Arad, a southern Israeli city, might not be the first (or even second) place you think of when dreaming of places to visit in Israel, but it boasts many great attractions just the same.
The ethnically diverse city of about 24,000 offers quite a few advantages to travelers looking to explore the nearby Dead Sea, Masada National Park and Ein Gedi – some of Israel’s most popular tourist sites – as well as lesser-known destinations in Arad itself.
“Arad’s location gives it a number of distinct advantages,” Sandler [Anna Sandler, tourist coordinator for Arad] says. “To the east lies the Dead Sea, with its array of attractions, just to the north is the Judean Desert and to the south lies the Eastern Negev with its moon-like craters, breathtaking ridges and timeless wadis.”
One of the most significant attractions in the area is Tel Arad National Park, just northwest of the modern city. It boasts the remains of a fortified Canaanite settlement from the Bronze Era whose walls, streets, shrines, castle and waterworks are still visible, along with a fortress from the period of the Judean kings.
Arad Park, a Jewish National Fund grove, is perfect for picnics and nature recreation. Arad offers opportunities for rappelling, desert hikes, jeep and bike tours, and Sandler is planning some extreme sport festivals for the near future to showcase Arad as a destination for desert athletes.