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Public Holidays

Between the myriad Jewish and Muslim festivals and holy days that are marked (both officially and unofficially), it can often feel like there is a rarely a day in the calendar that isn't some sort of national holiday.

Bear in mind that during Jewish holidays such as Passover, most restaurants, bars and even supermarkets will close in Jerusalem and other religious areas, while Yom Kippur makes travelling by road anywhere in the country virtually impossible.

As well as the religious holidays, there are a number of national holidays that can have a impact on your stay.

Holocaust Memorial Day Yom HaSho’ah is a solemn remembrance of the six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, who died in the Holocaust. Places of entertainment are closed. At 10am sirens sound and Israelis stand silently at attention wherever they happen to be. (1–2 May 2019, 20–21 April 2020, 8–9 April 2021)

Memorial Day Commemorates soldiers who fell defending Israel and the victims of terrorism. Places of entertainment are closed. At 8pm and 11am sirens sound and Israelis stand silently at attention wherever they happen to be. Falls on the day before Israel Independence Day (7–8 May 2019, 27–28 April 2020, 14–15 April 2021).

Israel Independence Day Ha’Atzma’ut celebrates Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. Marked with official ceremonies, public celebrations with live music, picnics and hikes. (8–9 May 2019, 28–29 April 2020, 15–16 April 2021)

Yom Kippur The Jewish Day of Atonement is a solemn day of reflection and fasting – and cycling on the empty roads. In Jewish areas, all businesses shut and transport (including by private car) completely ceases; Israel’s airports and land borders close. (8–9 October 2019, 27–28 September 2020, 16–17 September 2021)

Hanukkah During the Jewish Festival of Lights, expect Shabbat-like closures on the first and last days only. Some Israelis go on holiday, so accommodation is scarce and room prices rise. (2–10 December 2018, 22–30 December 2019, 10–18 December 2020, 28 November–December 6 2021)