VIDEO Guide for Tourists & Visitors to Masada Israel
Masada is one of the most visited sites in Israel as it holds great historical importance. The ancient fortress on top of a rocky plateau was the last stronghold during the First Roman-Jewish War.
The fortress was originally constructed by King Herod in 31 BCE. Years later, it was the refuge of a group of Jewish rebels. After the siege of Masada , Roman forces discovered that the rebels had chosen to take their own lives instead of becoming slaves. The site is now a symbol of heroism and a popular tourist attraction. Getting to Masada
Located on the eastern edge of the Judean Deser t, Masada Israel is a short trip from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other major cities in Israel. The entrance to Masada National Park is near Road 90, which runs along the Israeli side of the Dead Sea .
Bus routes run to and from Masada and several cities. When traveling from Jerusalem or Ein Gedi, take the 486 bus. If arriving from Tel Aviv, take the 421 bus from the Tel Aviv Arlozorov Terminal 2000. The bus will drop you off at the main entrance near road 90. The price is about NIS 40 when traveling from Jerusalem.
Another option is to take a group Masada tour. The tours include transportation to and from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Eilat.
You may prefer to reach Masada Israel via taxi or car. From Jerusalem, it’s a 1.5-hour drive along Route 90 which travels along the scenic coast of the Dead Sea. From Tel Aviv, it’s a 2-hour drive, either along the same Route 90 or via the Route-6 toll road which travels through the centre of the country. Climbing Masada
After you arrive at the base of the mountain, there are three paths to visit Masada:
The Snake Path
The Assault Ramp
The Cable Car
Each option has its own advantages. The cable car is the quickest and easiest while the other two choices involve hiking. However, a Masada hike gives you a chance to enjoy the landscape.
The Snake Path
The Masada Snake Path is a winding trail that takes 45 to 60 minutes to travel. It is considered the most rewarding path but requires frequent breaks when hiking in the heat.
The Snake Path starts near the entrance to the park and visitor’s center. It is about 400 meters below sea level. The mountain stands 450 meters high, making the climb an 850-meter ascent.
The path includes a combination of dirt, stone steps, and loose rocks. While inexperienced hikers should have no problem with the trail, all visitors should watch their steps, especially when starting during sunrise.
Due to sun exposure, the Snake Path typically closes at 10 am. It is also advisable to bring water and a hat to deal with the heat.
The Assault ramp
The assault ramp is a more casual walk compared to the Snake Path, thanks to its gradual incline up the slope of the mountain. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to ascend.
The path starts on the west side of the mountain, requiring a 40-minute detour from the entrance to the National Park. You can reach it from Road 3199.
The Cable car
The cable car is a great choice on hot days when you want to quickly reach the top. It is also the easiest option as you can sit back and enjoy the short ride to the top.
The base of Masada includes a museum and visitor’s center where you can purchase tickets for the cable car. The ride only takes about three minutes.
If you arrive early, keep in mind that the cable cars do not start until 8 am.
What to do at Masada
When you arrive at the visitor center, you receive a map of the ruins. The highlights of a Masada trip include:
If you arrive on a Tuesday or Thursday between March and October, you can also enjoy a sound and light show. The show uses light effects and music to represent the history of Masada.
The Masada Museum
Masada Visitors Centre includes a museum, providing visitors with a chance to examine the history of the site. You can learn about the siege of Masada, giving you background information before you view the archaeological sites on top of the mountain.
The Northern Palace
The remains of the Northern Palace are at the northern tip of the rocky plateau. You can see the remnants of the walls and parts of the palace. It includes several terraces and a courtyard surrounded by rows of columns.
The Masada Synagogue
During archaeological digs of the site, archaeologists uncovered a synagogue. It is likely one of the oldest synagogues in the world. When the Zealots overtook the Roman garrison at Masada, they altered the synagogue by adding stone benches.
The Masada Bathhouse
Near the remains of the synagogue and palace are the remains of a Roman bathhouse. The bathhouse included a large courtyard, a changing room, and several separate rooms for warm, cold, or hot baths. The hot bath featured an underfloor heating system.
As with the other sites at Masada, mostly just the walls and outline of the bathhouse remain. However, standing near the baths provides a view of most of the fortress.
The Byzantine Church
One of the most intact areas is the Byzantine Church. A portion of the wall and window remain. The church was built by Byzantine monks several hundred years after the siege of Masada.
The Western Palace
The Western Palace is at the southern end of the plateau. It includes a few preserved structures. You can view Roman columns and a well-preserved mosaic floor.
When is the best time to visit Masada?
The best time of the day to visit Masada depends on the time of the year. During peak tourist seasons and the summer, a Masada sunrise tour helps you beat the crowds and the heat.
Spring & Summer
Between April and May, the climate is pleasant and mild. The crowds are also thinner in the spring compared to summer.
The temperatures in the region can become very hot during the summer, particularly during July and August. July and August is also the peak tourist season in Israel so expect longer lines at Masada and other attractions.
Fall & Winter
As with the springtime, fall offers mild weather, making the hike to the top of the plateau more comfortable. If visiting between October and November, you should find fewer crowds.
How much does it cost to enter Masada?
The Masada entrance fee is NIS 29
Discounts are also available for seniors and students. See below for full pricing:
Entrance + cable car
Entrance + cable car – one way
The Snake Trail
The Ramp Trail
Single adult 74
Adult in group (over 30 people) 69
MoE’s student 35
Single youth (5-17) 42
Youth in group )over 20 people) 39
Senior citizen 37
In active reserve service 56
IDF’s disabled 37
Victims of hostile acts 37
Soldier in regular service 0
National service 0
EDI donor 0
Victim of the Nazis 0
Disabled escort 0
Where to eat at Masada
The most convenient option is the Visitors Centre Food Court. The food court has stalls serving sandwiches, salads, shawarma, and falafels. The typical price of a meal is NIS 65.
Unfortunately, there are no other options within the park. It is a good idea to eat before you leave the hotel or take a bus to Masada.
If you have your own transportation, you may also travel up or down the coast to find places to eat. The nearest cities are Ein Gedi to the north and Ein Bokek to the south. Both areas are on Road 90 along the coast of the Dead Sea.
There are many public tours that leave from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ein Gedi. These tours include transportation and helpful guides that explain the history and significance of the sites that you explore. Some of the most popular tours include:
Masada Sunrise Tour
Masada Private Day Tour
Masada and Dead Sea Tour
Masada, Ein Gedi, and Dead Sea Tour
Most of these tours are available every day. However, due to the popularity of Masada, you may want to arrange a spot on the tour in advance.
Places to stay at Masada
Visitors have many options for accommodations around Masada, including the Masada Guest House. The hotel is just a four-minute walk from the entrance to Masada National Park. A youth hostel is also near the entrance on Road 90.
Along with the hotel and hostel, additional accommodations are found in Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek. These options are convenient for those who want to reach Masada early in the morning, compared to staying in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
There are also a few boutique hotels on Road 3199, providing access to Masada from the west.
If you are thinking of visiting the area, consider arranging a tour of Masada that includes the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi National Park. Public tours simplify the process, eliminating the need to worry about when to arrive or how to get there.