business hours

The business days are Sunday through Friday in Jewish towns, allowing for observance of the Sabbath "Shabbat" from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. On Friday, many shops will close at about 14:30-15:00 to allow ample time return home before sundown. Many shops, especially in malls, will re-open on Saturday evening, at about 19:00 in winter, and 20:30 in summer. Some shops, especially outside city limits or in tourist areas, as well as 24-hour convenience stores, remain open on Saturdays. In Arab towns, shops are generally open 7 days a week.

Shops in malls and on major shopping streets are generally open from 9:30 to 21:00 daily. Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller shops, stick to traditional business hours of 8:30-19:00, with a lunch break from about 13:00 to 16:00, so do check.

Markets usually open and close early.


Bargaining in Israel is prevalent. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for foreigners to figure out when bargaining is expected and appropriate. A general guideline: Sales agents, high prices, or no displayed prices -- bargain. Anything that looks established or corporate -- don't. Although pushing through a bargain or requesting some freebies with some cellphone companies and the like often is a possibility!

Bargaining in bazaars and rural markets is common yet subtle. Vigorous bargaining which is common in developing countries will likely get you nowhere and is improper. If you are given a fair price, don't bargain for sport -- it is frowned upon.

Bargaining in shops with sales agents is expected for example, in an electric appliance store. Sticker prices are exaggerated for the purpose of bargaining. It is best to compare offers and figure out the true market price before purchasing.

Bargaining is improper in small mom and pop shops that sell low-cost items.

Bargaining with independent service providers technicians, plumbers, movers, handymen is common. It is not with non-independent service providers hired employees.

In shops with displayed prices where you are not dealing with a sales agent bargaining is improper and will get you looks of bewilderment. This includes corporate shops e.g. McDonald's, most stores in malls without sales agents, and pretty much all businesses a tourist interacts with with the exception of travel agents: accommodation, transportation, food including food stands in markets. Some entertainment venues and most activity operators especially extreme sports can give you quite a sizable discount if you only ask.

If you are bringing a large group of people to a club or a bar, it may be possible to negotiate a discount before arriving with the group. If you are already there, bargaining won't get you anything substantial.

Prices in tourist traps such as the Old City of Jerusalem can routinely be haggled down to as low as 25% of the asking price. Usually it's easier to make a deal if you are buying multiple items rather than a single item.

When buying larger items e.g. electronics, it's often possible to get a discount of about 3% for paying in cash, and additional discount depending on your haggling abilities.

Bargaining with taxi drivers over fare is possible, though rarely to your advantage. It is best to instruct them to use the meter moneh if they don't already do so as required by law.

Since the online coupon craze started in 2010, many businesses have stopped publishing real prices, and you can get a completely different price simply by asking for a discount "yesh hanacha?" - "Is there a discount?" or bringing in a coupon you found on an online coupon site. It's not unusual to get lower prices by up to 50%.


Israeli wine, kosher products, t-shirts, diamonds. Almost needless to say, Israel is one of the best countries for purchasing Judaica and Christian pilgrim trinkets.

While it is legal to purchase antiquities from the small number of government-licensed dealers, exporting antiquities from Israel is illegal, except with a written authorization from the Israel Antiquities Authority (http://www.antiquities.or...).


Living and travelling costs in Israel are almost on a par with Western Europe, North America and Australia, making it by far the most 'expensive' country in the Middle East region outside the Gulf area.

Small food kiosks pitzukhiot offer various snacks such as freshly roasted peanuts, sunflower, and melon seeds, soft drinks, cigarettes and candy. Take note that currently June 2009 the price of a soft drink can is between ₪5-8 and a 0.5L bottle is generally one shekel more expensive than a can. Prices in tourist areas in big cities, especially tourist cities like Eilat can be up to ₪20 per 0.5L bottle, however often a small walk will reveal the more local places that will sell you 6 1.5L bottles for as cheap as ₪32. In fact, it is possible to buy a 6 pack of 2 liter "Ein Gedi" bottles for a preset price of ₪12.

Fast food wise, a shawarma in lafa should cost roughly ₪24-30 drink not included, while a regular meal at a burger chain McDonald's, Burger King and the local Burger Ranch will set you back at least ₪35 -- and there is no such thing as a "free refill" anywhere in the country.

Restaurants generally are in a high standard of taste and style, a first course averages ₪15-25, a main dish about ₪40-60 good meat can go from ₪60-100 and the desserts are usually ₪25-35. Soft drinks are somewhat costly and usually go for ₪10-12 for an average sized glass without refills.


Outside of the food industry, tipping is not common.

Restaurants - Tip 10%-15%. 15%-20% is considered a generous tip.

Hotel staff - No tipping.

Tour guides - 10% - 15% of the daily rate.

Bartenders - Tip 10%-15%. 15% is considered a generous tip.

Hair - No tipping.

Moving - Tipping is optional but often expected depending on the amount of work.

Food delivery - Tip ₪5.

Groceries delivery - No tipping.

Other deliveries - No tipping.

Handymen - No tipping.

Taxi drivers - No tipping.


The Israeli currency is the New Israeli Shekel NIS. Colloquially, it is called a shekel plural: shkalim or sha-ch. Each shekel is divided into 100 agorot. The common symbols for the shekel are ש״ח or ₪.

The following banknotes are in circulation: ₪20 green, ₪50 violet, ₪100 brown, ₪200 red. Newer ₪20 notes are made of polypropylene and are almost impossible to break or tear. Paying with large notes for small charges is frowned upon.

Coins in use:10 Agorot copper, 1/2 Shekel copper, 1 New Shekel nickel, 2 New Shkalim nickel, 5 New Shkalim nickel, 10 New Shkalim bi-metallic; copper core, nickel rim.

ATMs are available everywhere. Credit cards of all kinds are widely accepted. Note that the showing of the Visa logo by an ATM does not especially mean it takes all types of Visa cards, at the moment the ones with Chip-and-Pin technology seem to be only accepted by Bank Leumi ATMs.

You can get VAT refunds when leaving the country, though be prepared to queue at the airport. Additionally, VAT refunds are only available for individual receipts in excess of ₪400. Eilat is a VAT-free city for citizens as well as for foreigners, but being a resort city it is often more expensive to begin with.

US Dollars are accepted in some tourist locations, particularly Jerusalem, at a rough exchange rate of ₪4 to the dollar. If you are asked for dollars or euros outright, you are most likely being ripped off.