A road trip – especially a spur-of-the-moment one – is always a good idea. And here in Israel, even though it’s a small nation, it’s packed with wonderfully diverse landscapes that are worth the drive.
From the craggy desert cliffs in Eilat to seemingly endless coastline on the east to the meadows in the Golan Heights – not to mention the unique kibbutzim and moshavim along the way – Israel has them all for every adventure-seeking road tripper.
Israel has a well-developed network of roads spanning the entire country. However, infrastructure development is still under constant improvement and expansion to accommodate the country’s rapid population growth and the increasing number of vehicles. But you don’t have to worry as there are still lots of opportunities to enjoy a cross-country ride in the Holy Land.
Some roads are considered iconic and other roads are less traveled. However, all of them are fantastic, weaving through the magnificent landscapes and providing travelers amazing views and a new perspective of the places they could only read and hear about before. So, without further ado, check out some of Israel’s most scenic roads:
Road 90 – Israel’s longest road and the world’s lowest road
If you’re a traveler who also happens to drive a lot in Israel, you’re likely ambitioning yourself for an epic tip on Israel’s longest road – Road 90.
Road 90 (also known as Highway 90) actually runs the entire length of Israel, measuring 478.7 kilometers (297.5 miles) and spanning from Metula (near Lebanon’s southern border) all the way to Eilat. Road 90 also runs along the western bank of the Dead Sea – the world’s lowest point – in a 100-kilometer (63-mile) stretch, making Road 90 the lowest road in the world.
As you’ll wind along following the Dead Sea’s coastline, with its overpowering sulfuric smell and the stark desert scenery, Road 90 is an experience you won’t simply forget.
Road 12 – A breathtaking alternative road to Eilat
Road 12 is only 71 kilometers (44 miles) long and connects Eilat to Road 10 and Road 40. If you plan to stop in Eilat but don’t wish to drive straight all the way down there via the more-familiar Road 90, you can turn right from Road 90 and take Road 40 as an alternative. The route will be a bit longer by around 10 minutes.
The first 35 kilometers is nothing to write home about. But then, all of a sudden, the road enters the craggy landscape of the Eilat mountain range, which will dazzle you with its sharply changing colors. But that’s only the prelude to something more amazing.
The real highlight comes when the deep crystal blue waters of the Red Sea suddenly appear below between the mountain summits. You can also pull over at any of the two recommended stops along the road, the Red Canyon and the Mount Yoash observation point.
With the breathtaking views of the desert and the Red Sea, you won’t mind the longer route and extra length at all – and perhaps forgive yourself for passing the dull first 35 kilometers.
Road 721 and Road 672 – A scenic drive through Mount Carmel
An incredibly scenic drive through Mount Carmel features winding roads that open travelers to the breathtaking scenery of the lush forest and down across the narrow coastal plain to the Mediterranean Sea.
Starting from Road 4 heading north, turn right at the Oren Junction onto Road 721 – a very long road with several turns. Continue along Road 721 right up and through the passes of Mount Carmel. After 10 kilometers you’ll see a junction with Road 672. If you turn left of the junction, you will continue for another four kilometers until you arrive in the city of Haifa. If you turn right, you will continue for another 15 kilometers, passing through the Druze-dominated towns of Isfiya and Daliyat al Karmel, before finally reaching Road 70.
Road 3866 and Road 386 – A quiet and scenic drive to Jerusalem
If you have more time than expected while going back from Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem, consider Road 3866/386 instead of the very busy Road 1. This 25-kilometer (15.5-mile) winding road links Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. Before arriving at the capital, you will see the picturesque village of Ein Kerem, famous for its holy sites. The narrow but well-kept roads take you up to the Judean mountains with fantastic views all along. You can pull over and stop by to have a picnic there, as the area has many great picnic spots along the way.
Road 98 – Driving in the Golan Heights
The bow-shaped Road 98 is the main north-south highway in the Golan Heights, and runs parallel to the border of Syria. The road begins at the Tzemah junction south of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), at an altitude of 200 meters below sea level. Then it crosses the Golan Heights from south to north, rising a steep slope into the Golan Heights, before finally reaching the lowest cable-car station on Mount Hermon, at an altitude of 1,600 above sea level. It’s best to do this in late winter and early spring, when the open landscape is lush and verdant, dotted with wildflowers. The south-to-north direction is highly recommended, as you will be able to see the snow-capped Mount Hermon summit in its majesty.
If you feel a bit daunted about driving in Israel, rest assured that it’s not all that different or alienating as you might think. Check out the article Driving in Israel for the general driving guide around the country.