Eilat was once a small area, being Israel’s only access point to the Red Sea. However, as Jewish immigrants from Morocco began settling here over time, it turned into a small city with a functional port.
The most interesting thing about Eilat is its unique location. Although it is a coastal city, it is located in the Negev Desert. The striking contrast between the mountains, desert, and blue sea makes Eilat a picturesque location for a memorable family trip.
So, if you’re planning an Israel vacation this year, add Eilat to your list because even though it is a small city, there are plenty of fun things to do in Eilat for people of all ages.
Best Time to Visit Eilat
Eilat has an arid desert climate, which means it is quite dry, hot, and humid in the summers, while the winters are cool and dry. This leaves us with spring and autumn, which have pleasant weather and is the best time to visit Eilat.
Spring in Eilat lasts from April to May, while autumn is during October and November. The temperature during these months is pleasant enough to enjoy indoor and outdoor activities and spend some time on the beach as well. Plus, tourism is relatively low in autumn and spring; therefore, you can get some amazing hotel and flight rates compared to other months.
Visiting mid-summer remains popular as it coincides with the long school break for many countries; do note you can expect daytime highs in excess of 40°C.
How to Get to Eilat
The easiest, quickest, and most convenient way to get to Eilat is by flying directly to Ramon International Airport (ETM), which is located 18 km from the city and takes around 15 minutes to get there by car.
From Tel Aviv: If you’re travelling from Tel Aviv, you can take a flight, bus, taxi, or car to Eilat. The flight from Tel Aviv to Eilat is less than 1 hour, while it takes around 4 hours by road in a private car, and 5 hours by bus.
From Jerusalem: There are no flights or trains between Jerusalem and Eilat, so you will either need your own car, catch a shuttle or public bus, or join a tour. It takes a little over 3 hours in your own car, while the public buses is the cheapest but slowest method, taking 4 to 5 hours.
- This overnight shuttle service leaves Jerusalem at 3 AM, arriving in Eilat at 8 AM.
From Sharm-Al-Sheikh: You can also travel to Eilat from the city of Sharm-Al-Sheikh, Egypt, on the Sinai Peninsula; however, it is only possible by bus. The bus from Sharm-Al-Sheikh to Eilat takes around 6 hours and 30 minutes but costs only $7, which is quite cheap, but a long journey for littles with the Egyptian border crossing.
From Aqaba: Traveling to Eilat from Aqaba, Jordan is relatively quick, as the distance is only 15 km; therefore, you can easily get there within half an hour via bus or taxi. If you go by taxi, it will take 10 minutes to reach the Wadi Araba (Wadi Arava) border crossing, from where you can take another cab to reach the centre of Eilat in 15 minutes. The whole journey will cost around $25 to $30.
There are also shuttle buses that take you from Aqaba to Eilat twice a day. It costs $25 per person and is quite a convenient option.
We have a detailed guide here to transiting between Eilat and Aqaba, including the border crossing procedure.
Tip: Remember to keep your passport with the visa stamped on it while travelling from Egypt to Israel to avoid any inconveniences.
With that sorted, let’s check out some of the best family attractions in Eilat.
5 Best Things to Do in Eilat with Kids
Eilat is a relatively small city with a population just short of 53,000 residents; however, there are many things to do in Eilat. Here’s a rundown of some of the most famous ones you’ll want to fit into a family vacation in Eilat:
1. Swim with the Dolphins at Dolphin Reef
One of the best and most renowned Eilat attractions is Dolphin Reef. It is one of the best places to go, especially if you have kids.
Dolphin Reef, located on the shore of the Red Sea, is a horseshoe-shaped ecological site home to bottleneck dolphins. The reef allows the visitors to observe dolphins playing, hunting, and socializing in their natural habitat. However, Dolphin Reef is not only limited to observing the dolphins; you can also have an up close and personal encounter with these friendly marine animals via guided scuba diving, swimming, and snorkelling sessions.
The reef also has relaxing pools, where you can float on the calm pool water for a quiet and serene experience. And once you’re done relaxing and getting to know the dolphins, you can head to the beach bar and restaurant to grab a bite!
2. Go Hiking on the Red Canyon
While on your holidays to Eilat, another fun-filled and exciting thing to do is visit the Red Canyon. The beautiful red Nubian sandstone canyon is located 20 km from Eilat and has a short yet scenic hiking trail that takes you through the winding routes of the canyon.
The most interesting fact about the Red Canyon is that its magnificent gorges and rock formations are shaped and sculpted by years of exposure to water and wind. The hiking trail at the canyon has ladders and handrails that help you go around easily without the risk of slipping, making it a great kid-friendly trail in Israel.
It takes almost 2 hours or more to explore the entire 50m long and 3m wide canyon and take in the beautiful rock formations in shades of red, purple, white, and pink.
3. Observe Exotic Marine Life at the Underwater Observatory Marine Park
If you found the dolphins at Dolphin Reef amazing, wait till you check out the marine life at the Underwater Observatory Marine Park!
The Underwater Observatory is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Eilat that gives visitors a chance to have a look at the exotic marine life dwelling in the Red Sea. The various creatures in the Red Sea include more than 800 species of fish, vibrant coral reefs bustling with sea critters, deadly sharks, mollusks, stingrays, and giant turtles.
The towers of the Underwater Observatory are submerged 12 meters underwater and are surrounded by glass windows, through which you can have a clear view of life under the sea.
Therefore, if you’re looking for something exciting and unforgettable for your kids, visiting the Underwater Observatory Marine Park should be at the top of your list of things to do in Eilat.
4. Have Fun at the Ice Mall
How about some indoor fun to cool down after a hot day in Eilat?
The Ice Mall in Eilat is a great place to visit with your kids if you’re looking for some fun indoor activities. For starters, it has an 1800 square meter Olympic skating rink where you and your kids can skate to your heart’s content. The rink also hosts a figure skating performance every evening for the visitors, which is itself a unique experience.
Besides ice skating, the mall has numerous other activities for the kids, including laser tag, airsoft shooting, a foot pool, and a 7-D cinema. The best part is that the mall is open till 11 pm on weekends; therefore, if you’re in Eilat for the weekend, you can head to the Ice Mall after a hot day and enjoy an evening of ice skating fun!
5. Spiral Park
One thing that kids love more than anything is an amusement park! And in Eilat, Spiral Park is one of the best parks, with rides that are sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
It is a relatively new addition to Eilat with three hair-raising attractions: the Crazy Carousel, the Falling Tower, and the Horses Mary-go-Round.
The Crazy Carousel flies side to side at the height of 11 meters and is one crazy ride! The Falling Tower is another ride to get you screaming as it takes you up 20 meters and then free falls down. It can be a bit scary for younger kids, but if you have older kids, they are sure going to have a blast!
The Horses Merry-go-Round is a high-quality carousel ride brought in, especially from Italy. It offers a fun and joyful experience to kids and adults alike.
Interesting Day Trips from Eilat
If you have checked out all the fun tourist attractions in Eilat, it’s time to plan a day trip! Several companies offer day trips from Eilat to nearby places like Cairo and Petra, including pick-and-drop services. However, if you’re accustomed to the routes or would like to awaken your exploring spirit, you can also plan a trip on your own.
Regardless of how you plan your day trip, here are some nearby places you can check out on your trip to Eilat.
1. Eilat to Petra
One of the most frequented places in Eilat is the ancient city of Petra. It is located almost 134 km from Eilat, and it takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there.
Many tour groups pick you up from your accommodation in Eilat, take you to Petra, and drop you back after the day trip. Depending on the features, the cost is between $200 to $250. For instance, a tour with an air-conditioned bus, meals, and a guide to take you around Petra might be pricier than a tour that does not include meals.
Similarly, you can also go by car or taxi and explore the city on your own terms, but we suggest booking a tour with an agency to be on the safe side to help with border crossing and entrance to Petra.
NB-day guests from Israel pay substantially more for entry to Petra; it may be worth spending a couple of days in Jordan to get the best value from your entry visa.
If you’re going it alone, not in a tour group, note that rental cars cannot be taken over the Israel/Jordan border. We explain exactly how the Wadi Agava border Eliat to Aqaba works here, then how you can extend your journey from Aqaba to Petra using various transport options.
2. Eilat to Cairo
Eilat is located right between Jordan and Egypt; therefore, another popular day trip from Eilat is to Cairo.
Cairo is famous for the Pyramids and other historical structures constructed by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It is 361 km from Eilat, and you can get there in 5 hours and 30 minutes by car. However, if you take a bus, it might take almost 8 hours.
The best option for a day trip from Eilat to Cairo is via a tour agency. Many tour groups provide transfers to and from your accommodation, a comfortable ride in an air-conditioned bus, and a complete guided tour.
- Try this one-day tour from Eilat to Cairo – an action-packed day in Cairo; travel overnight by private bus to arrive in Cairo by morning
3. Eilat to Ein Gedi and Masada
Another amazing day trip from Eilat is to Ein Gedi and Masada. Ein Gedi is 236 km from Eilat, and it takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there; however, most trips include a stopover at Masada as it is located just a few minutes before Ein Gedi.
The highlight of Masada is the ruins of King Herod’s palaces, which you can view via a cable car ride. From there, you can continue to Ein Gedi and experience the spectacular waterfalls and get a chance to relax in the natural spa of mineral-rich water and thermal pools.
You can get to Ein Gedi and Masada via a private car, a taxi, or with a tour group, based on your budget and preferences.
- Try this Eid Gedi and Masada day tour option from Eilat with hotel pick-ups, private guide, and entrance fees included
Best Places to Stay in Eilat With Kids
We have taken you through the best places and things to do in Eilat. Now it’s time to tell you about some of the best hotels in Eilat, from luxury to budget-friendly, where you can stay with your family.
1. Herbert Samuel Royal Shangri-La Eilat
Herbert Samuel Royal Shangri-La is a luxury hotel in Eilat that offers splendid views of the Red Sea. It has two pools, including an infinity pool and a regular one, and family villas to accommodate families of all sizes.
The best part about Royal Shangri-La Eilat is the kids’ playrooms and an inclusive all-day buffet where you can drop by anytime for a meal or a quick snack!center>
2. Vert Hotel (formerly Crowne Plaza)
We suggest staying at the Vert Hotel if you’re looking for a mid-range hotel that offers a luxury experience. It is located centrally and has spacious rooms and a large pool to cool off during the sweltering summer months.
The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast buffet for the guests with an extensive menu fit for all family members, including kids.
We suggest booking a room at Americana for families who want to spend more money on attractions in Eilat and less on hotel rooms.
It is a budget-friendly hotel that offers small bungalows with gardens for the guests to stay in; therefore, your kids can have a great time playing in the grass. Plus, the kids have many summer activities to keep them busy while the parents can relax.
The extensive breakfast menu at Americana highlights your stay, as there’s something for everyone!
More accommodation options in Eilat
Use our handy map for picking more family-friendly options in Eilat for your stay:
Eilat is a coastal desert in Israel with amazing views of the Red Sea and the Negev Desert. It is a small city, but it has a wide range of tourist attractions and makes for a great place to visit with your family.
In this guide, we have included 5 of the best things to do in Eilat, 3-day trips to nearby areas, and the best family-friendly hotels. We hope it will come in handy during your holidays to Eilat!
More on Planning a Family Vacation to Israel
We know planning a trip to an unfamiliar country can be tough; when to go, how long you need, and how to fit in all the highlights. That’s why we love this Complete 10-day Israel Itinerary by The Family Voyage.
It sets out step-by-step how to plan out your days as well as accommodation and tour recommendations to make the most of your time in Israel – far more comprehensive than any guidebook!
As an affiliate of The Family Voyage, we earn a commission from any qualifying purchases of this guide.
Before you go, you may also want to read about:
- What to pack for Israel: Our guide on what to wear for women, men & children
- Hiking in Israel – The most stunning hiking routes perfect for families
- Jerusalem with Kids – Explore the historic sites of the Old City
- Brilliant Day Trip Ideas From Tel Aviv – A central location and the International airport make this a great city to base your journey around Israel
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