The Weather in Israel In the Winter
The climate here can vary significantly depending on the region, with temperatures tending to soar the further south you travel. Winter in Israel approaches the end of October/beginning of November and ends in late March, during which time temperatures plummet to lows of 41°F in Jerusalem and 50°F in Tel Aviv.
With that in mind, you’ll want to pack accordingly, especially if you’re traveling to different cities in Israel during the winter. Before you get down to planning, let us inspire you with a snapshot of what this remarkable country has to offer during the seasonal shift.
Christmas in Israel
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—that is, if you celebrate Christmas! Cities of religious significance, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jaffa and areas of Jerusalem transform into a winter wonderland, with ample opportunity to soak up the holiday cheer. Check out our guide to Christmas in Israel for more on that.
For those interested in joining the main festivities, Abraham’s Bethlehem Christmas eve pop-up tour is your chance to journey through the Church of Nativity and more in the birthplace of Jesus Christ. And if you want to attend midnight mass outside the Basilica of the Nativity, we have transportation options from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to ensure you don’t miss out on Christmas.
Chanukah, the festival of lights, is a major Jewish holiday marked by lighting candles on the chanukiah (menorah) for eight nights. It remembers how the oil found in the partially destructed temple, enough to blaze for one night, burned for eight days. If your time in Israel in the winter falls over Chanukah—you’re in for a treat. Bakeries and stores across the country churn out mouth-watering donuts and irresistible potato latkes—cooked in oil, of course—in celebration of the miracle.
Embrace the North
Israel’s north becomes a snow-covered haven during winter. Mount Hermon, the country’s tallest mountain peak, is dusted with a blanket of snow—good news if skiing, snowboarding or sledding sounds appealing. The resort is popular and remains open less than two months of the year, so you’ll want to secure your spot well in advance.
There’s no reason to skip northern cities like Haifa, Acre, Rosh Hanikra and the Galilee region in winter. Time your day around potential rainy spells and you may find that traveling in Israel in the winter is more enjoyable than during the scorching summer.
Although you may want to hold back on adventure hiking for another time, you can take advantage of the north’s wineries to savor some of the finest wines in the country. It’s also that magical time of year when Christmas festivities come to life in Nazareth—and if this piques your interest, make sure to read on.
Escape to the South
Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city at the Red Sea, is a year-round vacation spot thanks to its favorable weather. Israel in the winter is a gloom-free time in the south where the outdoors beckon. You can expect temperatures to fluctuate between 69°F to the high 80s during the day. Tax-free shopping, lounging at the white sandy beaches, peeking at sealife in the Underwater Observatory Marine Park, sailing around the Red Sea with Abraham, attending the Eilat Winter Sun Festival and sipping wine at the Red Sea Jazz Festival—winter doesn’t hamper the fun in Eilat!
As for the Negev, winter welcomes a refreshing breeze to a region known for its stifling heat in summer. Trek through the Red Canyon and Ein Advat National Park, and make a stop at Timna park to view its breathtaking geological sites amid captivating landscapes. See how quickly you can spot Solomon’s Pillar and the giant red sandstone mushroom!
Israel is home to a whopping 230 (and counting) museums, which places it as a world leader in the number of museums per capita. The country’s sprawl of museums is your indoor refuge when the weather turns. We won’t overwhelm you by listing them all, but certainly will spotlight a few of our favorites! In Tel Aviv, the Museum of the Jewish People retells the story of Jewish people throughout the generations; whilst the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is your fix for modern art. Jerusalem’s endless list of museums—Bible Lands Museum, Yad Vashem, Shrine of the Book and Tower of David Museum—will keep your afternoons packed with history and culture. And there are those outside the city hustle: Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Holon’s Children Museum and Mini Israel in Latrun the mere tip of the iceberg.
If rain is stalling your outdoor strolls, head inside to a shopping mall! No matter where are, Israel’s shopping scene is a diverse display of fashion, jewelry, shoes and other finds, from a mix of local suppliers and international brands. Tel Aviv’s luxurious Fashion Mall Tel Aviv, Dizengoff Center and Azrieli Mall are favorites of the locals, with Ramat Aviv Mall, a suburban plaza laden with high-end stores, a spot to whittle away a few hours. In Jerusalem, make your way to Alrov Mamilla Avenue, a half-indoor mall with 140 plus stores!
Wine & Dine
Foodies, just wait. If there’s one thing Israel has to offer year-round—no matter the weather— it’s food glorious food! A culinary scene that’s mastered the art of fusion dining, the finest cooking techniques and inventive takes on traditional Middle Eastern staples, this small country boasts big flavors!
Sample a plateful of cuisine at two of Tel Aviv’s indoor markets—Sarona for its spread of delectables and Tel Aviv Port Market for upscale eats and farmers market finds. And that’s without mentioning your pick of 4,000 restaurants and thousands of cafes and bars from north to south of the country. Whatever you’re craving—be it vegan delights, Asian fusion, the catch of the day or a messy falafel stuffed pita—just hop inside for a light bite or hearty meal at any dining haunt, whenever the mood strikes.
Come rain or shine, Abraham’s choice of hostels are your home away from home in Israel—with a base in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth and Eilat. Each of our locations boasts ample lounging spaces and communal kitchens, whilst some contain a bar and yes, even a pool in our Eilat hostel! If the weather turns or you’re looking for a place to connect with a community of travelers from around the world, you’re welcome to sign up for our activities and events, ranging from jazz sessions and paint & pint to yoga classes and Shabbat (sabbath) dinner.
When a comfortable night’s sleep calls, we have various sleeping options to suit all budgets, including shared mixed (as well as separate male and female) dorms, alongside private rooms, family rooms, garden rooms and more—each with air conditioning, an en-suite bathroom and daily cleaning for a sparkling stay!