After my first visit to Israel, in November 2017, I felt the need to come back in order to finish the exploration. One weekend was not enough to discover all the beauties of the country. For this reason, I planned a new kind of trip: 4 days, 4 friends, a car and a desert to explore.
I want to share with you a guide to a road trip in Israel. Here it is our adventure in the Negev Desert:
How to get there
Back in 2015, Ryanair started its first low-cost flight from Europe to Israel and since then they kept on opening new routes from all over Europe. Now, more than ever the prices to get to Israel, especially during the winter season, are really low. For my trip, at the beginning of February, I paid only 44€ for a return flight from Milan Bergamo to OVDA Eilat (at the Red Sea). More routes are available from Germany, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary etc. both with WizzAir and Ryanair. Not only to Eilat(OVDA), the main European low-cost companies are flying also to Tel Aviv.
But let me explain to you why is better to fly to Eilat (OVDA): even if it is one of the worst airports in which I’ve ever flown(too small, very long queue), it’s the only one that gives you that real feeling of being in the Desert, in the middle of nowhere.
Moreover, if you fly to Tel Aviv several car rental companies may charge you up to 30€ just for renting a car at Tel Aviv Airport. So, Eilat may be also the most convenient solution.
How to move around
Talking about renting a car, in my experience, public transport in Israel is pretty efficient and kind of cheap compared to the cost of life. But it may become problematic to move around only with public transport, especially during weekends and Saturdays. In fact, as described in my other experience on the Dead Sea, from Friday early afternoon until Saturday night there are no buses and no trains. This may be inconvenient, especially if you are visiting the country just for the weekend. That’s why this time I suggested to my friends to rent a car. For only 40 euro (insurance included) + 40 of fuel, we have been able to explore the country freely, without being worried about losing the last bus of the weekend. Of course, when you are in a group of four people is easier to rent a car and to share the expenses in order to get a lower final price. I don’t know if I would recommend renting a car in Israel for 2 people or a solo trip. In that case, I would use public transportation.
Anyway, the car allowed us to set up a more flexible Itinerary for our adventure in the Negev Desert.
Israel Roadtrip Itinerary
Day One -> from Eilat to Arad
Another positive aspect of landing in Eilat is that in 40 minutes maximum you’ll be ready to sunbathe on the beautiful coast of the Red Sea. After half a day in the city of Eilat, we decided first to move north along the border with Jordan and then along the Dead Sea to Arad.
Arad was our base camp for all the trip. Here, we stayed in the Best Green Hostel of 2017 (according to me): the Dead Sea Adventure Hostel.
Why? Because Arad is located almost in the middle of Israel, few hours of car from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and only 20 minutes away from Masada and the Dead Sea. Moreover, the prices for the Hostel were really competitive, lower than the country average. In fact, we paid 70€ for our 3 nights of stay with breakfast included. Last but not the least, the possibility to enjoy a breathtaking sunrise in the Negev Desert is something that alone deserves a trip to Israel.
Day 2 Arad -> Jerusalem -> Tel Aviv -> Arad
There are 3 streets that can lead you from Arad to Jerusalem, some faster, some slower. The one we decided to take was the one through the West Banks, the slowest one but the most panoramic. It was literally incredible, driving from the Desert with its rocks up to a green forest full of life and then down to the desert through this street full of twist and turns. It took us around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Jerusalem, but we had the opportunity to deeply explore this rare scenario. Jerusalem needs no presentation, in 6-7 hours it’s possible to explore the old city and some of the most famous landmarks of this incredible city.
After that, we decided to move to Tel Aviv for the sunset, to the “capital of the night”. Tel Aviv is a really modern and open city, perfect for a night out with friends. From there, it took only 1 hour and 30 minutes to come back to the Hostel in Arad for the night.
Day 3 Arad -> Masada -> Dead Sea -> Negev Desert -> Arad
If you are in Israel, especially in the Dead Sea area, observe the sunrise from Masada is a must. It’s only 30 minutes away from Arad and the street to get there is a panoramic road in the desert. You really can’t miss this. The entrance ticket to the Fortress of Masada, from the internal side, is only 7€, even less if you are a student.
After that, you can reach the coast of the Dead Sea in about 40-45 minutes and start floating. No, it’s not a mistake. You can literally float inside the water of the Dead Sea. It’s a strange, but amazing sensation to lay inside the Dead Sea.
But please, KEEP IT CLEAN. Some areas are invaded by trash from all the tourists.
If you don’t want to spend all your day sunbathing what you should do is, as we did, ask to the hostel for tips or activities. They suggested us a nice hike in the Negev Desert and canyoning at moonlight. One of the best ways to enjoy the wildness of nature in that places, and the incredible sky full of stars that only the Desert can offer.
Day 4 Arad -> Eilat -> Ovda Airport -> Milan
5 AM alarm and we were ready to go, ready to drive back to Eilat along the Jordan border for two hours. Enjoying the panorama and the sunrise in the Desert. Once in Eilat getting to the Ovda airport is really easy: there are buses planned for each flight that will bring you to the airport on time for the maniacal security controls. There you will be asked to open your luggage 3-4 times, at least. Get there at the least 2 hours before your flight, the line may be really long.
Adventure in the Negev Desert recap
Here is a recap of the costs of this Adventure in the Negev Desert:
- Flights Milan – Ovda (Eilat) 44€ round trip
- Hostel 70€
- Car Rental + Insurance 40€
- Fuel 40 €
I guess after all it’s a good price for such an intense trip. Mind that the cost of the life in Israel is a bit higher than some European Countries.
A road trip in Israel and in the Desert is something you should do once in a life. It’s a challenging experience that will help you, as to me, to exit your comfort zone and push your limit and at the same time, it will help you to live one incredible journey. Regardless of your political and religious opinion and thoughts, you can’t miss the chance to explore these incredible locations.
If you would like to add more tours or adventure to your itinerary, here you can find a selection of useful links and discounts!
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