Visiting Petra from Israel is a popular excursion for many visitors to the country, with many tour options readily available, making the journey quick, easy, and straightforward. Petra, ‘the lost city’ is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, famous for its incredible architecture carved into the reddish rock by the Nabateans. There are excursions and tours to Petra from Israel every day, and whilst it is possible to travel by public transport and independently, these are recommendable.
Joining a tour to Petra from Israel
One day or two day tours depart every day to Petra from Israel, with daily departures from Eilat, Israel’s most southern city, as well as from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Tours depart every day from Eilat to Petra and Wadi Rum. These tours depart from Eilat because the journey to Petra from here is pretty fast, and the transfer process at the Arava Boder Crossing is quicker and cheaper than at other borders (note that crossing is only possible at the Allenby Crossing near Jerusalem if you have a pre-issued visa, so tours do not cross here). These tours to Petra from Israel are fully guided and are door-to-door with transfers on either side, and a much simpler traveling experience than independent travel, plus more sites, with most tours including the magnificent desert at Wadi Rum, and many also touring the Jordanian city of Aqaba.
At present, there are three main one day or overnight tour options leaving from Eilat to Petra and Wadi Rum:
From Tel Aviv
Traveling to Petra Independently
Travel to Petra from Israel independently is possible by crossing one of the three open borders between the two countries. The border crossing at Eilat (Wadi Arava Crossing) and Beit Shean (Jordan River Crossing, in the north) issue Jordanian visas on the spot, whilst the central (Allenby Bridge) crossing, between Jerusalem and Amman, only accepts pre-issued Jordanian visas. Independent travelers can find that waiting times can be long, and public transportation tricky to coordinate, meaning taxis are the simplest way to get from the nearest town, Eilat or Beit Shean. The border tax is around $65 per person at Eilat, and $95 in the northern crossings. Visas are not charged for most nationalities. On the Jordanian side, public transportation and taxis are cheaper than Israel.
Some tourists do travel independently between Israel and Jordan. There are a limited number of day tours leaving from Amman, and private taxis from Amman to Petra cost around $75, and then visitors will take a guide at Petra. But it’s important to bear in mind that the entrance fee at Petra is pretty hefty (approximately $130 for a one day visitor to Jordan), meaning that a tour costing $216 is a pretty good value option. The issues that are encountered include long transportation times, delays at the borders, and often a loss of quality on the tour because pre-booking a great guide in Jordan can be tricky. As a result, most visitors opt for an organized tour, whilst slightly more expensive, increases the experience and also includes other hard to reach attractions such as Wadi Rum and Aqaba.