Eilat, Israel's vacation capital, offers a wealth of unforgettable holiday experiences. The diverse attractions and activities available in the city is vast – everyone can find something to suit their taste: from the enticing beaches to the shopping centers, from the municipal cultural tours to the wondrous desert just beyond the city limits. Here are ten experiences every tourist vacationing in Eilat must enjoy.

The Beaches

As befits a tourism destination on the water, the beaches are one of Eilat's main drawing cards. Visitors can take advantage of a 12-km long strip of pristine beaches (most with life-guards on duty) offering many dining options, pleasant background music, water sports, diving equipment, snorkeling, and – last but not least – comfortable beach amenities that allow one to while the day away in front of the waves.

Eilat offers several recommended beaches, each with its own unique atmosphere offering a different riff on a beloved theme. Mosh's Beach, located on the southern strip, is the most laid-back place you can imagine. With its large vegan and vegetarian menu, served all day long, relaxing music, and vistas reminiscent of the calm stretches of Sinai, the beach can be quite addictive. Coral Beach provides a fascinating glimpse of Eilat's under-water world and Israel's only coral reserve. The beach is considered Eilat's best for snorkeling and is a favorite of many divers. Another unique beach worth checking out is Dolphin Reef. While there is an entrance fee, you can stay there all day long without ever getting bored. At Dolphin Reef Beach, you can get a glimpse of dolphin life and even swim with these magical sea mammals.

Extreme-sports fans will be delighted with Kisuski Beach and Neviot Beach, both of which offer a range of water activities that will send your adrenaline rushing: water biking, crazy sharking, parasailing, pontooning, tubing, bananas, and much, much more. People looking for something more soothing will find it at Princess Beach, Eilat's southernmost and most isolated strand. It is favored by families and tourists from all over the world. The beach is not officially sanctioned, but it offers easy access to the water and the spectacular under-water life of the Red Sea. Bring your snorkel and face mask and enter the deep water right away. Mykonos Beach is another favorite of visitors to Eilat. Its vibe is Middle Eastern with a Greek twist: Greek food on the menu, an atmosphere reminiscent of Mykonos and the Greek islands, and happy bouzouki music on the speakers. This is also the take-off spot for the windsurfers and kiteboarders who color the horizon with their colorful sails – a feature that only adds to the joyous atmosphere of this beach.

There are dozens of other spectacular beaches well worth visiting. Most Eilat beaches are furnished with equipped with excellent amenities, such as shade awnings, chaises, chairs, restrooms, and beach showers, as well as free WiFi.

The Shopping

Eilat is a shopper's paradise. Defined by Israeli law as a free trade zone, most of the products sold in shops throughout the city are VAT-free. Tourists coming from elsewhere in Israel will therefore not have to pay the 17% tax – an excellent excuse for a shopping spree by anyone looking for clothing, accessories, electrical appliances, cellular devices, and the like. Eilat offers several large shopping centers featuring both Israeli and international chains.

Mul Hayam Mall is located in the heart of the tourist center across from the Red Sea shore at the entrance to the city's famed northern boardwalk. The mall, in operation since 1997, hosts more than 100 shops selling fashion, electrical goods, sports equipment, shoes, specialty foods, and more.

BIG Eilat Complex is the largest of the shopping centers and a flagship operation of the BIG Shopping Centers chain. The complex, spread over 10,000 square meters, has more than 50 shops selling clothing, housewares, electrical appliances, beauty products, and more, as well as outlets of local and international brands. The complex, with its 900 parking spaces, is located at the city entrance.

The Ice Mall gets its name from the Olympic ice skating rink located on the mall's air conditioned ground floor. All around the central attraction, you can find 150 shops, restaurants, cafés, and children's attractions. Built in 2012 on the edge of the lagoon, its impressive dome looks like an enormous igloo, a rare sight in the heart of the desert. The complex features more than two dozen attractions for all ages, making it a favorite destination for good, old-fashioned fun.

The Eilat Promenade in the northern part of the city is one of the busiest spots in Eilat, featuring brand-name shops, food carts, and a bazaar area with 60 local market stands where you can buy low-cost jewelry and souvenirs.

The Day Trips

Eilat is surrounded by red mountains and breathtaking deserts, which is why we recommend that, hard as it may be, you pry yourself away from the city and its excitement to enjoy some of the magic nature has to offer. A short drive away, visitors will find dozens of hiking trails taking them along dry river beds, canyons, and mountains, past awe-inspiring rock formations, and up any number of peaks providing breathtaking views of Eilat Bay.

Right outside Eilat, you may find a wealth of fascinating points of interest that you can reach by car, bike, and on foot. There are many organized Jeep tours to the Eilat Mountains, or you may prefer to rent your own ATV. We recommend you visit Timna Park, located some 25 km away, for an open-air tour featuring several stops of archeological and historical importance. Other recommended hikes include the Red Canyon, the Evrona Reserve, and Amram's Pillars, offering a great combination of unique and colorful rock formations and gorgeous views of the Eilat and Edom Mountains. There are biking and walking routes for all levels of fitness and experience.

The Spas

Get to know the calmer side of Eilat. Vacationers in Eilat can enjoy the wide range of spa services offered in most of the hotels and at massage and other cosmetic and therapeutic centers in the heart of the tourist area. The Red Sea is an ideal place to convalesce and recuperate or just get away from it all. Along the beach there are several restful area, the most famous of which is the Relaxation Pools at Dolphin Reef, offering three warm pools – saltwater, freshwater and seawater – surrounded by green gardens. It's the perfect place to recharge your batteries. And if all that the city offers is still not enough, you can, like many others, leave early in the morning for the Dead Sea and spend the day covered in Dead Sea mud, considered by many to possess healing properties. It is also the material on which many exclusive beauty treatments are based.

The Restaurants

Every visitor to the city can find a kitchen to tickle their taste buds, from local fare, through fast food, to gourmet restaurants serving international cuisines. Along the northern boardwalk you can find the whole gamut of eateries at every price-point, including street-carts vendors serving economical yummies. The beaches, too, feature many excellent dining options. We recommend visiting Sederot Temarim, the city's major culinary artery, featuring veteran and new establishments, cafés, and bars.

The Diving

The Red Sea is host to an under-water kingdom of vibrantly-colored, fascinating creatures, making every dip in the water a mesmerizing experience. Eilat has many excellent scuba diving and snorkeling spots along the enchanting beaches of this holiday capital. At Dolphin Reef, you can dive alongside the dolphins who live in Eilat Bay and choose to approach land thanks to the friendly relations they've developed with the staff who care for them. The Coral Beach Reserve features a vast coral reef with caverns and shallow bays, and much coral and aquatic life in every color of the rainbow. We also recommend a visit to the cave area, about 1.5 km from the border with Egypt. It's close to the beach and suitable to beginning divers because of its shallow waters. Diving fans will be happy to visit the Sculpture Garden at the northern beach, a unique site featuring sculptures built under the water, as well as Eel Park, located at the edge of the U Coral Beach Club Hotel. Many instructors offer diving courses that are far less expensive than similar classes elsewhere in the world. The diving clubs offer a range of courses and classes for every type of diving at every level of interest and experience.

The Culture and Art

Not many know this, but Eilat is also a developing venue for culture and the arts. In recent years, several new projects have sprung up to advance culture in the resort town. Attractions such as the Eilat City Museum chronicling the city's growth since 1949 connect visitors to the city's roots and add another dimension to an Eilat vacation. In addition to the museum, there is a gallery showcasing the artists of Eilat. Dozens of paintings, sculptures, and other objets d'art by local artists are available for purchase.

We recommend going to the Philip Murray House to meet Nevo Afek, the internationally renowned Eilat-based artist. The young artist, who has high-functioning autism as well as a visual impairment, is considered an artist of international caliber whose works have been shown at important exhibitions all over the world. In addition, Amir Elkayam, another internationally renowned artist who lives in Eilat and whose fascinating life is powerfully featured in his works, operates a private gallery where he hosts professional workshops. He also leads art tours through the city.

Theater enthusiasts will be happy to take in shows by the Elad Theater, which uses a unique theatrical language in original pieces adapted to specific locales, so that city spaces become the stage and set and the audience an integral, living part of the show.

The Climate

The local climate is hot and dry, making Eilat an attractive holiday destination year-round. In the summer, the average daytime temperature is about 40°C with low humidity, making this an ideal time for a restful vacation on the beach or a shopping excursion to the air conditioned malls. In the winter, Eilat is a getaway destination for those seeking relief from the rain and the cold. Winter rainfall is rare and winter temperatures are in 20-25°C range, making Eilat ideal for soaking up rays and enjoying desert hikes.

The Overnights

Accommodations in Eilat are plentiful, no matter your age, status, or finances. Many tourists come to be pampered at the deluxe hotels located on Hotel Row near the northern boardwalk, but Eilat also offers youth hostels, holiday apartment and house rentals, group vacation villages, and economy hotels that do not compromise on quality. Most hotels and guest accommodations include WiFi and breakfast, and often have swimming pools. Many are located near the preferred entertainment centers the city has to offer.

The Tours of Neighboring Countries

Eilat is the only city in Israel where it is possible to cross the border to two different and fascinating countries: Jordan and Egypt. The border crossings are a short distance from the city center and one may enter both Egypt and Jordan on foot and from there continue with tours to some of the most beautiful and significant sites in the Middle East, such as the Blue Hole (also called the Blue Lagoon), Saint Catherine's Monastery, the Giza pyramid complex in Cairo, the Gulf of Aqaba, Wadi Rum, and the Red Rock of Petra in Jordan. Many tourists choose to stay overnight in Eilat because of its lively club scene and make day trips to the neighboring countries, coming back in the evening for a night on the town.