Parking in Israel: How to Navigate the Mess
Driving in Israel can be an overwhelming experience for foreigners visiting the area for the first time. Hasty drivers, frequent honking, and sudden lane swaps are business as usual here. But what about parking in the country? It can be a headache, especially in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Whether you’re visiting for a short time or have decided to move permanently to Israel, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the parking system, so there’s less nerve-wracking daily. Luckily, this article shares everything you should know to navigate the mess that is Israeli streets.
How Do You Pay for Parking in Israel
Israel has been actively removing parking vending machines from the streets for years. Most people use parking apps like Pango and Cellopark.
Here’s an overview of how these apps work.
Cellopark or Cello is among the most popular apps for parking payments. It’s available on the App Store and on Google Play and is completely free.
When you first open the Cellopark app, you can change the interface's language to English by clicking on the globe icon on the top left-hand of the screen. Then, you’ll be asked to insert your phone number. An SMS will arrive with a confirmation code that you must enter into the app.
After that, you’ll be able to register a new account. You can insert your credit card details immediately or hit “Later” and begin looking for parking.
Overall, the app is super simple to use. The main interface is in English (if you changed the UI language beforehand), but the payment page for inserting card details will always be in Hebrew. You may have to use a translator to ensure you enter your credit card details in the right fields. Do note that you’ll have to add your credit card info and license plate number to start parking.
You can choose a parking zone based on your location on the map and read basic information about a particular parking spot. This includes the distance, name of the parking, address, and the option to pay now.
As you proceed to the lot payment page, you’ll be asked to insert the ticket code located at the bottom of the ticket.
Note that more prominent parking lots will have the names in the address written in English, while other less popular ones will be in Hebrew.
Cello users can also benefit from Cello+ services, including Road, Toll Roads, and Tire Repair. The app also has an auto parking stopper that shuts down the service after you leave the parking to avoid excessive parking fees.
Overall, Cello gets the job done, but it’s left in the shade of its more prominent competitor Pango.
Pango is the leading car parking app most widely used in the country. You can download Pango from App Store or Google Play.
The overall interface is similar to Cello. When you open the app, you’ll be able to switch languages to English and enter your phone number and license plate. The registration process is a bit more detailed with Pango.
You’ll be asked to provide your phone number, license plate, e-mail, and city of residence during the registration. You may also be required to enter your Israeli ID number. If you still didn’t get one, enter 000000000 (nine zeros) or your passport number.
Do note that Pango has free and paid versions (which cost 9.99 NIS per month). Both the basic and paid plans cover parking throughout Israel, with the premium one having extra features like:
- End on drive
- Click and go parking lots
- Reminder notification
You’ll be asked to fill in your payment information during the setup. Be careful not to sign up for the premium version by mistake, so pick the “Continue with the basic version” option on the setup page. The interface is made to sign you up for the paid version without realizing there’s a free one.
As far as Pango vs. Cellopark debate is concerned, Pango has a more intuitive interface and more features. For example, you can easily find the closest gas stations, order a car wash, and check public transport info other than using the basic parking services.
Most users recommend Pango for tourists, given its convenient integrations with Moovit, more payment options, and public transportation payment. Cellopark is a close second choice but might be more intuitive for native users. You can also pay for toll roads, refueling, rescue services and even make purchases in convenience stores like Sonol.
Avoiding Parking Tickets in Israel
If you do forget to activate Pango or Cellopark in some areas it will be a matter of minutes before a meter nanny will show up and give you a fine. Fines can range from 100 NIS to 500 NIS in restricted areas.
Sometimes you can get lucky though. Just this morning prior to writing this article, I parked in Shaarei Chesed a neighborhood in Central Jerusalem. A solid 45 minutes after I parked I realized I had forgotten to activate Pango (not a fan of Pango, but I hear Cellopark is no better), I quickly activated parking on the app with almost surety that I was wasting my time.
As I walked back towards the direction of my car, I saw a meter nanny scanning cars and I figured she had definitely already scanned mine. As I approached my car I was pleasantly surprised to find no ticket. A Chanukah miracle (today being the third day of Chanukah).
On the flip side of things, I recently parked outside the building that I live in, in Talbiya. It was a few minutes before 6:00 pm (after which parking is free). I returned a few minutes later and to my surprise I had a 100 NIS parking ticket sitting on my windshield. This was especially frustrating as my building has an unground parking garage which I could have used instead of saving the two minutes it takes waiting for the gate to open. I guess I learned my lesson there.
Better safe than sorry
The point I'm making here is, that if you park in a restricted area or in a spot that requires payment to park there, there's a very good likelihood that you'll receive a fine if you don't pay.
Is It Easy to Park in Jerusalem?
Parking in the Holy City can be costly and challenging. Most tourists rely on public transportation to go around the city because the traffic can get hectic. However, if you need to drive to Jerusalem, you must learn where you can park beforehand.
Overall, street parking in Jerusalem is closely monitored and restricted.
Street parking in Jerusalem costs around 6 NIS per hour. Unlike in Tel Aviv, many street corners in Jerusalem are equipped with parking machines where you can pay with a credit card or cash. Of course, you can also use Cellopark and Pango app services. If these apps are compatible with a particular parking area, there will be information about them on the parking sign.
But what happens if you park in Jerusalem outside of business hours? Well, in residential areas, parking is reserved for residents after peak hours. It would be best if you avoided parking during these hours because you risk hefty fees. This is usually after 5 PM.
Jerusalem Parking Lots (Near the Old City)
Regarding parking lots, the main concern is not to park in lots that close on Shabbat on Friday. If you don’t pick up your car before the lot closes, you’ll have to wait until Saturday evening when the parking lot opens after Shabbat.
Here are some parking places you can try when you visit the Old City:
- Mamilla Parking – 1 Yitzhak Kariv Street from 6 AM – 2 PM
- Karta Parking – 1 Kariv Street from 7 AM to 1 AM (including Shabbat)
- Safra Parking – 7 Shivtei Yisrael Street – 24/7 except on Shabbat
Mount Zion Parking – Just behind the Zion Gate
GIvati Parking – Close to Dung Gate next to the City of David
Other good parking lots in the city include:
Rejwan Parking – 6 Mordehai A’liash Street – from Sunday to Thursday from 6:30 AM – 9:30 PM, Friday from 6:30 AM to 2 PM
King David Parking – 10 Emile Boutta Street – 24/7
Haamudim Parking – HaRav Agan Street – From Sunday to Thursday from 7 AM to 12 PM, Friday from 7 AM to 2 PM
Nevi’im – Wallenberg Parking – Nevi’im and Wallenberg Streets
City Tower Parking – Mesilat Yesharim Street – From Sunday to Thursday from 7 AM to 9 PM, Friday from 7 AM to 3 PM
Machane Yehuda Parking – Kiach Street – From Sunday to Thursday from 7 AM to 11 PM, Friday from 7 AM to 30 minutes before Shabbat
How Do I Know Where I Can Park?
Israel has plenty of paid parking spots and free parking on sidewalks and dirt.
You can park on sidewalks in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but make sure to learn about different types of parking lots, as they are marked with different colors. For example:
- No markings – when there are no markings on the sidewalk, you can park for free. However, always double-check for additional signs to check for further information. Some marking-free sidewalks will only offer free parking in Israel at specific day hours, like from 7 PM to 8 AM after that time it will be prohibited to park there unless you have a permit for that neighborhood.
- Blue and white markings – paid parking. Sidewalk markings with blue and white mean you must pay to park on that spot. Street parking in Israel costs around 6 NIS. However, you should always check for signs near the parking area for detailed information. Although parking is usually free during the evenings, it’s always worth double-checking.
- Red and yellow markings – public transportation. Parking in places designed for public transportation is prohibited, so steer clear of these lots.
- Red and white markings – parking prohibited! Parking on sidewalks with red and white stripes can result in hefty fines and traffic tickets, so you should never park here.
In short, always look around for sidewalk markings and check the signs near parking spots. They contain information on the paying hours, maximum parking duration, and whether the spots are only reserved for city residents.
Curbside parking is often hard to find during peak hours. Most parking systems are open from 9 AM to 5 PM from Sunday to Thursday and from 9 AM to 1 PM on Fridays and holidays.
The parking lot system in Tel Aviv is very scarce, and most of the paid parking spots are full all the time. As far as free parking lots in Tel Aviv are concerned, you can try the following:
- Reading Lot – 7 Rokach Boulevard
- Tel Aviv University Parking – Shevet Binyamin 1
- Gruzenberg 16 Parking Lot
- Millenium Lot – Herba’a 17
There are also parking garages in the city’s busy areas like Dizengoff Center, Carmel and Sarona markets, Rothschild Boulevards, and Jaffo and Neve Tzedek.
If you visit national parks, the parking there is free of charge.
Mastering Israeli Parking Systems
Parking in Israel can be hectic. However, there’s a way to ease the mess. Download the parking app of your choice (we recommend Pango for added flexibility) as soon as you arrive in Israel, so there won’t be any issues when you have to park. And if you don’t have an Israeli number, getting one is highly recommended because not all parking systems support foreign cards.
Hopefully, the information in this article will help you navigate the Israeli parking system and avoid unwanted surprises and fines.