It wouldn't be out of place to call Eilat the Miami of Israel. It's all-night parties, bronzed beachgoers, hotels hugging the coast, and street markets will definitely remind you of the Magic City. And yet Eilat is also perfectly Israeli in flavor, vibe, cuisine, and history.
Eilat caters to a global traveler and a cosmopolitan palate. As such, you can expect to eat your way through traditional Yiddish, Mediterranean, Arabic, Brazilian, and even Asian fusion cuisine.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the chance to view a clear desert night sky, unobstructed, from Eilat's "What's Up" Observatory.
As a port city on the Red Sea, Eilat is the place to be to both learn and indulge in kitesurfing as an activity, not just a selfie-shot.
For a day in the desert, venture into the Negev, which is the desert area surrounding Eilat. Hike to Makhtesh Ramon, the largest erosional crater in the world; the desolate Avdat ruins; and Ein Avdat, a solemn desert oasis in a canyon, recognized as a National Park, with tons of trails.
Coral Beach is appropriately named because of its beautiful (and protected!) coastal area and reefs. Take a snorkeling class or head out with an experienced diver to simply observe the beauty of nature underwater.
Hidden from view, under the waters of the Gulf of Eilat, lies a vibrant world full of corals, fish and other exotic sea creatures that roam the natural reserve. Snorkel among these underwater keepers and explore their sea gardens: the beautiful reefs. Visitors can rent snorkeling equipment nearby, and the reef itself is a designated reserve, so make sure to keep hands off! This is the most shallow-water coral reef in the world.
Israel itself is a historic land of many ancient civilizations, so it's no wonder that even in Eilat, the country's designated "resort" town, there should still be preserved, geological wonders from those times. Timna Park brings creature comfort to the desert. Climb the cliff of Tina Park and view the expanse of land before you, dotted with wild ibex and rusty red rock formations. In the evening, sit and unwind by the palm trees, take a pedal boat out on the lake and take in a hearty meal at the King Solomon's Khan restaurant.
If snorkeling is not your thing or the water is too cold, there is always the Underwater Observatory Marine Park. With its glass-bottom boat, it allows visitors to take a tour of the coral reefs without ever getting wet. Explore the long, winding tunnels with glass ceilings so you can view the sea life all around. For kids, there is also the chance to feed turtles and view little turtle hatchlings. As the sharks and manta rays soar above and around you, you'll realize that you are actually underwater, in their home.
The Dolphin Reef in Eilat focuses on interactions with dolphins in a natural and healthy way that allows these creatures to be completely at home in the sea. You can train to dive with dolphins thanks to experienced instructors. All interactions must be initiated by the dolphins. The reef is an ecological site where peacocks and other land creatures roam free. Once you've had your fill of the wild, take a relaxing dip in the pools and take in a performance or two by local artists. The Dolphin Reef encourages the symbiotic co-existence of humans with sea creatures and it's an experience you won't soon forget.
The Eilat Mountains afford its' brave and adventurous visitors stunning views of the ancient desert. Located just south of Eilat, the diverse geology of the landscape means desert turns quickly to mountains and makes way for the formation of canyons and valleys as well. One of the most artistic of these is the Red Canyon, with its sandstone walls reflecting shades of red, purple and white. Once you've scaled to the top of Mount Amir, you'll be able to see the curious 'Pillars of Amir'. Make sure to come armed with plenty of water and a 4x4 for optimal exploration conditions.
September and October are the best months to visit Eilat. Temperatures sit at 64 to 77. Summer is best for those who love the heat. As is expected for Israel, temperatures range from 104 to 122 in July and August.
Travelers flying in from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other domestic routes will land at the Eilat Airport (ETH). Those arriving internationally will land at Ovda International Airport. The airport is 40 miles from Eilat's city center and you can take the Egged bus for a single fare of ₪25.
If driving from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to Eilat, use Route 90 and travel south.
Coming in from major cities like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you'll use the Egged buses. Fares are ₪82 one way or ₪139 for a round-trip journey.
If you like the finer things in life, pick Le Meridien Eilat. For mid-range suites with stunning desert views, check in to the Club Inn Eilat. Hostel-lovers will be able to lounge at Corinne Hostel.
Merkaz - this neighborhood is close to the Eilat Airport as well as several popular restaurants such as Casa do Brasil.
Amdar - right on the water's edge is Amdar, with many hostels and hotels, great restaurants, and major roads connecting to the rest of the city.
Marina - made of up of the Lagoona, this is the place you want to be. There are tons of theaters, eateries, exclusive clubs, cafes, and tour companies.
Buses service covers all corners of the city, though they have specific route times and run times, operating only from 7 am to 9 pm. Fares cost ₪4.75 and there is a 'transfer' fee of ₪1.
If you're going to book a taxi, either insist on the meter or agree on the fare before getting in. Fares start at ₪12 and it's ₪5.50 per mile.
Companies like Hertz, Budget, and Avis are located around the city. Fares for a one day rental go from anywhere between ₪141 to ₪170 for an economy, 4-seater.
Head to Big Center Eilat for outlet deals and Ice Mall Eilat, which is a shopping center that sports an artificial sporting rink.
A quart of milk costs ₪5 and a dozen eggs will cost you ₪12.
Nothing works up an appetite quite like diving into coral reefs and tanning in the sun. Before you head out again, tuck into a scrumptious meal at Campania, which specializes in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Two can dine here with drinks for ₪200.