The City of...
Arad and its surroundings, bordering the Negev and Judean Deserts, is best known for its beautiful landscapes, desert tranquility and clean dry air, which brings asthmatics from all over the world into town. Pick and choose between walking trails nestled in desert nooks, an artistic community and Bedouin hospitality, first-rate historical sites like Masada or a jaunt to the Dead Sea, at the foot of the hilltop town. Arad is also home to Israel's first legal race course, and is well known for its annual music festival
Arad is located 25 kilometers (15 mi) west of the Dead Sea and 45 kilometers (28 mi) east of the city of Beer Sheva. Arad is situated in an arid area, with very hot and dry summers and mild winters with very little rain.
Five Great Reasons to Visit Arad:
• The town enjoys a pleasant climate, even in the height of summer, due to its elevation. But more importantly, Arad is world renowned for its dry and crisp air, so much so that doctors worldwide recommend it to those suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems.
• Arad is just 30 minutes away from the Dead Sea, a hop, skip and jump away from an endless variety of attractions, from archeological sites and spectacular hiking trails to relaxing beaches with fresh water springs and spa centers.
• Just 20 km (14 mi) away is one of Israel's most fascinating sites, Masada. This natural fortress was built as a palace by King Herod the Great, smack in the middle of the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Later it became a symbol of the demise of the ancient kingdom of Israel, and more specifically of the heroism of a small group of Jews who took a stand against the Roman Legions. Today, it is an archeological site of considerable importance, and you can visit the top of the mountain by taking a cable car, or by scaling the challenging Snake Path hike.
• Tel Arad is a small archaeological site and national park. This Canaanite city dates back to the early Bronze Age (the third millennium BCE). Excavations have uncovered a walled city mentioned in the Bible. A highlight of the visit to Tel Arad is the Israelite temple, which included a large outer sacred area, and a smaller Inner Sanctum. The temple in Arad was a miniature version of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. A visit to the site takes about an hour, and you can also hike there (8 km or 5 mi from Arad).
• Just outside Arad and on the edge of the industrial zone lies the Artists' Quarter, filled with workshops and galleries. Most of these keep only the loosest schedules, and are open regularly only during high season. Desert Vision, for example, is a gallery cum pottery workshop, with works made from desert sand and mud. The welcoming owners will happily arrange a workshop tailored just for you, and are also a great source of information about other galleries in the quarter (tel. 08-9959856).
The Museum of Biblical Arad, in the center of town, is dedicated to the biblical story of the Canaanite town of Tel Arad. On site are also a restaurant and a museum shop. The Glass Museum was established by a family that opened its home and heart to glass artists and glass lovers from around the world. The museum is a center for glass art, with exhibitions, workshops and a museum shop.
The Yatir Winery was established in 2000 as a joint venture between the viticulturists of the area and Carmel Winery.
It sits at the foot of the Tel Arad archeological site, deep in the Negev region, and is true to the vision of David Ben-Gurion, of making the desert bloom. Yatir Forest, in the southern Judean Hills, has a history of wine production, as is evident by the ancient wine presses in the area. Visiting both is highly recommended.
The cheapest food in Arad are the many falafel and shwarma places lining the city center.
For something more substantial, Muza is a restaurant by day and a pub by night, at the entrance into town.
The menu features huge steaks, burgers and chicken wings, and if you're looking for a night on the town, the place gets really hopping in the wee hours Mister Shay has a varied menu of noodle and soup dishes, along with more adventurous Chinese fare
The kosher restaurant at the Yehelim Hotel serves hearty breakfasts, along with other meals, based on local vegetables, legumes and fish (reservation required Nisha (Niche) is located at the center of town (near the mall) and has a varied menu, including meats, Italian dishes, a sushi bar and even a kids' menu.
Sea of Life brings "Health and beauty solutions from the Sea of Life™ (Dead Sea)… combining the highest quality ingredients sourced from nature's lowest depths and above." The chain has an outlet at the Alon gas station in Arad, where you can buy various skincare, hair and other beauty products.
Closer to the Dead Sea, just 30 minutes away, is the AHAVA Visitor Center at Mitzpe Shalem, the ideal place to combine an interesting day trip with gift shopping. AHAVA cosmetic products are made from the Dead Sea's unique minerals.
You can enjoy multilingual guided tours through the factory's production and packaging halls, and then do your own shopping in the factory shop, which offers these world-renowned products at attractive prices.
Gottex is an iconic Israeli swimwear brand, world-renowned for its quality, fashionable and glamorous après wear. You can visit the Gottex outlet at the Ein Hatchelet Shopping Center in Ein Bokek.
Tips and Trips
• Arad's proximity to the Dead Sea allows the budget conscious traveler to find a bed & breakfast in Arad, enjoy the town's services and still be able to easily reach the lowest point on earth, the mud, the spas and everything else it has to offer. The tourist office has an up-to-date list; some favorites include Ahuva’s House Rachelie’s Rooms (tel. Villa 1000 Nurit Lavi Zimmer and Hatsavim Motel.
• The Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel in Hebrew) is a hiking trail that crosses the length of Israel and passes through Arad.
It starts near the Lebanese border and extends all the way to Eilat, a length of approximately 940 km (580 mi). The trail is marked with white, blue and orange stripes, and will take you an average of 45 days to complete (you can also walk just a few segments).
• When travelling in the desert, don't forget pack an ample supply of fresh water, sunscreen and a hat.