Traveling to the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea (or Salt Sea in Hebrew), is famed as the lowest point on Earth (1,412ft below sea level) and situated in southern Israel surrounded by the Negev Desert. The Dead Sea water is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean, so it’s easy to float! The water is rich in minerals that have therapeutic health, and wellness properties.

On the water’s edge are a string of beaches and the Ein Bokek resort area where luxury waterfront hotels face a sandy beach. For other accommodation options try the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel or SPNI Field School. There are eateries in Ein Bokek, plus the Bedouin tent restaurant Taj Mahal, and home-style Moroccan food at Biankini Beach.

Traveling to the Dead Sea can be challenging because it is in a remote, isolated location. Take a day tour to the Dead Sea; catch a shuttle bus; rent a car, or take the bus. You can visit at any time of the year, although the summer is scorching hot. Choose from the free beaches or paid beaches with more facilities. Things to do in the Dead Sea include spending time on the beach and having spa treatments at the water-front spa resorts where they use Dead Sea products. Nearby attractions include Masada, Ein Gedi, and Jericho.

5 of the Dead Sea’s Top Hotels and Spas

Situated 1,400 feet below sea level, which makes it the lowest point on earth you can travel to whilst remaining out in the open, the Dead Sea (or the ‘Salt Sea’) as it's often known is a truly magical destination. Set a short drive from Jerusalem, in the Judean desert and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this is not just a place of enormous tranquility but one that ‘feels’ different. That’s because it actually is - the saline in the sea means that visitors are actually breathing in healthy mineral-rich air.Breathe in the Mineral-Rich AirTruly, spending time at the Dead Sea lets you experience a whole new atmosphere. With a unique body of water in which you can float, to your heart’s content, proven healing qualities that reside in the air, and the attractions of the ancient fortress of Masada and lush oasis of Ein Gedi on your doorstep, it’s no wonder this is perhaps Israel’s top tourist attraction. It’s also a mecca for those with skin complaints (eczema, psoriasis) looking for a relaxation tour and it's often commented that the sulfur baths work magic on anyone feeling run-down.Luxurious, Elegant, and Designed for PamperingSo where to stay? Well, the area has all kinds of accommodation but in this article, we’ll be focusing on the higher end of the market - five of the top hotels (each with their own spa) that offer you comfort, style, and sophistication, with all the amenities you’d expect, and a few extra touches too. The Dead Sea’s perfect for a spa break, a romantic getaway, or just a couple of days away from the daily grind. All of these hotels are located in the Ein Bokekpart of the Dead Sea, and all very close to the shore. Attractions such as Masada and Ein Gedi are close by, for anyone who wants to join one of numerous Dead Sea tours. And because the Dead Sea is just 45 minutes drive from Jerusalem and 2 hours from Tel Aviv, you don’t have to think twice before heading down there.Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHere are some of our recommendations, for a break that will exceed your expectations, in terms of accommodation, cuisine, spa facilities, and breathtaking scenery.1.Milos Hotel Dead Sea - Ein BokekThis luxury hotel, owned by the Herbert Samuel group, offers five-star private beachfront accommodation all the while drawing on the colors and textures of Greece. All rooms have rainfall showers and Nespresso machines and the deluxe offering comes with your own private pool.Milos has a pool with a gazebo (perfect for afternoon cocktails), a gym, a gaming room for younger guests, and a spa that offers a Turkish hammam, dry sauna, dead seawater pool, and sulfur bath.The main restaurant is built in stone in the style of a Greek taverna, the stone having been shipped in from Saloniki. It boasts an excellent chef who, according to reviews, visits each table at dinner. Guests have rated Milos highly on Tripadvisor, and commented on the professional, courteous staff. Guests on have rated it at 9.2 for a couples getaway. Milos also offers occasional special offers which are published each afternoon, at 2 pm, for same-day check-in, so for a last-minute break, you can’t do better.Details: Milos Hotel, Ein Bokek, tel: 08 668 8100Milos Hotel Dead Sea, Ein Bokek. Photo: Herbert Samuel Hotels2.Herods Dead Sea – The Premium Collection by FattalHerods is an award-winning hotel that offers guests a rejuvenating and luxurious experience at the shores of the Dead Sea. With its own private beach, luxury rooms and suites, royal spa facilities, and innovative cuisine, it is the perfect place for anyone looking to be pampered. Herods ‘Vitalis’ spa is considered to be the jewel in the crown of this hotel, boasting a variety of heated and health-centered pools (seawater, sweet water, and sulfur), a Turkish bathhouse, solarium, and an array of mud pack, facial and cosmetic treatments. Extra touches include magic shows, free bicycle hire, a ‘fun area’ for kids, and a ‘Welcome Baby’ service. The hotel offers two restaurants, the ‘Rothschild’ bar (with excellent homemade desserts) and a Health Bar which serves natural and fresh shakes. Rooms are tastefully designed and the Executive range comes with a sunbathing balcony and free international calls. Reviews on rate Herods as ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Superb’ and comment that breakfast and dinner went beyond expectations. Details: Hamei Zohar, Neve Zohar Tel: 03 511-0000Herods Dead Sea Hotel. Photo: Herods Hotels3.Daniel Dead Sea HotelSet in the heart of the Dead Sea’s Ein Bokek area, The Daniel hotel boasts 320 luxury rooms, 12 of which are lavishly decorated suites. Wifi is free throughout and all rooms come with LCD TVs and black-out curtains. Some offer sea views whilst others overlook the Edom Mountains. As you would expect from a luxury hotel, The Daniel has its own private beach and indoor and outdoor pools, as well as a fitness center with a gym and workout rooms. There are children’s activities available and entertainment in the lobby most evenings. Guests arriving by car have access to free parking.The Daniel offers a range of spa treatments, including massages, a steam room, and wellness treatments, There is a tennis court available for those who wish to practice their strokes! Guests reviewing the hotel on are particularly happy with the buffet breakfast, which they say has an excellent variety of items. For special prices at the Daniel, take a look at the Trivago website which offers excellent prices.Details: Ein Bokek, Dead Sea Tel: 08 668-9999Daniel Dead Sea Hotel. Photo via Leonardo Club Hotel Dead Sea - All InclusiveThe Leonardo Club hotel is located on a private beach in Ein Bokek and offers guests a wonderful location with breathtaking views of both the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains. It boasts 368 beautiful designed rooms, set in two wings, with the deluxe option offering guests a balcony with sea views. There is miniature golf on site, a games room and also free bicycle rental. The Leonardo is the only hotel in the Dead Sea which boasts its own water park, with three amazing slides, ideal for family fun. The fact that it is all inclusive means delicious cuisine and drinks (soft and certain alcoholic) are available 24/7. Guests on Tripadvisor rate the food as tasty and plentiful, with one commenting “GREAT food; hats off to the cook.” Le Spa at the Leonardo offers guests facilities including a heated seawater pool, a sulfur pool, and a modern sauna, as well as a wide variety of high-quality health and rejuvenation treatments.Detials: Ein Bokek, Hamei Zohar 08 668-9444Leonardo Club Hotel Dead Sea. Photo vialeonardo-hotels.com5.Isrotel Dead Sea Resort & SpaNestled at the foot of the mountains that surround it and just moments from the shore of the Dead Sea, the Isrotel offers its guests an experience of complete tranquility where, as they put it, ‘pampering and relaxation always come first.” Given a rating of five stars by the Ministry of Tourism, each newly-renovated room (which is bigger than your average hotel room) has a balcony and is stylishly designed.Isrotel’s spa, ‘Esprit’ offers a wide range of rejuvenation treatments including massages, mud packs, and seaweed masks. Also on offer are a sulfur pool, massage rooms, sauna, steam bath, and a private sun deck. The hotel’s ‘Ranch’ restaurant is an American-style affair, with a wide range of meats on offer - a carnivorous paradise. Guests can also ‘chill out’ at the poolside, where kids light bites are served, as well as shakes and cocktails. Reviews on describe the hotel as ‘Superb’ and ‘Excellent’ and comment on how efficient the booking and check-in process is. One noted that on a particularly hot day, staff was handing out free ice cream and cold drinks to guests.Details: Ein Bokek, Dead Sea Tel: 08 688-966Isrotel Dead Sea Resort & Spa. Image: Isrotel hotelsPractical Travel InformationThere are several ways to reach the Dead Sea: rental car, bus, taxi, and private transfer.Rental car: Renting a car in Israel is pretty simple and not incredibly expensive. Try Hertz, Eldan, or Avis, who are all located at Ben Gurion Airport, as well as in the major cities. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s permit!Bus: Buses run regularly to the Dead Sea from all parts of the country - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the south (Eilat, indirectly. There is no direct route from Eilat to the Dead Sea - you will have to change buses in Beer Sheva)From Jerusalem: The number 486 travels from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station (platform 5) direct to the Dead Sea.From Tel Aviv: the 421 travels from the Central Bus Station direct to the Dead Sea. It is advisable, and more often than not, necessary to book a ticket for these buses in advance. This can be done by calling Egged on *2800 or 03-694 8888. It is also possible to book tickets directly through their website. Please note: there is no public transport in Israel over Shabbat which means that from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, it is not possible to travel by Egged.Taxi: A taxi from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea should take about 45 minutes and cost in the region of 350-400 NIS. A taxi from Tel Aviv will take between 90 minutes to 2 hours and cost around 700 NIS.Private transfer: A private transfer from the airport or your hotel to the Dead Sea is another option, and is quick and convenient. Your Israeli tour operator will be glad to advise you in this regard. Get packing!Rejuvenating Dead Sea mud. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann
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