As every year I like to spend my birthday somewhere away from home and if possible somewhere at the sea. This year the cheap flight tickets lead us to Israel’s far south – Eilat. Here is a quick guide to everyone visiting for the first time.
- Cheap flights with Ryanair
You can fly now from many European airports with Ryanair to Eilat. We flew from Budapest and the prices can be as low as 40€ round trip.
- Ovda airport to Eilat
But be careful – you are not flying directly to Eilat (although the city has an airport in the city centre), but to Ovda, which is aprox. 1 hour north of Eilat. From the airport buses run directly to the city centre, with a hotel drop off possibility. The price is around 8 USD one way.
Eilat has a wide range of accommodation options – you can find everything from hostels to 5* hotels. We booked our hotel on Booking.com.
The food is really expensive! Thanks to our friend Igor we were prepared on prices like 18 € for a hamburger with fries or in McDonalds 2 small Hamburgers and a drink for 4,5€. That’s why we booked all inclusive in our hotel – the food was amazing, we were just pretty shocked how the local guests treated food.
Eilat is a tax free zone, but don’t think this means it will be much cheaper. I was lucky to stumble on a season sale, where everything was reduced and with the tax reduction it was a real joy to shop. Beauty products with dead sea minerals are booming but are not cheap.
- Getting around
In the city it’s easy to walk, as the distances aren’t that big. For visiting the southern beaches to the border with Egypt you can take a bus. But for exploring the gorges and deserts north of Eilat we recommend renting a car (there are many agencies in the city center .
- Things to see and do
- Swimming and snorkeling
Go snorkeling just off shore near the alien looking tower, which is actually an underwater restaurant. When I dove underwater nearer to the windows, I got really freaked out as it was like in a horror movie.
The diving in Eilat is unfortunately not comparable to Egypt. We chose Lucky divers and were quite disappointed as the dive master acted very bored, unactive, slow, just like he was waiting for the day to pass and to cash in the money. Not to forget – Israel has a law, where you have to have a diving insurance, if not you have to get it online and diving itself is not as affordable as in Egypt. More about our underwater exploring here.
- Timna valley
The valley is known for copper ore mines, which date back as far as 5th millennium BC. You can even climb into mines. The whole valley is super interesting, but we definitely recomend a car as the sights are quite far from each other. Besides the mines you shouldn’t miss rock formations like the mushroom, salamon’s pillars, hoodoo, the beautiful arches or roman scripts carved into stone. At the end is a small gift shop and cafe, where you can fill up your bottle you get at the entrance with colorful sand and enjoy the complimentary tea.
- Red canyon
We also really enjoyed walking through this canyon, although in our heads we couldn’t get rid of the scenes from the movie 127 hours as we were totally alone in the canyon. You have to walk and climb through narrows as the canyon gets deeper and deeper. A normal amount of fitness should do it, but if you are afraid of heights or narrow passways, you shouldn’t push yourself.
We enjoyed our short winter break, but we wouldn’t put Eilat very high on our top sea vacation list. Timna valey and the Red canyon were definitely the highlights of this trip.