A popular base for those visiting nearby Masada, Arad sits on a high plateau between Be’er Sheva and the Dead Sea. There are no sights worthy of mention in the town. With other words, when you’re looking for a place to eat or sleep when you’re visiting the Dead Sea, this is the town for you. Map.
Tel Arad National Park (057 776 2170; http://www.parks.org.il; adult/student/child 15/13/7NIS; h8am-4pm Sat-Thu year-round, 8am-3pm Fri Apr-Sep, 8am-2pm Fri Oct-Mar)
The remains of two ancient settlements can be found at this archaeological site 13km northwest of the modern city of Arad. The lower city was inhabited in the Early Bronze Age (3150–2200 BCE) and the upper city was first settled in the Israelite period (1200 BCE). Highlights include the remains of an Israelite temple. To reach the site from Arad, take Hwy 31 and turn right (north) at the Tel Arad junction onto Hwy 80 (direction: Jerusalem).
Sleeping & Eating
Blau Weiss Youth Hostel (02-594 5599; firstname.lastname@example.org; 34 Atad St; dm/s/d 150/355/450NIS)
From the outside, this recently refurbished IYHA-affiliated hostel resembles an army barracks. But inside, the 53 clean and comfortable rooms are set within a lush and attractive garden. All have fridge, kettle and cable TV. To get here, walk east from the bus station up Yehuda St, turn right into HaPalmach St and then left at the skate park.And I know, because I visited and slept there.
Yehelim (052 652 2718, 077 563 2806; http://www.yehelim.com; 72 Moav St; d 850-950NIS, f 1200NIS, ste 1500-1800NIS)
A recent renovation and expansion of this family-friendly hotel has certainly raised the bar in the Arad accommodation stakes – nothing else even comes close in the areas of comfort and style. Located on the residential edge of town, it has 15 large rooms with cable TV and a kettle; suites sport a spa bath and coffee machine. But I hit my head again on that sealing.
Kaparuc’hka (08-860 6615; 19 Ahwa St; pizzas 29-36NIS; 9am-9pm Sun-Thu, 9am-3pm Fri)
Travel writers tend to overuse the word ‘gem’, but here it really does apply. Opened in 2014, this tiny place is run by Lisa and Uriga, seasoned travelers and committed foodies, and it is far and away the best eating option in town. The limited menu includes an antipasti platter, caprese salad, pizzas, calzones and delicious home-made desserts and cakes. There’s a good range of imported beers, local wine and good espresso coffee to enjoy with your meal, and a choice of indoor and outdoor seating. To find it, head east along Elazar Ben Yair and turn right into Ahwa St after the park. And there is that excellent beer they serve. I mean I don’t like beer and can’t handle it, but when it’s hot, then beer it is. Better then cola with that weather.
Muza (08-997 5555; http://www.muza-arad.co.il; Rte 31; burgers 37-62NIS, pasta 42-52NIS; 8am-1am)
Decked out with team scarves and pennants from around the world, this big sports-oriented pub near the petrol stations serves huge plates of hearty food including burgers, pasta and sandwiches. The simplest dishes are the best choices, because when you choose something complicated, they will look at you with wide eyes and then you will be surprised by the result (which nobody will recognize as you intended).
How to come there?
Metropoline bus 388 travels frequently between the central bus terminal on Yehuda St in Arad and Be’er Sheva (19NIS, 40 minutes). Services operate from 6am to 11.40pm Sunday to Thursday, to 4.45pm on Friday and from 6.45pm on Saturday. Egged bus 384 links Arad with the main (eastern) entrance to Masada (one hour, three or four daily Sunday to Thursday, two on Friday).
To get to Masada’s western (Roman ramp) entrance and its sound-and-light show by car or taxi (day/night 120/150NIS), take Rte 3199 from the back of Arad. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes.