What to do at Masada and the Dead Sea (Israel)
I spent about 24 hours in the area and found this about the right amount of time. I did not want to be 'stuck' in the area longer. But I really enjoyed seeing it!
The Dead Sea is world famous for it's ability to float water filled humans without their ability to swim. And I can confirm it works :) All what is needed is to thrust yourself into the water and keep your body rather straight. It's a rather unusual sensation but you get used to it very quickly. It's a good idea to bring a water bottle and goggles as teh salt bites into your eyes otherwise.
Now it is a very touristy operation in Ein Bokek on the Israeli side and you better brush up your Russian as the language 'du jour ' is Hebrew with a Russian accent. Besides the Dead Sea there is little going on in Ein Bokek. It's a family oriented desert oasis with a number of large scale hotels.
However its 10 minutes drive is Masada Castle which was an Israeli city built in 30BC and conquered by the Romans in the year 70. There is a cable car which will take you up on the hill or you can opt for a 45 minutes workout. It's apparently very popular for sunrise so I went around 9 AM and hardly anybody was there :)
Besides the rather well preserved ruins it's interesting to see the remains of Roman field camps during the attack and even the attack ramp that was built. All this gives you a pretty realistic image of how the attack could have worked out.
Masada is touristy but when you catch a good time it's a marvelous hike with view all over the Dead Sea. It's a good extension of your itinerary.
The crowds and general 'touristy' mood can make enjoyment tricky. If you are not put off by that even better!
The hotel and restaurant staff in Ein Bokek seems rather annoyed to spend their days in the city and they have no issue showing it :)
How to get there:
It's just a short 90 minutes drive from Jerusalem. It can be a cold dreary day in Jerusalem and nice and warm day at a Dead Sea beach. It's about 2.5 hours from Masada to Eilat.