Bus or Taxi, Jerusalem
I did my research or so I thought, and assumed that the bus from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem would be nonstop if I went by bus. What I discovered is the bus requires a change but looking back, it wasn't that bad and the price was right.
After exiting customs, look for the signs above that read to "Busses" and take the escalators up two floors. Cross the first road and look for Bus #5 , this is the free bus that drives around the airport and the industrial parks that surround Ben Gurion airport and makes a stop at the "El Al Junction" which is the stop to get off and catch the #947 to Jerusalem.
Pay the driver on the #5 for the ticket all the way to Jerusalem, I paid NIS22.50. The ride to the connecting bus stop is about 10-15 minutes and maybe one or two stops while enroute. The driver spoke enough English to explain to me what needed to be done.
Once we arrived at the "El Al Juncction" the driver told me to follow two other passengers who were going to the bus stop for their connecting bus. This is where it got a little strange for me but I was in an industrial park area, lots of traffic, no sidewalks and once you cross the main highway you will see an open air bus shelter but most people are just standing on the side of the road waiting for their bus. This is probably the most informal bus stop I have ever seen but when in Rome................ Many busses make quick stops to pick up other people. Eventually my bus arrived, I asked the friendly driver what do I do about my large suit case, he popped open the luggage storage from his driver seat, I put my bag in, closed the door and boarded the bus. The bus was about 3/4 full, lots of single seats but the strange thing to me was how the people in the seats next to the empty ones had their stuff on the seat as if to say, "I want two seats, please don't sit here". I wasn't about to stand so I chose an empty seat, asked the person on her cell phone to please move her items and took a seat. This was my first experience in the necessity of being just a little pushy to get what you need/want while in Israel.
The bus ride took about 55 minutes, I think we had two quick stops enroute to let people off and then we pulled into the Jerusalem bus station on Jaffa road which is centrally located and easy to make other bus/taxi/sherut connections.
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a city for the first time is to take a double decker tour bus to give me a quick idea of the layout of the city and then I can go back and see more of something that caught my eye and not waste time on other parts.
The bus is run by Israel's Eg'ged bus company, look for the bright red double decker bus, you pay the driver in cash or major credit card, you are handed a pamphlet and set of mini earphones, find a seat, plug in and get ready to see "85 of the most remarkable sites in the city of Jerusalem" according to their pamphlet. The tour is pre recorded and in many languages.
I was lucky to score a seat at the front on top which has it's pro's and cons. The pro's is you can see everything that the driver does, the bad is you can see the crazy driving that takes place on the streets not to mention the very bold pedestrians who on more than one occasion walked in front of our fast moving bus to cross a street.
The tickets are good for 24 hours but another bonus is to use the ticket the next day as transportation to get to the other side of the city vs paying to ride the city bus.
Since I was in Israel in February which was very wet, I opted not to take the bus back to Ben Gurion airport since it involved a bus change at the El Al Junction and who wants to arrive for their flight looking like a drowned wet rat?
The next option was Nesher Taxi, they operate a Shared Van service or "Shurut" from your hotel/residence in Jerusalem to the airport. Call 24hours in advance and set up a reservation or if you are in a hotel, have the front desk do it for you.
The price was 50Sheckels so about double the cost of a bus. The added convenience was worth the extra money plus it was pouring the day I left Jerusalem so in my opinion, worth every sheckel spent.
The van showed up on time, the driver loaded our bags, we were the last two to board the van that holds 10 persons so my ride was only about 1 hour but if you are one of the first guests to be picked up you will be getting a tour of Jerusalem so plan accordingly and be prepared.
Jerusalem is both a modern and an Old, it has wide, well paved roads and highways criss crossing the city and connecting it to other points of Israel and the West Bank and it only becomes a big bus nightmare when you will be visiting the Old City and East Jerusalem as the old city has small roads, often uneven stone pavements that buses are not allowed to enter and hence, most of the Tourists going to the Old City are dropped at around the 7 gates and then the tourists then proceed to walk around the attractions and then the buses will then pick you up at the exit of the wailing wall.
as major part of the Visitors to Jerusalem are the Various Christian Pilgrims around the world who day multi-day tours in Groups, the preferred transportation is the big tour buses and large private vans that take the pilgrims around the biblical sites around Jerusalem, but since the Roads are Narrow in the Mount of Olives area and in the Old City, and these buses and vans have no designated parking areas, then most of the visitors to these areas then walk around the sites with their tour guides and then after the Jerusalem tours, are fetched by their bug tour buses and private vans at the western gate just beside the Western (Wailing Wall) where there is a large waiting area for the buses and vans.
Coming to Israel from Egypt via the Taba border crossing is a reliable way of getting to Jerusalem. The border is open 24hrs every day and depending on how many people there are the security checks are pretty quick. I crossed the border at 6:00 AM after taking the night bus from Cairo and because there weren't very many people it took be about twenty minutes to go through the Egyptian and Israeli security checks. There were plenty of taxis waiting to take me from the border to the Eliat bus station. The taxis charged about 40 NIS. From the bus station there were numerous buses leaving for Jerusalem, the first bus leaves at seven and then ten. You can check the Egged website for current times. It takes about five hours to get to Jerusalem from Eliat by bus.
Hi fellow travelers
Just wanted to share a positive experience I had few days ago when I landed in Israel.
In one of my Google searches, I can across the Israel Taxi site - http://www.israeltaxi.net, which offered a transportation service from Ben Gurion Airport to any part in Israel.
After trying it myself, I can recommend you to try it too - I've traveled from Ben Gurion Airport to Jeruslaem in Zohar's taxi. Zohar was very friendly and his taxi was clear and convinient.
I've also used the Israel Taxi service once again when I traveled to Haifa few days later.
I wish you all a pleasant ride...
The city of Jerusalem has been joined together since 1967, but it still feels, and in many ways acts, as two separate cities. This is particularly obvious in the transport system, which consists of two separate systems: Arab and Israeli. They both have separate bus stations. The Israeli central bus station is a grand building of polished glass and concrete. The Arab bus station is a dusty disorganised mess of run down buses just off Damascus Gate.
Which system you use depends on whether your destination is in East or West (New) Jerusalem. Either way, the system is inexpensive, and you can pay the driver when you get on.
Bus number 480 is an express bus that runs every 15 minutes between Tel Aviv Merkaz (Central Train Station) and the main Bus Station on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. The trip takes 45 minutes but sometimes the traffic is busy and it might take half an hour extra (or even more).
For some years, I didn't take city busses in Jerusalem. Mainly, because of not worrying any family back home and well, the taxi is a convenient and not very expensive alternative. During our last visit, we took the bus from the German Colony to Jaffa Road when we were tired of walking.
Taxis are readily available. But don't just get in and assume it'll take you where you want to go. Oh, it'll get you there, but if you don't settle on a price first, you'll get there for 2x what you should be paying! So just make sure you work out a price with the driver before you get in to go. They are very reliable. And for some reason, they'll all ask if you want to go to Bethelhem. I think it's because they want to make more money in one trip. (Note, Bethelhem is Muslim primarily. Jews won't enter due to dangers to them... at least my tour guide wouldn't - and he said he'd set me up with a Muslim tour guide to take me if I was interested). Many of the taxi drivers around Old City are Muslim. It doesn't matter... they're all just people trying to make a living.
There are two Arab bus stations, just outside the walls in Eastern Jerusalem. From Damascus Gate, turn to the right and cross Suleyman street. After a few hundred metres there is a bus station; from here, there are busses leaving for Bethlehem.
From Aqaba, take a taxi to the Wadi Arava/Eilat border crossing for 5JD, Departure Tax is 5JD. The money exchangers in Aqaba give a good exchange rate from the JD to the Shekel. (15.5JD = 100Shekels). Note: This border closes early at 8:00pm and Israeli Exit Tax is 74Shekels.
WARNING: Make sure you have the correct change - because your taxi driver may pretend not to have any or enough, leaving you short changed.
After the border crossing in Eilat, take a taxi for 20Shekels to the Bus Station, ask the taxi driver to turn the meter on. The bus fare to Jerusalem is 65Shekels. I caught the one at about noon, the trip is about 4-5 hours and makes one stop at a take out place to get burgers, chips, soda, coffee....and a small convenience store. There is an earlier one near 9:00am and afternoon buses as well. The drive through the Negev Desert and along the Dead Sea passing the resorts and Masada is beautiful.
Buses to Taba, The Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and more....are available from this Bus Station.
If you came on the bus from Eilat, the bus station in Jerusalem is in a Mall. From here, exit the Mall, walk across the street to take a bus or cab to the old city. If you only have a small knapsack you can walk straight down the road passing old architecture, the Ben Yahuda shopping area, many shops and restaurants. When you see the Old CIty Walls, continue to Jaffa Gate. Just inside the Gate is a tourist info centre if you are lucky enough to get there before it closes.