If you’re spending time in Israel, you may also wish to combine your stay with a visit to neighboring Jordan, and in particular the rose-hued ancient city of Petra.
Petra was once home to the Nabataeans – a nomadic Bedouin tribe who roamed the desert. While hard to believe when you look at Petra today, at one time over 30,000 people lived in the ancient city. For history and culture lovers, there’s much to see at the UNESCO World Heritage Site including the Treasury, al-Siq gorge, and a fabulous museum filled with archaeological artifacts at the entrance. You can ride a camel, get to know Bedouin life in the present day, or stay until sunset and admire the structures as light reflects onto the sandstone, transforming into a kaleidoscope of colors.
There are many ways to reach Petra from Israel including by airplane, bus, guided tour, or taxi. In this guide, we show you some of the best ways to get to Petra so you can begin to plan your itinerary.
Travelling to Petra via Allenby Bridge Border Crossing
This border crossing lies around an hour east of Jerusalem and is accessible via bus, sherut (taxi buses), or taxi. Most Israeli rental car companies will not allow you to cross into Jordan with their vehicles, but you can park close to the border and make alternative arrangements for your onward journey.
The Allenby Bridge Border Crossing is open seven days a week, apart from specific Jewish holidays and early closing on Shabbat(Friday evening to Saturday evening). It’s worth noting that if you plan to travel independently via this route, you will need a pre-issued visa from your country of origin and may be required to pay a border crossing fee depending on the length of your stay in Jordan. There will also be an hour or two’s wait time while your paperwork is checked by entry and exit terminals.
Following your entry into Jordan from Israel, you can catch a bus to Amman and continue to Petra from there by bus, or the easier option of taking a taxi directly to Petra. The journey time is around 3.5 hours, therefore expect taxi costs to be high. If you wish to keep the price down, travel to Amman first and take the public bus to Petra from there.
Travelling to Petra via Arava Border Crossing (Eilat)
This is the shortest route from which to reach Petra from Israel. First you will need to travel to the popular Red Sea resort of Eilat. There are regular ‘Egged’ bus services from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and several other locations in Israel which can be pre-booked online. Alternatively, you can fly from Ben Gurion International Airport to Eilat in less than an hour or opt to drive and leave your vehicle in Eilat. At this border crossing, it’s possible to gain a visa (but it’s easier if it’s pre-issued in Israel) and the crossing should take no longer than one hour, as long as your paperwork is up to date. There is a border crossing free of around $65 USD per person, this covers your exit from Israel and entry back into the country. Once you have crossed into Jordan, take a taxi to Aqaba bus station (around $15 USD) and transfer by bus to Petra, or travel directly to the ancient city via taxi. The taxi fare will be approximately $75 USD one way – which is reasonable if there are a few of you travelling together. The journey time to Petra from Aqaba is around 2 hours.
Flying from Israel to Petra
If you are planning to visit Petra from Israel, you can fly to Jordanian capital Amman from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Royal Jordanian Airlines make regular flights with a journey time of around 45 minutes. Once you have arrived in Jordan, you have a choice of taking a taxi to Petra, which costs around $120 USD, taking the bus, or renting a car from the airport and driving there. A small economy sized vehicle will cost around $30 USD per day.
Join a Guided Tour to Petra from Israel
Almost every tourist visiting Petra from Israel will tell you that a guided tour is the best way to see the rose-hued city and all of its landmark attractions. Prices may seem expensive but when you consider border crossing fees, visas, taxis, and local guides, you’ll see that paying for a tour is well worth that little extra to eliminate hassle and wasted time You can join 1 or 2-Day Petra Tours from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or enjoy 1,2 or 3-day Petra and Wadi Rum Tours from Eilat.
One-day tours include services of a knowledgeable guide who will take you through al-Siq gorge to the Treasury and several other areas of interest on a 2.5-hour tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will also have 2 further hours to explore the museums and shisha cafes of modern Petra before you’re homeward bound.
If you choose a 2 or 3-day tour, these also include a desert jeep safari, authentic Jordanian dinner and breakfast, overnight stay in a Bedouin Camp Chalet, plus everything on the day tour. The 3-day tour also offers a magical optional Petra by Night experience, with the opportunity to hike to the historic monastery and fully explore the area.
These exciting tours are a wonderful way to see the sites in this diverse country, and it’s worth paying a little extra for peace of mind, especially if you are unsure of the host country’s customs and traditions.