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From Jerusalem to Petra: A Solo Traveler’s Experience

From Jerusalem to Petra: A Solo Traveler’s Experience

Last Updated on June 4, 2023

Israel has enough to keep even the most avid traveler occupied for quite some time, but what if you’re visiting the Holy Land and want a taste of one of its neighboring countries?

The two countries with which Israel shares a border, and diplomatic relations, are Jordan and Egypt and whilst the Pyramids are rather spectacular, it’s Petra that more and more visitors to the Middle East are thinking about visiting.

And the good news is that it’s a remarkably easy trip to make. 

Petra Jordan

How to Get From Jerusalem to Petra

Why Visit Petra?

It’s no exaggeration to say that Petra is quite an astonishing site. This ancient Nabatean city, carved out of pink rock, was built over 2,000 years ago and sat on the ancient trade routes.  After being abandoned around 700 CE, it would be hundreds of years before it was discovered.  But what a discovery it was.

Few words can describe the thrill of waking the ancient Siq Passageway and peeking through the rocks, for a first glance at the magnificent Treasury, then afterwards exploring Royal burial tombs, hiking up to the Monastery, and wandering the Street of Facades.  And all the while surrounded by desert vistas and wide skies. 

Many choose to visit by taking guided tours to Petra from Jerusalem, and that really has advantages – everything is organized for you, from visas to accommodation, and you’ll also have the services of a local guide.  But what about those who want to go it alone? Is it possible? We’re glad to say ‘yes’. Here’s our take on what it’s like journeying to Petra independently…

Getting from Jerusalem to Petra

If you’re traveling independently, the most cost-effective way is to travel directly from Jerusalem down to Eilat (Israel’s most southern city). Whilst flying to Eilat is an option, this would mean traveling to the airport and bus number 444 runs every two hours from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. Costing just 85 NIS one way and taking 4 hours 15 minutes, it’s a comfortable, convenient and cheap option.

Once in Eilat, you can either take a taxi to the Jordanian border (about 10 minutes, at a cost of 40 NIS) or take the public bus, which runs every hour and costs 4 NIS. Just bear in mind that you will have to walk about 1km to the border from the bus stop, and between April and October in Eilat it’s very hot.

Alternatively, you can also travel from Jerusalem to the Allenby Bridge Crossing (which is just 45 minutes from the capital) then journey onto Amman (where you can catch public buses or shared taxis directly to Petra or take a private taxi. This, however, will be expensive, since its a 3.5 hour journey.

For sure, Israel’s southern border (named Yitzhak Rabin) is the popular choice.

Crossing the Border into Jordan then traveling onto Petra

The good news is that whilst most visitors need a visa, this can be purchased with the minimum fuss, on the day.  You can pay with a credit card or cash and depending on how many days you stay in Jordan, you might even have your visa fee waived.  (This is a government incentive, designed to encourage people to stay more than three nights in the country).

Once you’ve cleared the Israeli side, you can buy your Jordanian visa and then you have two options – either take a private taxi directly to Wadi Musa (where Petra is situated) or take a taxi into Aqaba (a ten-minute cab ride) then take a shared taxi or negotiate a price with a taxi driver there.

You’re a captive audience at the border so you will pay more for a cab directly than if you negotiate in Aqaba (or take public transport, which can be as little as 6 JOD, for a two hour journey).

Either way, it’s a good two hours to Wadi Musa, and much of the way is quite empty, so make sure you have plenty of water and some snacks in your bag!

Buying a Ticket for Petra

You have three options in terms of buying your ticket:

  1. Buy the Jordan Pass in advance. This will give you entrance into more than 40 different attractions across the country, and Petra is one of them. The cost of your visa is included in the price and you can also download it to your phone. There are different pricing tiers but the cost starts at $95.
  2. Book your ticket to Petra online, in advance, via the dedicated website run by the government. You can buy either a one, two or three day ticket and the cost is 50, 55 or 60 JOD respectively.  Once you have your ticket, you can arrive at the site and just walk in.
  3. Buy your ticket on the day. It costs the same as buying it online but you will have to queue up at the ticket office, which is ast the entrance to the site.

Petra is open daily, from 6am to 6pm in the summer and 6am to 4pm in the winter.  For the best views, arrive early in the morning (before the tourist buses pull up) or later in the day (once the crowds have departed). 

Once you’re inside, you’re free to spend all day at the site and explore to your heart’s content.

There’s also a ‘Petra by Night’ event held 3 times a week, where you’re entertained in front of the Treasury, which is lit up by thousands of candles. It is both breathtaking and spectacular but you will have to pay an additional fee, since it’s not included with the regular ticket price.

Accommodation and Restaurants in Petra

Petra sits in the desert town of Wadi Musa, which has grown rapidly in the last 20 years and one thing you won’t be short of is finding a place to eat. Most of the restaurants serve traditional Middle Eastern food. As well as Jordanian specialties such as Mansaf (a dish made of bulgar wheat, lamb and fermented yogurt) and camel stew, there are options for vegetarians and some of the places have buffets with good salad bars.

In terms of finding a place to lay your weary head, whether you’re attempting to travel on a budget or ready to splash some cash, there are endless options. Luxury hotels like the Movenpick will offer you many amenities but a stay at a Bedouin camp (where you’ll get by the fireside and be given an animal fur to keep you warm at night!) can be great fun. There are also quite a few mid-range hotels in Wadi Musa which you can book online (check out the Trip Advisor reviews).

Safety for the Solo Traveler in Petra

An obvious concern for anyone traveling from Jerusalem to Petra as a solo traveler is how safe you will be.  And here’s more good news – Jordan really is not dangerous. Not only are the people friendly and hospitable but, because Petra is one of the new Wonders of the World, tourism is a big industry and the Jordanian government is most anxious that visitors should feel safe at all times.

As a result, there are plenty of tourist police in Petra, as well as in Wadi Musa. Violent crime is almost unheard of – of course, you should watch out for your personal belongings but this is the rule in any part of the world in which you’re traveling. ou can also stroll around Wadi Musa at night without fear, though it’s not advisable to wander down small side streets – stay on the main drags if possible.

As for solo women travelers, it shouldn’t be too problematic, as long as you bear in mind that Jordan is quite a traditional country, with cultural and social norms that we in the West night find a little conservative. Use your common sense – shorts and spaghetti tops are a big no-no; opt, instead, for long-sleeved shirts and loose pants (these will also keep you cool in hot weather). Also, carry a scarf in your bag, which you can use as a head-covering, should the need arise.solo travel Petra Jordan

Traveling on from Petra to Wadi Rum

If you’ve traveled from Jerusalem to Petra solo, you might not have a strict itinerary in mind and one thing that many people love to do after Petra is journey on to Wadi Rum. Made famous by Lawrence of Arabia, this vast desert expanse (sometimes referred to as the ‘Valley of the Moon’) is extraordinarily beautiful and the perfect place to ‘get away from it all.’

Accommodation in Wadi Rum is by way of camps, and some of them are quite luxurious (think internet, restaurants, snack bars and a transparent tent roof so you can fall asleep whilst staring at the Milky Way. And once you’re there, there are all kinds of activities to choose from, including perfect for jeep tours, camel riding, exploring sandstone rock formations and stargazing.

The journey between Petra and Wadi Rum will take around two hours. And for the independent traveler, you can either take a private taxi (agree a fair price beforehand – around 40 JOD) or hop on the JETT bus. The bus leaves every day at 11.30 am from the Petra Visitors Center and costs approximately 15 JOD.

And, of course, if you don’t want to travel alone, you can always book a guided tour to Petra from Jerusalem, to save time and hassle and give yourself a bit of peace of mind.

Ready to head to Jordan now?