Saturday in Israel is like nowhere else. Because of the cultural and religious significance of Saturday, you will find that everywhere in the country winds down late Friday afternoon till Saturday evening. Because of the Shabbat, Saturday day trips from Tel Aviv should be planned in advance as you will find there will be a lot less available activities, and it will be hard to wing a Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv. Shabbat in Israel (Saturday) can either be the most enjoyed day in this country, or you can find it a slight hassle. With enough preparation, activities and proper expectations, we are here to help you have the best Israeli Shabbat experience.
Some tourists dread Saturday in Israel, whilst the travelers who are adequately informed of Israel’s schedule will say that Saturday was the best day for them. We personally think that it's a must to spend Saturday in Israel to really see and feel the Israeli culture at its height and should not be avoided at all! Here’s how to make the most of your Saturday day trips from Tel Aviv.
The Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest, and Israel takes it seriously. You will find there is no train service or any sort of public transportation from late Friday afternoon, till Saturday evening. Your best bet for transportation is with a Gett Taxi, which you can order from an app on your phone, as well as bike and electric scooter rentals. Since the times of Shabbat are dependent on the seasons, you can find out what time Shabbat will be welcomed in, and what time it will be over here. The general rule of thumb is three to four hours before Shabbat on Friday, most (not all) grocery stores, malls and restaurants will be closed. An hour before Shabbat you will be hard pressed to find any sort of public transportation. And Saturday evening, an hour after Shabbat has gone out, everything will be up and running; from trains, buses, malls, shops, restaurants and bars.
The Difference Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Saturday
Saturday in Jerusalem will be observed, felt and seen a lot more than in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, being more secular than Jerusalem means you will find a lot more restaurants and grocery stores open in Tel Aviv on Saturday. Whereas in Jerusalem, whilst there are stores open 24/7, they are few and far between. Just because Jerusalem is significantly more shut down then Tel Aviv, does not mean your day trip from Tel Aviv on Saturday should circumvent Jerusalem.
Restaurants on Saturday
Let us start with this; you will not go hungry on a Friday night or Saturday no matter which city you are in. There will always be options for someplace to eat dinner or lunch. There will be a larger range of options in Tel Aviv, but even in Jerusalem there are Ethiopian, Arab, Asian and so many other cuisines that will be readily available as well as options for a pizza and other take-aways. Don't forget, Jerusalem is a major city, and if you need anything, trust Google or ask anyone you might see for recommendations or suggestions. People will be friendly as they understand it can be slightly confusing to be in such a seemingly shut down city and they will try their best to direct you to where you need to go.
A Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv must include Jerusalem, as Shabbat in that city is an experience that will last a lifetime. We recommend going to see the Western Wall on Friday evening to see throngs of people welcoming in the Shabbat with song and dance. It truly is quite an experience to see hundreds of people dressed in their finest, exuding palpable joy in welcoming in their holy day. Since it will mostly be filled with people observing the Shabbat, it is recommended to not display your phone or other electronics publicly as to respect their observance.
Going to Jerusalem for a Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv does not mean it has to be one of religious tourism. There is a lively nightlife in Jerusalem on Friday night, and after your trip to the Western Wall, you get to experience both sides of Israeli culture by enjoying the music, food, jovial atmosphere and alcohol that Israelis can do best.
You will also find that most museums in Israel stay open on Saturday so your Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv can be to most museums, even in Jerusalem as they are open and run like normal.
Saturdays in Tel Aviv are for the beach, as any Tel Avivian will tell you. Should you find yourself looking for a Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv, go to the beach. The most busy day of the week, and packed with families that come from all over the country, you are sure to have a great Saturday and make new friends. You can never go wrong with Tel Aviv’s world renowned beaches, and everything is open like normal, from restaurants, to lifeguards so your Saturday won’t feel limited in any way. There are many beaches in Tel Aviv, so check which one interests you the most here.
Another great way to experience a day trip from Tel Aviv on Saturday, is by visiting the Ramat Gan Safari Park. Located just 5 miles outside of Tel Aviv, see the largest collection of animals in the entire Middle - East. This is a great and fun way to spend the Saturday in Israel and it is great for children and adults. It also is a wonderful way to spend the Saturday in Tel Aviv in the winter as it is accessible all year round. You can go in your own car, or book tickets for the guided train tour that will guarantee hours of entertainment.
A great Saturday day trip from Tel Aviv is to the Dead Sea. An hour and half drive from Tel Aviv, float in the mineral infused water of the Dead Sea. Everything will be open and running like normal, so you are sure to find restaurants, spas and shops open. Take a camel ride to the lowest point of earth or climb Masada to see a breathtaking sunrise view. Saturday is a great time to travel by car as there is no traffic in Israel, so if you want to drive south to the Dead Sea, or north to Haifa, Saturday is a great day for that.
In summary, day trips from Tel Aviv on Saturday can be the best day of the week to create lifetime experiences, all it takes is slightly more planning. On Friday and Saturday, feel free to wish people you see a “Shabbat Shalom” (lit; peaceful Saturday) and you will fit in with the rest of the locals. Don't forget to buy some fresh Challah on Friday. Happy traveling and Shabbat Shalom!