Eilat

Travel Guide Middle East Israel Eilat

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Introduction

Eilat (אילת, aka Elat) is the only Israeli city on the Red Sea. Eilat (pop 85,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert.

Eilat is at the southernmost tip of the country, with its "window on the Red Sea". It is first and foremost a resort town devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. Sprawled along 7 km of Red Sea coastline, between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, it offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba).

It began as a strategic military outpost, and a port town used to export potash and copper and import goods from Asia and Africa, such as oil and vehicles.

In the 1970s charter flights increased the flow of foreign tourists to Eilat. They were attracted by the coral reefs, breathtaking location, and the dry and sunny desert climate.

Today, the 2-km (1.2-mi) North Beach area is full of hotels with opulent names like Herod's Palace and Queen of Sheba. The Tayelet promenade extends the length of the beach front and hosts numerous stalls, street artists, restaurants, and fashionable shops. The promenade has great views of the bay, and each evening is full of strolling tourists.

The southern or Coral Beach, which has coral reefs, is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority. It has many public beaches and excellent scuba diving centers as well as several hotels and hostels.

Whereas the North Beach is within easy walking distance of the city center, Coral Beach is some 7 km south of it, beyond comfortable walking distance. The Navy and commercial ports lie between the two main beach areas.

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Events and Festivals

Eilat Bird Festival

March is the perfect time for birders to visit Eilat, in company with the many millions of feathered friends arriving during the spring migration season. Around 240 bird species use the surrounding countryside as their summer home, including the Pharaoh eagle owls, pied wheatears, McQueen’s bustards and Nubian nightjars.

Red Sea Jazz Festival

A four-day international festival featuring all styles of jazz, this ever-popular Israeli event kicks off in Eilat at the end of July. Nightly jam sessions at bars and clubs and eight or nine concerts every evening make sure no-one misses their favorite.

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Weather

Some 320 km from the tensions of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Eilat's climate-induced relaxed atmosphere has always provided a convenient year-round escape for Israelis, and during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers. Red Sea water temperatures range only between 20 °C in the winter to 26.2 °C in the summer, providing warmth in the winter, and much appreciated chilliness in the summer's heat.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max20.8 °C22.1 °C25.5 °C31.1 °C35.4 °C38.7 °C39.9 °C39.8 °C37.3 °C33 °C27.2 °C22.3 °C
Avg Min9.6 °C10.6 °C13.6 °C17.8 °C21.5 °C24.2 °C25.9 °C26.2 °C24.5 °C21 °C15.5 °C11.2 °C
Rainfall3.5 mm5.8 mm3.7 mm1.7 mm1 mm0 mm0 mm0 mm0 mm3.5 mm3.5 mm6 mm
Rain Days2.11.81.60.90.70000.10.70.81.9

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Getting There

While Eilat is - for a country as small as Israel at least - far away from the rest of the country, the government is subsidizing international flights and the border crossings to/from Jordan and Egypt are a lot less hassle than one might expect, making Eilat surprisingly easy to reach - if not necessarily from the rest of Israel.

By Plane

Ramon International Airport Eilat (ETM IATA Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport), Hwy 90, Be'er Ora (20 km north of city). This airport opened in Jan 2019 and now handles all flights into Eilat that formerly used Ovda and the city airport. There are flights hourly from Tel Aviv Sde Dov and a few from Ben Gurion. A shuttle bus runs 06:00-20:00 every 30 min (not Sabbath) between airport and downtown Eilat (₪4); a taxi costs ₪100. There's a security screen to enter the check-in area. Currency exchange kiosks and ATMs are in Arrivals and Departures. Airside is a shopping area, your goods are handed to you at the gate. The Lounge is by gate 1, with a prayer area. Wifi is free throughout the airport. There's an ATM in Arrivals by Gates 33 / 34.

By Car

There are a couple of ways to drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat. One is via Mitzpe Ramon. Another nice alternative is from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea via Arad, stay a couple of days there or just make a short stop and then continue to Eilat. It takes 5-5½ hours from Tel Aviv, and a similar duration from Jerusalem.

By Bus

Eilat has no rail service so the bus is your only public transport option for the time being. A rail link to other parts of Israel is being discussed, but no construction has started as of 2019.

All inter-city buses to and from Eilat arrive and leave from the 2 Central Bus Station on HaTemarim Boulevard. Egged buses from Tel Aviv (390/394) and Jerusalem (444) to Eilat operate on a regular schedule, with express buses added during peak periods. The trip takes around 5-5½ hours and costs ₪70. It's advisable to buy tickets in advance as seating is assigned. Beer Sheva is 3-3½ hours and costs ₪51.5, with a bus at least every hour. From the Taba (Egypt) border crossing, local bus 16 goes to the Central Bus Station, costing ₪4.2. Check with the Egged Bus Company for additional routes, rates and updated schedules, or call *2800 from any phone in Israel.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Bus Numbers 1 and 2 do a complete circuit of the city, both passing through the City Center before their routes diverge. Both buses leave every 20 minutes from Tarshish st. nearby Dan Panorama and Ceaser Premier hotels at the North Beach area.

Bus Number 1 leaves every 20 minutes on the hour, passing through the City Center before following a clockwise route through most of the city's neighborhoods, returning to North Beach via City Center.
Bus Number 2 leaves every 20 minutes at 10 minutes past and to the hour, passing through the City Center before following a counter-clockwise route through most of the city's neighborhoods, returning to North Beach via City Center.

By Foot

Central Eilat, that is the Promenade Area and City Center - Central Bus Station, Main Post Office, banks, etc. - are within easy walking distance, although during summer months the scorching temperatures make walking around unpleasant. Only the closest public beaches are a sweaty stroll from the center; dive sites require transportation.

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Eat

The main promenade is packed with stylish tourist restaurants offering some of Israel's finest cuisine prepared by master chefs. The variety of restaurants understandably comes at a price, though not as expensive as many restaurants in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

As a rule prices are lower the further away from the tourist areas one goes. For those wishing to eat simply and well there are a number of options in addition to shopping the local supermarkets. There are several good restaurants on or near Eilat's main street, Shderot HaTmarim (The Dates Blvd.).

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Sleep

The hillside around the Central Bus Station contains motels and small private hostels which usually have a room designated as a dorm. You can find some real gems hidden among them but be prepared to take some time checking them out.

If you reach Eilat having a backpack, you may be accosted by people offering their houses or parts of them for your accommodation. These are really a gamble, because you never know what to expect and people tend to exaggerate their descriptions. Usually, it would be a nice air-conditioned room with a double bed, shower, TV, sometimes Wi-Fi and some kitchen stuff. Price per day: ₪100-200 and higher, however negotiable, depending on how long you are staying and what standard you want. Start the negotiation as you see the apartment.

  • The Shelter Hostel, ✉ info@shelterhostel.com. Christian run, this hostel is a nice and welcoming place with peaceful staff and surrounding. Every Friday they have a community/bible session with free food afterwards. It is a great opportunity to get a free New Testament and to save some shekels. ₪40/70/150 outdoor/dorm/single.
  • Arava (Beit HaArava), Almogim St 106, ☏ +972 8 6374687. Check-in: 24 hour, check-out: 9AM. This motel has a homey feel, there are many tables and grills outside to allow relaxation away from the crowds. Mostly the rooms are private but they do offer dormitory accommodations for a cheap price. Member of ILH. Starting at ₪70 for dormitory.
  • SPNI's Eilat Field School (Hebrew: Beit Sefer Sadeh), Coral Beach opposite Coral Nature Reserve (Bus No. 15 from Central Bus Station/5 minutes walk north of Underwater Observatory), ☏ +972 8 637 2021, fax: +972 8 637 1771, ✉ eilat_re@spni.org.il. Check-in: from 3PM, check-out: 10AM weekdays; Saturday 11AM (late c/o optional). All rooms have bunk-beds, private shower/toilet, A/C, mini-fridge and electric kettle (free coffee/tea). No dorms. Outdoor barbecue, picnic tables in Camp Ground. Parking for hostel' guests. Ecologically friendly hostel has a relaxed kibbutz-style atmosphere and often hosts youth groups during the school year as well as hikers, divers and surfers all year round. Free WiFi. SPNI members/tourists/divers have a discount.
  • Youth Hostel, Derech Ha'arava 7, ☏ +972 8-6370088. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Not at all expensive yet very clean and nice place to stay. One can book entire room or bed basis as per the need. The cafeteria serves very good breakfast as well in the morning. Dorms from ₪145.
  • Corinne Hostel, Retamim 1, ☏ +972 8-6371472. Check-out: 10AM. Dorm ₪90, also private rooms available.
  • David's homestay, ☏ +972-54-573-1920. Offers you private rooms for ₪100 per person per night, food included. David has worked as an Eilat hotel chef his whole life and serves you the most amazing food. He has two kinds of rooms: double bed room and twin bed room. He meets you on arrival and brings you to the apartment. 5-10 min from the bus station, 20 minutes from the beach and 20 minutes from the airport (walking).
  • Cactus B&B, ☏ +972 54 5948139, ✉ info@cactuseilat.com. A colourful place to stay, eco-friendly bed and breakfast accommodation off the beaten track, very cozy. Single from ₪250/Double from ₪350.
  • Motel Aviv, Ofarim Lane 126. Rooms include a fridge and electric kettle.
  • Holiday Inn - Express Beat Eilat, ☏ +972-3-5390808. On the city's north side (opposite the Crowne Plaza), ten minutes away from the beach and the shopping center.
  • Club Hotel Eilat (Eilat). Eilat Club Hotel is the largest suites hotel across the Middle East and the only hotel across Israel designed and built under the inspiration of the sea.
  • Club Inn Eilat (Above Almog beach). Eilat Club Inn Hotel is a resort in a wadi over looking a breathtaking desert view.
  • Dan Panorama Eilat, North Beach, ☏ +972-3-5202552. Large, nicely located hotel with a good pool area.
  • Prima Music, Almog beach., ☏ +972 8 638-8555, fax: +972 8 634-1961, ✉ music@prima.co.il. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. The Prima Music is an exceptionally designed, concept hotel situated under picturesque desert mountains and overlooking the magnificent Red Sea at Coral Beach on the outskirts of the Eilat.
  • Soleil Boutique Hotel, Tarshish St 12, North Shore, ☏ +972 8-6334004, ✉ res@soleil-hoteleilat.com. Clean, well-maintained hotel with friendly staff and terrific breakfast.
  • Crowne Plaza Eilat, North Beach, ☏ +972-8-6367777. Family-friendly hotel on the Promenade, featuring the Freckles Club for kids.
  • Dan Eilat Red Sea, North Beach, ☏ +972-3-5202552. Central beach front hotel with a great pool area.
  • Herods Palace Hotel, North Beach. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. No longer run by Sheraton, Herods offers a "near Las Vegas" experience, with staff in togas wandering around a pompously decorated palace. Service isn't quite up to scratch though, although the (separately charged) Vitalis spa is excellent by any standard. Like many Las Vegas hotels, this hotel is built (or overbuilt) to resemble historic buildings, in this case domed Middle Eastern architecture.
  • Le Meridien Eilat, ☏ +972-8-6383333. Le Meridien offers a wide range of suites featuring various luxury levels. The hotel features 245 luxurious suites designed and built to unusually high standards.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Israel is a technologically advanced society, and internet cafés are widely available in most cities and towns. The regular price for paid internet cafés is about 15 shekels per hour but you can get it for about 10 shekels in some of the more local places. Free Wi-Fi access is common in cafés (check individual articles). All branches of 'Aroma Espresso Bar', 'Arcaffe', 'Café Café', 'McDonalds' and 'Yellow' convenience stores have free Wi-Fi access, though in some you will have to approach the staff for a password.

Recently, the "Jerusalem Wi-Fi" project started. This government started project aims to cover the entire Jerusalem area with Wi-Fi although at the moment the only areas covered are in the city center. A similar project has started in Tel Aviv and in Karmiel in the north. Some other cities are following suit.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international country code for Israel is 972. Emergency numbers include 100 (police), 101 (ambulance) and 102 (fire). 112 is supported in mobile networks.

Currently Israel offers support for all the available networks including GSM/UMTS (Pelephone, Cellcom and Orange), CDMA (Pelephone) and iDen (Hot Mobile). In any case, you must check with your carrier about the roaming option and the compatibility of your device in advance. A valid suggestion otherwise is to turn off data services.

You can rent a cellphone for use in Israel either before your trip or once you arrive from several firms. You can also rent smartphones with sim cards included sometimes for lower than the cost of renting just a sim card. Vendors such as Israel Phone Rentalsoffer the advantages of a sim card rental without having to worry about bringing your own phone to Israel. If you have a GSM cellphone without a SIM-lock, you can buy a SIM-card. Prepaid SIM cards are available at Pelephone (Talk & Go), Cellcom (Talk Man) and Orange (Bigtalk) phone stores throughout Israel. Almost all shopping malls will have a Pelephone, Cellcom or Orange kiosk or store.

There are many public phones scattered around. Public phones can be always found at hotels, post offices, central bus stations and train stations. These phones use a Telecard, which, today, is a pre-paid calling card that works only with pay phones and can be purchased at post offices and some stores, as well as ordinary calling cards. Some phones also accept credit cards, usually those in hotels and post offices.

Post

The Israel Post is the national postal service of Israel and generally has fast, reliable and affordable services. Efficiency means that letters and postcards send by airmail just take about 3-7 days within Europe, a few days more to the USA and Australia. Express Mail Services (EMS) is available, with which you are guaranteed to have the postcard or letter delivered within 72 hours anywhere in the world. You can buy stamps at post offices, or newspaper stands/kiosks or some souvenir shops and hotels. The main post offices are usually open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Sunday to Thursday and 8:00am to 2:00pm on Friday, though some might keep longer hours. Branch offices and post offices in smaller towns keep shorter hours, usually with a break from 12:30pm to 3:30pm, and on Wednesday and Friday only during the morning. Parcels can be send by the regular post offices or with companies like TNT, UPS, FedEx and DHL.

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Accommodation in Eilat

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This is version 12. Last edited at 13:17 on Jul 5, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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