Israel is an amazing travel destination for many reasons. It has ancient sites, holy significance, incredible beaches, natural wonders, and beautiful weather. And if you’re interested in seeing some of the best that the country has to offer, then it’s time to hit the road, because we have the ultimate itinerary for you.
Ultimate Tel Aviv to Eilat Road Trip Itinerary
If you’re looking for an amazing travel experience in Israel, driving from Tel Aviv to Eilat is the way to do it. We’ve planned out this itinerary to hit tons of major places along the way, so you can make the most of your journey. You can take as long as you want with this journey to really spend time enjoying the stops, but if you only have a handful of days, that’s definitely enough time.
Don’t feel like stopping along the way?
If you simply want to travel directly from Tel Aviv to Eilat, there are several ways to do it. There is a public bus (bus 390 or 393) which leaves from Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, and which takes about 5.5 hours. You can also fly from Tel Aviv to Eilat’s Ramon Airport. If you have a rental car, you can drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat via Route 40 (it will take about 4 hours).
If you would like to rent a car for your trip, there are several well-known rental companies that operate here in Israel, including Hertz, Sixt, and Enterprise. You can pick up your car from Ben Gurion Airport, as well as at local locations. You must have a valid driver’s license, and be at least 21-years-old (but there are certain restrictions up until age 25). Please note, Abraham is not affiliated with any car rental companies at this time.
Starting point: Tel Aviv
Before you set off on this ultimate road trip, be sure to make the most of your time in Tel Aviv. To start with, the Tel Aviv beaches are some of the best in the world. You can also explore the different neighborhoods and sites, like Shuk haCarmel, and Levinski Market. Stroll the streets of Florentine, Jaffa, and the north port, and be sure to enjoy the brand new rooftop bar at Abraham Tel Aviv. Also, when you stay with Abraham, you can take advantage of our nightly activities. When you’re ready to dance the night away, be sure to check out this list of the best bars in Tel Aviv.
Abraham Tel Aviv
Once you’re ready to head off on your journey, your next stop is Jerusalem. It’s about a one-hour drive from Tel Aviv (but keep in mind you might hit some traffic). Once you arrive, you can explore the incredible Old City of Jerusalem either on your own, or with a Jerusalem tour. If you’re interested, Abraham also runs a free Jerusalem tour which gives you a great overview of the city.
There are tons of things to do in Jerusalem while you’re there, aside from the Old City. You can visit iconic neighborhoods such as Nachlaot and Mea Shearim (an almost exclusively Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood). Machane Yehuda Market is the most famous market in Israel, and you can find vendors selling all kinds of food, along with restaurants and bars that are open late into the night. On that note, Jerusalem has an amazing food scene, so be sure to check out restaurants and cafes in the city when you’re hungry.
If you plan to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by public transport, there is an Israel Railways line that operates between the two cities (and takes about 45 minutes or less). You can also take bus 480 or 405, from Tel Aviv to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Please note, trains and most buses don’t operate during Shabbat in Israel (Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown), so be sure to check schedules before you go.
Masada & The Dead Sea
After you’ve soaked in the sights of Jerusalem, it’s time to head to your next destination. Both Masada and the Dead Sea are relatively near one another in the deserts east of Jerusalem. When you start your journey, you can choose a beach along the Dead Sea to visit first. The northern Dead Sea is in the Judean Desert, and it’s about a 40 minute drive from Jerusalem to the closest beaches.
When you visit the Dead Sea, be sure to stick to the official beaches: due to erosion, entering the sea from unmarked points is unsafe. But there are plenty of different official beaches to choose from which have bars, restaurants, shops, and showers. And after you enjoy the sea (and its therapeutic mud) you’ll hit the road again. Highway 90 runs south along the Dead Sea, and when you’re on it, you’ll pass by Ein Gedi (a nature reserve that’s also a great place to stop) before reaching Masada.
Masada is an ancient fortress high in the desert, and you can either reach the top by hiking, or by cable car. It is a great place to explore: you get to walk through ancient ruins.
How to Get to Masada and the Dead Sea from Jerusalem
It’s possible to reach both the Dead Sea and Masada by public transport from Jerusalem (for example, bus 444 will take you from Jerusalem to both Masada and to Ein Bokek). The trip by bus is about 2 hours, so be sure to leave plenty of time to travel to your destination. Also, plan your trip ahead of time, because buses in these areas are infrequent. Alternatively, you can choose to go on a tour that takes you to Masada and the Dead Sea with ease.
Also, keep in mind that when you’re in this region of Israel, it tends to be quite hot and sunny. You might need to bring more water than usual, and sun protection.
Once you leave Masada, you’re off on your next leg of the journey, which takes you through the stunning Negev Desert. This region is very unique, and you’ll see sprawling desert landscapes and dark night skies. One of the highlights of the Negev region is the quiet city of Mitzpe Ramon, which is about a two-hour drive from Masada.
Mitzpe Ramon is a small city with a few attractions (such as the sculpture garden along the Israel national trail), but it’s next to a very famous site: the Ramon Crater. Called the “Makhtesh” in Hebrew, this massive crater is the largest erosion crater in the world, Spanning 1,100 square kilometers, the crater is notable for its vast desert landscape and dark skies.
Traveling to Mitzpe Ramon via public transport is possible by bus, but it might require a few changes depending on your starting point. The easiest and most direct way would be to travel first to Be’er Sheva, then from Be’er Sheva to Mitzpe Ramon (several buses operate between the two cities, including the 64, 65, and 392).
Timna Park / Red Canyon
As you continue to drive south, there are two more incredible attractions to visit on your journey. Timna Park is 25 kilometers north of Eilat in the Arava desert, and it’s one of Israel’s largest parks. Timna Park has a Visitor’s Center, famous landmarks, and tons of hiking and cycling routes.
Even closer to Eilat is the famous Red Canyon. This narrow hike takes you through unique geological features which, true to their name, are red in color. This is a great place to explore by foot.
In order to reach Timna Park by public transport from Mitzpe Ramon, you’ll likely take bus 393. This bus makes a stop at the Eliphaz Junction, which is just outside the entrance to Timna Park (it is about a 20 minute walk to the entrance to the park). Once you finish in Timna Park, you can take this same bus to Eilat.
Once you finish in the Red Canyon, you’re just a short drive to your final destination: Eilat!
Eilat is the southernmost city in Israel, and it runs along the Red Sea. There are amazing places to go snorkeling and diving in Eilat, and you can spend plenty of time along Eilat’s beaches soaking up the sun. There are also some great restaurants in Eilat, and if you’re in the mood to shop, there’s a big mall and boardwalk full of stores. Also, keep in mind that you can easily visit Petra (in Jordan) with a one-day Petra tour.
When you reach Eilat, Abraham Eilat is waiting to host you. This hostel has a pool, a bar both outside and inside, and tons of activities happening daily. Be sure to check out this video guide to Abraham Eilat, to see what you can expect when you stay there.
Road trips in Israel are a traveler’s dream. When you drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat you’ll get to see tons of Israel’s highlights, and will take in plenty of great landscapes. When you stay with Abraham, be sure to ask our receptionists for their favorite Israeli travel destinations.