We visited Masada by No486 bus from Jerusalem Central bus station. We took the light tram in Jaffa Street stopping outside bus station. We had our Rav cards loaded but added more money at the mobile phone shop on ground floor. Go to 3rd floor for buses. We had a printed timetable of bus times for the week from tourist info office at Jaffa gate. The weather was overcast. The bus ride was pleasant, and takes you off main highway to the foot of the mountain with just a five minute walk to ticket booths.
Once on top the views are breathtaking, big and beautiful across the Judea desert and Dead Sea. Sadly because there were slight rain showers they were not providing the audio-tours. It is a wonderful archeological site, with well preserved ruins. There was shelter from rain/sun as well as toilets. Eventually the sun made an appearance. We enjoyed a nice lunch in the cafe and all appeared to be going well. We walked back to the bus stop (25 mins early) to ensure we did not miss bus. The electronic sign gave details of incoming buses/times of arrival. OUR bus NEVER came. All bus routes and times just disappeared from the screen. There were about 20 people waiting, after 2 hours. We were concerned as it was getting cold and all wanted to get home. My husband went to the barrier booth office (opposite stop) where several men were stood talking (workers) who said that the road from Jerusalem was closed due to flooding and the road from Eliat direction had been closed too. They had watched us for 2hrs without helping any of us, including family with young children. Eventually a bus which had been parked further down the road for nearly an hour decided to drive up and with help of one lady who could speak Hebrew he informed us he was going to Beer Sheva. It was not somewhere any of us wanted to go (it was south and inland) but we were all concerned about being stuck at the bus stop overnight. We all decided to get in, 4 people getting off at next Dead Sea resort for the night to try and catch bus the next day. Luckily whilst driving through resort we spotted a 486 bus and shouted to our driver to speak with bus driver. After a long conversation bus drivers told us to swap buses. We assumed we would join the traffic queue at road closure in the hope the road would reopen. However luckily the driver took us over the mountain (toward Beer Sheva) and on a longer route to Jerusalem. We finally got back to the City around 7pm.
My advice is to use public buses (much cheaper than tours) but be prepared. Have warm clothes, cash (some had no cash for extra fares and we all chipped in to help them) and be prepared for changing travel plans. Everything worked out ok but feel very disappointed that the “Masada employees” did not come and tell everyone on the bus stop that the roads were closed. They just stood and watched us for nearly 2 hours. Mostly to thank the public bus driver who helped most of us get back to Jerusalem