Visitors traveling to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or any of Israel’s other popular locales will fly into the country’s busiest and biggest airport, Ben Gurion Airport, named after the first Prime Minister. (Ramon Airport, the second largest in southern Israel, serves civilian traffic and operates as a diversion airport.) Also known as Tel Aviv Airport or Natbag, Ben Gurion Airport is located in the city of Lod, 28 miles northwest of Jerusalem and 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv.
A hub for El Al Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, Arkia, and Sun D’Or, this airport is counted in the top five best airports in the Middle East due to security and passenger experience (you will notice armed Israel Police officers, Israel Defense Forces, and Israel Border Police as you make your way through the airport). Terminals 1 and 3 are the main gateways for passengers flying in and out of Israel, though the latter is mostly for domestic travel. Keep reading to learn more about the airport's amenities, public transportation to and from the airport, and other must-know tidbits.
Ben Gurion Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
- Ben Guiron Airport Code: TLV
- Location: 7015001, Israel
- Website: https://www.iaa.gov.il/en/
- Flight tracker: https://www.iaa.gov.il/en/airports/ben-gurion/flight-board/
- Phone number: +972 03-9723333
- The four levels of the airport are: Level 3 for departing passengers, level 2 for public transportation, level G for arriving passengers, and level S for the train station.
Know Before You Go
Built in the 1930s by the British Mandate, this airport saw major changes in the 1970s when Israel Airport Authorities (IAA) took control. By the 1990s, airport traffic was so busy that in 2004, Terminal 3 was created to accommodate the more than 25 million international passengers. Meanwhile, Terminal 2 served domestic flights until 2007 before it was removed entirely. Terminal 1, the old terminal, serves domestic flights and low-cost European international flights. Terminals 1 and 3 are connected through a complimentary shuttle bus.
It’s important to note that the security at Ben Gurion Airport may take longer than what you’ve experienced at other international airports due to ongoing tensions that Israel has had to face over the decades. It is advised to arrive at the airport a minimum of three hours prior to international travel to be safe, especially during Jewish holidays or peak times. You can expect to go through multiple check points, be asked security questions, and have your luggage examined.
When passing through passport security, please note that you will be given a stamp on a small piece of paper in lieu of a passport book stamp. You’ll need to keep this piece of stamped paper safe and secure for the duration of your time in Israel.
To avoid long wait times at security, passport control, and luggage screenings, you can book the VIP Departure Assistance or VIP Arrival Assistance services, which will expedite the process and include an airport steward to walk you through the airport security.
Ben Gurion Airport Parking
Short- and long-term parking are both available at the airport, and can be purchased with a credit card or Israeli currency. For passengers flying through Terminal 1, you can park directly in front of the terminal, while those flying through Terminal 3 can find parking in the Vineyard and Orchard lots.
Short-term parking is 18 new shekels per hour (and 4 new shekels every additional 15 minutes), or a maximum of 40 new shekels per day. Likewise, long-term parking is 40 new shekels per day.
Navigation systems can direct you to the airport and its parking lots if you’re in a private vehicle. Likely, you’ll be traveling throughout Israel on a private tour that will include transportation to and from the airport.
At the airport, you’ll also have access to car rental agencies: Avis, Budge, Dollar, Eldan, Hertz, and Sixt.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Metropoline and Egged are the bus services that accommodate passengers for arrival and departures at the airport. For Egged, select the Ben Gurion Airport as your destination, choose your preferred timing, and the website will let you know which line to take as well as where it’s located.
Israel Railways, with multiple lines and stations, is a popular option for getting from the airport to destinations in Israel. Located on level S at the airport, the train is easily accessible and simple to find.
Situated at Terminal 3, licensed taxis can take you anywhere you want to go. At the exit, from gate 24, taxi stands are available on the ground floor.
A complimentary shuttle service is also available for transportation between Terminals 1 and 3.
Where to Eat and Drink
Terminal 3 is where most of the restaurants and cafés are located, all of which are kosher. Tables and seating are available in the center of the circular building, with shops and dining linked around the outside.
For Italian food and drinks, visit Ilans, where vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of options. La Farina offers pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, and baked goods as well as coffee, teas, and cold take-away drinks. For German-style noshes and beverages, including meat, visit Bayern Market. A McDonalds, as well as other fast-food options, are part of the Food Court.
Café Café, located in Terminal 1, is where to go for a quick bite to eat. Here, you’ll find pastries, coffee, sandwiches, and complimentary WiFi.
Where to Shop
Terminal 3, in the Departures hall, is home to many souvenir shops and boutiques: James Richardson Duty Free, Sweets Market, Duty Free Sport, Toys Sakal, Steimatzky Souvenirs, Chocolate and More, and Emporium. Popular items to purchase are Dead Sea salts and bath products as well as religious trinkets, jewelry, artworks, and books. Hummus, dates, and olive oil are prevalent food products purchased as mementos, too. Credit cards and Israeli cash are accepted.
Keep in mind that when Israel is observing high holidays, the airport will be more crowded. You can expect lines in the shops and at the restaurants during these observed dates.
How to Spend Your Layover
Depending on how long your layover is, you may want to visit Tel Aviv, which is near the airport. In under 15 miles, you can enjoy dining, shopping, beach strolling, or cultural sightseeing. Arrange for a private tour to make the most of your time. Public transportation is available as well, making it easy to get from the airport to the city center.
Terminal 3, inside security, has four lounges. Dan Lounge, which serves all airlines and alliances (apart from El Al), has locations in each concourse. Meanwhile, King David Lounge serves El Al passengers and frequent flyers. Day passes and annual memberships are available.
WiFi and Charging Stations
Free WiFi is available everywhere, and all of the concourses have charging stations. Keep in mind that electric outlets are 220 volts, 50Hz; and two-pronged European-style round or three-pronged plugs are used.
Ben Gurion Airport Tips & Facts
- For non-citizen tourists, submit your VAT (value added tax) refund request before leaving the country for in-country purchases. The VAT counter is located on the airport’s third floor at the check-in hall across from the information booth.
- There are two synagogues in Terminal 3: one in the Greeter’s hall and one in the Duty Free hall. They operate 24 hours per day.
- A Muslim and Christian prayer room is located in the Departure’s hall in concourse E.
- Luggage may be stored in one of the three stands on the G floor in both Vineyard and Orchard parking lots as well as in the Departures hall in concourse B.
- Nursing booths with chairs, diaper changing areas, a hot and cold water bar, a microwave, and a crib are available for families. For older kids, play areas are accessible in concourses B, C, and D in the Departure hall.
- Paid porter service is available.
- Senior citizens, aged 80 and up, may move to the front of the line for both security and flight check-ins. Follow the signs to navigate.