Eilat is located at the very southern tip of Israel on the shores of the Red Sea. It has a unique character – it is unmistakably Israel, yet it is different. As a city it is pretty much completely dedicated to being a tourist resort.
Eilat is blessed with stunning scenery set between mountains – a desert oasis built on the sea. Whether you arrive by car (four to five hours from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, although we recommend you to take longer to see some of the sites in the Negev along the way), or by air, it is a very remarkable experience to see endless miles of desert suddenly punctuated by a modern city and hotels – very similar to arriving in Las Vegas.
The views of the mountains (especially at sunset), the lagoon, and the sea, are very impressive. From the shore you can see three countries (Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) other than Israel.
Eilat is primarily a place to come to relax in one of the many excellent hotels (or hostels), and to enjoy the (almost) year-round sunshine. Summer temperatures can get to or go beyond 40 degrees Celsius – which only makes the swimming pool and sea all that much more inviting. The winters are very pleasant and Eilat is a pleasant winter break from the cold, cold Europe.
If you want to just relax then the routine in Eilat is based around the pool, sea, the boardwalk (or tayelet or promenade), shopping (which is VAT-free in Eilat) and some of the popular attractions.
Eilat also caters to the more sports-minded – there is excellent coral scuba diving (introductory, licenses and independent) and a whole variety of other water and general sports and outings.
The following lists some of the suggested and recommended things to do in and around Eilat:
Explore nearby deserts
Eilat makes a great place to explore the surrounding deserts. The Arabah (or Arava) Desert, north of Eilat, boasts some of the most spectacular desert landscape in the world, including Timna Park. Slightly further Arabah lies the Negev Desert where you can discover unique natural wonders, ancient ruins, towns, and other historic sites that attract visitors from all over Israel and many parts of the world. Guided tours and tour packages to these sites are available.
Dive in the Red Sea to swim with the dolphins and discover marine life
Being a coastal and resort city, it’s not surprising that Eilat boasts a great number of water-related activities. Dive into the blue waters of the Red Sea and meet with these adorable, curious, and playful dolphins, as well as discover other kinds of marine life. The incredible coral reefs are protected by the National Parks Authority and popular among locals and tourists alike. See our photo guides to Eilat & Dolphin Reef.
Explore marine life — without ever diving!
Want to go deep into the Red Sea but don’t like to get wet? No problem! The Underwater Marine Observatory, located right on the Red Sea, offers you the chance to discover, explore, and admire beautiful coral reefs and a variety of sea creatures.
Visit Timna Park
In the heart of Arabah desert lies Timna Park, the home of the world’s first copper mine. With about 15,000 acres of land, there are plenty of places to hike. You can also book Jeep trips and see Timna Park and other interesting sites in the desert.
Go on a mountain hike
From within the city, it is impossible not to notice the towering mountains surrounding Eilat. Just outside the city lies the Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve, which makes a great place to begin your hike.
Try a new water sport
For sure, Eilat won’t be left behind when it comes to the latest in water sports! If you’re bit by the adventure bug, you can try something new such as stand-up paddle-boarding, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, or parasailing. There are several locations in Eilat that offer lessons and equipment to satisfy your desire for adventure.
In Eilat, you’ll really “shop ’til you drop,” thanks to its status as a tax-free haven. From the small stores by the tayalet to bigger shopping malls that sell both local and international products, Eilat offers something for every inveterate shopper.
See our guide to Things Not to Be Missed in Eilat.
Eilat makes a perfect place to start or finish you Israel holiday giving you a few days to charge your batteries before or after the more intense touring in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or the North of Israel.