Things to See and Do in Israel’s Negev Desert

October 17th 2018

Israel’s Negev Desert is not usually high on the average tourist’s itinerary. And this is a shame as there are plenty of things to see and do in this vast desert region. Covering most of southern Israel, from Beersheba down to Eilat, the Negev has a rich history and a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Visitors will get to see the stunning desert landscapes, including sand dunes and awe-inspiring rock formations. Dotted within these landscapes are the ancient ruins of old settlements, copper mines, and trading routes dating all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians.

Some of the attractions and activities you can enjoy, if you take time out to visit the Negev, include the following:


With so little artificial light, the Negev is a perfect place to view the stars. The desert by night is an amazing place. There’s a deep silence and peace to be felt, and when combined with the majesty of the stars above your head, it’s a truly remarkable experience. You can also camp out overnight in certain spots.

Camel Rides

Follow in the footsteps (or camel steps) of ancient traders and Bedouin. Guided camel rides allow you to see the wonders of the desert from the relative comfort of a camel’s back, and experience what it might have felt like for desert travelers down the centuries. You can also enjoy a traditional lunch at a Bedouin settlement after your ride.

Jeep Tours

Jeep tours are an even faster way to see more of the Negev. A guide will drive you to some of the deeper parts of the desert, through wadis and over sand dunes. They’ll provide you with wonderful insights into the history, culture, geology, and wildlife of Israel’s southern desert.

Mitzpeh Ramon Crater

The Ramon Crater looks like the scene of a meteor strike. However, it’s actually a naturally occurring geological phenomenon. Known as a makhtesh, the huge landform is exclusive to the Negev and scientists believe it was created through erosion. The Ramon Crater is 25 miles long, 6 miles wide (at its widest point), and nearly 2,000 feet deep, with big mountain ridges on all sides. The nearby town of Mitzpe Ramon provides accommodation and stunning views across the crater.

Tel Be’er Sheva National Park

The Tel Be’er Sheva National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which contains the archeological remains of the biblical city of Beer Sheva. Today, visitors can tour the reconstructed town as it once looked during the 8th century BCE. Reconstructions and restorations include the fortification walls, gates, towers, the main alter, houses, storerooms, the governor’s palace, and the sophisticated water system that was in place at the time.

From the lookout tower you can enjoy an amazing view across the surrounding Negev Desert and in the distance, the modern city of Beersheva.

Timna Nature Reserve

Located approximately 17 miles north of Eilat, the Timna Nature Reserve is renowned for its stunning geological features, archeological finds, and copper mining history. Rock drawings carved by numerous ancient peoples, including most notably the Ancient Egyptians, have been found in caves in the area.

There are hiking and cycling routes throughout the reserve, as well as a manmade lake which is ideal for family activities. You’ll find plenty of information about the fascinating history of copper mining, dating back thousands of years.