Tel Arad, the site of the ancient city of Arad, is located some 10 km west of the modern city centre. Arad is a great centre for hiking and exploring the northeastern part of the Negev desert.
Modern Arad was founded in 1962 by young Israelis, most of them ex-kibbutzniks and ex-moshavniks, who were seeking an environment free of the urban ills of overcrowding, traffic, noise and pollution. Although not noted for its great beauty, the town's growth has closely followed a well-designed master plan. Arad's present population is approximately 28,000 (2003 estimate) and reflects the broad spectrum of Israeli society with a special emphasis on recent immigrants.
Take a bus from Beer Sheva. There are also less frequent buses from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities. Check the schedule for those ahead of time.
From Beer Sheva
From the Beer Sheva central bus station, line 386 (express), 387 (direct) and line 388 (higher frequency, but more intermediate stops) run to Arad. The price is ₪8.70.
From Tel Aviv
From Tel Aviv (Arlozorov terminal only), lines 389 and 421 run to Arad. Each line has only 2-3 trips per day each direction. Line 421 continues to the Dead Sea.
In addition, line 550 runs from Bnei Brak to Arad, approximately 9 times per day.
From Jerusalem, lines 554 and 555 run to Arad. These lines are oriented to the Haredi sector, so they start in Haredi neighborhoods rather than the central bus station. Together these lines have about 9 trips per day in each direction.
There are 5 local bus lines (Lines 1, 2, 3, 11 and 12) that serve all parts of the city. These lines are operated by Metropoline.
Having said that, Arad can easily be explored on foot.
- 1 Tel Arad National Park (At the Tel Arad junction on Route 31 (Arad-Shoket junction) turn north on Route 2808 - the park is 2 miles north of the junction.), ☏ , , fax: . Open April-September 8am-5pm, October-March 8am-4pm. The site of the ancient city, well worth a visit from an archaeological point of view. The site consists of two parts, the lower city (from the Bronze Age) and the upper city (an Israelite settlement). ₪14/12/7 adult/student/child&senior.
- 2 Lower City. This city from the Bronze Age was surrounded by a 1200m-long wall with half-round towers. Apparently, it was well planned including streets and houses.
- 3 Upper City. The Israeli upper city bears evidence of a re-settlement 1500 years later during the time of King David and Solomon, around 1150 B.C. Near the citadel an altar was situated and a smaller model version of Jerusalem. Remarkably, on one of the found shards engravings with reference to the house of JHWH (בית יהוה) were visible. The city was conquered during the Babylonian siege of Judea (597-577 B.C.). Later, under Achaemenid Persian rule, this was a place of worship and sacrifice. In the Hellenic and Roman period it was used as citadel, after which it was mostly uninhabited. From the 7th to 9th century, it was used by the Arabs for residence.
- 4 "Eshet Lot" – The artists' quarter. An exclusive quarter with its own brand of desert atmosphere, combining creativity and artistry is in the heart of the industrial zone, on the road leading down to the Dead Sea. The artists, who are all inhabitants of Arad, united together to create a productive community with an enhanced sensitivity towards the environment.
- 6 Arad Visitors Centre (downtown Arad, close to the mall and community centre), ☏ . April-September 8am-5pm, October-March 8am-4pm. The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority's visitors centre introduces visitors to the geology and history of the Judaean Desert. Its audiovisual program uses water and a 3D model of the Judaean Desert to demonstrate why this desert is so prone to flooding. Artifacts from Tel Arad and models of Canaanite Arad and the Israelite-period fortress are on display in the section devoted to history. A multi-screen video presentation brings the visitor back to the present and the modern city of Arad. The Visitors Centre has information on hiking trails, events and areas of interest in the Judaean Desert. Visitors can purchase maps, sheets with suggested hiking routes and related literature. adults ₪23, children ₪12.
- 7 Yatir Forest. One of the biggest forests in Israel and popular in summer for hiking and biking. The Israel National Trail runs through the forest and by Tel Arad.
- 8 Moav Lookout. Here the Israeli artist Yigal Tumarkin created a big outdoor sculpture in 1968.
- Camel herds, owned by the local Bedouins, can be spotted along the main road before and after the 1 junction one third of the way between Arad and Ein Bokek.
There are some hiking destinations east. Align with the local tourist information.
- The biggest shopping mall, 1 Arad Mall, is located in the centre of the city
- The 2 Town Market is famous for its weekly market on Mondays
There are apparently many private rooms available for rent here – try the usual suspects.
- 1 Arad Tandem, Gilad St 21, ☏ , , ✉ Saltroomarad@gmail.com. This is the secret in town. Offers a great apartment with 3 rooms (including private) and all necessities. Book through their website or just call ahead, they are not so firm with online bookings, but you want to make sure it is not fully booked. Don't mind the dog when walking up to their house - there is no sign, you have to walk up on the left side and knock. From ₪95 for a bed in a 4 bed room (supposedly $34 during high season, but the website doesn't say something like it).
- 2 Dead Sea Adventure Hostel, Odem St 68 (Rotem), ☏ , ✉ Deadseaadventurehostel@gmail.com. Also offers tours into the surrounding area. Dorms from ₪85.
- 3 Desert Bird Hostel, 28 Bareket St. (Rotem), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Another budget option. Member of ILH. Dorm bed from ₪100.
- 4 Israel YHA Hostel Arad (Blau-Weiss Hostel), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Book ahead, not to get an expensive private room offered if you arrive late. Dorm bed from ₪145.
Mid range / Splurge
- Masada – A former Roman fortress on top of a mountain. The only road access to the west side of Masada is through Arad. This route is popular for those arriving early for sunsets.
Besides that, Arad is a great location for trips to all directions including:
- Dead Sea – One of the most famous things to see/do in Israel and Jordan.
- Judaean Desert – Visit its various attractions, next to the Dead Sea.
- Beer Sheva – University town, but does not much cater for tourists and especially backpackers.
- Mitzpe Ramon – Great site, hikes and views on the edge of a giant crater.
- Eilat – Holiday town in the far south with border crossings to Jordan and Egypt.