Visiting the Dead Sea: Israel or Jordan?

There’s no question that the Dead Sea is a bucket list destination for anyone seeking a truly unforgettable experience. Nestled between Israel and Jordan in the Middle East, the Dead Sea’s bright blue waters sit at the Earth’s lowest point, 431 meters below sea level. In Israel, the sea is known as Yam HaMelach which means “the Salt Sea,” because the Dead Sea is the world’s saltiest body of water. Anyone who has the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea is privy to an incredibly spiritual and unique experience: being supported by the water and floating effortlessly on its surface. 

While it’s a no-brainer to visit the Dead Sea or not, the only question is whether to experience the wondrous lake through Jordan or Israel. To help you decide, we’ve put together this guide of what the Dead Sea is like in each of these incredible countries. 

Visiting the Dead Sea in Israel

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The crystal blue waters on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea

You will be impressed just as quickly if you visit the Dead Sea from Israel. People from all over the world visit the Yam HaMelach for its healing effects. There are many spa resorts, from affordable to luxurious, along the coastlines of the Dead Sea. Each offers soothing treatments using the natural salts and mineral-rich mud from the sea. For the more adventurous, skip the spa, slather yourself with mud, and enter the healing waters yourself. The two most popular spots for visiting the Dead Sea in Israel are Neve Zohar, near Zohar Hot Spring Beach, and Ein Bokek, a bustling resort town with a wide selection of shops, restaurants, and bars.

What Else is There to Do in Israel Around the Dead Sea?

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Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the desert oasis next to the Dead Sea

Israel’s Dead Sea beaches are only a few kilometers away from natural treasures such as Masada National Park and Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Masada is an iconic and historical fortress that sits atop a flat plateau above the Dead Sea, built by King Herod in 30 BCE. You can reach the top by hiking the beautiful rocky ascent or riding a cable car. A guided tour is the best way to relive the historical significance of the Jewish zealots who made Masada their last stronghold during the great revolt against Rome. Most first-time visitors take the chance to start their hike early, just in time to witness the magnificent sunrise over the hills of the Dead Sea.

If you start your day early, you can easily make your next stop at Ein Gedi National Park, which is only a few minutes north of Masada. Ein Gedi is home to mystic pools of fresh water along a fun hiking trail. The Nahal David Stream is easier to access and hosts the park’s main pools, but if you’re up for a worthwhile challenge, start from the Nahal Arugot entrance, the less popular route. You’ll find your private oasis perfect for a unique photo op and you might even catch an ibex or Israeli Gazelle perched on top of a cliffside. It’s easy to visit Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea all in one day with tours leaving daily from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. 

How to Get to the Dead Sea in Israel

The Dead Sea in Israel is more remote than Jordan’s side as its trip there takes over an hour from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There are daily buses to the Dead Sea from the major cities, however the easiest way to get to the Dead Sea yourself is on a shuttle especially catered for one-day visits. Or, for a full day experience,  you can get to Israel’s Dead Sea through one of our Dead Sea and Masada Tours, which leave every day from both of Israel’s main cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A tour is the best way to make the most of the region, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the magical salty lake and surrounding areas.

Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan

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The silent waters on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea

Visiting the Dead Sea from Jordan is a great choice too, especially if you’re looking for a more low-key experience. Only a 45-minute drive from Amman, Jordan’s capital, the beaches are easy to get to, yet they provide a tranquil experience. The sea is quieter on Jordan’s side, making it the perfect getaway. You can sunbathe while soaking in the beautiful surrounding desert landscape or wade into the salty turquoise waters and instantly float. Enjoy more casual resorts at Amman Beach, adventurous ones at Aqaba Beach, known for snorkelers and divers, or indulge at some of the Dead Sea’s more luxurious spas and poolside bars further along the Jordanian Dead Sea coastline.

What Else is There to Do in Jordan Around the Dead Sea?

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Biblical mosaic in the ancient city of Madaba, from almost 2,000 years ago

The Dead Sea in Jordan is close to many historical sites and fabulous attractions that could sway you to visit the salt lake on Jordan’s side. A stunning hiking trail leads to the Dead Sea Panorama Complex, a museum, and a restaurant sitting atop a cliff. You can catch the breathtaking panorama of the Judean mountains accompanied by a delicious meal.

If you’re staying in the northern part of the Dead Sea, there are two nearby landmarks you can’t miss: the Mosaic city of Madaba; and Mount Nebo, considered where Moses was laid to rest, are close by. Madaba is located on the ancient King’s Highway trade route. Visiting this ancient city feels like stepping back in time. A remarkable mosaic of the Holy Land from a 6th-century artist is preserved in the St. George Church. Mount Nebo is only 10 kilometers away, offers the best panoramic view over the Dead Sea, and is full of archaeological mosaics of winemakers, hunters, and animals. See both of these amazing locations on this wonderful tour of Madaba, Mount Nebo and Jerash from Amman, to see the Dead Sea in all it’s glory. 

How to get to the Dead Sea in Jordan

It’s straightforward to get to the Dead Sea in Jordan. You can take a bus from many cities across Jordan with several operations regularly from Amman. Alternatively, you can take a cab but negotiate a price in advance with the driver to stay to drive you back because it’s hard to find a taxi from the beaches. Car rental is another option, as the main Dead Sea Highway leads straight to the sea.

If you want a convenient and worthwhile experience, joining a guided or private tour is the best way to see everything the region offers. Explore the area with tours like Jerash, Madaba and Mount Nebo with pick-up from Amman or see all of our Israel & Jordan tour packages. If you’re planning a relaxing Dead Sea Jordan getaway, don’t worry: you can even take a tour to Jerusalem with tours to the Holy City from the Dead Sea, with pick up and drop off from your Jordanian Dead Sea hotel.

So Which Country Should You choose: Israel or Jordan?

Both Israel and Jordan’s Dead Sea experiences have their benefits. Each offers luxurious resorts and public beaches for visitors to experience the wonders of the Dead Sea. No matter which route you take, the Dead Sea is a one-of-a-kind destination surrounded by mystical natural waters and mud on all sides. But to truly decide on which side of the famous sea is better, the only option is to explore both sides of the Dead Sea by joining an Israel and Jordan Package Tour. It’s the perfect way to explore the magic of these two Middle Eastern jewels.