With so many things to do in Eilat, it’s easy to see why it is a favorite of Israelis and why it has become a popular tourist destinations.
Affectionately called Eilat Vegas, Eilat is located on Israel’s only access to the Red Sea and right between Egypt and Jordan. Despite being a small town compared to many others in the country, Eilat has a lot to offer to its visitors who can count on beautiful beaches, a fabulous marine life, easy access to the desert and incredible desert hikes and a fabulous array of restaurants and bars.
In this post, I highlight all the nicest things to do in Eilat, with a few recommendations on things you should avoid, and I will share some practical information to help you plan your trip there.
17 Great Things To Do In Eilat
Explore Timna Park
Timna Park is located at about 25 km from Eilat. It is a fantastic archeological site, home of the world’s earliest copper mine and of some intricate geological formations, such as the Natural Arch, the Mushroom, and Solomon’s Pillar.
You can hike and even bike in Timna Park – the Israeli Trail actually goes through it – but keep in mind there is very little shade so it can get terribly hot. If this is what you want to do, make sure to carry plenty of water, food and wear a hat and sunblock.
These are some of the best guided tours of Timna:
Hike the Red Canyon
You wouldn’t really imagine this, but close to Eilat there are several incredible hiking trails – among the best in the country. Needless to say, among the things to do in Eilat there’s hiking and the Red Canyon is one of the best places to do that. Its beautiful rock formations are of a deep red color; there are narrow trails and it overall gives the impression of an amusement park.
Visit Eilat Mountains
Visiting Eilat Mountains is a must when in this part of the country. You will get incredible desert and even sea views from there and there are several good hiking trails. If the weather is too hot for hiking, if you don’t feel you have sufficient time for that of if you just one to do something fun, I recommend going on a buggy ride – though I should warn you, it tends to get very dusty. You can book your buggy tour of Eilat Mountains here.
Eilat is a great birdwatching destination, with a birding park that was established in 1990 by the International Birdwatching and Research Center of Eilat (IBRCE) foundation with the purpose of monitoring and researching bird migrations. The park is open every day for people who are interested in guided birdwatching tours.
Hit the beach
One of the best things to do in Eilat is obviously going to the beach. These are spread along 13 km of coast and provide incredible views of Edom Mountains. Some are supervised by lifeguards and easily accessible by families with children; some cater to religious people; and one – Dolphin Reef – is home to a cat sanctuary, so you’ll find cats casually bathing in the sun along with people.
Get an adrenaline rush fun-tubing
The first time I ever went fun-tubing was in Eilat and it was 100% fun. Together with your friends, you get to sit on a large inflatable that gets pulled by a speed boat. This moves so fast and turns around so much and so intensely that you have to hold on to the handles or you may fly into the water. Either way, it is a lot of fun and a massive adrenaline rush.
Go diving or snorkeling
Eilat is Israel’s only access point to the Red Sea, and there is little doubt that one of the best things to do there is admiring its marine life and the coral reef. Various diving schools in Eilat offer diving expeditions for a chance to admire one of the most lively seas in the world.
Practice other water sports
Eilat is actually very windy, so it is a perfect place to try water sports such as wind surfing or kite surfing – both of them are very popular among the locals.
Visit the Underwater Observatory
Eilat Underwater Observatory is a fantastic place to learn more about marine life in the Red Sea and elsewhere in the world. A guide will take you around to explain about the activities at the Observatory, their conservation work and the various species you will be admiring.
There is a shark pool which is the largest in the Middle East and last but definitely not least the views from the Observatory Tower are absolutely stunning.
You can get your Underwater Observatory tickets here.
Fly over the Red Sea
Since Eilat is right between Jordan and Egypt, one of the most thrilling and fun things to do is catching a small plane to fly over the Red Sea. Planes carry up to 4 persons (including the pilot) – they are tiny. During the flight, which lasts around 30 minutes, the pilot points out various landmarks in the area.
You’ll have views that span all the way to Saudi Arabia, and it’s absolutely interesting to notice how two countries that are so different one from the other are in reality so close.
Attend a music festival
Eilat is home to a variety of music festivals. The Jazz festival takes place twice a year – once in the winter and once in the summer – at various venues in town. Eilat Beer Festival sees live performances by Israelis and international artists. The Oriental Dance Festival is more oriented towards middle eastern music.
Attend the Musical Fountain Show
One of the most fun things to do in Eilat (despite being one of the most touristy) is attending the Musical Fountain Show. This takes place twice every night, and lasts about 15 to 20 minutes during which all sorts of fun music is played while the fountain splashes and get illuminated to follow the rhythm.
Eilat is a free port, so there’s no VAT added on prices. This means that in a country that is terribly expensive, shopping is a bit cheaper here. And since there are all sorts of boutiques and shopping mall, it would be a pity to miss on this opportunity.
Eat at one of the fabulous restaurants
Food in Israel is generally good – whether you eat at an upscale restaurant or at a budget eatery or even just street food. Eilat certainly obliges to this reputation, and has an incredible array of excellent restaurants.
I recommend Pastory if you care to have delicious Italian food (yes, an Italian can recommend Italian restaurants overseas when they are that good!).
Colonia serves delicious fresh salads and seafood; and the Fish Market serves tasty seafood and fish in a very easygoing environment.
Enjoy the amazing nightlife
One of the top things to do in Eilat is embracing the amazing nightlife. Small as it is, this city has an incredible array of bars, pubs and clubs where you can get a drink, listen to live music and dance the night away.
For incredible, absolutely beautiful looking cocktails, make sure to go to Fifth Avenue. I promise you that your drink will be just as good as it looks. Three Monkeys and Paddy’s are two nice pubs that often have live music and where tourists easily mingle with the locals.
Go to Petra
Eilat is an easy access point to Petra, the gorgeous archeological site in Jordan, and you can easily go there on a day trip or even for a couple of days. Several tours depart from town. I have selected the best ones:
- Petra full day tour from Eilat
- 2 day Petra and Wadi Rum tour from Eilat
- Petra full day tour with snacks
- Petra ancient city tour with buffet lunch
Be a responsible traveler
A lot of people who visit Eilat go diving with dolphins or ride camels. I encourage you not to, or to at least do some careful considerations before you do.
When it comes to the dolphins in Eilat, they are free to roam in the sea, which may give you the impression that the activity is 100% ethical. However, they are often attracted with food so that tourists can admire them, and this has an adverse impact on their migration cycles and their reproduction. The beach from where they can be seen is pretty, and there is a large cat colony there – so you may still want to go. But don’t swim with them!
The camel ride is trickier one, and I admit I fell for it. To be honest, I am still not sure whether camel rides should be included in the list of activities to avoid. On the one hand, camels have been used as working animals for centuries. But on the other hand, they do have to go through a training in order to carry weight.
There is no actual evidence that riding camels equate to cruelty – but organizations such as PETA encourage tourists not to get involved in any activity that sees the use of animals, and this include camel rides. Other organizations don’t go so far to suggest not riding camels.
If riding a camel is one of the things to do in Eilat that you really do not want to skip, make sure to do so with a company that treats the animals well, that gives them plenty of food and care about their welfare, that allows them to move around freely and exhibit natural behavior and that makes sure they don’t live in fear and distress.
Make sure to read my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Eilat, Israel
Where to stay in Eilat
Eilat is packed with excellent accommodation options, though much like with the rest of Israel, it tends to be on the expensive side. A new Abraham Hostel is bound to open soon, so if you are traveling on a budget you may want to wait a bit before venturing there. Otherwise, these are the best places to stay in Eilat:
- King Solomon Hotel is a very large hotel with comfortable rooms that have a balcony and a gorgeous view. There is a fantastic pool and the breakfast buffet is outstanding. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- The Reef Eilat Hotel has very large, modern and fully equipped rooms, a fantastic pool and beautiful views of the sea. There’s a restaurant and even a gym. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Custo Club is an excellent budget options, with dorms and private rooms with shared bathrooms. There is even a pool. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
How to get to Eilat
Eilat is well connected to the rest of Israel via public transportation, with several buses departing every day from both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. You can book your bus transfer here.
Keep in mind that public transport doesn’t work in Israel during Shabbat (from sunset on Fridays until sunset on Saturdays) so if you are planning to travel there for the weekend, you may want to opt for a car rental. Check out the prices of car rental here.
How to move around Eilat
There is a good web of buses that go around Eilat, but if you want to reach some of the beaches or go outside of town ie to Timna Park, your best bet is to use a cab (especially as it is fairly hot for most of the year), or better, a rental car. Check out the prices of car rental here.
Alternatively, you can opt for guided tours that take you to the best attractions.
When to visit Eilat
Eilat is blessed with sunny days year round, and the average temperature during winter is 21 degrees Celsius. I visited in March and the temperature was just perfect to enjoy a day at the beach. You may want to avoid it in the summer, when it gets hot beyond belief.
Other useful information
As for any other trip, I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip to Israel. Get yours here.
Check out my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”
Further readings about Israel
For more information about Israel and the West Bank and to better plan your trip, make sure to read the following posts:
- The 10 Best Places To Visit During A Trip To Israel
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- Where To Stay In Tel Aviv: Recommendations By An Almost Local
- Traditional and Alternative Things To Do In Jerusalem
- My Jerusalem: Places I Love In This Timeless City
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail
- Why I love Eilat
- A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel
- Why I took a Dual Narrative Tour of Hebron