For those who are visiting Eilat (or are going to do that) without plan (like most of you do), here are some tips for you to make your life a bit easier if you want to see something of Eilat. It’s the problem of getting there and how to move around and with what. Did you know that you can fly to Eilat instead of driving for 4 hours by car? Do you know how much that cost? It cost you $35 and 35 minutes. Voila, you earned your reading back with this.
Transport in the air
Eilat’s municipal airport (1 700 705 022; http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Airports/Eilat) is right in the heart of town. There are plans for a new airport to be built in Timna, north of Eilat – when completed (estimated dates vary wildly, and some cynical locals doubt if it will ever happen) it will replace the current civil airports in Eilat and at the Ovda air-force base.
Both Arkia (08-638 4888; http://www.arkia.com; Red Canyon Mall) and Israir (1 700 505 777; http://www.israirairlines.com; Shalom Centre) fly several times daily between Eilat and Sde Dov and Ben-Gurion airports in Tel Aviv (from US$25, 35 minutes).
Ovda Airport (IATA Code: VDA; 1 700 705 022; http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Airports/Ovda) is about 67km north of the center of Eilat. It serves occasional charter flights from Europe as well as Arkia and El Al flights, but its distance from town means it’s not the most convenient landing post.
Transport per bus
Egged services to Tel Aviv (bus 393, 394 or 790, 82NIS, five hours) depart from the central bus station every 90 minutes or two hours from 5am to 7pm, with an additional overnight service at 1am. Services on Fridays and Saturdays are greatly reduced. It’s a good idea to reserve long-haul bus tickets for travel to/from Eilat via http://www.egged.co.il or by calling 2800; reservations can be made up to two weeks ahead.
Bus 392 to Be’er Sheva (60NIS, three hours) stops at Ovda Airport (25NIS, 45 minutes) and Mitzpe Ramon (49NIS, 2¼ hours). To Jerusalem (bus 444, 82NIS, five hours) there are four buses per day between 7am and 5pm; these pass through Ein Gedi (49.50NIS, three hours). Services on Fridays and Saturdays are greatly reduced. There are no direct buses from Eilat to Cairo.
Transport within Eilat
The town center is walkable, but you’ll need a bus or taxi for locations along the Taba road. Bus 15 leaves from the central bus station and travels to the Taba border crossing via Coral Beach (4.90NIS, 30 minutes) every hour from 8am to 9pm Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 3pm Friday and 9am to 7pm Saturday. It changes to bus 16 for the return trip. A taxi from the town center to the border crossing costs around 60NIS. To reach the Yitzhak Rabin–Wadi Arava border crossing into Jordan, you’ll have to take a taxi (45NIS).
Cars in Eilat
You can rent a car by calling Eldan, Hertz or Budget, located with a number of other car-hire companies in the Shalom Center opposite the airport.