Interesting Places Near the Dead Sea

August 6th 2018

The Dead Sea is one of the most visited attractions in Israel and for good reason. It’s famous worldwide as a place to float in beautifully warm and healing waters, due to its high salt density. When not floating or enjoying the luxury hotel resorts that hug the coastline, there are a number of other interesting places to visit nearby.

There’s something for everyone, including history lovers and those who want to enjoy long hikes in the surrounding Judean Desert. Here are some of our favorite places within just a few kilometers of the Dead Sea.

Masada National Park/Fortress

The Masada National Park is one of the most historically interesting sites in Israel outside Jerusalem. Located in the desert mountains next to the Dead Sea, the park is most renowned for the ancient hilltop Masada Fortress.

Perched on a tall rocky plateau, the fortress dates back to the time of King Herod. His northern palace remains one of the most visually striking features of the site. There’s also an ancient mikveh, a synagogue, bath house (with beautiful mosaics), and numerous watchtowers and storerooms.

The fortress can be accessed via a cable car or on foot by following the ‘snake path’. The visitors’ center and museum, at the base of the cable car, includes the story of the Jews of Masada, who committed mass suicide rather than be captured by the besieging Romans.

Ein Gedi Reserve

The Ein Gedi Reserve is a beautiful oasis of greenery within the desert mountains surrounding the Dead Sea. Rainfall in the Judean Mountains has forged out streams and waterfalls, providing a perfect desert environment for wildlife and the growth of rich vegetation.

The national park is popular with Israelis and tourists alike as a place to hike. There are numerous walking trails and cool clear pools in which to swim. Visitors will get to see a diverse range of flora and fauna including Acacia trees and Egyptian balsams. There’s also a chance of spotting herds of ibex, groups of hyrax, and even foxes, wolves, hyenas, and spotted leopards.

Kfar HaNokdim Bedouin Village

Kfar HaNokdim is a Bedouin-style village situated on the road leading to the Masada Fortress from the town of Arad. This Judean Desert oasis features palm trees, traditional-looking desert buildings, and biblically themed gardens.

Visitors can stay overnight and get to enjoy Bedouin hospitality, including delicious meals in open-sided tents. The village is an excellent way to learn more about Bedouin culture and lifestyle, as well as enjoy the surrounding desert scenery.

Qumran National Park

Located near the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea, the Qumran National Park is most famous for being the ancient home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were found in caves in the desert cliffs which fill the park and are popular with climbers.

The Qumran Visitors Center provides detailed information and fascinating exhibits about the famous scrolls and the history of the Qumran settlement. Visitors are able gain insights into the lives of the Essenes, the ancient Jews of that period. As well as historical artefacts, there are also many ruins to be viewed including those of an aqueduct, dining hall, ritual bath, and more.