Ben Gurion Airport
Everything you need to know

Ben Gurion airport is Israel's main international airport, located 15 kilometers or 9 miles from Tel Aviv.

Ben Gurion Airport Terminal 3 - Israel's main international airport

It's a modern, comfortable and airy place. The airport is medium-sized, so it does not overwhelm you like many other modern mega airports.

Ben Gurion Airport - Corona Virus Update

Updated on June 10, 2020

Ben Gurion International Airport is open only to Israeli citizens with a valid Isaeli passport, until July 1st. This is an update from the previous date of June 15th.

The main terminal 3 is open. Terminal 1 is currently closed.

The following special rules and guidelines are in place to protect the public from the corona virus:

wearing Corona face masks when flying out of Ben Gurion airport in March 2020

  • Anyone entering the airport only must wear a face mask.
  • Travelers should check in online before arriving at the airport. There are also numerous self-service check-in stations when entering Terminal 3.

  • Only passengers with a valid Israeli passport and ticket will be permitted in the airport. Escorts should drop off travelers at the entrance to Terminal 3, 3rd floor. Greeters can wait in the visitor parking area.
  •  Upon entering the aiport from outside or when departing the airplane, your temperature will be checked and if valid, you will be given a bracelet to wear until you board the airplane.
  • Keep a 2 meter distance between other passengers at the airport at all times and especially when waiting on line.
  • There are hand sanitizers and alco-gel throughout the airport for your use

The Israel airport is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including Saturday / Shabbat), 364 days a year. The airport is closed only day a year on Yom Kippur, stating from Yom Kippur Eve around 3 PM until the end of Yom Kippur Day at about 9 PM.

There is only one other international airport in Israel is Ramon Airport located just outside the resort city of Eilat in the southern tip of Israel.

Airport Perks

I love the convenient perks that Ben Gurion airport offers. I've traveled a lot - so I know that these perks are definitely not common in other airports:

  • Free wireless internet access everywhere (just register once)
  • 24-hour duty free shopping
  • Luggage trolleys - are free. You just have to deposit 10 Shekels (about $ 3), but you get it back when you return the cart. No cash - you need to swipe a credit card.

Hotels Near the Airport

If you would like to stay at a hotel or guesthouse near the airport on your first or last night in Israel, read more about the pros, cons and lodging options here.

Just Arrived! 

Rent a Car at Ben-Gurion Airport
Find prices and availability

After landing, you are ushered straight into the terminal without having to take any shuttles or buses.

Ben Gurion airport has only one main Terminal 3 from which all flights depart and arrive, except for a few charter or budget flights that fly from Terminal 1. On these flights only, you may need to take a bus from the airplane to the terminal because those airlines save on the expense of the jet-bridges.

Security & Passport Control

Your first stop after landing at Ben Gurion airport is immigration and passport control.

Expect to wait on line during the summer and holiday seasons. As in most countries, there are separate lines for Israeli citizens and foreigners, so pay attention to the signs.

If you are not sure if you need a visa to travel to Israel, visit our  Visa Israel page.

Ben Gurion airport is probably the world’s most secure airport, but this can sometimes cause delays. Depending on your security profile or where you’re coming from, you may face some polite, if repetitive questioning by immigration officers. If you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to worry about.

Just answer all the questions calmly. Be patient and take it in stride.

When I host business guests from overseas, I always send my guests before their arrival a letter addressed to Israeli immigration with my company logo, my name and local phone numbers. I was called a few times by immigration officers at the airport and my ability to vouch for my guests sped them through security.

So if you’re a business traveler,ask your host for such a letter in advance. It can make a huge difference.

Traveling to Arab or Islamic Countries - If you plan on traveling to Arab or Islamic countries, some will not allow you to enter their country if your passport includes an Israeli visa or stamp.

You can ask the Israeli immigration officer not to stamp your passport with an Israeli immigration stamp. Instead, they will stamp a separate sheet of paper. Keep this sheet of paper with you together with your passport until you leave the country.

Baggage Pickup and Local Currency

Baggage Pickup

If you are on an organized tour, your local tour operator will probably be waiting for you with signs after you leave the immigration section. Be on the lookout for your tour name.

After passport control, you may take a free luggage trolley and pick up your suitcases at the baggage carousel for your flight.

Money Exchange

Right after baggage pickup, there are conveniently located 24-hour banks and multi-lingual ATMs at the arrival lounge for you to exchange or withdraw money.  

When you depart from Israel, there are  automatic ATM's where you can withdraw foreign currency (US Dollars, Euro and British Pounds), as well as 24-hour money exchange services for most major currencies.

Transportation from Ben Gurion Airport

Transportation to and from the airport is convenient. You can:

  • Rent a car
  • Take public transportation
  • Take a taxi 
  • Take a shared taxi service (Sherut) depending on your destination.

Car Rentals - If you plan on renting a car, take the escalators up where you can choose from Israel’s five leading car rental companies: Avis, Budget, Eldan, Hertz and Sixt. They’re also open 24 hours a day.

Discover Car Hire allows you to compare to find the best availability and prices for car rentals. Check them out here.

(This is an "affiliate link", which means that if you click and buy something, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you).

Public Transportation from Ben Gurion Airport

For public transportation from the airport, you can buy a Rav-Kav card in the Arrivals Hall. The Rav-Kav magnetic card is the most convenient way of paying for train, bus and Jerusalem light rail rides all over Israel, and in Tel Aviv you must have this card to take the busses. 

Read more about it here.

By Train

Taking the train from the airport is easy and inexpensive.

There are direct trains to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Modi'in, Binyamina and Atlit and to the north - Haifa and the Krayot, Akko and Nahariya in the North or Beersheva in the South. You can change to other stations using this online Israel Rail Map.

  • Trains run 24 hours a day, excluding the exceptions in the NOTE below. 
  • Between 5:30 AM until midnight, they run at least every 30 minutes. Between midnight until 5:30 AM, they run every hour.
  • Prices range from 10 to 50 Shekels depending on your destination.
  • The train station entrance is to your left as you exit the arrivals hall, one flight down to Level S.
  • You can use the Rav-Kav that you bought in the Arrivals Hall, or buy train tickets at the cashier or the ticket machines with a credit card. Cashiers are open 24 hours a day, excluding the exceptions in the NOTE below. There are automatic ticket machines also on the ground floor - Level G. 
  • To reach other Israeli cities, you can switch trains or catch a bus from the intermediate city.

Note: There is no public transportation in Israel during the Sabbath which begins on Friday afternoon (from about 3 PM) until Saturday night (from about 8 PM), or during Jewish holidays and holiday Eves. If you’re not sure when are the holidays, visit our Israel Holidays page.

By Bus

If you do not read or speak Hebrew, taking a bus from the airport might be difficult and I don't recommend it. Trains from the airport are much more convenient, especially for non-Hebrew speakers.

But if you wish to do so, you need to take (at least 2) different buses to reach your final destination.

You must first take the Egged bus line from the airport to either the El Al Junction or to Airport city. Both destinations are a 10-15 minute bus ride. From either stop, you need to transfer to a different bus or buses in order to get to any one of the major cities in Israel.

There is no bus service in Israel from Friday afternoon from about 3:30 PM until Saturday night from about 7 PM.

By Taxi

I confess I always take taxis to and from Ben Gurion Airport for the ease, even if it costs slightly more than the alternatives. It is just so convenient..

For taxis to Tel Aviv and all of Gush Dan (greater Tel Aviv areae), make sure to take the middle, left exit that clearly displays 'Taxis' and you’ll see the Taxi line on your left.

Only use the official airport taxi line, rather than opportunistic rides with any taxi driver. The official taxi line is supervised and you are guaranteed a fixed and reasonable rate to your destination. Normally within cities, I advise travelers to ask your taxi driver to use the meter for the fare, but the airport taxi fare is an exception. You can use the fixed rate or the meter. 

If you use the fixed rate, just make sure to get your price quoted from the taxi dispatcher before you begin the taxi ride!

During peak tourist season, the taxi wait can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, but don't despair, the line keeps moving. Depending on the time of day and destination, the rates can range from 100 to 200 shekels or so to Tel Aviv.

For Jerusalem and Haifa, you can catch a 24-hour Sherut Taxi, which is a shared taxi service that typically holds about 10 people. The fare per person runs about 50-100 shekels.

GETT Taxi APP - You can pre-order a taxi via the GETT taxi application on your smartphone. It's very convenient.

  • Make sure to leavea a local Israel number or your WHATSAPP number so the taxi driver can call you. 
  • It is recommended that you leave your exact flight details, which allows the company to check and coordinate the up-to-date arrival time with the drivers. 
  • Call the driver's number as soon as your flight lands to coordinate.
  • The GETT Taxi pickup area where you meet your driver is usually right near the car rental area, but ask the driver. 

Departing from Ben Gurion Airport
Security, Checkin and Business Lounges

When flying out of Ben Gurion airport, you need to pay a 10 Shekel or so deposit on the trolley (via credit card only), but you get it back when you return the trolley.

Security Again - Security lines can take some time during the summer and holiday seasons.

Even as a bonafide Israeli, I've had my luggage opened a few times. Take it in stride...

The process may be lengthy, but the security staff is polite and friendly. As is customary at every Israel airport, profiling is used to decide on the length and depth of the questioning. There is no point to take it personally. Keep your sense of humor handy!

I recommend you arrive at Ben Gurion airport early enough - about 3 hours before the flight for economy class and, 2 and a half hours for business class. Better to be relaxed and not pressured time-wise in anyway.

Internet Checkin - The good news is that Ben Gurion airport supports internet check-in. If your airline provides this service, you can arrive about two hours  before the flight, and if you only have carry-on luggage, even an hour and a half will do.

Business Lounges

There are two VIP Lounges for passengers with business or first class tickets.  

The first is the King David Lounge for those flying Business or First Class with El Al and several other airlines.  The other VIP lounge is called Dan. They are both easy to find.

Great Dutyfree Shopping

Even if your flight leaves in the middle of the night, most of the shops are open 24 hours a day - unlike many other airports.

Duty free shopping at Ben Gurion airport is competitively priced with a good selection.  And if you happen to fly back to Israel, you can leave what you purchased at the airport and pick the goods up on the day you arrive. So it’s easy to buy a lot if you wish to.

For a complete list of stores at the airport, visit Duty Free Shopping at Ben Gurion Airport.

  • At James Richardson Duty Free is a classic duty-free shop with a large selection of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, perfumes, cosmetics and chocolate assortments, candies and more.
  • The sports shop carries the latest trends in sneakers, sportswear and brand-name sunglasses, for adults and children. 
  • You can find the standard international fashion brands found at most airports, and some Israeli fashion as well, such as Michal Negrin for vintage style clothing, jewelery and and accessories.
  • There is also a nice store for toys which includes Playstation, computer games, and more. 
  • There are electronic and computer shops
  • Good book stores
  • Shops for jewelery and watches
  • Music and DVD shop
  • Lots of sweets
  • Last minute gifts from Israel and much more

If you are hungry or need a beverage, there are coffee shops, fast food joints, sushi and even a Tapas bar. 

I hope you enjoy your browsing and shopping around Ben Gurion Airport. Have a safe flight!

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