Israel might only be a small country nestled between the Meditteranean, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea but it has many different microclimates to consider and special religious events to factor into your travel plans.
There’s a little bit of a distinction between the busiest times and the best times to visit Israel as we’ll explain below.
- Busiest Times to Visit Israel
- Seasons and Weather In Israel
- Best times to visit popular Israeli destinations
Busiest Times to Visit Israel
As Israel is a Jewish State, expect busy travel times around major Jewish holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. The busiest months are around April, August and September.
You can expect when visiting at the busiest times to need to book your accommodation well in advance and pay higher prices than visiting in the shoulder and off-peak seasons.
If you are not seeking to visit Israel for religious reasons, you may wish to plan your visit outside of the busiest times of the year and enjoy the best weather that occurs during the Spring and Fall.
Visiting Israel During Religious holidays
Passover – falls in March/April (28 March to 3 April 2021)
Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year – is observed over 2 days in September (National Holiday 7-8 September 2021)
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year and you will find everything shuts down, but a lovely time of the year weather-wise. (National Holiday 16 September)
Sukkot (21 September to 27 September)
Hanukkah (29 November to 6 December 2021)
Visiting Israel during Chritmas and Easter
Many Christian pilgrims descend on Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in March/April for Easter and December for Christmas, to celebrate this special time of year at source in the Holy Land.
Easter will fall from 2 to 4 April in 2021. Christmas on 25 December annually.
Visiting Jerusalem & Palestinian Territories during Ramadan
During the Holy month of Ramadan, there is a variation of religious rules in Jerusalem as Muslims are permitted access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount. If you are travelling through the Palestinian Territories during the Holy Month be aware of day time fasting and the importance of the occasion, as well as dressing appropriately.
Ramadan in 2021 will fall from 12 April to 11 May 2021 approximately, subject to moon sighting.
Other big events in Israel to be aware of
- The Jewish Festival of Purim a touch of Mardi Gras with street parties in all the major cities (25 to 26 February 2021).
- Caesarea Jazz Festival is held in June.
- Tel Aviv Pride is one of the biggest events on the worldwide LGBTQ calendar, taking place over a week in June, culminating in a spectacular parade. 2021 date TBC
- Israel Festival in Jerusalem – an arts festival held in the spring, dates in 2021 TBC
Seasons and Weather In Israel
Like most Middle Eastern countries, the majority of Israel experiences an arid and hot summer. The summers are busy for tourists and beaches before giving away to a dry and dusty fall. Winter brings with it cooler weather and rain in the north before spring blankets the country in colour again.
The absolute optimal time of the year for the most pleasant weather is April & May and September & October, but there’s plenty still to enjoy outside of these months depending on why you are visiting Israel.
Summer In Israel
Israel enjoys two beautiful coastlines on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, as well as the Dead Sea coast. June to August, you are almost guaranteed blue skies and great temperatures. Life is buzzing in the popular coastal resort cities.
Remember to bring plenty of summer sun protection with you and stay hydrated. A little patience for the crowds you’ll encounter too. It is not an ideal time to visit if you want to do a whole country tour, particularly in the south extreme temperatures are too much for most to bear.
Fall in Israel
Mid-September to mid-November is one of the best times to visit Israel. The hot days of summer are gone but still plenty of sunshine to be enjoyed. You will want a jacket as the evenings will most certainly cool, though you’ll find it not as cold on the Red Sea and on the Mediterranean.
Keep an eye out for the key religious dates and plan your travels around this if you want to avoid peak crowds and prices.
Winter in Israel
Be prepared for the temperature extremes, even in a small country such as Israel. By the time December rolls around you can expect day time highs of under 20°C/68°F in most of the country, overnight lows dropping to around 6°C/43°F, though it can be colder at higher elevations such as Jerusalem.
It is not unbearably cold, and certainly much warmer than most parts of Europe and North America at this time of year making it a pleasant winter escape. Do be prepared for rain though, this is the wettest part of the year in northern Israel.
There is no skiing in Israel but you can expect snowfall on the coldest of days at high elevation, even in Jerusalem on odd occasions.
Starting from mid-February, after the rains, the land turns lush and fertile and a beautiful carpet of wildflowers. You can find a guide to the best parts of Israel for wildflower spotting here.
Spring in Israel
If you really want to spend some time touring all around Israel, your best season is Spring. Outside of Passover and Easter, you will find the country’s top attractions much quieter than the warmest summer months.
The average temperature during the spring season is 10 to 27°C / 50 to 81°F with an average rainfall of 10-60 mm.
Spring also treats you to the magical wildflower show – early in the season is best to avoid high temperatures by the end of spring. In the Hula Valley you can experience millions of migratory birds. The milder temperatures of Spring also make it ideal for hiking.
So is there a best time for visiting Israel?
As you can see, each season really brings with it something special depending on what you are looking to see and experience while you’re in Israel.
The best times to visit Israel, unfortunately for families, is when schools are in term. So unless your kids are pre-school age, you are most likely going to need to pay more for accommodation for prime times. If you are lucky to get an October half-term break, this is one of the best times for families to visit for ideal weather and touring the whole country while sea waters are still warm enough for swimming.
Best times to visit popular Israeli destinations
Breaking it down by geographic location, these are the best times to visit the major cities and tourist areas of Israel:
Best time for visiting the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea can be intensely hot over the summer months reaching upwards of 40°c/104°F. Sitting 430m below sea level, it captures the summer heat which can be unrelenting – water temperature also sits over 37°C/100°F.
We recommend visiting the Dead Sea in the cooler months of fall from mid-September to mid-November, or a spring visit from March to May – water temperature should be over 25°C/77°F at these times.
If you are visiting the Dead Sea in winter expect mild days of around 20-22°C/68-72°F but the water temperature in winter can drop to a chilly 20°C/68°F too so not so good for a dip but still great to enjoy a refreshing spa!
Best time for visiting Eilat & The Red Sea
Eilat, the Red Sea coast of Israel has a hot desert climate. Eilat sees extreme summer air temperature highs of 44°C/110°F and this drops to a very mild and dry 26°C/79°F in winter. Rainfall is rare, even in winter.
Sea temperatures range from a low of 20°C/68°F in winter to highs of 29°C/84°F in summer.
The long shoulder seasons in Spring and Fall are the most pleasant for visiting Eilat, and also for making the border crossing into Jordan to explore Petra – you can find the best times for visiting Jordan here.
Can you swim in Eilat in winter? 20°C might seem mild if you’re coming from the depths of winter but for most it is too cold for swimming!
When is the best time to dive and snorkel at the Red Sea? The best time is from March to May and September to November. Diving is available year-round but its best to check conditions with local dive operators before booking out of season.
Best time for visiting Jerusalem
Jerusalem sits high in the mountains at an elevation of 754m. Like much of the country, it is best visited between April and May and September to November. You should expect a pleasant day time highs around 30°C/85°F in mid-summer.
The peak of summer in Jerusalem can be crowded and expensive, whilst the winter can be unpredictable – mild to very cold, even snow! Average winter temperatures can drop to 12°C/54°F.
Best time for visiting Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv sits on the Meditteranean coast and enjoys a typical Meditteranean climate of warm summers and cool, wet – but not freezing – winters. Spring and Fall still remain the best times to visit to avoid the peak temperatures and peak crowds.
The sunshine and summer festivals though are what a lot of visitors come to enjoy in Tel Aviv so you might need to suck up the prices and the crowds and book your accommodation early to enjoy a beach trip to Tel Aviv.
Expect summer maximum temperatures of 32°C/90°F and sea temperatures of 28°C/82°F
Is it too cold to swim in Tel Aviv in Winter? For most people’s tolerance, yes. Sea temperatures in January drop below 19°C/66°F.
Air temperature in mid-winter you should expect an average of 18°C/64°F, you’ll still want to pack some layers and most likely a coat and umbrella visiting Tel Aviv in winter.
Further things to do know when planning the best time to Israel
In Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, most restaurants and shops are closed over Sabbath (the Jewish day of rest), however, it’s quite a different story in Tel Aviv with many shops and restaurants remaining open.
The standard workweek in Israel is Sunday to Thursday. Friday is a shortened day and Saturday is Shabbat.
The situation with COVID means this is continually changing, you can find the latest government upates here.
Before you go, you may also want to read about:
- What to pack for Israel: Our guide on what to wear for women, men & children
- Hiking in Israel – the most stunning hiking routes perfect for families
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