Over the years, the city of Eilat has become the ultimate resort city with hotels and beaches packed with thousands of Israeli vacationers and tourists from around the world, who come to relax in the country’s southernmost spot. In the winter it mainly attracts tourists from Europe who prefer vacations in a warmer and more pleasant climate while Israelis flock to the city in the summer. The secret of this little city’s charm is its special location in the northern end of the Bay of Eilat. The combination of a hot climate, a tropical sea and a breathtaking background of wild, bare granite mountains has turned it into a tourist gem all the year round.
Eilat’s location made it strategically significant during the many historical periods in which it served as a port – starting in the days of King Solomon (who built a large fleet of ships which he sent to Ophir), through the Nabataeans, the Romans, the Arabs, and the Crusaders, all of whom ruled the Land of Israel.
The modern city of Eilat was established in 1950. In the early 1950s, a quay was built in the new city, and subsequently a port which became the basis for the new city’s economy. Towards the end of the 1960s, the tourism industry started developing in the city, and today Eilat is a paradise for tourists, travelers and vacationers, with a variety of Eilat hotels.
The bay is one of the major attractions, thanks to the beautiful beaches, the developed water sports and some of the best diving spots in the world. In the south of the city is the Coral Reserve, with splendid tropical fish among the reefs. Within the precincts of the reserve is the Underwater Observatory, with a marine museum that displays collections of fascinating sea animals. Not far from the observatory is the Dolphin Reef with its resident school of dolphins.
The city’s many and varied restaurants suit all tastes, and there are also clubs, colorful shops and a promenade along the northern shoreline which holds vibrant bazaars during the summer. There are additional attractions for youngsters and families, such as an amusement park, a new “Kings City” (a high-tech theme park for all the family based on the Bible and Bible stories). Eilat also has an IMAX movie theatre offering a 3-D experience, and many more leisure time activities.
The Arava region north of the city and the Eilat Mountains is an arid desert. But in between the exposed mountains there are many nature and beauty spots as well as archaeological and historical sites, which make Eilat a good starting point for special trips in the area, such as camel treks, jeep tours and more.
Must See in Eilat
- Aqua Beach: If you’re looking for the best spot to dive or snorkel in Israel, this is the beach for you. Aqua Beach has all the facilities you’ll ever need for diving and snorkeling in Eilat. It also has a great beach, free to enter, where you can snorkel to your heart’s desire in the Red Sea (head to the right along the coast for the best snorkeling). This has to be one of the top things to see and do in Eilat!
- Underwater Observatory Marine Park: A must see attraction in Eilat is the Underwater Observatory Marine Park, which gives you an amazing view of the underwater world of the Red Sea. It has an amazing array of aquariums, including a crazily good shark tank, turtle and stingray pools, plus, of course, underwater observatories that enable us to take a peek at life beneath the waves. And don’t forget to pop up to the Peace Terrace of the Observatory Tower for an amazing view of the Red Sea. This is the Golden Triangle of the Red Sea; you can see four countries from here – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and, of course, Israel.
- Red Canyon: If you’re feeling a little adventurous and fancy some hiking in amazing desert scenery, head out of Eilat to the Red Canyon (head out west on Road 12). You’ll probably want to book a tour just to be on the safe side, and the tour will likely include a number of other sites, depending on what you want, but of course, you can always go solo (but please take lots of water with you!). The Red Canyon itself is approximately 150 meters long and 2-3 meters wide, reaching a height of some 30 meters. And why is it the Red Canyon? Well, the canyon is mostly deep red sandstone, with additional shades of red, purple and white. Any tour of the Red Canyon takes about two hours, possibly more if you’re out of shape!
- Dolphin Reef: Another great family spot in Eilat, at the Dolphin Reef you can enjoy all the pleasures of a typical Red Sea beach, with the opportunity of meeting and observing dolphins in their natural habitat. You can get to see the dolphins from floating piers and observation points or during a guided swim or dive, which is open to all over 10 years old. A half-hour swim with the dolphins will set you back approximately 300 shekels ($75).
- Timna National Park: Located approximately 25km north of Eilat, Timna Park offers more family attractions and a great opportunity to check out the geology of the region amidst amazing mushroom-shaped pillars of rock, more red sandstone cliffs (Solomon’s Pillars) and the world’s oldest copper mine (dating back some 6000 years). Check out the multimedia presentation to get a great taste of what the area is all about, historically and geologically. Entrance fee of 69 shekels for adults, 59 shekels for children. During Sukkot, the park is also host to an amazing hot air balloon festival.
- King’s City: The King’s City is a fairly new addition to the list of attractions in Eilat. It’s basically a big park based around stories from the bible and is aimed at all the family. Located at the Eastern end of Eilat, next to the Dan and Herod’s hotels, among other things you get to learn about the Pharoah in Egypt, Bible scenes in the Bible cave, plus a cruise down the King Solomon waterfall (you’re likely to get wet!). Tickets will set you back 118 shekels (adult) and 95 shekels for kids (aged 4-13).
- Petra: Once in Eilat, you are of course only a step away from the magnificent Petra in Jordan. It’s fairly easy to arrange a day trip to Petra with SunCity Travel LLC. Day trips to Petra might be a little pricier, but seeing those amazing rock monuments is certainly worth the price – in fact, you might prefer a 2-day trip to really appreciate the amazing scenery. Note that you can also make your own way to Petra, just make sure your passport meets the visa requirements. Once through immigration you’ll find many tour guides willing to take you to your chosen destination.
How to get there
Our tours to EilatShare