While I’m obviously partial to Jordan since I run an entire site about it and love visiting, I understand that people have travel decisions to make. Maybe it’s about how many days they have to visit Jordan, or whether to spend time in Wadi Rum or Petra. And maybe it’s about whether to visit Jordan or somewhere else, like a neighboring country… say, Israel!
While Israel and Jordan are neighboring countries, they both have a lot to offer, and people typically want to visit both – especially since both countries have access to the Dead Sea, a bucket list experience.
If you’re struggling to choose where to visit the Dead Sea – Jordan or Israel – I’ve put together this guide to help. I’ll cover all the info you need to know about the differences between visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan versus Israel, and my personal recommendation for which one to visit.
Where is the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is a fascinating place, with unique historic and geological features. Despite being called the Dead Sea, this body of water is actually a lake. The Dead Sea is a landlocked salt lake in the Middle East, which means it is located between two countries, Israel and Jordan. It forms part of its borders, with the eastern shore belonging to Jordan, and the southern half of the western shore belonging to Israel.
Where to Visit the Dead Sea?
If this alluring place is on your bucket list, you might be wondering where to visit the Dead Sea.
Luckily for us, travelers, we can visit the Dead Sea in Jordan or Israel. Both countries have the salty lake as a major tourist attraction and offer numerous alternatives to reach it and enjoy it.
Whether you’re planning a day trip or a lengthy stay, Jordan and Israel have conditioned the Dead Sea with luxury resorts and public beaches where visitors can float on the salty waters and enjoy the health benefits of slathering mud on their skin.
Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan
When in Jordan, visiting the Dead Sea is present in most travelers’ itineraries. Some choose to make it a day trip, while others prefer to spend a few days relaxing at one of its resorts.
One of the perks of visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan is that it is easily accessible from most cities. However, Amman and Aqaba are the best cities as a base to move around Jordan as they have the most varied means of transportation. Amman is 37 miles away from the Dead Sea, and takes around 45 minutes by car; from Aqaba, it’s a 170-mile trip to the Dead Sea, and takes three hours to reach it by car.
Keep on reading to find useful tips about how and where to visit the Dead Sea in Jordan.
How to get to the Dead Sea in Jordan
With the Dead Sea being such a popular destination, there are plenty of transport choices for travelers to get there. Which one you choose will depend on your budget and the city you’re traveling from.
Below, I’ve covered the different means of transportation you can consider for visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan, regardless of where you are departing from. However, I recommend you to check this guide if you’re visiting the Dead Sea from Amman for a detailed explanation of each transport alternative.
- Bus – Jordan’s public transport system isn’t exactly the most tourist-friendly. While it is the cheapest alternative, buses don’t rely on timetables and information is (in most cases) only in Arabic. JETT buses are a popular and more reliable alternative for travelers. This company is oriented towards tourists and has routes all over Jordan. They are a bit more expensive, but you enjoy the benefit of English-speaking staff and punctuality.
- Tours – Tours are probably one of the best options if you’re planning a day trip to the Dead Sea. There’s a huge variety: some tours combine the Dead Sea with other destinations, others have packages to spend the day in a fancy resort, and some others offer great deals with luxury resorts – getyourguide.com is a cool website to search for Dead Sea tours.
- Car Rental – Driving is arguably the best way to get around Jordan. Roads in Jordan are in good condition and well signposted in English and Arabic. Also, driving to the Dead Sea is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is drive along the Dead Sea Highway (Highway 65). Renting a car with air conditioning and insurance costs around 35JD (50 USD) per day.
- Taxi – You can also take a taxi to get to the Dead Sea. Getting a taxi in Jordan is pretty much like anywhere else in the world: you can hail one off the street or ask your hotel to call one for you. A little advice: if you’re organizing a day trip to the Dead Sea, hire the driver for the day. Finding a taxi outside the Dead Sea is not easy, and asking for a resort to arrange can cost a lot of money. Also, negotiate the price for the journey before you start your trip and avoid unpleasant surprises.
Where to Stay at the Dead Sea in Jordan
Resorts are the best alternative for travelers who want to spend a few days at the Dead Sea.
There are Dead Sea resorts for every budget, with prices ranging from $70 to $300 a night. Besides the extra wellness amenities, the main benefit of resorts is that they all have their own stretch of private beach for easy access to the Dead Sea.
Dead Sea Beaches to Visit in Jordan
Travelers who are coming to the Dead Sea for the day don’t necessarily have to buy a day pass at one of the resorts to float on the salty waters. There are plenty of public beaches along the shore open to locals and tourists.
- Amman Beach – Amman Beach is one of the public beaches on the coast of the Dead Sea. Despite being public, there’s an 8JD entrance fee for Dead Sea access only and a 12JD for access to the pool. It is the most popular alternative among travelers as it has tons of facilities available including showers, changing rooms, washrooms, and a few souvenir stores.
- O Beach – O Beach is more luxurious and the most beautiful public beach. The entrance fee is 20JD without lunch and 30JD with lunch included. Both fees include access to all the facilities, though. This beach tends to get crowded fast, so expect lots of noise and people around.
Visiting the Dead Sea in Israel
The Israeli side of the Dead Sea is also open for tourists and is well-equipped with resorts and public beaches.
Visiting the Dead Sea in Israel can be done as a day trip or a multi-day stay. The latter is more popular because Israel has tons of cool places very close to the Dead Sea, like Masada and the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.
However, unlike Jordan, it’s a bit more complex to reach the Dead Sea in Israel. Most cities in the country offer transport alternatives to the Dead Sea, but Tel Aviv and Jerusalem always offer the best options. Tel Aviv is 61 miles away from the Dead Sea, whereas Jerusalem to the Dead Sea is a roughly 72 miles long journey.
Below, I’ve compiled a simple guide to tell you how and where to visit the Dead Sea in Israel.
How to get to the Dead Sea in Israel
As I said before, reaching the Dead Sea in Israel requires a bit more planning, especially if you’re driving. Here’s a list of the best option to reach the Dead Sea either from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
- Bus – If you’d like to blend with the locals, you can take a public bus to the Dead Sea. Egged is the largest bus company in Israel. They run daily services from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Bus 421 departs from the Tel Aviv bus terminal (more commonly known as Arlozorov Terminal) and buses 444 and 486 depart from Jerusalem’s central bus station. However, the most convenient alternative is the shuttle bus to the Dead Sea. It runs daily from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The bus stops at one of the Dead Sea beaches, leaves visitors plenty of hours to explore and enjoy the salty lake, and then returns in the afternoon. The shuttle costs $45 per person for a round-trip.
- Tours – There are dozens of tours going to the Dead Sea. You can find good deals on getyourguide.com and viator.com. Another alternative is to book a tour with a reputable agency in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. You can find full-day tours for the Dead Sea only and other tours that combine a visit to the Dead Sea with Jerusalem and Masada.
- Car Rental – Again, renting a car is the best choice to reach the Dead Sea and get around Israel. However, there are a few things to take into account. Car rentals only allow tourists to drive an Israeli rental in areas that are under Israeli authority, popularly known as Area C. The route to the Dead Sea is via Hwy 1 and 90, which are areas under Israeli authority. Having said this, many road-trippers want to make the most of their time and travel to Palestinian cities. Unfortunately, you can’t do this. Places like Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and other cities are known as the Area A zones, which are fully controlled by the Palestinian authority.
- Taxi – Given there are numerous buses to the Dead Sea, taxis aren’t a very popular alternative among travelers. Still, it’s worth considering. The official rate for a taxi from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea (for 2 passengers) is 707 NIS daytime or 877 NIS nights and Shabbat. There is a small extra charge for luggage and additional passengers. From Jerusalem, a taxi costs around 350 NIS to the Dead Sea one way. Same as Jordan, have your trip arranged in advance as there are no taxis in the Dead Sea area in Israel on a regular basis either.
Where to Stay at the Dead Sea in Israel
When visiting the Dead Sea in Israel, travelers usually stay in Ein Bokek or Ein Gedi, the two major resort districts in the area. Both districts are highly developed and filled with hotels, resorts, and spas along the shores of the Dead Sea. However, Ein Booked is famous for having bigger hotels and feeling much more touristy, whereas Ein Gedi has a more familiar atmosphere.
Dead Sea Beaches to Visit in Israel
There are many public beaches open along the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel. Some apply a small fee to access the facilities, but it’s still cheaper than a day pass in most hotels.
- Ein Bokek Beach – A favorite among locals and trusts, Ein Bokek Beach comprises two beaches: the south beach and the central beach. Both offer direct access to the Dead Sea and plenty of amenities to enjoy after your dip, including changing rooms, beach chairs, showers, and towels.
- Kalia Beach – Kalia Beach is the closest to Jerusalem. There’s an entrance fee of 54 NIS per person, and allows you free use of showers, sunbeds, changing rooms, and umbrellas. There’s also a nice bistro and a gift shop nearby.
- Neve Zohar Beach – Neve Zohar Beach is a small and quiet beach on the Dead Sea. Admission is free and visitors only have to pay 25 NIS for parking per day. This beach has fewer facilities than the previous two and is not as crowded.
Tips for Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan or Israel
Visiting the Sea Sea makes for an unforgettable experience. However, taking a dip in this super salty lake requires a bit more preparation. Whether you’re visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan or Israel, here are a few tips to ensure you have the best time.
- Don’t wear jewelry unless it’s 24-carat gold; otherwise, it will instantly tarnish.
- Don’t shave any part of your body before going to the Dead Sea. The high concentrations of minerals will make your skin itchy.
- Don’t drink the water and try to avoid contact with your eyes. If that happened, your eyes would sting like crazy.
- Don’t go swimming for too long. Soaking in the sea for more than 20 minutes can have adverse effects on your skin due to the water’s high salinity.
- Stay hydrated! Temperatures are high, especially during the summer months.
- Bring an old swimsuit as it can become discolored when in contact with the salt. If you plan to slather on mud, it can also become stained.
- Rinse off after a Dead Sea salt bath, as the salt can be irritating on your skin if you don’t wash it off.
Should You Visit the Dead Sea in Jordan or Israel?
Obviously, I’m a little bit biased as I run a site about Jordan, but there are pros and cons to visiting the Dead Sea in both Jordan and Israel. As I’ve mentioned, Israel has more beaches and is more commercially developed, but Jordan has beautiful views and salt formations plus plenty of resorts to choose from too.
In the end, the best place to visit the Dead Sea is whichever country you are planning to visit. If you’re only visiting Israel or Jordan, be sure to visit the Dead Sea in that country. If you’re planning to visit both Israel and Jordan, why not visit the Dead Sea in both countries and compare the two? (I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve done that since it’s a cool way to have a bucket list experience… twice!) Maybe consider which country has more other activities you want to experience – history, culture, food – and then use that to determine where you’ll dip in the Dead Sea.
Have any other questions about where to visit the Dead Sea? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!