(Last updated on: 03/04/2020)
Eilat is a city in the south of Israel. A port town on the Red Sea, it’s a far cry from other parts of Israel frequented by tourists. But it’s worth a visit all the same.
We actually ended up in Eilat by accident when our flight to Tel Aviv was cancelled and we took a bus to Israel from Egypt instead (read all about that here). Whilst it might not have been on our original itinerary, however, Eilat was a lovely place to visit and I would highly recommend it! Here’s my complete guide to visiting Eilat, Israel.
Getting to Eilat, Israel
The closest airport to Eilat is actually King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba, Jordan. This is over the border in Jordan. (why not combine travelling Israel and Jordan? Take a look at my Jordan itinerary for inspiration!) Direct flights reach Aqaba from London, but most flights require a stopover. To get from Aqaba to Eilat, you will need to cross the border. This cannot be done in a rental car, so bear that in mind and if you plan to hire a car do so when you reach Israel.
Hiring a car is my preferred way to travel these days. It’s convenient, flexible and allows for extra luggage- a necessity when travelling with children! We usually use Europecar (despite the name, they do operate worldwide) to book our car hire as they are reliable and always provide high quality cars. Take a look at this post that I wrote for more tips on hiring a car abroad.
There are three places to cross the border into Israel. To get from Aqaba to Eilat, choose the Yitzhak Rabin Terminal – it is the closest to each of the two cities. You can get a taxi from the airport which will take you to the border crossing, and taxis are available on the other side too. You will need to pre-arrange your visa! Shuttle buses leave twice daily from Aqaba airport to the border, so if you are lucky you may catch one of these.
If you want to avoid crossing the border, fly to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Direct flights reach Ben Gurion from most major cities worldwide. You can hire a car from here and take the almost four hour drive to Eilat at your leisure.
It is also possible to get from the airport to Eilat without car hire. Take a taxi from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, and catch the 370 bus to the bus station in Beersheba. From here, take the 397 bus to Eilat Central Station. While the journey is long, it is not particularly difficult. Beware, however, that Friday is a holiday in Israel and many buses do not run! We were caught out and ended up staying an extra night in Eilat, which wasn’t our plan!
Things to see in Eilat, Israel
The Eilat Mountains are vast and absolutely breathtaking. You can hike from the nature reserve, and there are various different routes. The trails follow ancient trade routes as well as the great Rift Valley. It’s also possible to see four different country from various points while hiking. As long as the weather is decent, you might be able to spot Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as nearby Jordan and Israel itself.
If hiking isn’t for you, jeep tours are available. They’re a lot more relaxed than hiking, and you can even try local cheese and herbal tea. There is various wildlife in the area: the Striped Hyena, the Dorcas Gazelle, the Golden Jackal. You might be lucky enough to spot them!
For some people, riding a camel is high on their bucket list when visiting Israel or other countries with large desert areas. You can ride a camel in Eilat. Camel Ranch is really nearby, and accessible by taxi – though they also offer a free shuttle service to and from the main road in Eilat. The ranch offers camel rides as well as donkey carts, bungee jumping and their very own rope park. Refreshments are available as well as shaded area and free parking.
With a 10km shoreline, Eilat has plenty of beaches. Some have lifeguards and some don’t, and some are affiliated with the various hotels along the shore. The beaches in Eilat are all different, so you’ll be able to choose the right one for you.
- Kisuki Beach, for example, is quite rocky. It has no lifeguards, but offers plenty of water sports.
- Dolphin Reef Beach is popular because, unsurprisingly, you can see and interact with dolphins there. It’s a pretty beach with place to snorkel and a bar.
- Migdalor Beach is particularly peaceful. There is a lighthouse over the road, where the beach gets its name from, and it is one of the more quieter beaches.
- Village Beach has a bar with plenty of parties, and offers activities like beach volleyball. Not only this, but it has a tanning raft in the water too!
- Bar Beach is popular with scuba divers. The beach is on a natural reef reserve, and there is also a restaurant there.
However, one of the most popular beaches in Eilat – and the most famous – is Coral Beach. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive here and there is so much to see. There’s more than 100 types of coral here! There is also around 650 different species of fish here, too. The water is clear and warm, and the Coral Beach Nature Reserve and Underwater Marine Observatory are close by.
Eilat is a great place to simply chill out and relax on the beach. The beaches are clean and have a very European feel to them, unlike the Egyptian beaches that are just down the shoreline. During out visit there was some tension between the Israelis and the Palestinians and we even got to see the iron dome in use! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting Israel during a war, like we did, but there was no arguing that it wasn’t an educational experience!
Eilat, Israel weather
It doesn’t rain much in Eilat. December is probably the wettest month with around 5mm or rainfall on average throughout the month – August is the driest, when it barely rains at all.
July and August are the hottest months, hitting high temperatures of 40°C and lows of 26-27°C. January is the coolest month of the year. It gets a high as 21°C and as low as 10°C during the month.
The weather in Eilat makes it a pleasant beach holiday destination year round.
Where to stay in Eilat, Israel
No matter what you’re after, there is plenty of accommodation in Eilat, as you can see on the map below.
Here are some of my personal recommendations-
Herod’s Palace Hotel & Spa is a spot of luxury in Eilat. The rooms are spacious, modern and clean with balconies and free WiFi. Free private paring is available, there is a bar and restaurant and plenty of space to relax. With a gym, children’s area and large pool, there’s always something to do. The nearest beach is a mere 200 yards away!
Prima Music Hotel offers something a bit different. There is a music room, where you can spin records yourself, and the colourful rooms are complete with stern systems. There is free WiFi and public parking, a pool and spa facilities, and a 24h front desk. Coral Beach is just 5 minutes away by foot.
Exodus Hostel offers both private rooms and dormitories. A little less central, the hostel still has everything you’ll need: free WiFi, a pool, a garden & barbecue, shared kitchen and more. Pets are welcome, too! The nearest beach is around 1300 yards away.
There you have it, a complete guide to visiting Eilat, Israel. Enjoy your stay!