“One of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. That is how UNESCO described the ancient city of Petra. Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and made it to the list of New 7 Wonders of the World. Here is the detailed description on how to get to Petra from Eilat.
The first time I saw Petra was in the movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” and I fell in love with what I saw. Right at that time the ancient city of Petra made it on my list which already had Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, and other stuff, by the way I was 7.
That is how the world learned about the ancient city of Petra, from a movie that came out in 1989. Of course, since then there have been so many documentaries about this place, the lost city of “Raqmu” (the oldest name), the “Rose City” (due to the colour of the rocks) or “Petra” (Roman name). The history and the way people lived here is fascinating and I highly recommend watching a few documentaries before going to visit Petra.
So, how can you visit Petra? There are actually a few ways to do it. You of course can fly to Jordan and make your way to Petra from the airport. But if you are in Israel, the best way in my opinion is to go to Eilat, Israel and take a trip from there.
First, let’s talk about what and where is Eilat. For those, who don’t know, Eilat is an Israeli city that is located on the southernmost tip of the country. It lays on the coast of the Red Sea and has a border with Jordan to the east and Egypt to the west.
You can get to Eilat from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem on a bus or a flight. Cody and I actually took a bus to Eilat from Tel Aviv and a return flight back to Ben Gurion Airport. Eilat has an airport, so it is easy to fly, although remember that you will have to go through a long security check again with questioning and checking your bag a few times like you are some kind of criminal. But then again, I do understand why they do it. Anyway, if you don’t want to take a bus, you always can take a plane.
Time: flight is 1 hour plus all the time you need to go through the security checks.
Price: $48 – $140.5
For those who think about travelling by a train, I want to tell you right away that it is not worth it. You will take a train just to Be’er Sheba (2 hours), which is not even a halfway, and then take a bus for another 3,5 hours. It would cost more than to just take a bus. Not to mention all that hassle with a transfer.
Time: 6 hours (with transfer).
Price: $42 – $46
If you want to travel by bus, then this paragraph is for you. There are regular busses and shuttles from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as a few other cities. Travelling by bus can take from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the traffic and departing location. You also can organize a private transfer that will take 3,5 to 4 hours to get to Eilat.
Time: 3,5 to 6 hours.
Price: $25 (shuttle).
Before going to Eilat, I recommend booking your accommodation, of course. Cody and I booked just two nights at first. We actually thought that this is enough, but what happened after our trip to Petra was that we were so exhausted we decided to re-book our house for two more days.
We booked this place on the AirBnB. If you’ve never tried it before use my link and get $50 off your first booking!
So if you think you will have energy enough for the next day to travel back to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem then you need to book just two nights if not, stay an extra day or two. Of course, if you are planning to have a day trip to Petra from Israel and have everything arranged same day with an agency, you can do that as well.
Along with your accommodation you should book your tour from Eilat to Petra in advance. There are lots of day tours to Petra so just choose one with good reviews and a suitable price. The day trip price can go from $200 to $270 per person, depending on the company and if they provide lunch. Plus, remember that you will have to pay at the border for the visa to Jordan and the border fees (around $130 per person). A bit pricy, no? Although it is worth it.
There are also tours for two and three days in Petra. They of course are more expensive, but if you are staying more than one night in Jordan, you don’t need to pay for a visa, which is $60. I know, that is confusing. Why do you need to pay for visa for a half day I don’t understand.
If you are looking for something safe than you better travel to Petra from Eilat with a tour agency, but if you like an adventure and want to save money, you can go to Petra without any tour guide or agency. Although it is better if you have company. So how to do it?
Start in the early morning (5 AM) and get yourself a taxi to the Jordan border. Don’t forget your passport! Walk through the border where you will need to pay your border fee and Jordan visa. If I am not wrong, it is about $30 and not the $60 that the tourist agencies say. Get to Jordan after getting the stamp. On the other side of the border the taxis will be waiting. Get in one of them but agree previously on the price and that the taxi will wait you the whole time you are in Petra. How can you be sure? Simply, pay at the end of your trip. That is how most of them work anyway. The taxi can cost about $150, try not to pay more than that. Entrance fee for Petra is $75 per person. Enjoy Petra, and then at the end get back to taxi that is waiting for you. As you see this is probably the cheapest way to get to Petra from Eilat, and also the most unpredictable. If you are two or more people you will save money, but if you are a solo traveler it is near the same price to just go with a tour group.