Eilat in the winter

Because Israelis aren’t used to going to Eilat this time of year, many hotels are offering great deals.

The coast of the Red Sea from southern Eilat. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The coast of the Red Sea from southern Eilat.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Whoever said that vacations in Eilat need to be taken in July or August and be spent lounging for hours on the beach in the broiling sun? All you have to do is ask a tourist from Russia or Northern Europe and they’ll tell you the best time to go to Eilat is in the winter, when the temperatures are pleasant and tourist attractions are not so crowded. Even when it’s cold and rainy in the rest of Israel, the sun is usually still shining in Eilat.
And because Israelis aren’t used to going to Eilat this time of year, many hotels are offering great deals.
Havilat Eilat
One such deal, called Havilat Eilat (Eilat Package) includes a flight on Arkia, a two-night weekend stay, including breakfast at the hotel and dinner out in a local restaurant, as well as entrance to a number of attractions, all for NIS 999 per person. A child in the room will add another NIS 499. This special is available until February 24, and can be mixed with outings to shows, an extreme park, yoga classes, and romantic meals.
When many people think of Eilat, images of huge ostentatious hotels come to mind, but in fact there are a number of wonderful boutique hotels to choose from as well, such as the Soleil Boutique Hotel Eilat, which opened its door three years ago on Eilat’s northern beach. With 73 rooms that are just a short walk from the beach, the Soleil is popular even among locals for its incredibly tasty breakfast spread.
Price: Prices start at NIS 473 for double occupancy.
Location: 12 Tarshish Street.
Tel: (08) 633-4004.
If you’d rather be closer to nature, you can try glamping (a portmanteau of glamour and camping) at Colonia, a resort where you can rent one of nine fabulous air-conditioned tents spread out over a grassy area at the foot of the mountain near the Taba border crossing. Colonia also offers scuba diving and a café, and all the tents have an unobstructed view of the open sea. One tent can hold up to 10 people, another can hold eight and four more that are suitable for couples. Each tent has a wooden deck attached to it.
There are communal toilets and showers, the latter of which have no roof, and showering under the open sky can be a whole new experience. Guests can enjoy the wonderful breakfasts and pizza cooked in a taboun for dinner.
Price: NIS 400 per couple midweek.
Location: Israel’s southern border with Egypt.
Tel: (08) 933-4993.
Camel Ranch
Camel Ranch Eilat, which was established 30 years ago near Nahal Shlomo, is one of the city’s oldest attractions. It offers a variety of camel treks, meals in a Beduin tent, and a 700-square meter rope park – the biggest in the country. The rope park, which offers three levels of difficulty, includes swings, zip lines, climbing nets, and rope bridges. You can also rent Tomcars and ride around the area. Ninety-minute guided tours, which are appropriate for the whole family, pass through Nahal Shlomo, Nahal Rehavam and Yehoshafat and even reach the Egyptian border. If you prefer something a little calmer, you can opt for a 90-minute ride in a carriage led by donkey, which includes a snack out in the middle of the desert.
Price: Guided Tomcar ride is NIS 450 per couple.
Tel: (08) 637-0022.
Titanic Escape Room
Escape Room Israel has opened another branch at the Herod’s Hotel in Eilat. There are currently two escape rooms on site, with two more planned. The first one is designed after the Titanic, in which participants are thieves who were caught stealing and so are locked up deep down in the engine room and need to discover a way to save themselves after the ship crashes into an iceberg.
Price: NIS 80 to NIS 120 per person. (This site is included in Havilat Eilat, described above.)
Tel: 079-932-2224.
Stalbet Al Hamaim
At Stalbet Al Hamaim (Relaxation Pools), at the Dolphin Reef Eilat, guests deposit their cell phones in a box before entering the quiet and relaxing atmosphere for a few hours or rejuvenation. There are three pools at Stalbet: The first is filled with seawater, the second with freshwater, and the third with saltwater you can float in. Visitors can also participate in movement treatments while they wade in the soothing water and listen to calming music playing in the background. In another section, guests can float on rafts in gulf water that is shared with the dolphins, or enjoy a coffee and orange juice.
Price: Starting at NIS 170 per person Location: Dolphin Reef, Eilat Southern Beach.
Tel: (08) 630-0111.
Eilat Artists’ Gallery
Near the City Museum in Eilat, and just opposite the airport, you’ll find a wooden structure that not many people know about: The Eilat Artists’ Gallery, which features sculptures, paintings, photographs, pottery and jewelry made by local and foreign artists.
Location: 2 Yotam Road.
Tel: (08) 634-0243.
Hamivshala (The Brewery)
Tomer, Natan and Yaakov decided to bring together their love of beer and people, and in 2015 they created Hamivshala. Like most people who grew up in Eilat, they spent a good portion of their childhoods at the beach, and so they named their beer Soof ( “Reed” – another name for the Red Sea). The brewery, which is located in the city’s industrial area, also offers really good food with its beer – and not just the snacks that can be found in many other breweries.
Guests will notice right away how unique Hamivshala is due to the wood interior and the eclectic group of people hanging out there. Guests are welcome to peek through the glass wall into the other half of the building where the brewery is located, or even sign up for a guided tour where you’ll learn all about the production process.
Guests in the restaurant can taste at least six different types of beer made on site before ordering.
Location: 2 Ha’orgim Street.
Tel: (08) 935-0550.
Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is a restaurant that epitomizes Eilat’s unique character. Chef Aviv Moshe has created an incredible menu and the building is beautifully designed. The huge glasses of alcoholic drinks are not to be missed. Around 11 p.m. the volume of the music is cranked up and guests can enjoy dancing, too.
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 7 p.m. until last customer.
Location: Shofron, in the hotels zone.
Tel: (08) 633-3303.
Since shopping makes people really hungry, if you happen to be in Eilat’s BIG Shopping Center, you can pop right over to Pinchito, a kosher restaurant that offers home-style cooking – such as schnitzel on baguette, hamburgers, omelettes, grilled meats and lots of salads.
Location: 11 Hasatat Street.
Tel: 072-394-2196.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.