Eilat (אילת, aka Elat) is an oddity in Israel, because it has so many tourists and relatively few Israelis. Located at the southern-most tip of the country, within its small "window on the Red Sea", Eilat is first and foremost a resort town these days, devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. 320 km (200 miles) away from the tension often felt in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Eilat is a convenient escape for Israelis on vacation, but during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers.
Eilat (pop 55,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert. It is sprawled along 7 kilometers of Red Sea coastline, between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, and offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Aqaba. Originally a strategic military outpost, Eilat's first incarnation was as a port, used for importing goods from Asia, such as oil and vehicles. In the 1970s, tourists began visiting Eilat. They were attracted by the coral reefs, sandy beaches, and the dry and sunny desert climate. The town began to develop, and tourism has become its main industry.
Today, the 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) 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 it is full of strolling tourists. The southern beach, which has coral reefs, is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority. It has many public beaches and excellent scuba diving centers. The Navy and commercial ports lie between the south and north beaches.
Eilat Airport (ETH) is right in the middle of the city. Flights to Tel Aviv are frequent and take only 50 minutes, but expect to pay around NIS 250 for a one-way trip. However, tourists can arrive in Eilat on charter flights via the Ovda International Airport (VDA), also known as Uvda, 65 km (40 miles) and nearly a 50 min drive from town.
A cheaper way to get from Europe directly to Eilat is via the nearby Taba International Airport in Egypt. Charter flights to Taba are operated by several airlines, e.g. the German "Condor" (on Wednesdays from/to all major German airports). Taxis from Taba airport to the Israeli border station at the Hilton hotel run for max. 150 Egyptian pounds (40 min), from there a taxi to Eilat is around 25-30 NIS (10 min). Or take local bus 15 (6 NIS). Border crossing normally takes less than 30 min. On arrival at the airport insist on Egyptian "Sinai only" visa, otherwise you're charged 15 USD visa tax. Note that Egypt charges 63 LE tax when leaving Taba coming from Eilat.
All buses in Eilat leave from the Central Bus Station on HaTemarim Boulevard.
Local bus 15 shuttles from the bus station both to the Jordanian border at Arava, for connecting to Aqaba, and also the Egyptian border at Taba, from where you can continue on south into Sinai. There is at least one bus a day heading from Taba bus station to Sharm-El-Sheikh via Nuweiba and Dahab (Dahab 22 LE).
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 approx 5 hours from Tel Aviv.
Central Eilat can be covered on foot, although during the summer the scorching temperatures make walking around unpleasant. A limited bus system serves the suburbs, and taxis prowl the streets looking for fares. Insist on the meter or at least agree on the fare in advanace, as Eilat's taxis are famously mercenary.
The main beach is in the North beach, and many of the major hotels are situated here. The south beach area (Coral Beach) is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve authority, but recent years have seen a decline in the marine life and reef quality. More serious divers head south to the Egyptian Sinai coast to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh, to experience better diving conditions.
- Coral Beach - is the best place for scuba diving and located here are some of the best dive clubs in Israel offering technical diving courses, rebreather, nitrox, tri-mix etc.. The whole coastal area is protected by the nature reserve authority and divers are expected to follow regulations. The south beach is a great place for snorkeling, windsurfing and kite-surfing plus it has fantastic views over the bay.
- Underwater Observatory. - One of Eilat's most popular attractions is a good way to view the Red Sea marine life without getting wet. It's white tower (Eilat's most famous landmark) offers great views above water and goes below the surface where the marine life is seen. In the marine parks aquariums are sharks, sting rays and turtles, plus lots of multi colored Red Sea fish. The huge glass windows allow visitors to get a great view the tanks occupants. The Oceanarium simulator is also a lot of fun for kids - a little scary for the smaller ones though. All in all it's a nice family morning out.
- Dolphin Reef - , South Beach (3 km south of town towards the Egyptian border), tel +972-8-637-1846. Entry fee: 42/28 NIS adults/children. Not just a tourist trap, the staff actually work to rehabilitate dolphins for life in the open sea - from whence they came. However in the past, the occasional release of the dolphins into the bay resulted in the immediate consumption of many of the nearby coral reef's inhabitants. The dolphin release project is since on hold. Various paid options are available for interacting with the dolphins, starting with snorkeling with the dolphins at NIS 227. It's a very nice beach with lots of small pools and rich shrubbery. It has a fantastic spa (relaxation pools) and is well worth a visit. For those who want to get up-close to a dolphin book your swim or dive as early in the morning as you can. The dolphins get weary of visitors as the day goes on. Piers leading out onto the water allow everyone to get as near to the dolphins - as the dolphins want.
- "What's Up" The Observatory in Eilat , "What's Up" The Observatory in Eilat has begun a new show. With the addition of a special camera we can show you the deep sky as well as the moon and planets on a computer screen rather then through the eyepiece of the telescope. We can now collect photons in a way the eye could never do and see the wonders of the sky in living color. Watch the image build as the light is collected and hear tales about the personalities of the heavens as well as scientific explanation of what is going on up there. "What's Up" is suitable for all ages as well as being accessible to the handicapped although there are no toilet facilities at the site.
- Kings City in Eilat  is a biblical theme park in Eilat, which has been inaugurated in June 2006. Built over a 40,000 square feet area on three levels, the park resembles a king's palace. The palace has four sections: Journey to the Past, Cave of Illusions and Wisdom, Bible Cave and King salomon Falls.
- The Negev desert surrounds Eilat and its scenic Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve has some of the most spectacular desert routes in Israel. Trails include ancient trading routes and the Great Rift Valley. Desert Hiking, 4x4 jeep tours and camel treks are major attractions in this area of the Negev desert.
- Every summer, the Red City music festival is held in Eilat (sponsored by 99 ESC radio station.) This beach festival is held on the beach and consists of consecutive days of all night performances (Hip-Hop, rock and especially trance)
- Red Sea Jazz Festival This annual event takes place in the last week of August and Jazz musicians from all over the world come to Eilat, for a week of fun, sun and lots of Jazz.
The Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program  of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev  offers short-term academic programs at the Eilat campus. The programs focus on Hebrew language, Marine Biology and Gastronomy.
The main promenade is packed with stylish restaurants catering to tourists and locals alike, offering some of Israel's finest cuisine prepared by Israel's master chefs. Mainly owned by the major hotel chains. The vast variety of restaurant's understandably come at a price, but they don't get as pricey as the restaurants of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
- The Underground Pub (New Tourist Centre, corner of Derech Yotam and Derech Mitsrayim) is an Eilat institution, offering cheap beer and basic pub grub at the lowest prices in town. Sadly this excellant pub is closing down for good on 30th November. A real loss for all those in Eilat.
- For Eilat's cheap yet excellent falafel, check out the falafel joint just across the street from the bus station at the International Birdwatching Centre, on HaTemarim Boulevard.
- Pago Pago floating restaurant is an attraction in itself. The restaurant is strictly non-kosher, serving great sushi, sea-food and fantastic steaks. Not just good food but a nice relaxing evening bobbing on the waters of the marina. It's well moored so no chance of drifting off. The restaurant is a little pricey, but no more than other restaurants and you definitely get far more for your money. If you only spoil yourself with one good restaurant during your visit to Eilat, Pago Pago is definitely the restaurant to go to.
- Pedro's Restaurant, for an excellent steak, the hang-out restaurant of Eilat's diving instructors, you'll have to get a cab because it's nowhere near the tourist haunts. Well worth the effort if you are steak lover... or if you consider yourself an honorary local, either way, it's hard to tell what's tastier, the restaurant's meat or the punters..
- Ginger Restaurant,  restaurant and bar. The who's who of Eilat are found in Ginger, its the new 'IN' location for Eilat's elite. Not nearly as expensive as it is exclusive, its good spot for dining if you don't mind seeing your picture in the local Eilat gossip pages.
- Barbis,  American Foods Restaurant, is a great burger place in the middle of the tourist center. Prices are cheap and the burgers are tasty and huge.
- The Unplugged bar is a good option. If you're looking for a place with stuck-up people, barbie doll bartenders, or tough-looking bouncers, look somewhere else, because Unplugged is nothing like it. The drink selection is somewhat limited, but still fairly good. The music ranges from American pop to Israeli trance, and they play songs in both Hebrew and English. You have the option of either sitting at the bar, chilling on a big couch, or dancing with the friendly locals. This place is often crowded, even on a Monday night.
- Nova Hotel, 6 Hativat Hanegev St., Eilat, Tel: +972 -8-6382444 Reservation Page. The hotel is located near the Eilat city tourist area, with a casual stroll to Eilat`s beach.
The hillside around the Central Bus Station is home to many hostels which are popular with backpackers. You can find some real gems hidden among them but be prepared to take some time checking them out.
- Cactus B&B, . A new & nice place to stay, off the beaten track, very colorful & cozy.
- Dan Panorama Eilat, ☎ +972-8-6389999(Panoramaeilat@danhotels.com, fax: +972-8-6389973), . Central beach front hotel with a great pool area. See Dan Panorama Virtual Tour See also Video Tour Of Dan Panorama
- Holiday Inn Express Eilat, Tel: +972-3-5390808, . Located on the city's north side (opposite the Crowne Plaza), ten minutes away from the beach and the shopping center.
- Crowne Plaza Eilat, Tel: +972-3-5390808, . Family-friendly hotel on the Promenade, featuring the Freckles Club for kids.
- Le Meridien Hotel Eilat 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.
- Holiday Inn Patio Eilat, Tel: +972-3-5390808, . Guestrooms, some with balconies facing the pool. Family-friendly. 15-20 min walk to the beach.
Eilat's North Beach is positively packed with luxury hotels, but in season rates can be as high as US$200 per night.
- Dan Eilat . Tel: +972-3-5202552, fax: +972-35480111 Reservations-T.DanEilat@DanHotels.com. Eilat Hotel - central, beach front hotel affording recreation and leisure facilities.Online Reservation with instant confirmation. See Dan Eilat virtual tour: , see Also video tour of Dan Eilat .
- Sheraton Herods Palace, . 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
- Princess Eilat , The setting of the Eilat Princess Hotel has to be one of the most unusual in the world. The hotel is located in the precise spot where the mountains of the Sinai and Arava Deserts meet the crystal waters of the Red Sea.
- Orchid Hotel Eilat . The hotel is located on Eilat's South Beach, opposite the Almog (Coral) Beach and the Underwater Observatory Marine Park. walking distance of the "Migdalor" Beach and diving clubs, and is approximately 5 km from the city center, 6 km from the airport and 2 km from the Taba border – Egypt and Israel.
- Yotvata Kibbutz  specializes in fruit cultivation and dairy farming. It supplies much of the milk and several varieties of fresh fruit and packaged goods to the Negev / Eilat region under its logo of a setting sun with two linked palm trees. They also take in traveling volunteers and have a Hebrew school for foreigners.
- In Israel itself, Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea are a few hours away by bus, and can be easily visited in a day or two on organized tours.
- South of Eilat is the border crossing to Taba Egypt, where the Taba Hilton and nearby Taba Heights beach resorts are situated. Here begins the Egyptian Sinai peninsula where St. Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai are located.
- Within walking distance of Eilat's North Beach is Israel's border with Jordan. A short drive away is the Rabin border crossing to the adjacent Jordanian town of Aqaba, Jordan's largest port and tourist resort. Further inland is the ancient Jordanian city of Petra.
- To get to the Egyptian border take a taxi (35 NIS) from Eilat to the border, or take bus line 15 (6 NIS) and walk across. On the Egyptian side there is a minibus station as well as further along a full bus station. Note the border can take between 20 min to 2 hours. You will need to pay an exit fee when leaving Israel (88.50NIS - Oct 08) and another when entering Egypt (63EGP - Oct 08). If you plan to continue deeper into Egypt (Cairo) then you need to apply for a visa in the Egyptian consul in Eilat. It takes aprox. 20 min for European and American tourists, and costs 100 NIS.
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