The Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center offers pilgrims to the Holy Land a variety of services. The following are the center’s suggestions for preparing for a pilgrimage to the area. For more information, visit http://www.notredamecenter.org
Good advanced planning
For a good pilgrimage, it is indispensable that all practical elements are well organized and well foreseen, in order to avoid investing your energy on them as you arrive at the Holy Land. In this way you can pay full attention to enjoying the pilgrimage.
There are some facts that should be clarified from the beginning: number of people, precise dates (or as close as possible) and duration of the pilgrimage. In order to enjoy a pilgrimage that will give you the opportunity to get to know the main sites of the Holy Land without rushing, we would advise not to plan for a trip less than seven to eight days in length.
Citizens of most western nations (including the United States) do not need a visa to enter as tourists to Israel. Upon their entrance into the country, they are usually given a tourist visa for 90 days. It is not possible to travel from Israel to Lebanon or Syria or vice versa.
The official languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, but everyone involved in tourism speaks English reasonably well. In some cases they speak Italian and French. In general, Spanish and German are the least spoken languages.
Weather and clothing
It is advisable to consider carefully the time of the year in which your pilgrimage will take place.
The general climate can be described as follows: springtime (April-May), pleasant and moderate temperatures; summer (May-September), very hot; fall, moderate temperatures; winter: not excessively cold (it doesn’t reach below 26-28F on the coldest days of winter between December and February; it snows very rarely )
It is important also to consider the type of shoes that you will bring, as there is a lot of walking to do and they must be very comfortable.
When you are thinking about what clothing to bring, do not forget that the culture and customs at the Holy Places are rather traditional. It is a gesture of respect to dress properly and modestly. One must be respectful of the local mentality and customs.
One book we would like to suggest has been translated into several languages and is titled, “Jerusalem and the Holy Land” (Eyewitness Travel Guides), Doring Kindersley Limited, London, 2000.