Updated: Sep 18
When visiting Israel there are endless things to do and see. From religious sites, cultural highlights, history, and nature. Many travelers find themselves based in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem, and one of the most popular sits is none other then Masada. Here is everything you need to know about a day trip from Tel Aviv to Masada.
Combining history with epic views, Masada is one of the top most visited attractions in Israel and if you are looking for something unique and fun for the whole family it's a great destination for a memorable day trip.
How to Get There?
Masada is located east of Tel Aviv, overlooking the Dead Sea. Whilst only being an hour drive away from Jerusalem, Masada can be up to 2.5 hours drive from Tel Aviv.
The most popular time to visit Masada, is prior to sunrise as you get to hike up the fortification whilst it is still cool outside and when reaching the summit, are greeted by the most beautiful sunrise over Jordan and the Dead Sea. Should you be trying to make it to Masada before sunrise, the drive will be a lot quicker for your day trip from Tel Aviv to Masada, as there will be no traffic, cutting out significant driving times.
There is easy access to parking at the bottom of Masada, and the best way to get to Masada is via a private vehicle. Apart from easier drives, you will also be able to stop along the way south on your day trip to Masada, to take pictures and explore the area on the drive down. At the right times, on the drive down you get to see shepherds and their flocks as well as camels and other livestock along the roads down south, so have your camera prepared, as the people are friendly and will be happy to pose for a picture with you.
If a private vehicle is not an option, there are many public transportation options that will take you to Masada at an affordable price. There are a few downsides, as you will be hard pressed to find a bus to take you straight there without transfers for your day trip from Tel Aviv to Masada. Your best and most efficient option would be to catch a train to Jerusalem Central Station, and from there, you can catch any of the numerous buses to Masada.
Another viable option is transport via a semi guided tour. The guide will drive you down and point out the geography of the area and significant landmarks, but you can climb Masada by yourself. This is also a great option especially if you want to head to the Dead Sea afterwards, and you can get a private ride to the beach you would like to go to.
What is Masada?
Overlooking the Dead Sea, is a fortification built upon a rock plateau that was constructed between 37 - 31 BCE by Herod the Great, who built two castles here. The immense fortress was city-like in the fact it had storehouses, barracks , an armory, palaces, and cisterns that would collect rainwater. The top of Masada is flat, but all around it are steep cliffs making the climb impossible except on the designated paths which are not the easiest to climb either. It is fascinating to climb Masada, as you are walking the paths where stones and other construction material were manually carried up over 2,00 years ago to build the fortification and gives you a great insight into the difficulty the construction of Masada was.
The climb up can take between an hour and one and half hours, and the descent can take under an hour to complete. The path is rocky and uneven but is doable even for an unseasoned hiker. With caution and a slow pace, the path up or down can be a great hike experience. There is no running water on the climb so ensure you fill up your bottles prior to ascent or descent at the many water taps that can be found before the climb.
For those who do not wish to hike up or down, there is the option of taking the cable car. Easy, efficient and with great views, the cable car is a great option to get to the top of Masada without doing the climb. You can decide to go on the cable car for both ways, but if you would like to just walk one way, whether that be up or down, you can purchase tickets just for the journey of the cable car you want to take.
After visiting Masada, take a dip by the Dead Sea or visit the nature reserve of Ein Gedi! Happy Traveling!