Israel (and Palestine) was one of the most interesting places I have ever been. I learned a ton, saw even more, and left with a head full of knowledge (and, to be honest, a bit of confusion). Needless to say, I highly recommend it as a travel destination, especially if you love history as much as I do. However, figuring out what to wear in Israel. That sucked.
I HATE packing and despite all my travel experience, my thoughts towards packing have not changed. While I like to think I’m getting better at it, packing for Israel threw me for a loop. Especially since I was only packing a carry-on. After all, I had two things to consider: the weather and remaining culturally appropriate when required.
I visited Israel in November so the weather was warmer during the day but quite cool in the evenings. I also had to make sure I was respectfully covered for the religious sites in Israel and my visits to Palestine (which is Muslim). However, I didn’t want to look like a total grandma for when I hit the bars and the streets of Tel Aviv which is pretty cool and trendy.
For inspiration, I made the mistake of looking on Instagram. Big mistake. I know Instagram is a fashion playground but what I saw just made me feel like I had the closet of a twelve-year-old and that nothing I owned was nearly cool enough for the hipsters of Tel Aviv. Needless to say, I didn’t quite get the help and inspiration I was hoping for which meant I was pretty much on my own for figuring out what to wear in Israel and Palestine.
While it took a while to figure out what to bring, in the end, I was happy with what I packed. So for any other ladies facing this same conundrum- I’ve got you! Here are my top packing tips for women on what to wear in Israel and Palestine.
When it comes to figuring out what to wear in Israel and Palestine, I found tops to be the hardest thing to pack. I knew it would be warm, especially in Jerusalem, even though it was November but I also had been told that I would need to have longer tops that covered past my elbows for certain places. Thanks to last year’s trip to Egypt, I knew how to dress conservatively but that was only for a part of Israel. The rest of Israel was more laid back so I wanted more of my regular t-shirts as well.
My favourite go-to for this entire trip was my evolve top by encircled which, if you’ve read any of my other packing guides, you will know features on every list. This is my favourite travel t-shirt of all time because it’s comfortable, cute, and very versatile. It was perfect for this trip. I wore it backwards so I’d have a higher neckline on the days I visited Palestine or religious sites and then I wore it frontwards with the sleeves pinned up for our pub crawl in Jerusalem. It was perfect.
Another convertible top that I love and is perfect for this is the convertible cami by Diane Kroe. It’s a tank top rather than a t-shirt, but you can wear it a couple different ways to change the neckline into something more covered or something a little more stylish. You’d definitely need to pair it with a sweater for the more sacred places, but it’s also ideal for normal street wear. PS you can use my promo code HANNAH10 to save 10% off any Diane Kroe purchase.
Another useful addition was my lightweight sweater. I picked up the grey one in the top photo in Hong Kong a couple years ago at H&M and, for a $15 sweater, it’s come in pretty handy during my travels. It’s easy to throw over a shirt (or tank top) but not too heavy in the hot sun. Plus, it’s longer than a normal cardigan meaning I can easily pair it with tighter jeans or leggings and not worry about my butt being too ‘on display’. You can find a similar one to what I have here.
I then brought a couple more t-shirts; ones that I could easily wear under my sweater for the days I needed to cover up and a couple nicer ones for wandering around the streets. I did bring a fancy sparkly one for a night out but after seeing how the locals dressed (pretty casual) I decided to stick with my evolve top that I mentioned above. I definitely made the right choice.
Bottoms were a little bit easier to pack. Jeans made my list as well as a couple of pairs of leggings. I kept the leggings for hiking days (like Masada) and city exploring rather than when I went to Old City Jerusalem or Palestine.
Another pair of pants that comes with me on every adventure are the dressy sweatpants, also from encircled. These are still fitted but not as tight as skinny jeans or leggings so, paired with a long top and my light sweater, they were my go-to for the more conservative tours and places we visited. Despite being called ‘sweatpants’ they aren’t heavy at all and normally make me feel like I’m wearing pj pants which I am 100% ok with.
Skirts and Dresses
Skirts and dresses are also good options for Israel, though depending on the length they may not always be suitable. If you are just exploring around a city in Israel, it won’t be a problem but if you are visiting religious sites or going to Palestine, you will need to be more cautious. If it’s a maxi type skirt of dress that goes down to your ankles, you’ll be fine. Shorter knee-length skirts you’ll be asked to cover up at religious sites (ie Temple Mount in Jerusalem), so take that into consideration as you dress for the day. Remember to consider the sleeves and neckline as well when wearing dresses. Amazon has some really cute maxi dresses that you can find here and here.
I brought three different types of shoes when packing for Israel. Depending on what you plan on seeing and doing, you may want more.
You will definitely want a comfortable pair of walking shoes for city exploring. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are huge cities and you don’t want to feel like your feet are falling off as you walk around them. I chose a pair of basic running shoes for this that I could also wear for climbing Masada and the desert in Jordan (which I visited in combination with Israel). That being said, if you plan on doing a lot of hiking, it may be worth it to bring some hiking boots. Whether you wear boots or runners for your hiking or city exploring, make sure you break them in and pair them with some good socks so you don’t end up with blisters. I love Under Armour socks which I find help prevent blisters and make sure your feet don’t smell gross by the end of the day.
I also brought a pair of flipflops. While I didn’t wear these for city exploring they were perfect for in the hostel. They are also ideal if you are staying at a property with a pool or for visiting the Dead Sea. My favourite travel flipflops are tevas because they kind of form to my feet over time and I find them a little more supportive (plus no blisters between my toes!)
Finally, if you do plan on going out at night to the bars or clubs of Israel, you’ll want some suitable footwear for that as well. Since I visited in the fall, I just wore a pair of flat booties that packed light and easy. If you are visiting during the summer, you may want some nicer sandals. If you are crazy (ok, coordinated) then perhaps you want heels.
Swimwear and Outerwear
Swimwear is a must when visiting Israel. Even if you aren’t normally a pool or beach type (Tel Aviv is known for its beaches), you do have to try floating in the Dead Sea. It’s awesome (and hilarious). When packing your beachwear, don’t forget a cute cover-up or a sarong as well!
For outerwear, what you need to pack really depends on what season you visit. Remember, as scorching as Israel can be in the summer, some parts do see a bit of snow in the winter. I’m Canadian and left the sub-zero temperatures behind when I visited in November, so I didn’t find it too chilly. That being said, it did rain quite a bit so I do recommend bringing a waterproof jacket (I have and love this one from Columbia).
Clothing is important but a few accessories will go a long way in making your visit to Israel more comfortable and easier. Here are a few of my must-have favourites.
- A scarf: I used mine multiple times to cover my neck or chest in Palestine and some of the more religious sites. Sometimes I made it part of my outfit, other times I carried it with me just in case- and I did end up needing it. I brought a bright, floral one with me similar to this. Another type that you may like are these circle scarves with secret pockets.
- A day bag: I always travel with a purse, but often in Israel I used a day bag instead. It was easy to throw my water bottle and camera in as well as my scarf or sweater. I bought this bag last year and take it with me everywhere. I love that you can fold it up tiny when not using it, it’s really light, and very durable.
- Waterproof Sunscreen: Israel gets hot and sunny and even in November I got sweaty a few days. Waterproof is a must if you plan on any beach days, but is also handy for hiking or city exploring in warmer temperatures. I’m a big fan of this brand.
- Re-usable water bottle: Israel has a garbage and plastic problem. Seriously- it’s everywhere. So don’t contribute, bring a reusable water bottle to help cut down on plastic (don’t have one? Try this one). Another great eco-friendly accessory you can bring is a metal straw (buy them here).
- Anti-chafing cream: for any of my ladies who fear the dreaded chub-rub! I use body glide to help prevent it when I’m super active. It basically goes on like deodorant but not white residue crap on your clothing. There is one aimed at women as well but as far as I can tell it’s just a pink container instead of blue.
- Lotion: Keep your skin moisturized after exploring in the sun with a good moisturizer. If you are worried about leaky bottles then try a solid lotion bar from MadeON Skin Care– I bring mine when I travel carry-on only.
Hopefully, this guide on what to wear in Israel and Palestine helps makes packing easier! Happy travels!