One of the most emblematic pictures of a vacation in Israel shows people floating on the Dead Sea reading their newspaper, covered in therapeutic mud at the lowest place on earth.
Another awe-inspiring shot shows the majestic fortress of Masada overlooking the Judean desert. No wonder most tourists to Israel make Masada and the Dead Sea a priority on their itinerary.
Here are some options of how you can discover these landmarks depending on the way you like to travel.
One-day tours to Masada and the Dead Sea starting from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, kick off with a drive through the Judean Desert before exploring the historic site of Masada and hearing from your tour guide about the tragic events that took place 2000 years ago.
Expect breathtaking views and moving tales. You’ll then be taken to a private Dead Sea beach to chill out and enjoy the local minerals’ properties. A short visit to the Ahava Dead Sea shop where you have the option to purchase beauty products is normally also included.
This itinerary enables you to have a real taste for the destination, under the guidance of a multi-lingual tour guide, in the company of fellow travelers from around the world.
Choosing a dedicated private tour (1-9 people) means you’ll have more time to ask questions and set the timetable for the day — one of the highlights could be to hike up the snake path (~45min) and reach Masada at dawn to witness a memorable sunrise, or simply use the Masada cable-car, which is actually the lowest cable-car on earth.
You will travel in a private vehicle to the same destinations covered by the group tours, as well as additional ones. Whether your interests lie in history, adventure, or pampering, your guide will make sure the itinerary reflects these — or a mix of all.
You could also decide to treat yourself with a "Lunch & Swim" stop at one of the Dead Sea hotel resorts at Ein Bokek or choose to take an aerial Jeep tour.
Masada and the Dead Sea are not the only mesmerising attractions in the area. If you want to see where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem) head to the Qumram caves, a fascinating historical site.
For lush vegetation and a relaxing setting featuring waterfalls and pools, few places beat Ein Gedi Nature Park where you can also enjoy beautiful hiking trails. Nearby attractions include the Ein Gedi Beach and the Ein Gedi Kibbutz, including the Botanical Garden filled with hundreds of local species.
These extras are available on private tours and self-guided day tours only.
Words: Sonia Esther Soltani