Travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
If you are traveling outside of a tour group to Israel, it is very important to know how to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In today's times, it is very important to experience all of Israel while at the same time choosing cost effective methods. There are a variety of ways to travel once reaching Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Depending upon your tastes as a traveler and your budget you can choose between a taxi, sherut (shared taxi), bus, and train.
Which method of travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem do you prefer?
The great thing about a taxi is it is very private. You do not have to worry about making conversation with strangers, unless you have a very talkative taxi driver. The taxi driver will take you right to your location, even the surrounding areas of Jerusalem. Also, since it is just you the taxi driver is transporting, you will arrive at your destination much quicker. An excellent choice for the weary traveler. The taxisdo run on Shabbat when other travel methods are closed for the holiday. However, on the downside, it is very expensive. Since most taxi drivers are taking you from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it is probably not possible to bargain for a lower price. In all likelihood the taxi driver will give you a set price or tell you to use the monet (keeps clock of the mileage and amount). If you let a taxi driver say an amount without using a monet, do not go over 350 NIS (New Israeli Shekel-around $100.00) as this is around the amount the taxi driver will get if he were to use the monet. I traveled once by this method and I was determined to find a lower price, and the taxi driver pulled out a guide from the company to show that 350 NIS is the amount they are supposed to charge. Remember, if you do not have any NIS, be sure to know the exchange rate to make sure you are not over accidentally overcharged.
The sherut is my personal favorite method of travel. A sherut can sit up to ten people and costs only 50 NIS (about $12.00)!!! This amount is the standard rate so it will not change. It will take you directly to Jerusalem and your destination, though you will have to make stops along the way for other passengers destinations. However, if you are traveling to the eastern side of Jerusalem toward the West Bank, the Hebrew University, and/or the Olive Branch hotel the taxi most likely will not take you all the way and may drop you off in the City Center. As a young woman, some sherut drivers took me all the way to the University dorms. Only once did a sherut driver make me get off in the City Center. You should be prepared just in case this happens. It is possible from here to take a bus towards your destination for only 5 NIS (about $1.25) or take a taxi for 25 NIS (about $6.25). If you are taking a bus to the Hebrew University you can take the 4, 4 aleph, 30 (NOT THE ONE TO GILO!!!), and 19 to name a few. The 30 will take you near the Olive Branch and surrounding hotels. It is possible to take a taxi for 20 NIS ($5), but be prepared to bargain. Always be confident and determined in the price you suggest, and always suggest a price lower than the price you are willing to pay. For example, if you are willing to pay 25 NIS ($6.25), offer 20 NIS ($5.00) to the taxi. He then will proceed to tell you it is 30 NIS ($7.75), and from here you can bargain the price down. If the first taxi offers you an amount that is too high wait till the next taxi. Other than this, I highly recommend the sherut to anyone traveling from the airport as it operates on SHABBAT and ALL hours of the day, even early morning.
Taking a bus is a more difficult and complex means of travel from Tel Aviv. Once arriving at the airport you have to take a bus from the airport to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station ("Tahana Merkazit"). As the bus station is the largest in the world (!), it is very confusing to navigate. Buses to Jerusalem depart on the sixth floor north wing, which is difficult to locate for first time travelers and even experienced travelers! It costs roughly 17 NIS ($4.25) for a one-way fare. Once you locate your bus and as other travelers disembark from it, you have to load your luggage and be in your seat in five minutes or the driver WILL leave you! I have seen it done, as they have a very tight schedule they are supposed to keep and do not have time for slow travelers. When arriving in the Jerusalem bus station, you must quickly off load your luggage or the driver will drive off with it. If you have lots of luggage this is definitely not the method for you. When you exit the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, you can take a bus, taxi, or shared sherut to your destination. The bus ticket will always cost 5 NIS ($1.25). The shared sherut from here will be the flat rate of 25 nis ($6.25), and a taxi will cost roughly (and depending on location 30 NIS to 40 NIS ($7.75 to $10). Also, the bus does not operate because of Shabbat (Sabbath) from before sunset on Friday night till sunset on Saturday night. Therefore, if your flight is arriving close to these times, you will not be able to catch a bus . There are no positives about taking a bus, as it is much more complicated than taking the sherut or taxi from the airport.
The last method of transportation is by train. This is by far the longest method of travel to Jerusalem. While the other methods may take up to an hour and a half, traveling by train can take up to two hours or longer; a great method if you want to see the scenic route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. From the airport, you can take the train to the train station Tel Aviv Ha-Hagana. which is near the Central Bus Station. From here you can buy a ticket to Jerusalem. Once arriving in Jerusalem, you will have to once again take a taxi or bus to your destination. However, on sunset Friday till sunset Saturday it is not possible to use the train because it is closed for the Sabbath holiday. As I have never used this method, I cannot give the approximate prices or difficulties in traveling this method. I, however, suggest this method for experienced travelers with little to no luggage.
Your time in Israel is an experience of a lifetime. Be sure you are fully prepared to go so there are not any unexpected problems.
Ha'Shana Ha'baa Be'Yerushalim (Next year in Jerusalem)!