January is winter in Israel, and you can expect cooler temperatures and moderate precipitation throughout the country. However, with influences from the Mediterranean Sea, weather can fluctuate drastically depending on where you're in the country. Mount Hermon, in northern Israel, often drops down below freezing and is covered in snow, whereas Eilat, located on the southern edge of Israel, will see pleasant days with highs around 64°F (18°C) and lows around 41°F (5°C).
In Tel Aviv, temperatures are also comfortable, and on dry days, they are great for sightseeing. The average temperature hangs around 55ºF (13°C), but you'll want to pack your rain gear with an average of 5.8 inches (147 mm) of precipitation throughout the month. Jerusalem, located farther inland, will see slightly cooler temperatures with an average high of 54ºF (12ºC). Still, in return, the city sees much less rain, with 2 inches (50 mm) of precipitation falling throughout January.
Crowds & Costs
Many tourists avoid visiting Israel in January due to the cooler temperatures and increased precipitation. However, if you enjoy having once-overflowing attractions, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, to yourself and taking advantage of off-season prices, January is a great time to visit. Accommodation rates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will be about half their peak rates, and flight prices will also be lower, both into Ben-Gurion International Airport and domestic flights within the country. But keep in mind that some tourist attractions will shutter for the winter.
Where to Go
Take advantage of the off-season prices and crowds in Jerusalem, where on pleasant days, you can roam the ancient Old City and walk along the Via Dolorosa—the same route it's believed Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Then visit the Museum Yad Vashem (World Holocaust Remembrance Center) and the Israel Museum on rainy days. From Jerusalem, head north to Cana to visit the Church of the Wedding Miracle, then continue to Nazareth and the historical city of Tiberias, where you can enjoy exploring the (crowd-free) Biblical sites of the region.
Snow lovers can continue to Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in the country, located at the very tip of Israel and home to Israel's only ski resort. With 15 runs, a ski school, and family-friendly activities like sledding, you'll find plenty to do whether or not you're an avid skier. On the opposite end of Israel, on the Gulf of Aqaba, Eilat is an ideal beach town to visit in January. While summer temperatures soar into the high 80s (Fahrenheit), the pleasant winter temperatures are great for exploring the Red Canyon and visiting Timna Park.
Toward the center of Israel, Masada is another excellent place to visit this month. Explore its hilltop fortress after a scenic cable car ride, then spend a day checking out the landscapes around the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. Finally, if you don't mind putting your rain gear to good use, enjoy the quiet streets of Tel Aviv and the charming neighborhood of Levantine. Then head inside for a day wandering the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Beit Hatfutsot (the Museum of the Jewish People), and Bialik House.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Off-season prices, fewer crowds, and cooler temperatures make January a great time to visit popular tourist destinations. The quiet streets of Tel Aviv are perfect for admiring the Art Deco buildings of Rabin Square, the historic neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, and the Diaspora Museum. Then, enjoy the now peaceful Old City of Jerusalem, the nearby Jewish Quarter, and the golden domes of Temple Mount.
If you're looking to take in the storied hills and beautiful landscapes of Israel, January's cooler temperatures are great for exploring on foot–as long as you remember to pack a raincoat. Winter options include visiting Ein Gedi Nature Park, home to picturesque springs and waterfalls, and roaming the perfectly manicured Bahai Gardens on Mount Carmel. Or, opt for the less strenuous option of joining a Jeep tour of Golan Heights, located between Lebanon and Syria.
Other winter options include skiing and playing in the snow on Mount Hermon or chasing the winter sun in southern Israel. Eilat, overflowing with beachgoers in the spring and fall, is much quieter this month. You can snorkel in the Red Sea at Coral Beach National Park with a wet suit or stay dry by heading inside Eilat's Underwater Observatory Marine Park.
Events in January
Feelin' Blues, Tel Aviv. Relatively new to Israel's festival lineup, Feelin' Blues welcomes blues lovers to Tel Aviv for four days of dancing, lessons, epic parties, and friendly competitions.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jerusalem. While ceremonies take place across the globe on January 27, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem put on special tours, lectures, and programs to honor all those who lost their lives and their loved ones.
Traveling to Israel in January? Check out these great itineraries
Essential Israel: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem & Tiberias - 12 Days. Take advantage of January's quieter streets and bucket list destinations as you explore the historical highlights of Tel Aviv, Masada, Tiberias, and Jerusalem.
Israel's Jewish History & Heritage Tour - 8 Days. Embark on a spiritual journey, taking in Tel Aviv's thought-provoking museums, the storied hills of Holan Heights, and the highlights of Jerusalem.