Photo by: phunphoto (Stock Exchange)

The Dead Sea on a clear day
Photo by: phunphoto (Stock Exchange)

Happy holidays all!

With Christmas and Hanukkah just behind us now, I was thinking about where to go next year – hey, I’m not here writing a travel blog for nothing! – and I thought “what better feature than a piece on Jerusalem?” Even in these difficult times, millions of people visit Jerusalem every year, including Christians, Jews, and Muslims who consider the ancient city’s many religious sites to be sacred. I was curious to see what kind of accessible travel options and accessible hotels could be found for handicapped travelers hoping to make that journey, so here we go!

Finding the wheelchair accessible Israel can be a challenge, but things are getting better every day. Israel recently elected its first wheelchair-bound member of the Knesset, the country’s parliament. Using the right tour operator will go a long way toward a rich, full experience if your goal is to see the country’s oldest, and somewhat less accessible, landmarks. Once again, Accessible Journeys comes to the rescue with a great itinerary that includes Jerusalem, the Old City, Bethlehem, and the Red Sea.

The Jerusalem Post is also highly useful with its occasional access guides, such as this informative article on wheelchair accessible sites in the country’s north. Be aware the The Post’s Jerusalem travel guide website, which is found here, has a wide selection of articles that all include information on accessibility at famous locales. Just check out the search function for more. It’s a terrific, journalistic source – and goes a long way to show just how much great Israeli media you can access in English.

For even more first-hand accounts from handicapped travelers, take a look at the index of disabled travel reports at Access Israel. Right now, there are about a dozen “featured trips” with detailed information and photographs. Accessible Israel is a nonprofit handicapped organization much in the vein of those in Europe and the U.S., and also provides resources for planning trips, finding accessible transportation and accommodations, and much more. All of this information is available in English, and you can even contact members of the group for answers to your specific queries. For even more tips, visit the Access in Israel Project, a dedicated access guide for the country.

It’s delightful to be able to report that Israel has so many great opportunities for travelers of all abilities, and things only seem to be improving. The only tricky thing I see so far is actually getting there – most flights to the second-largest city, Tel Aviv, originate out of New York, but policies for disabled travelers are unclear at Isair Airlines, and a touch sparse elsewhere. Other options include El-Al Airlines, which offers wheelchairs and passenger escorts for mobility impaired access, and Arkia, which has some tour information.

I’ll be checking out ways to get to the region by sea in a future post. In our very next installment, I plan to focus on wheelchair accessible attractions in Jerusalem and then move on to Tel Aviv, Israel’s two major population centers. Until then, keep adventuring!


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Comment by stefani

Posted on January 19th, 2011

Dad is 92 and has difficulty getting around – is there an itinerary that you can recommend in Jerusalem for wheelchairs?

Comment by Si

Posted on January 28th, 2011

Hi, Stefani,

Unfortunately, I do not know Israel well myself, but would recommend looking into a tour operator who specializes in slow-paced or disability travel depending on your dad’s needs. One good source for this is Accessible Journeys:

Good luck on your travels!