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Petra, the legendary lost city carved into the walls of a hidden desert canyon, is the most famous of Jordan’s many dazzling sites. This fascinating excursion is best reached from Israel via the Eilat/Aqaba border crossing. There are escorted bus tours that leave Eilat early in the morning, get you to Petra before noon, give you an hour to look around, and have you back at your hotel in Eilat by late afternoon. But for such a short tour, you might do better just watching a video. Petra is one of the wonders of the ancient world, and its antiquities, natural beauty, and ever-changing feel at different times of day are easily worth a stay of 1 to 3 nights or more. In addition, there are beautiful, affordable desert resorts only a few minutes from Petra, which make this a good place to relax and get away from it all.

Essentials

A 2- to 2 1/2-hour drive north of Aqaba, Petra is the jewel in the crown of Jordan’s attractions, and the main draw for many travelers to the country. The canyon city of Petra is vast, mysterious, and really demands a 1- or 2-night stay and 2 full days of exploring to get a feel for the atmosphere, to say nothing of the contents of the ruins. You could easily spend 3 or 4 very full days exploring Petra and the surrounding countryside

Getting There

After crossing from Eilat into Aqaba, it’s easy to find taxis that will take you up to Petra. Some bargaining is required, but the general fare is around JD 50. This is the fastest, safest, and most direct way to make the journey. Splitting a taxi to Petra (or to Wadi Musa, the town at the entrance to Petra National Park) with others you may meet at the border can make the fare per person very reasonable. A taxi to the Aqaba Bus Station, plus bus fare up to Petra, will be less than JD 8, but there are few buses per day and it’s hard to find a schedule.

If you want to avoid the hassle of bargaining with taxi drivers, ask your hotel in Petra to arrange for a pickup for you at the border crossing for an agreed price. Most Petra hotels in all price categories will be happy to do this—it ensures you won’t be lured somewhere else. Again, the fare will be about JD 50. Such is life in the Middle East that your taxi fare back from Petra/Wadi Musa to the Aqaba/Eilat Crossing should be more like JD 36 to JD 40.

Travel agencies in Eilat can arrange for escorted, 1-, 2-, or 3-day tours, or unescorted packages to Petra that will include transportation arrangements

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.