UPDATED to reflect new regulations on January 1 , 2016
One of the questions we get asked regularly is how to get to Petra from Israel…so here’s our guide to popping into Jordan from Israel via Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Eilat.
Petra, that magical collection of Nabatean ruins across the border in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, is a must-do side-trip when visiting Israel. Many visitors to Israel often pop over to Petra for a day trip, and even many Israelis join them, as the Jordanians allow Israelis to pop across the border ever since the peace treaty signed back in 1994.
Note that there are three border crossings between Jordan and Israel; the Allenby/King Hussein crossing, the Sheikh Hussein crossing, and the Wadi Arava crossing.
This border crossing is located in the southern Jordan Valley and is some 57 km from Amman – and an hour away from Jerusalem, making it the most used crossing for many Petra visitors. The crossing is open Sun–Thurs 08:00 – 20:00 for arrivals and 8:00 to 14:00 for departures, and Fri-Sat 08:00 – 13:00.
Note that visas must be arranged in advance and cannot be obtained at the border. Private cars and tour buses cannot cross – travelers must change vehicles upon crossing or use the other two border crossings.
We’d seriously recommend heading to the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv to sort yourself out a tourist visa (ensure you have a passport sized pic). Once you have the visa, head to Allenby/King Hussein Bridge which is close to Jerusalem (about an hour away). You could always stop by in the Holy City to see some of Jerusalem’s attractions before heading to Jordan.
Once across the border (be aware that the crossing into Jordan can often take a lot longer than planned, so allow for at least 1-3 hours to be on the safe side), you can find taxis and buses that will take you to Amman, from where you can catch a bus to Petra.
The whole shebang will take you around 3-4 hours, although if you rent a car in Jordan, it will take a little less – just be careful on those roads, and watch out for camels and Bedouin farmers! Obviously, if you’re planning on a day trip to Petra, it would make sense to get across the Allenby crossing as early as possible.
Heading back into Israel via the Allenby crossing is definitely doable, just be aware that queues can be long (although a tourism border crossing center on the Israel side, opened in the spring of 2012, has helped alleviate the time and hassles for tourists entering Israel from Jordan). Once across the border and in Israel, it is fairly easy to head back to Jerusalem via a sherut minibus.
One thing to note: the Allenby / King Hussein crossing is the only land crossing where both the Israelis and Jordanians will not stamp your passport. Perfect if you were worried that you might get a border crossing stamp, indicating you’d been in Israel.
This crossing is 90 km away from Amman. It is located in the north, close to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, and is open Sunday – Thursday: 08:00 – 22:00, and Friday – Saturday: 09:00 – 20:00.
At this crossing, visas for most nationalities can be obtained at the border; prior permits are not needed except for restricted nationalities (you’ll probably want to check with the Jordan tourism sites to verify you’re not an “unwanted”).
This crossing is located in the south, 324 km away from Amman, and connects the two Red Sea resorts of Eilat and Aqaba. The crossing is open Sun–Thurs 06:30 – 20:00 and Fri – Sat 08:00 – 20:00. The Wadi Araba Crossing closes on the Islamic New Year and Yom Kippur.
Note that from the 1st of January 2016, entry visas are no longer be issued at the Wadi Araba Border Crossing. The only exceptions are Israeli tour groups and others carrying proper entry documentation entering Jordan for tourism purposes. Moreover, Israeli tourists and those carrying proper entry documents, who have bought the 90JOD entrance ticket to the Petra Archeological Site, will also be be exempt from the obligatory 24 hour stay in Jordan if they meet the satisfactory requirements (paperwork 24hrs in advance etc).
No visa will be issued for any other nationality through the Wadi Araba Crossing and entrance will only be granted to those who have obtained an entry visa to Jordan through Jordanian Embassies abroad prior to their arrival at the border crossing.
Note that if you are staying in Jordan for less than two nights you will be charged on departure: Jordan Visa (JOD 40) and Departure tax (JOD 10) = JOD 50 total per person. If you’re going with a tour, make sure the tour operator stamps the visitors card from the Petra Authority visitors center to prove this visit, otherwise you’ll be charged JOD 70 per person. In addition, all guests arriving in Jordan must depart together (if you plan to stay on after entering Jordan on a group tour, this is not allowed).
PLEASE NOTE: These hours and regulations are all subject to change. For up-to-date details and information on which nationalities cannot obtain visas, contact a travel agent in Jordan.
And this is what awaits you in Petra…