalem, outside Jaffa Gate on Mamilla Street, and on Mamilla Street under the David Citadel Hotel. Metered streets and resident-parking-only streets are scattered throughout the center of town; there are also non-meter streets, where you must purchase a ticket in advance from a kiosk or sidewalk ticket machine and display it with the appropriate time marked. Parking is free after 7pm and during the Sabbath. In Jerusalem, it is much easier to use public transportation or taxis. The Old City is only accessible by foot.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.