The Masada and Dead Sea day tour is the most popular day tour in Israel (outside Jerusalem) and with good reason.
The scenery of the Judaean Desert is simply breathtaking, floating in the Dead Sea is an amazing experience, and Masada is a must-see site that combines two dramatic historical stories: the story of King Herod and the story of the rebels.
Masada is one site but it has two different entrances. Most tourists arrive via the eastern entry point, from the direction of the Dead Sea, which is the main one.
It takes an hour and a half to drive there from Jerusalem, whereas it takes two hours to reach the western entrance.
If you want to visit the Dead Sea after or before visiting Masada, it will only take you 15 minutes to get to its shores.
Public transportation only goes to the main entrance. (Bus 486 and others.)
It is closer to the accommodations located in the Judaean Desert: the Dead Sea hotels, Ein Gedi.
The food court, the small Masada museum, the cable car, and the snake path are all located at the main entrance.
You can easily visit Masada on your own.
The Judaean Desert is really easy to navigate as there is only one road, Road 90, and all the main sites are along this road: Masada, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea shores, Qumran…
There is a bus to Jerusalem approximately every hour.
The advantage, of course, is that you can use your time as you wish. For example, you might choose to spend less time in the Dead Sea and Masada and do a longer hike in Ein Gedi.
That being said, if you are limited on time and want to see Masada, Ein Gadi and the Dead Sea on a day tour from Jerusalem (or Tel Aviv), joining a tour will save you all the hassle of renting a car.
This tour starts very early in the morning in Jerusalem (and super-mega-early in Tel Aviv ????), depending on when the sun rises.
You arrive at Masada around 5am, walk up the snake path, visit the site and at about 8am you continue on to Ein Gedi national park, finishing the tour off by visiting the Dead Sea. (Some tours might not include Ein Gedi).
The advantage of this tour is that you get to see Masada before it gets really full and, in summer, before it gets really hot.
This is the same as the sunrise tour but you leave Jerusalem or Tel Aviv at a more reasonable hour.
In Masada you take the cable car up the mountain. On some tours you need to pay for it and on others it is included.
The price for an adult is 77 shekels (entry and cable car). In summer I don’t recommend ascending via the snake path.
Of all the companies that offer tours to Masada, I like to recommend Abraham Tours for a few reasons.
The first, and perhaps the most important one, is that they really do care about providing a great experience.
They don’t take you into shops. Also, they are the most affordable tour.
The only thing is that they don’t provide a guide, but if you have my Masada video tour, you have me as a guide, so consider that problem solved!
(Purchase my Masada video tour before you sign up for the tour and at the first station you will find a 10% discount code for Abraham hostels and tours.)
Here are the links to the tours:
How long does it take to get from Tel Aviv to Masada?
Two and a half hours.
How long does it take to get from Jerusalem to Masada?
One and a half hours.
How much does it cost to enter the site?
Entry costs 31 shekels; the cable car costs 46 shekels.
Do you need to register in advance?
It’s better if you do. You can do that here: https://en.parks.org.il/reserve-park/masada-national-park/
How long does it take to climb the snake path?
40 minutes if you’re fit. One hour for the average person.
How long does it take to visit the site?
About three hours.
What do I need to bring?
A hat, comfortable shoes, sun cream, sun glasses, and a bottle of water. You will probably continue to the Dead Sea, so remember your bathing suit (and no shaving the day before!).
Are there taps I can use to fill my water bottle?
There are taps and toilets both in the entrance hall and at the top of the mountain.