Guaranteed sunshine is one of the main reasons families adore holidays in Eilat, Israel's most southerly resort. Nestled between Jordan and Egypt and surrounded by desert, Eilat is a real draw for sun seekers who like it hot. And with amazing diving in the Red Sea, bargains to excite even the most hardened shopaholic and a wide variety of eateries to suit every taste and pocket, it's not hard to see why.
The shores of the Red Sea offer some of the best beaches in the Middle East, and the waters present a cooling respite from the heat of the summer sun. The sea is also a wondrous playground for divers keen to explore the corals and exotic fish that populate the shallows.
You don't have to dive underwater to enjoy wildlife during Eilat holidays, though. Bird watchers flock to the resort to witness the twice-yearly phenomenon of mass migration as millions of birds navigate their way between Europe and Africa. And fans of natural beauty will love escaping the town and taking in the splendour of the Eilat Mountains, where you will see an array of ever-changing canyons.
Back in resort, there is a generous collection of restaurants, from upmarket or romantic, to relaxed and family friendly. There are also plenty of street food stalls where you can try local delicacies - including Eilat's particularly excellent take on the traditional falafel.
Thanks to the carefully planned resort's well laid out facilities for holidaymakers of all kinds and ages, you certainly won't be bored in Eilat. However, anyone who likes shopping will probably spend most of their time browsing and buying once they realise how inexpensive goods are in Eilat. There are dozens of malls and arcades selling everything imaginable, and all VAT free. The town also has its own airport, Eilat Airport (ETH), meaning that you won't have too far to transport your purchases on your way home.
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The summer months are hot and dry: the mercury often touches 40C in the daytime and the evenings are warm and balmy. Winters are also warm and dry with a pleasant high of 21C, but temperatures can dip to 8C in the cooler evenings.
Classical Music Festival; January: The dark skies over the Red Sea provide the perfect backdrop to this delightful homage to classical music. Couples seeking romance will also like that the resort is less crowded at this time.
Bird Festival; March: Don't forget your binoculars as thousands of “twitchers” descend upon Eilat for what is thought to be one of the most species-rich migrations of birdlife in the world.
Red Sea Jazz Festival; August: For four days, international stars of the jazz world join homegrown talent to take part in outdoor concerts across town. Once the main performances are done, keep an eye out for brilliant, impromptu jamming sessions in the local hotel bars.
Best of Eilat holidays for...
Relaxing: Head for Coral Beach where the sands are family friendly. The colourful, shallow reef is an ideal environment for young snorkelers.
Grown-up families: With its underwater viewing galleries, Coral World is a must-see attraction where the diverse marine life of the Red Sea will fascinate children and adults alike.
Active types: Warm and with gentle currents, the waters of Eilat are a perfect place to learn how to scuba dive. Head for Moses Rock and The Japanese Gardens for the best dive sites.
Shopping: Make a beeline for Mall Hayem, the largest of the commercial centres in Eilat.