The best things to do in southern Israel can take you from diving in the crystal waters of Eilat’s world-famous beaches to hiking the craggy hills of the famous fortress of Masada. The south of Israel makes up 50% of this tiny country’s landmass, and the light scattering of cities means that it’s a haven for those that wish to experience the rugged nature and unspoiled landscapes.
Mitzpe Ramon is a city perched above the vast and breathtaking erosion crater known as Makhtesh Ramon, over 220 million years old. The Ramon Nature Reserve is the largest national park in Israel, offering stark vistas, a variety of fantastic hiking trails, and a look at some of the desert wildlife, including hyenas, leopards, and Ibex. The Mount Ardot loop is about 6.9 km, takes 2-3 hours to complete, and is moderately difficult. The trek is worth it for the awe-inspiring views across the crater and its Martian landscapes. The Ceremonial Mount Hike is a multi-day trek that covers 47 km out and back, a moderate hike that promises unparalleled views of the local wildlife, the perfect way to complement star-gazing in this vast wilderness. If you’re looking to learn a bit more about Israel, check out the Ilan Ramon Museum and Memorial, which covers the life of astronaut Ilan Ramon and the natural history of the crater itself. The crater itself is magnificent, and the area shouldn’t be missed by nature lovers. Start planning your trek through this wilderness today.
Masada, a palatial self-sustaining complex built to withstand sieges in style, is now famous as the landmark where a group of Jewish zealots held the last stand against invading Roman conquerors, choosing to commit suicide en masse rather than be subjected to slavery. Herod’s construction of this palatial fortress has withstood the test of time, and the views from the top offer a bird’s-eye view of the shimmering Dead Sea and the captivating brick-red Moab Mountains. If you want to check out the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, and Masada all at in one day, take a look at our tour options. While sunrise hikes up the Snake Path offer an unforgettable and magical experience, if your knees or fellow travelers aren’t up for the task, there’s also a cable car to the top. The ruins themselves offer the chance to explore luxurious Roman-style baths, echoes of vibrant frescoes, and to peer at the remains of the Roman camp still visible at the foot of the mountain. Whether the story of the Sicarii and their courageous last stand is fact or fiction, the fortress is a haunting reminder of the power of human ingenuity and strength. Go and see for yourself; we promise you won’t leave disappointed.
The Dead Sea is one of the world’s saltiest oceans, and the lowest point on Earth, with the deepest parts measuring at 430 meters below sea level. The waters and mud are renowned for their healing powers that come from the unique mineral makeup of the waters, with a number of seaside spas offering the chance to pamper yourself in a totally unique way. While there are public beaches, we recommend paying to access a private beach for the best possible experience. Kibbutz Kalia operates on the northernmost edge, with a family-friendly atmosphere, while Neve Midbar a few kilometers south appeals to a younger crowd. Either way, you’ll have the chance to snap some great photos of yourself floating in the buoyant waters. On the northwest shore lies Qumran, the site where an Essene sect built a community in the 2nd century BCE and authored the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you’re looking to bask in the mud or dive into history, book your shuttle to the Dead Sea today.
Ein Gedi is a lush oasis at the edge of the Dead Sea, and the largest in the Judean Desert: definitely one of the best things to do in southern Israel, which is why we offer this tour that combines the beauty of the Dead Sea with the lush greenery of the reserve, and the starkness of Masada. If you’re looking to escape into the soothing green wilds, Ein Gedi offers visitors everything from advanced hikes across difficult terrain to a carefully planned botanical garden that showcases local flora. Our favorite family-friendly hike is the Nahal David trail, a 1.5 km loop, but the most popular hike is the Nahal Arugot, a 4 km loop that gives hikers the chance to dip their feet in the babbling brooks along the way. For those looking to explore more than just the trails and gardens, Tel Goren offers a window into the past. These crumbling ruins are the remains of a citadel protecting an ancient settlement from nomadic raiding parties. If you’re looking to spend a few days exploring the cool blue springs, pools, and waterfalls of Ein Gedi, there are a large number of hotels and hostels to meet the needs of any traveler. If you’re looking for more of the best things to do in southern Israel near Ein Gedi, check this out.
Eilat is Israel’s version of Las Vegas, complete with luxury hotels, high-end shopping, and a vast array of outdoor activities, from swimming with dolphins or hiking Timna Park to world-famous scuba diving and snorkeling. The Coral Beach Nature Reserve offers all levels of diving, while the surrounding shallows are perfect for a quick snorkel. The Dolphin Reef offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with these lovable aquatic mammals, although it should be noted the welfare of the dolphins is foremost and food incentives are not used to force interactions. Since Eilat is a free trade area, take the chance to explore Mall HaYam: one of the largest malls in the country. It’s also a hub for tourism across the border to Jordan, and Petra offers visitors a stunning array of ancient monuments and marvels that are well-deserving of the title “Seventh Wonder of the World”. Eilat always makes our list of the best things to do in southern Israel because it has something for everyone.