By Plane-Arkia Airlines (www.arkia.com) flies to Eilat from points in north and central Israel and offers great flight plus hotel packages. The downtown airport is right in the heart of Eilat, next to the hotel district, and can receive only smaller aircraft; larger planes and international flights land at Ouvda airport, 60km (37 miles) north of Eilat. One-way flights from Tel Aviv are approximately $180. The bus ride from Ouvda to town can take an hour. Add in the hassle of getting to and from local airports, and the option of flying to Eilat from Tel Aviv may not save that much time.
Getting to Jordan
Bus and taxi service are now available from Eilat to Aqaba, Jordan border crossing. From the Jordanian side of the border, or in Aqaba itself, you can arrange for a private or shared taxi for the 2 hour drive to Petra. Cost: $60 to $80 for a shared taxi depending on your bargaining skills.
If you arrive from inside Israel at Eilat’s little downtown airport, you will be right in the center of town, at the bottom of the hill where Hatmarim Boulevard meets Ha-Arava Road (the road north to Beersheba or the Dead Sea). It will be a quick, inexpensive taxi ride to hotels. All the local city buses (no. 1, 2, or 15) run every 20 to 30 minutes or so, from early morning until about 7 or 8pm, daily except Saturday, stopping early on Friday (about 3 or 4pm).
By Bus-There are a number of daily buses (except on Shabbat) from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to Eilat. The trip takes about 4 1/2 hours. If you arrive by bus, there’s a baggage checkroom at the bus station in case you have to seek out a hotel room. It is best not to carry luggage even short distances in Eilat’s hot weather. Space on buses from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to Eilat must be reserved through Egged Buses (tel. 08/636-5111); reserve your bus seat leaving Eilat at least 2 days ahead; on weekends, holidays, and summer vacations, 4-day advance reservations are necessary.
By Car-The trip takes approximately 4 hours by direct road from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
The Eilat Tourist Information Center (tel. 08/630-9111; www.goisrael.com.) is located in a small building called Bridge House, on the North Beach Promenade. It’s open Sunday-Thursday 8am-5pm, Friday and Jewish holiday eves 8am-1pm. Pick up English-language maps and free copies of other tourist brochures filled with discount coupons. You can also get help and advice on booking accommodations and tours, bus schedules, events in the region, diving and snorkeling information, and travel to Jordan.
Eilat has no VAT, but because many supplies have to be shipped in, prices tend to be higher. Tip: Gasoline for your car will be 18 percent cheaper in Eilat than in the rest of Israel, so fill up before heading back north.
There are three easily distinguishable areas in Eilat. First is the inland, amorphous town itself, built atop hills that roll toward the sea. Coral Beach, with its great snorkeling and smattering of hotels, is about 6km (3 3/4 miles) south of town on the western shore of the harbor, served by Bus 15. The North Beach district, a 10-minute walk from the center of town on the eastern shore of the harbor, is where the hotel and beach action lives. It is also the site of an elaborate marina system and artificial lagoon, cutting several hundred yards inland. Around this lagoon are hotels, restaurants, and a promenade filled with pubs, discos, shops, and miles of street vendors—a fun way to spend a hot summer evening.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.