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Cycling Israel : tips requested

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WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Cycling Israel : tips requested

Hi there.

We are Nathalie & Erwan, a French couple living in Jordan.
For our coming vacations, we wish to cycle in Israel for around 10-12 days.
Of course we have plenty of questions to ask in order to prepare the trip.

- First of all : the bikes. We don't have our own bikes in Jordan (only the bags). We are planning to rent some. Our tour will probably start from Jerusalem. There must be several renting places there, but some of you may have one in particular to recommend. Of course we would like to find mountain bikes (because of the low gears) with racks for the bags.

- Then, the route : our idea is to ride down from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, then follow the sea shore towards the North. Any recommended ways ? Any other suggestion ? (We are slow cyclist : ~30Km/day)

- Finally, the train : we will probably not ride back to Jerusalem once we are at the sea level. Our idea is to put the bikes into a train, and to let it carry us up the moutains. Is such thing possible in Israel (taking the train with bicycles) ?

We would have many other questions, but these are the more important ones.
Thanks for your tips.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Hi I don t know any place in

I don t know any place in Jerusalem but there many places in Tel Aviv.I been in Israel many times and also living but the price for rent a bike for 2 weeks will be very expensive.Last year I just bought 2 bikes and I sold them after to a friend but you can also make a dill with the bike shop that you return the bikes and get some money,anyway the bikes for rent are not the best quality most are cheap treks.And one thing never ever leave your bike the night on Tel Aviv always look for a safe place,I always take inside the room
Safe ride and leitrahot

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Hi Gerardo, and thank you for

Hi Gerardo, and thank you for your tips.

Is there a bike shop that you like more than the others in Tel Aviv ?
Your idea of buying and selling back the bikes is good. I'll see if I can make such a deal.

I also have an additionnal question that you may be able to answer : what about camping in Israël ? We like wild camping the most : is it easily doable ? Or what about camping sites ? and asking people if we can set our tent on their ground ?

All comments and advices are welcome.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Hi Also I know 3 shops in TV.

Also I know 3 shops in TV. Two the are on Ben Yehuda Street on on number 147 and the other just 200m before,also one in Yaffo called wheelbee tel aviv.All this shop are good just look if they have thw bikes u need maybe u can deal.About camping I have not much experience in Israel but I think it s possible to do wild.camping,there not many campgrounds France only view.
I hope this help you a little be
Shalom leitrahot safe ride

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Cycling Israel : debriefing

Hello all.

Some people on CouchSurfing were asking for a testimonial about our experience in Israel. I thought it might also interest some people on WSL. So here is a debriefing of our trip. Hope it will help some others to go for cycling tours there.

What we saw :

I will not go to much in details on this point, as my own wish when I asked for tips on this forum was to find practical informations. Travel guides will tell you what amazing things you can see and do in Israel.

As we live in Jordan, we already had the opportunity to come a few times before. For that reason, we didn't wish to visit major touristic attractions, nor to go to certain very nice areas.

Generally speaking, we found the landscapes beautiful and surprisingly green (coming from Jordan). We travelled accross Karmel Mount and in the Shfela region. We enjoyed the latter especially. Nature is well preserved there, and the trails were also more adapted to our level and shape. It also has a bunch of impressive archeological sites to visit.
We stayed in two cities : Jerusalem (that we visited before already) and Haifa. Jerusalem is of course very impressive from a cultural point view. Its atmosphere is very diverse depending on the quarters : intense tourism, religious rigor, or lively neighborhood. We found Haifa quite different : also very lively, but less extreme, and with the advantage of its coastal location ; maybe more delightful to us.
Not everything was smooth, though. We found some trails really difficult into the heat, and we sometimes felt unconfortable, due to the heavy militarisation of the country and the great importance of religion there.
Nevertheless we met some very relaxed and friendly people, who contributed to make this trip so nice. And for those who are worried about safety, we have to say that we absolutely never felt unsecure.

The bikes :

We couldn't take our own bikes on this trip (we let them in France). So we rented some. We looked for bike rental in and around Jerusalem in particular (even though Tel Aviv seems to offer more opportunities).
Here are some adresses that we found : We found the fees relatively high in general.
We wish to also mention thank Eyal and Batia, that we met on the road, and who invited us to stay at their place for a night. They also organise Cycling tours. See their website : )

We finally chose to deal with Their prices were lower than the others, and the guy, Uri, immediately seemed really friendly and professional to us. We are glad that we made this choice : he helped us a lot to make the trip possible, his bikes were perfectly maintained, and the area in which he is located has been our favorite (Zafririm, 30Km South West of Jerusalem).

The route :

Planning our route has been a bit of a hassle. We are not experienced cyclo-travelers (only one try before, in our native region), and we were not in a super shape (our daily life in Amman offers only a few opportunities to do sports). Also, Israel offers only few secondary roads. We didn't want to ride on the main roads, but doing it on trails seemed more tricky.
Hopefully, good maps can be found, and the hiking/biking trails are really well marked. The local openstreetmap community also created a really good online map : The problem is that all these precisous informations are in Hebrew... Our big chance is that we were travelling with an Israeli friend, who could read all this and who of course had a good knowledge the country. It would have been difficult for us to travel without him. For those who don't have the chance to travel with a local (nor to be a local!), I recommend learning how to read the hebrew letters. The good point is that most people speak english well : asking directions isn't a problem.
Here is the (approximate) route that we took : As you can see, we did very few kilometers per day. One reason is that we were not trained at all. An other reason is that we found some certains trails really difficult (some were quite steep, with lots of rocks and gravels ; the temperature was also above 30°C some days). We've been cycling around 3.5 hours in the morning (breaks and map reading included), and 2.5 in the afternoon (days 1, 4, and 5 were half days).
When cycling on roads, despite what we read on forums, we found that the drivers were relatively careful with us.

Accomodation :

Including the day of our arrival and departure, we spent four nights at some friends place, two hosted by people that we met during the trip, and we camped four nights.
Israel doesn't have full comfort payed campings (like France has, for example), but it offers a great number of picnic areas, provided with flat ground, tables and benches, and even water taps or public WC for some of them. Camping there is free and usual. The only issue is that the most comfortable ones (those having water, for example) are often close from the road.
As we were travelling in the end of April, we chose not to take a tent with us, and indeed we didn't face a single drop of rain.

Food :

We ate rather well. Many villages have groceries with enough variety to prepare full meals. (We invented a new recipe that we enjoyed at lunch : Tahina paste mixed with a little of water, chickpeas or peas+carrots in cans, tuna, and spices. We were eating this with pita bread. Easy to prepare, tasty, and nourishing! Many variations are possible.)
We could make fires most of the time (especially on picnic sites). We also used our Trangia alcohol burner two times : 76% alcohol can be found in pharmacies (but it's rather expensive).
As I said above, water taps can be found on certain picnic sites, and also on some children playgrounds. Water from the tap is good and safe.

Transportation :

Coming (without bikes) from Jordan, we reached Jerusalem with a mix of buses and shared taxis. See Wikivoyage for more details about that.

We got to Zafririm (where we rented the bikes) by bus. Israel has a good and relatively cheap bus network.

Once we had the bikes, in order to reach Binyamina (from Bet Shemesh), and later Jerusalem (from Haifa), we took the train. Every one recommended that we took the bus instead (as long as there is room, you can put your bikes in the luggage space, for free). But in our particular case, the train seemed a more adapted option.
Bikes can be taken for free in trains, but with special rules, that you can check on the official website : Also note that you are allowed to take your bike only in the most southern carriage of the train, even though this comparment usually doesn't have space enough to room bikes properly. When you enter in a train station, you have to go through a security check (not on connections). Normally you must remove all your bags from your bike for those checks, and pass them at the X-rays. (At least, if you arrive in advance, you have time for that. Entering and going out of the train is more stressful.) Taking the bikes on the train was probably the most annoying part of the trip... but we managed!

Budget :

Even if Uri provided us bikes for a real good price, this has been our main expense : 1/3 of the budget (also because we spent no money at all on accomodation, very little on visits, and relatively little for getting to Israel, as we were not coming from far). Transporting the bikes by train represented ~20€ per person, for a total of ~270Km. We spent around 6€/day/person on camping food. We found hanging out in Jerusalem and Haifa very pricy.

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