Locals in Israel like to say that we have two summers — the hot one and the less hot, rainy one. An exaggeration it may be, but it captures a sentiment that no one can deny: Israel is a hot country!
Summer-like weather can stretch anywhere from April to late October or even early November, making survival here dependent on learning how to deal with the relentless sunshine.
Luckily, we have no shortage of tips for how you can manage to get along swimmingly in the Israeli summer heat like the real sabras do. Check out these 10 must-dos for not only surviving but thriving in the Israeli summer heat.
- Get yourself a sun shelter
Made to shade you from the harsh Mediterranean sun while you brave the boiling hot beach sand and jellyfish-infested bathwater-like waves, a sun shelter will at the very least make the summer beach in Israel bearable for those of you who are die-hard beach bums.
Since discovering portable tarps like these, Israelis have taken to them like fish to water, many even storing them permanently in their vehicles so they will always be ready for an impromptu beach outing or outdoor getaway. And with staggering summer temperatures you can’t really blame them for seeking a bit of shade.
- Know where to find public water sources
It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated in Israel, especially when neglecting this important facet of the Israeli lifestyle could land you in the ER during what was supposed to be a fun summer vacay.
Most Israelis wouldn’t be caught dead leaving the house without a bottle of water, but did you know that most municipalities have public drinking fountains for humans and for dogs where you can refresh your supply? Israeli water is totally safe to drink straight for the tap (except if you are next to the Dead Sea) so bring a water bottle with you to refill whenever and wherever you can.
Not a fan of plain water? Shove a fruit or herb-based Israeli teabag in the bottom of your bottle, and BAM, you’ve got instant iced tea to go.
- Forget your hat? All you need is a long-sleeved shirt (preferably white)
Wear a baseball cap in Israel, and you’re sure to stick out as an Anglo in a crowd of Israelis. The alternative? Nothing is more Israeli than hiking with a long-sleeved shirt-tied over your head at the sleeves as a makeshift sun cover (hiking in broken Teva sandals, while risky, takes a close second).
Alternatively, you could whip out your favorite bucket hat — an Israeli national symbol made popular by Israeli’s first pioneers, and often worn by soldiers and tour guides. However, know that it is called a kova tembel (“moron hat”) for a reason.
Then again, not caring about what others think of your fashion choices will also make you fit right in with the locals.
- Wear sunscreen and sunglasses
Take it from someone who didn’t take to sunglasses and now has the eye wrinkles to prove it. You’ll need a good pair of shades if you’re going to make it through the Israeli summer.
Try to go without and all that squinting is going to cause you some pretty gnarly facial contours that weren’t there before (if you catch my drift).
Also, wear sunscreen! The Israeli sun is intense, and since Israelis love spending time outside, you’ll need to protect your skin from the elements as best you can during the long summer days.
- Dress light
The material in Israeli clothing might seem thinner than what you’re used to abroad, but it’s for a good reason. We’ve already established that Israel is freaking hot in the summertime, so you’re more likely to find secular locals wearing unlined jersey summer dresses and flip-flops than anything formal or stuffy.
Generally obsessed with the boho-casual look, Israeli clothing shops like Profil and Dreadlocks fit the bill in the clothing department. Those who like to cover up for personal or religious reasons can also usually find more modest fashions in lightweight fabrics in fashion boutiques like these.
For curvy ladies, it also doesn’t hurt to come equipped with thigh-saving shorts like these. A true lifesaver that keeps your thighs from sticking and chaffing under those sundresses!
- Find the nearest (free) water park
Water parks are fun, but who wants to fork over money for an entrance fee, and then deal with massive lines? Luckily Israel is a family-friendly place, a fact evident in the sheer number of well-kept children’s playgrounds you can find across the country. Come summer, some of these parks transform into free public water fountain parks! Visit Teddy Park in Jerusalem or Gan B’Ivrit in Rishon LeTzion to see what we mean.
- Make your own fruit shakes/ice pops
Israeli kids may live off shlukim (push pops) and barad (slushies) in the summertime but buying these items plus other favorites like fresh fruit shakes and the beach-side favorite — watermelon and feta-like Bulgarian cheese — can get expensive, fast.
Making shakes and natural ice pops like these at home is a snap if you have some basic equipment. Try this recipe using some of the glorious Israeli fruits available during this time of year such as giant sweet-as-candy mangoes and sublimely refreshing fresh figs.
- Mind your time
Consider the sun’s peak hours and try to avoid them if possible. That means either heading out early or going out once the sun has already set (although the heat doesn’t necessarily subside in the evenings during the summertime).
If you’re on vacation, either strategy lends itself well to the afternoon siesta, so you may want to plan accordingly and work an afternoon resting period in a cool place into your travelling schedule. If you do go out at night, heading to a breezy spot such as a public coastal beach promenade or a rooftop bar like any of these trendy spots is probably your best bet, while heading to national parks with water elements like the Jordan River in the Galilee or Shvil Hamaayanot (Springs Trail) just outside Jerusalem will help you keep cool in the morning hours.
- Keep your oven off
Stovetop cooking and cold dishes are more popular in Israel than oven-based cooking and baking, especially in the hot summer months. You might have noticed that Israelis typically have comically small stoves even in larger houses. This is because no one wants to make their home environment even warmer than it already is.
Consider eating light mini meals comprised of cold dishes throughout the day, or even outsourcing your meal by picking up lunch at a homestyle food place, such as Israel’s famous Azura Restaurant behind the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. After all, Israelis do generally fancy a more substantial lunch followed by a light and less filling evening meal.
- Conserve water
Last but not least, remember that despite Israel’s advanced water technology, which includes the desalination of seawater and the use of brackish water and treated wastewater for agricultural use, we are still a country with a water problem.
Israelis are taught from an early age that water is a precious commodity not to be wasted. Keeping this in mind in your own personal water usage while in Israel is not only appreciated, but the socially acceptable and right thing to do.
Check out some water-saving tips specific to Israel here and enjoy your time in Israel!