When you stand on the edge of Mitzpe Ramon – a little desert town deep in the Negev desert – it feels you are on the edge of the world. Stretched out in front of you, there is nothing but miles and miles of desert moon landscape. It is so serene, the first time I stood there it took my breath away. This 40km wide and 2km long crater is the world’s biggest erosion crater – unbelievable that this seemingly desolate desert landscape once was an ocean filled with life! If you are visiting Israel and you are planning to spend some time in the desert, make sure Mitzpe Ramon is on your list. Just look at the photo below, isn’t that worth the drive south?
About three hours south of Tel Aviv lies Mitzpe Ramon, from where you can explore the makhtesh (crater in Hebrew). This little desert town was created to build the road to Eilat in the 1950’s, but has become a bohemian hub since then, like many desert towns in Israel. The town itself is not exactly a tourist attraction, but from there are all the activities into the crater. Because the drive to Tel Aviv is quite long, I do not recommend driving here for a day trip. On the way itself you will find many interesting viewpoints and sights you would most likely want to do a stopover, so it is quite impossible to do it all in one day. Mitzpe Ramon is also the astronomical hotspot of Israel with the least air pollution, at night there are stargazing tours available that are well worth staying for. Moreover, the sunset and sunrise over the crater is a once in a lifetime magical experience!
Getting to Mitzpe Ramon
By far the most comfortable way to get there is by car. Not that public transport is uncomfortable, but by bus you do not have the liberty to pull over and enjoy the scenery on the way south. If you are driving, I definitely recommend you to stop for a bite at the Kornmehl farm. This is an organic goat farm with a restaurant where they serve homemade delicious dishes, all made from goat cheese. You will also pass by the famous canyon of Ein Avdat, about which you can also find a blog on this site. I recommend you to visit the Ein Avdat viewpoint (higher entrance) right after Sde Boker – this is a little walk from the car (you have to pay entrance fee though) and you will have a magnificent view on the canyon.
If you cannot get there by car, the bus is a very good alternative. From Beer Sheva, the main hub in the Negev desert, busses to Mitzpe Ramon run regularly and are comfortable. It will drop you off right in the middle of town, from where you can easily walk to where you are staying. From Tel Aviv, the whole journey will take you approximately 3,5 hours.
Where to stay
What I really like about Mitzpe Ramon is that though it is a little town, there is a place to sleep for all kinds of travelers, from high end to eco lodgings underneath the stars. By far the most special place to stay is the famous Beresheet Hotel that lies right on the edge of the crater. It is from the Isrotel exclusive collection and is Israel’s most famous hotel; with its infinity pool overlooking the crater it is now a world-renowned hotel. The desert inspired décor is impeccable, the food is delicious, and your stay will truly be a five-star experience. Prices don’t come cheap though and the hotel is sold out most nights of the week, so in advance booking is a must. There is a cheaper Isrotel in town also, the Ramon Inn, with very reasonable prices and we found this a very comfortable option!
Mitzpe Ramon is also filled with Airbnb apartments, with several of them right on the edge of the crater. From there, you not even have the best views, but you are located right at the start of hiking trails and all the tourist attractions are at your doorstep. We found the prices very reasonable, this definitely is a good option if you prefer not to stay in a hotel.
For the travelers more on a budget, there is an amazing hostel on the edge of the crater called the Green Backpackers Hostel. It is cozy, clean and very comfortable. The atmosphere is great, and the crowd mostly consists of hikers. Another low budget option is the Silent Arrow Lodge. Also located on the edge of the crater, though a bit further out of town. This is an eco-lodge, with lots of character, great prices, clean and comfortable beds and a friendly vibe!