Travelling to Petra overland - A Practical Guide

However you do it, it’s a bit of a journey to Petra - that’s because it’s in the middle of the desert! But whether you’re coming by air or overland, here are a few pointers to make the trip a little bit easier for you…

By Air into Amman or Eilat

There are two airports that you can use to fly into Jordan - the first is the Queen Nor International Airport, in the Jordanian capital of Amman. From the airport, take a cab into the city (about $25) or a public shuttlebus ($2). It’s about 35-45 minutes to the city centre, depending on traffic. From there you can take a public bus or minibus (10 seater, leaves when it fills up) to Wadi Musa, which should only cost a few dollars. Alternatively, haggle with a cab driver for a private ride.

It’s also possible to fly into Eilat airport (in the south of Israel) from Sde Dov (a small airport, just north of Tel Aviv’s city centre) that only operates within Israel. From Sde Dov, you can take a cab to the border - it’s a 10 minute drive. For getting to Aqaba and then Wadi Musa, see below.

Overland from Israel

Travelling overland, you have three options in terms of crossing over from Israel:

1. Yitzhak Rabin (south Israel) crossing - I took this route. It’s pretty popular, since it’s very close to the Israeli city of Eilat (which has many amenities, should you need to purchase food/medicine/trekking gear first) or if you arrive too late to cross the border and need a hotel for the night).

Photo courtesy of Cruise Critic

Photo courtesy of Cruise Critic

Buses from Tel Aviv (and Jerusalem) run to Eilat regularly and are relatively inexpensive (I paid 75 NIS). From Tel Aviv, I caught the 394 direct service, which takes about 4.5 hours (including a designated coffee break!)

Photo courtesy of Egged buses

Photo courtesy of Egged buses

Here’s a useful link for advance booking of these buses:

http://www.egged.co.il/Article-809-Tickets-to-Eilat.aspx

From the Eilat bus station, either take a cab to the border (30-40 NIS) or catch the local bus (number 15, costs 5 NIS).

This stops at a crossroads close to the border - tell the driver to drop you off there (they all speak English) then walk about 6 minutes until you see the signs.

 
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Once through customs on both sides, you have two options - either take a taxi directly to Wadi Musa (this will cost between $60-100) or take a taxi only as far as the Aqaba bus station. This is a 15-minute drive and will only set you back about $10-12. Once you are at the bus station, there are small (10-seater) minibuses that leave for Wadi Musa as soon as they are full.

Using one of these is very cheap, no more than a few dollars, and you can meet the locals too! The drive from Aqaba to Petra takes just over two hours.

Allenby Bridge crossing - this is also a well-trodden route. Take a yellow sherut but from East Jerusalem bus station to this border crossing (about 45 minutes) then from the Jordanian side travel onto Amman, the capital. From there, at the central bus station, you can pick up a minibus that goes to Wadi Musa, or negotiate a price privately with a cab driver. The journey is about 3 hours, so taking a private driver won’t be that cheap. Using a public minibus will, again, be just a few dollars.

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Beit She’an (northern Israel) crossing - if you’ve been in the Galilee or Golan, this crossing has its merits - either take the thrice-weekly Nazrene bus service from Nazareth to Amman (leaving at 8.30 am, it gets in at 1.15 pm, including the wait at the border). Otherwise you’ll need to take a taxi to the border (a 15-20 minute drive from Beit She’an) and then another taxi the other side to Amman (there are no no public buses in Jordan that run from the northern crossing to the capital). This is costly - you could end up paying a good $120 for the two-hour drive, via Irbid.