Is it difficult to drive in Israel?

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Mar 25th, 2012, 01:14 PM
  #1
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Is it difficult to drive in Israel?

Driving from Tel Aviv to Mitzpe Ramon, and then on to Jerusalem, then back to Tel Aviv. We are from the USA with a good sense of direction, but only speak English. Are we crazy to drive in a rental car or are the highways easy to navigate?
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Mar 25th, 2012, 01:30 PM
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Road signs are in Hebrew English and Arabic,. Occasionally the English signs are quirky (spelling the name of a place slightly differently from one sign to the next) but should be fine.

There's really only 1 roads that goes all the way south to Mizpe Ramon (are you going to the makhtesh/crater?)so no way to get lost. If you take the toll road route 6 which goes part of the way, your rental car will add some hefty fees for the toll and administrative fees so check before you use it. It doesn't save much time in my opinion.

Mizpe Ramon to Jerusalem has a couple of options, The last hour's drive can be more or less scenic, straightforward, fast, or sticking to larger roads, depending on what works for you
Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is straighforward once you're out of the city.

Get a good road map ,and use google maps or a GPS to feel more confident.

Driving in Tel Aviv is hellish. Narrow streets, too many "no right turn allowed" intersections. I hope you plan to just pick up and leave from Tel Aviv, not drive in it!
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Mar 25th, 2012, 02:43 PM
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thank you for your reply. We are going to a wedding in Mitzpe Ramon and figure it was cheaper to rent a car than take a hired taxi. I guess if there is only one road then we will have to pay the toll fee. If there are two road, which should we avoid for the fees? thanks
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Mar 25th, 2012, 03:02 PM
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smschloss, I realized after I wrote it that I might have confused you!

You have to go east from Tel Aviv to pick up a north/south road.
The road that goes all the way south to Mitspe Ramon is rt 40. Google Maps suggests picking up rt 6 , the toll road, which only covers part of the north/south distance and then you have to get back on Rt 40 anyway. If you zoom in on the map linked below, you can see that you can actually take rt 40 the whole way south if you don't want to take rt 6

http://g.co/maps/aw2z4

I hope you have time to see the Makhtesh, and that this trip is not in the middle of the summer--desert heat and all...
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Mar 26th, 2012, 06:19 AM
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There is no need to take route 6 anyplace. That being said the rental companies charge a surcharge in the neighborhood of $15-20 for use of that road. That is on top of the fees actually charged by the road. NOte: the fee is per month. So if you use 6 once or you use it 10 times it is the same surcharge AS LONG AS IT IS THE SAME CALENDAR MONTH. If you use it once on March 31 and once on April 1 you will be hit twice with the surcharge.

In terms of driving, if you can drive in an American city you can drive in Israel. Some driver's have a tendency to tailgate if they want to pass you--but other than that--the driver's are not nearly as bad as their reputation. As said all signs are translated BUT not always on the same sign. So, if you see something in only Hebrew--don't worry, you are not missing anything. It says the same as the sign you just passed or the one coming up. Also, there ARE some signs in Hebrew only. These are usually either truck restrictions or news of upcoming construction projects. Dont worry! There are some ( not many ) electronic signs that give traffic updates--they are in Hebrew only but you will manage without that knowledge.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:07 PM
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thanks everyone! We are traveling May 31 and June 1 so we would get charged twice if we took route 6! I will check out the map from AlexaA to look at route 40 all the way to makhtesh (mitzpe Ramon. i did notice on google that route 6 is more direct, but route 40 takes us there as well. Now wondering if route 6 is needed to drive from mitz pe to jerusalem. Well...i have time now to check this out!!
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Mar 26th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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I don't know if you use Google maps a lot, but you can "drag" the route suggested to modify it. For example, if you drag the line that goes over rt 6 and move it over to route 40 (need to do this at a couple of points indicated by dots), you'll see the recalculation of time and distance

Here's a revised version of the map
http://g.co/maps/nj8ks

Play around with the suggested route for the way back too. The google suggested route puts you on 6 for all of 10 kilometers. If you're using the road otherwise another day, why not, but there's an easy enough detour or other possible routes that work almost as well.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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I really enjoyed driving in Israel and in three separate visits traveled through much of the country. The link below is to a short article I wrote, intended to be humorous, on driving in Israel.

http://globitude.com/travelogue/98
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Mar 27th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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THANKS AlexA!! That makes so much more sense and not as $$ too!

We will probably have to pay the route 6 tax on the way to Jerusalem, but will look at a map for this as well.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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When planning your exact route keep in mind that the southern section of Rt. is toll FREE - that is anything south of the Soreq interchange, going from Rt. 3 and heading south there is no toll.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 10:39 AM
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There is no where you have to go in Israel that requires route 6. I basically stay totally off of it and drive all over. Also, I laughed out loud when you posted your travel dates. I frequently post my caveat of possible double charge for the administrative fee. EVERY time, but now people have come back with--no problem. You are # 1 to be actually straddling two months.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Oreet--I didn't know about the toll-free area south of Soreq! I imagine that will change at some point.

For a car rental, though I wonder if they may still charge the administrative fee which is more of an issue than the actual toll. If there are still sensors (even without charging a toll) at the on/off ramps to the road, the fees would stil probably apply
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Mar 28th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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There are no sensors on the southern section - the last sensor is a bit before the Soreq off and on ramps - the contract with the government was that the company building and operating Hwy 6 was to build the southern sections and maintain them without charging tolls for at least a pre-set period of time - don't recall if it was 20 or 30 years - so for the time being, nothing to worry about.

And - yes, I drive that section often - there are no sensors - the polls are there but they are empty.
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Jul 21st, 2012, 03:22 AM
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Are there any other toll gates aside from Road #6? and does anyone have any idea if I can use my Saudi Arabia Driver's License in Israel? It is in arabic translated in Enlgish.
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Jul 21st, 2012, 09:27 PM
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The only other toll road is the Carmel Tunnel under Haifa.

If you are renting a car then ask the car rental company whether they will accept your Saudi Arabian licence or whether they require an International Drivers Licence. This is not the type of question that you should ask on forum; if the clerk at the rental desk says "sorry, we won't accept that licence", will you say "but someone on Fodors said it was OK" ? .....
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