A day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel-Aviv or any other city in Israel is a must for everyone visiting the country.
The day trip to Masada & Dead Sea is one of the most popular day trips across Israel. Of course, there is a reason for that – it’s fascinating! You can either do the day trip on your own (if you have a car), or join a tour as I did.
The day trip to Masada & Dead Sea consists of three parts: hiking the snake path to the top of Masada to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and the views, walking and hiking in the En Gedi National Park, and finally, swimming in the Dead Sea.
Except for the day trip to Masada & Dead Sea, I did another one to the West Bank. Visiting the West Bank was a completely different experience.
From Tel-Aviv, those are perhaps the two best day trips that you can take. If you’re not planning to go and stay in Jerusalem for longer, then a day trip to the city is also a must. I spend 6 days in Jerusalem, but even 2 would have been enough.
Because this is a sunrise tour, it starts very early. At 2 AM from Tel-Aviv, to be exact. The pick-up in Jerusalem is an hour later.
After not going to bed at all, at 1 AM I got out to walk the whole city to get to the pick-up location. I could have got a sherut but I decided to check out what’s going on around the city. People were partying and having fun, while I was walking half-awake, half-asleep to the other side of the city.
The day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel-Aviv started around 4:30 AM, when we got down from the bus and went on the line for tickets. At 5:01 AM, I started the hike to the top of Masada.
Day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel-Aviv: Masada
Masada is a fortress located in the Judean desert close to the Dead Sea. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage site for its history. The stories are telling that Jewish patriots inhabited this fortress and when it was finally penetrated by a conquering Roman army, 960 Jews committed mass suicide to elude capture although only 28 bodies have been found.
For some reason, I was imagining the way to the top of Masada like a walk in the park, when in the reality is a proper hike – easy but proper. It takes 30 to 40 minutes to hike from the entrance to the top of the fortress via the Snake path. When you’re visiting Masada for the sunrise, you don’t have the other option to take the cable car. You do have enough time to hike to the top, however.
When you start the hike to Masada, it will still be dark until the half the way to the top of the fortress. You don’t need a head lamp as you can still see where you’re walking – of course you can always take a head lamp with you, if you prefer to do so.
After I made it to the top of Masada, I had enough time to relax, meet some people and wait for the sunrise.
Unfortunately, on the day that I did the tour, the sky was not perfectly clear. The sunrise was still beautiful, just not that clear. Plus, you don’t get to see the sunrise over the Dead Sea from above every day. The Masada Sunrise was without any doubts a good start of the day!
Except for watching the sunrise over the Dead Sea and the desert, you have enough spare time on the top of the fortress to explore the place and learn something more about its history. I did not do that and used pretty much the whole time to enjoy the views.
Masada opening hours & cable car option:
April-September 8 AM – 5 PM
October-March 8 AM – 4 PM
The park opens for ascent on foot one hour before sunrise. It is NOT possible to take the cable car for the sunrise.
After Masada, our next stop was the Nature Reserve of EN Gedi.
Day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel-Aviv: En Gedi
En Gedi is an oasis between the Dead Sea and the desert. No trip to Masada & the Dead Sea is complete without a visit to the nature reserve as well, simply because of its location. En Gedi is only 15 minutes away from Masada.
The reserve is home to many animals, such as the Ibex, that I had the chance of seeing less than a meter away from me. One of the Ibexes even jumped off of the cliff when we were passing by.
The flora in the En Gedi reserve is rich as well. The combination of the location, temperatures, topographic composition and the water that runs through the reserve makes it possible for the varieties of flora and fauna to be able to survive in the reserve.
En Gedi is big and sadly, you don’t have enough of spare time on the tour to explore everything in the reserve. You do have enough time to walk around, get a glimpse of it, meet some animals and relax by or in one of the falls. Yes, you can even swim there too.
Day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel-Aviv: The Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea is both weird somehow and cool.
The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Israel, Jordan and Palestine. The lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea, it’s about 430 meters below the sea level. It’s one of the Earth’s saltiest bodies of water, which is the reason why plants and animals cannot flourish.
People are visiting the Dead Sea mainly because of the weird fact that you can just float on the surface, as well of the health benefits for the body. Rub the mud from the Sea on your skin and after you wash it off, you’ll notice that your skin has never been softer. The salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea are being used in many cosmetics.
Have you seen pictures of the Dead Sea? The ones where you can see a lot of small salt ”islands”? I have seen them too, but I don’t know the location of where are they taken. /If you know, please share, I would love to visit it next time 🙂 /.
The Dead Sea, as well the beach, are not anything amazing – but you went there for the experience anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
The experience of floating in the Dead Sea is weird at first, but then you easily get used to it.
You should be aware of few things before visiting the Dead Sea. I believe every beach has a sign stating the rules but people often don’t read those things, so here you go:
- Do NOT jump into the water
- Do NOT dive into the water
- Do NOT splash water on yourself or the others
- Do NOT drink the seawater
- Do NOT immerse your head
- Do NOT let the salt water going into your eyes or mouth
I tried the salt from the bottom of the sea and rubbed my whole body in mud. The salt was toooooo salty, but my skin after rubbing it with mud was so soft! I rarely use any cosmetics, but the natural Dead Sea mud was the best one so far.
I went on the Masada Sunrise, En Gedi & Dead Sea Tour with Tourist Israel. This is a self guided tour, which means that they make sure that you get from one place to another but you don’t have a guide explaining you stuff.
The tour includes the transportation to all sites and the entrance to the beach at the Dead Sea.
The tour excludes the entry fees for Masada (28 NIS) and En Gedi (28 NIS).
What to bring with you on the tour:
- Plenty of water
- Swimsuit & towel
- Walking shoes
I want to thank Tourist Israel for having me as a guest on their Masada & Dead Sea tour. As always, opinions are my own!
Thanks for reading,
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