When temperatures are rising and everyone’s dreaming of hitting the beach, it’s the right time to head south to the city that laughs in the face of VAT (it simply doesn't exist there). Spacious dance floors that are the settings for Mizrahi (Israel's version of Mediterranean music), hip-hop and rock parties, great food, pool tables, sports games projected on huge screens – Eilat nightlife is full of possibilities unlike those anywhere else in Israel. So, with the Jewish holidays still ahead of us and summer at its peak, the resort city is a truly refreshing place to be – and not just because it doesn’t have the awful humidity that plagues the center of the country (Leave your hyaluronic acid at home. It's not suitable for this dry weather). Here are the bars and clubs you should check out.
1. For serious clubbers: The Crazy Elephant (map)
The Crazy Elephant is the mega-club that put Eilat on the nightlife map. It can hold more than 1,000 people. Besides the larger-than-life dance floor, you’ll also find top-notch sound and lighting, and a platform for an ever-changing series of DJs. As for alcohol, it has a number of superbly stocked bars. The Crazy Elephant also has sitting areas for those few moments when you may resist dancing, as well as VIP spaces if you want to feel special for the night.
2. Go-to place for locals: Bears Pub (Pub Hadubim) (map)
While this pub gladdens the hearts of tourists, it hasn’t forgotten about the local crowd, and follows a proven formula: Midweek the focus is rock, while on weekends things get turned up a notch with dance music. Although there isn’t much of a dance floor, the atmosphere at Bears Pub gets people on their feet, making good use of every spare inch of space to dance. Once a week there is a differently theme evening. And if you want to keep all the fun for yourself, you can rent the pub for a private event.
3. For anyone who's anyone: Selena (map)
This open-air nightclub boasts 2,000 square meters of space and a huge stage with the city’s most advanced sound and lighting systems. Throughout the summer, Selena hosts a series of leading internationally acclaimed artists (Netta Barzilai once performed here). Every weekend, top DJs from elsewhere join the two house DJs to perform for the thousands of clubbers who’ve become addicted to this place. At Selena there are seven bars, 50 sitting areas, a food court and a changing lineup of attractions – like Tuesday hip-hop nights.
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4. For lovers of all things Irish: Paddy’s (map)
Paddy’s, located at the entrance to the tourism center of town, is an Irish pub and, as can be expected, specializes in alcohol. On the menu you’ll find more than 15 kinds of draft beer, 50 bottled beers and 40 types of whiskey. There are two floors; the lower one has a seating area and a bar, and the upper level has another bar and four pool tables. At Paddy’s they’re into sports too, and broadcast basketball games and Champions’ League matches. On the weekends there is live music outdoors and on Fridays, a Kabbalat Shabbat from 5:30 P.M. to 10 P.M.
5. Easy on the pocketbook: Shama Shama (map)
Shama Shama is a neighborhood pub that opened about three years ago. The owners, two high-energy Eilat natives, have created a pleasant place where customers are warmly welcomed. At the entrance you’ll find a long, well-designed bar and there's also a balcony where you can look out over the city. On weekends, there’s always a “drinking challenge” – such as drinking through a snorkel with a funnel – with the winner receiving a tray of Jameson chasers. During the week, there’s an open stage for musicians who come to jam, which is fun for them and for everyone else in the area. A total win-win situation.
6. Straight from Bangkok: Drinkin Bar (map)
Drinkin was invented just for those of you who are nostalgic about that trip to Thailand. The club shares the same communal approach you find in the land of Pad Thai with its beautiful beaches. It offers a wide array of alcohol buckets along with an extensive beer and cocktail menu – all at prices that will remind you of your trip to the East. If you’ve been trying to find a place that won’t deplete your savings and where you can still party it up, Drinkin is the answer.
7. A night out with the family: Three Monkeys (map)
Around for more than two decades, the Three Monkeys Pub is probably the most famous bar in Eilat, and it has maintained its reputation all this time. Located in the center of the boardwalk, it features live music every night and hosts bands from abroad, often British ones. The pub also has an extensive food menu and excels at cocktails, with 150 (!) different concoctions on offer. The place also hosts festive screenings of soccer games. The crowd is quite varied, both in age and in languages spoken.
8. Beer and a show: Branja (map)
Branja is a restaurant-café that morphs into a bar at night and hosts locals and visitors from all over the country. The week kicks off there with “Acoustic Monday,” featuring live music. It’s a pretty laid-back place that closes around 1:00 A.M., with a menu offering a nice selection of beer and refreshing cocktails. There are also some interesting first courses that go well with a drink – like stuffed grape leaves and eggplant dishes, but if you’ve come with a big appetite, there is also plenty to satisfy you too: sandwiches, breakfast dishes, salads, pastas and dairy and meat entrees.
9. A branch of a chain: Drink Point (map)
The pub chain that has planted a flag just about everywhere else in Israel has also marked out its territory in Eilat. You all know the concept – a lot of alcohol for a little money. Like other branches, here too there are indoor and outdoor seating areas, and there are group deals on chasers and beer, even on alcohol buckets – because sharing is what counts in nightlife. And the soundtrack features nonstop dance hits that are perfect for any party.
10. Legendary: Gaby’s (map)
This is an intimate neighborhood bar that opened almost 30 years ago. Gaby, the owner and man behind the bar, is an experienced bartender who worked at several successful Eilat bars before opening his own place, which many locals call home. There is no kitchen or waiters, adding to the casual atmosphere. With fine alcohol and fair prices, rock 'n roll music and carrot munchies (yes, yes!), this place has everything you need after a long day at the beach. Gaby is interesting to talk to. Indeed, anyone who has come to drink at his establishment has likely heard his fascinating anecdotes about the history of music in the 20th century.
11. Eclectic: Bardak (map)
Bardak, which opened in 2010, has evolved from a small bar into a milestone in Eilat nightlife. It tries to promote young artists and hosts bands and DJs from around the country with sets that last into the wee hours. There are also different theme evenings, and it’s always colorful and interesting to hang around here, where you’ll find everything from indie artists to Reggaeton nights. There is also a good selection of whiskey and beer, and Bardak is conveniently located in the tourist center of the city. As you sit on the balcony enjoying the pleasant breeze, you may not want to return to more humid climes up north, anytime soon.
12. Over the top: Chateau (map)
The motto for this resto-bar could be ‘Opulent is not a dirty word.’ Chateau is not just a nightclub: It’s a vast complex that changes its look and feel depending on the hour and the day. During the week, the place is closed for private events, while from Thursday through Saturday it operates on a weekend schedule: In the early evening, you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and an excellent, nicely varied menu. From midnight on the menu switches to munchies that go with your drinks. A party vibe takes over and, well, what happens in Eilat, stays in Eilat.