Upon your initial arrival to Israel, you will land at Ben Gurion Airport, a gorgeous new facility just renovated and expanded in 2004.
Interesting Facts about Ben Gurion International Airport:
- Located just south of Tel Aviv, near the city of Lod.
- Serves as the hub for El Al Israel airlines, as well as local carriers Israir, and Arkia.
- The largest international airport in Israel.
- According to ACIO (Airports Council International Organization), Ben Gurion is rated the best airport in the Middle East, and second best of its category (5-15 Million annual passengers) in the world.
Most important Fact – Ben Gurion Airport is considered to be one of the safest airports anywhere in the world. This is largely due to the stringent security you will see all around. There are both armed soldiers and security personnel at the entrance to the grounds and throughout the facilities. In addition, there are plain clothes security personnel and security cameras found throughout.
I have been through this airport so many times, I can narrate the entire experience for you.
After passing through immigration and collecting your bags, you will enter the customs lanes. Here you must decide to either declare (red lane) or not declare (green lane) any taxable items you are bringing into the country.
Free Import – what you are allowed to bring into the country free of declaration:
- 250 cigarettes or 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of other tobacco products.
- 1 Liter (33 ounces) of spirits.
- 2 liters (66 ounces) of wine.
- 250 ml (8.45 ounces) of perfume.
- Legal gifts valued up to 125 USD (this does not apply to personal electronics which you will take back with you).
Top Customs Tip – Anything above these limits, then you must declare and pay VAT (Value added Tax about 18%). If you don’t and they stop you, it will cost you much more time and money. It is not worth the risk. Trust me.
After passing Customs, alas, you will be greeted to Israel in the Ben Gurion airport Arrival Hall. It is a beautifully modern and quite welcoming site. A huge area filled with new overseas arriving passengers and joyous reunions. It is a happy place with energy and joy filling the air.
If you are like me, the first thing you want after a long arduous flight is to head straight to your final destination for a hot shower and a bed. At the back of the hall, you will notice the sign towards the main exit doors.
Notice that all signs are in English and Hebrew. If you want to take the train, which I usually do, the airport station is located directly out the main exit doors to the left. If you prefer to rent a car, proceed to the next level up (Level Orchard) to the rental car counters.
Ben Gurion Airport Top Tips:
- Don’t take the train during peak rush hours with excessive luggage. The trains will get very full heading North in the late afternoon. If you are travelling with children and luggage, it will be very stressful.
- If you have a rental car, try to avoid driving through Tel Aviv (Rt 20 Ayalon Freeway) or Rt. 1 especially during rush hour (Sunday-Thursday). I recommend using the toll road 6. It is well worth it.
- If you decide on a Taxi (Moe’neet in Hebrew), make sure you agree on a fixed price before you depart. The driver will ask you if you want a metered or fixed price. If you have a Hebrew speaker in your group, let him/her do the negotiating.
Bruchim haba’im le’yisrael! (Welcome to Israel)