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Guide to Arad – a desert city in Israel near the Dead Sea

Arad (Israel) is a city that grew up in the middle of the Judean desert on the site of ancient Arad. Due to the proximity of the Dead Sea, the resort is popular with tourists. People come here to treat skin diseases, respiratory problems and some nervous system problems.

Arad, Israel

General information

Arad is located in southern Israel. This area has seen human settlement since ancient times. Ancient Arad is also mentioned in the Bible. About 2700 years ago, the ancient settlement was destroyed, and in 1921 a new city appeared in its place. Today, about 25,000 people live here, most of whom (80%) are Jews.

Arad is a city in the desert of Israel

Over the centuries, people have made many attempts to settle in the Judean desert in Israel, however, due to the lack of fresh water and an unbearable climate, there were few who wanted to live here. Modern Arad became a full-fledged city only in 1961, and after the arrival in 1971 of emigrants from the USSR (they still make up the bulk of the population) and other countries, it increased significantly in size. At the beginning of this immigration the criminal situation began to deteriorate rapidly in the city. Now everything is calm in the Judean desert, since the measures taken by the authorities in time managed to prevent undesirable consequences.

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Since the city of Arad is in the middle of the desert, there is not much greenery here, unlike the cosmopolitan Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But relatively close (25 km) is the Dead Sea.

Things to do in Arad

Tours

Since the city is located near the Dead Sea, excursions are often combined with relaxation on the dead sea. However, if you want to explore the city on your own, you should pay attention to the following attractions:

1. Visit Masada fortress by the cable car

The cable car runs from the city of Arad to the Masada fortress (900 meters). The cable car move slowly, so it is possible to clearly see everything below.

View of Masada fortress

Masada is the largest and most famous landmark of the city of Arad, located on the highest point of the Judean desert. On the vast territory of the fortress you can see the Herod’s Palace (or the Northern Palace), the Western Palace, the armory and the synagogue, the mikvah (ablution pool) and the bathhouse. The attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can get to the fortress using the Masada cable car. The starting point is in Arad.

2. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

Ein Gedi is an incredibly beautiful oasis nestled in the middle of an arid desert. Walking around this place you can see many waterfalls, high cliffs, and more than 900 species of plants growing on well-groomed lawns. Wild animals live in some parts of the reserve: mountain goats, foxes, hyenas. 3 km away lies the Dead Sea.

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

3. Museum of Glass

If you don’t feel like sitting in the hotel, and the heat on the streets is unbearable, it’s time to go to the glass museum where you can see the works of the famous Israeli artist Gideon Friedman. The gallery hosts master classes every Saturday and tours several times a week.

Museum of Glass

4. Tel Arad National Park

The park is located on the outskirts of the city, and is famous, first of all, for the artifacts found here. In Tel Arad, tourists will learn how their distant ancestors lived – how they built houses, what they ate, where they extracted water. The highlight of the park is the well-preserved ancient reservoir. A visit to this attraction will be especially interesting for teenagers.

Tel Arad National Park

Treatment and rehabilitation at the Dead Sea

Going to the Dead Sea on your own from Arad is not at all difficult, because it is just 25 km away. Many tourists prefer to live in Arad as accommodation is cheaper here, and go to the sea every day to relax. Every hour buses and minibuses go from the city of Arad to the shores of the dead sea. Travel time is less than half an hour. On the way to the resort you can meet camels, goats and sheep, and also enjoy breathtaking views of the arid landscape.

You can meet camels

However, you can choose a more convenient option – living near the sea. The most famous beach towns are Ein Bokek (distance from Arad 31 km), Ein Gedi (62 km) and Neve Zohar (26 km).

Ein Bokek is a resort for a calm and measured rest. There are 11 hotels, 2 hypermarkets, 6 free beaches and 2 sanatoriums – the Dead Sea Clinic and the Paula Clinic. They specialize in the treatment of skin, gynecological, urological and respiratory diseases, cerebral palsy. They also perform rejuvenation procedures.

Dead Sea Treatment

Ein Gedi is located near the eponymous reserve. The resort has only 3 hotels, 2 beaches and several shops. The distance to the Dead Sea is 4 km, so every morning tourists are taken together to the beach.

Neve Zohar is a small but clean and comfortable resort on the shores of the Dead Sea. There are 6 hotels, 4 beaches and a couple of shops. It is impossible to holiday affordably in this village, since all hotels operate on an all-inclusive basis.

Rest in Neve Zohar

Prices at resorts are much higher than in Arad, but living near the sea is clearly more convenient.

Arad Hotels

There are about 40 hotels in the city of Arad in Israel. It’s hard to find luxury apartments here, but you will definitely find comfortable and inexpensive housing. The best 3 * hotels are:

1. Dead Sea Desert’s Edge

Hotel Dead Sea Desert's Edge

A hotel with rooms overlooking the desert. The rooms have everything you need for a comfortable stay: shower, air conditioning, mini-kitchens and terraces. Unlike other popular hotels, there is no chic furniture or the famous chef. The whole charm of this place is that here you can be alone with nature. The cost of one night for two per season is $ 128.

2. David’s Fancy Apartment

David’s Fancy Apartment is a modern, cozy hotel located in the city center. This place is perfect for both young people and family people. All rooms are equipped with the latest technology – there is air conditioning, TV, a large kitchen with new-fashioned devices. The disadvantages include the lack of terraces and a green area for relaxing on site. The cost of one night for two per season is $ 155.

Room at David's Fancy Apartment

3. Yehelim Boutique Hotel

Hotel room Yehelim Boutique Hotel

Like the first hotel on the list, Yehelim Boutique Hotel is located on the outskirts of Arad and overlooks the desert. Tourists who have been here, note that this is ideal for those who love nature, but do not want to leave the city. The pluses of the rooms include the huge balconies that are in each room. The cost of one night for two is $ 177.

Best time to visit Arad

Since the city of Arad is located in the desert, the temperature here never drops below 7°C (January). In July, it can reach over 37°C. The climate in the Judean desert is arid, with warm winters and hot summers. The mountain air is dry, so local sanatoriums are especially good for treating respiratory diseases.

The best time to visit Arad is spring and late autumn. It is definitely not worth coming here in June, July, August and September, since the temperature reaches maximum levels. In April, October and November, the temperature varies from 21 to 27 ° C, and at this time the weather is best for visiting not only Arad, but also Israel as a whole.

Read more: When you should visit Israel

Since Arad is located in the desert, rains here are a rarity. The driest months are July, August and September. The highest rainfall is 31 mm in January.

How to get to Arad from Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv and Arad are separated by 140 km. Getting from one city to another is easy.

1. By bus

Trains by bus No. 389 from Tel Aviv to Arad

Bus No. 389 runs from Tel Aviv to Arad 4 times a day (at 10.10, 13.00, 18.20, 20.30) only on weekdays. Travel time is about 2 hours. The bus leaves from the New Central Bus Station (Central Bus Station) stop. Arrives at Arad Central Station. The cost is 15 euros. Tickets can be purchased at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

Almost all bus transportations in the country are handled by the company Egged. You can book a ticket for any destination in advance on their official website: www.egged.co.il/en.

2. By train

Hashalom Stations in Tel Aviv

Boarding train number 41 at the Hashalom train station in Tel Aviv. Travel time is 2 hours. The cost is 13 euros. You can buy a ticket at the city’s railway station or at any station along the route. The train leaves Tel Aviv every day at 10.00 and 16.00.

You can track changes in the schedule and new flights on the official website of the Israeli Railways – www.rail.co.il/ru.

Read more: Best beaches in Tel Aviv

Useful Tips when visiting Arad

  • Often, enterprising residents of the city of Arad in Israel mislead tourists, saying that Arad stands on directly on the shores of the Dead Sea. Of course, this is not at all true.
Rented car
  • Living in Arad and driving a rented car to the sea every day is much cheaper than renting a small room in one of the resorts of the Dead Sea.
  • Arad rises in the middle of the desert, so be prepared for the temperature and stock up on different clothes (the same applies to many other cities in southern Israel).
  • Book your accommodation in Arad in advance. There are not so many hotels and private villas, and they are never empty during the season.
  • The roads leading to Arad are among the most dangerous in Israel. They are a serpentine and driving on them is quite extreme. But the highway offers beautiful views.
  • To travel to the Masada fortress, choose a cool day, because the attraction is in the middle of the desert, and there is nowhere to hide from the scorching sun.
  • Please note that many buses and trains in Israel run only on weekdays.

Arad is a cozy city near the famous salt lake with unique healing properties. It is worth staying here for those who want to explore ancient sights and save some on vacation.


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