One of the most gloriously isolated spots in Israel, Shivta was founded during the early Roman period (1st century BCE). Its well-preserved ruins – including three churches, houses, tiled streets and an impressive irrigation system – date from the Byzantine period (5th to 7th centuries CE), when it was an important stop on the caravan route between Egypt and Anatolia. Shivta is 60km southwest of Be’er Sheva, 8km south off Rte 211.
To fully enjoy Shivta's splendid desert isolation, you can stay overnight (www.nabato.co.il); a double (including breakfast and air-con), in a stone building constructed in the 1930s by an archaeological research team, costs 420NIS to 550NIS from September to May, 380NIS to 480NIS the rest of the year.
The Israel Defence Forces' Shivta artillery base, 5km north, is linked to Be'er Sheva (13NIS, three to five times daily Sunday to Friday) by Metropoline bus 44; inn owner Ami is happy to pick up B&B guests.