Jordan is a country home to many different climatic regions. You will find everything from dry sandy deserts to sandstone valleys and sweeping beaches. Two of the most popular Jordanian tourist hot spots are the Red Sea Coast and the Lost City of Petra.
Helping you navigate your way between these highlights, we’ll be sharing with you in this Jordan travel guide how to get from the seaside city of Aqaba to the ancient city of Petra.
Aqaba is located on the northeastern tip of the Red Sea, the meeting point between Asia and Africa.
It is known for its magnificent beaches, luxurious resorts, yachts, and happening nightlife. On the other hand, the historical city of Petra is famous for its spectacular sandstone structures that take you back to 300 BC! Both cities are poles apart; however, Petra tours from Aqaba are quite popular for those who want a cultural dose thrown in with their sunshine.
Therefore, plan a trip to Petra from Aqaba if you want to experience a unique journey from the present to the past.
- How Far is Petra from Aqaba?
- Transport Options To Reach Petra From Aqaba
- The Proximity of Petra to Israel and Egypt
- Frequently Asked Questions Getting to Petra From Aqaba
- Where to Stay in Petra – Wadi Musa
- More on Visiting Jordan
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How Far is Petra from Aqaba?
The distance from Aqaba to Petra is 125 km, and it takes almost 2 hours to get there by road. The fastest route between the two cities is via the Desert Highway, then King’s Highway.
The distance from Tala Bay to Petra is almost the same as from Aqaba to Petra, as both places are just 15 km apart; you can take the Ports Highway and avoid the centre of Aqaba.
Many travellers to Jordan seeking to visit Petra like to start their journey from Aqaba (via King Hussein International Airport – AQJ) rather than Amman due to the shorter driving distance; Amman to Petra comparatively takes over 3 hours with less frequent services.
Transport Options To Reach Petra From Aqaba
So now we know how to get to Aqaba, let’s look at all our options for continuing onward to Petra.
There are five common methods for travelling to Petra from Aqaba.
1. Aqaba to Petra Day Trip via Bus
Two bus services run from Aqaba to Petra: The JETT bus and the local bus.
The JETT bus leaves Aqaba at 8:30 am daily and returns from Petra at 4:00 pm. It takes 2 hours to reach Petra and costs 15 JD for a one-way ticket; however, if you plan to return the same day, it costs 25 JD for a round-trip.
You can book a ticket for the JETT bus from its office in Aqaba, Movenpick Tala Bay, and Divers Village, or book online using services such as 12go.com (it’s the same price in person or online).
But if you’re on a budget and want to cut down the cost even more, you always have the option to take the local bus from Aqaba to Petra. However, the local bus leaves only when it’s full. If there are not enough travellers, it won’t depart! But it costs only 1 JD per person, so it’s worth the wait.
If you’re travelling from outside Aqaba, the best option is to take a flight to King Hussein International Airport Aqaba and then take a JETT bus to Petra.
2. Petra to Aqaba via Taxi
If you’re travelling with family, specifically kids, we won’t recommend taking a bus. Instead, a better option would be to hire a taxi to take you from Aqaba to Petra.
You can easily get a taxi from the airport, the street, or your hotel, which costs anywhere from 75 to 100 JD for a one-way trip to Petra. However, we suggest setting a price before you start your ride and paying only when you’ve reached Petra.
The upside of taking a taxi is that it is cheaper than a rental car or private transfer but is more comfortable and convenient than a bus. Plus, most taxis take up to 4 passengers, so you can split the bill if you share a cab with other people travelling the same route.
There is a taxi stand outside the Petra Visitor Centre ready to take visitors back to Aqaba at the end of the day if they are not staying overnight in Wadi Musa.
3. Petra to Aqaba via Rental Car
Another convenient option to travel to Petra from Aqaba is renting a car and self-driving your way to Rose City. Many car rental companies in Aqaba offer new, air-conditioned, and insured car models for 30 JD per day.
If you’re not aware of the rental companies in the city, you can get a rental car directly from the airport too, or ask your hotel to arrange one for you.
Self-driving is an excellent option for people who love road trips and are confident driving in Jordan. Moreover, by renting a car, you can stop anywhere along the way to check out points of interest or take a break to grab a bite.
The distance from Aqaba to Petra is almost 2 hours, but it can go up a bit, depending on how many stopovers you take along the way; there are some great viewing stops along the Great Rift Valley.
4. Private Transfer from Aqaba to Petra
You can also hire a private driver to take you from Aqaba to Petra. You can choose a car of your choice, depending on the number of people, and travel to Petra without worrying about the way.
A private transfer costs around 80 JD one way, but the price may vary depending on the vehicle you choose. For instance, if you choose a 4WD, you might have to pay more than a regular sedan.
You also have the option of a return transfer, in which case the driver will wait for you while you explore Petra and then drop you back at your accommodation in Aqaba. Private drivers are professional drivers who know their way around Jordan and can even recommend places to see in Petra and along the way.
- Try this private driving service from Aqaba Airport to Petra operated by Jordan Horizon Tours
- Operated by VIP Jordan Limo, this is a reputable Aqaba to Petra Transfer Service
- Round trip transportation for private groups of up to 4/12 hours
Arranging a private transfer is a great idea if you don’t want to tire yourself by self-driving for 2 hours or are new to the region and don’t like the idea of driving but want flexibility.
5. Tours from Aqaba to Petra
While going to Petra from Aqaba via rental car or private transfer is a convenient option, if you want to make the most of your Petra trip, we recommend joining a tour group. There are plenty of companies that organize Petra tours from Aqaba.
You can book a one-day or multiple-day trip to Petra based on your preference and what you’re looking forward to. A one-day trip includes an extensive guided tour of Petra, including all the important sites, their history, and other informative details. The tour group also arranges pick-up, drop-off, and in some cases, meals.
However, if you want to visit other places around Aqaba and Petra along the way, you can opt for a tour that covers Aqaba, Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. Also, if you wish to spend the night camping in the desert, there are many two-day trips to Petra.
Tours from Aqaba to Petra start from 150 JD and can increase depending on the number of days and the places to visit.
Tour groups might be expensive, but as everything from transportation to the tours and other facilities is pre-arranged, it is worth it!
The Proximity of Petra to Israel and Egypt
Many visitors from other neighbouring countries also seek to come via Aqaba to start their journey to Petra. If you’ll be setting out from Israel or Egypt, here’s how you get to Aqaba:
Israel – Tel Aviv & Jerusalem
Petra is situated in Jordan; however, it joins the border with Israel. Therefore, if you’re in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv in the north of Isreal, you can easily visit Petra by crossing the Allenby Bridge border.
Tel Aviv is 328 km from Petra, and it takes around 5 hours to travel by road. The distance from Jerusalem to Petra is relatively less, 268 km, but still takes almost 4 hours; day tours leave in the early hours of the morning:
- This Petra from day tour from Tel Aviv will pick you up at 2 AM and get you into Petra before lunch, returning you to Tel Aviv in the late evening.
- This small group tour will take you from Jerusalem to Petra in 1 day
- A more comprehensive 2-day tour takes you from Tel Aviv to Madaba, Mount Nebo, Karak and then overnight in Wadi Musa before your Petra tour, returning on the second night.
We explain exactly how to cross the border from Tel Aviv to Petra here.
Israel – Eilat
A popular Israel itinerary option is to therefore to stay in the Red Sea coastal city of Eilat, and then cross the Arava border and change the mode of transport to continue your journey onward to Petra.
The cities are in very close proximity, and a shuttle bus even operates to take visitors from their hotels and across the border. We explain in more detail how to cross the Eilat to Aqaba border here.
- This tour from Eilat includes border crossing to Aqaba and takes you onward to Petra.
- Spread more comfortably over 2 days, this Eliat tour includes border crossing at Aqaba, a trip to Petra and an overnight stay in Wadi Rum
NB Day visitors to Petra are charged more! This is to encourage tourists not just to visit Petra but stay longer and enjoy more Jordanian hospitality. If you visit Petra on your day of arrival to the country, you are charged 90 JOD (around $130 USD). You can return the following day for a 40 JOD refund to prove you stayed in the country.
Egypt – Taba and the Sinai Peninsula
The Gulf of Aqaba separates Egypt and Jordan. Whilst you are a long way from the capital, Cairo, visitors to the Sinai Peninsula are in close enough proximity to make the journey to Petra by road.
Travelling without a car, there is a high-speed passenger ferry that runs tourists between Taba in Egypt and Aqaba in Jordan. The ferry takes around 2 hours (noting a 1-hour time difference between the countries) and arrives in Tala Bay – 15 minutes south of Aqaba.
The tourist boat, operated by AB Maritime, currently operates at these times/day:
- Taba 1:30 pm arrives Aqaba 2:30 pm Su, Tu, Thu, Fri, Sa
- Aqaba 10:00 am arrives Taba 11:00 am Tu, Thu, Fri
- The ferry from Taba costs $65 USD per adult one way (Under 6’s $55 USD) or $90 USD return (Under 6’s $65 USD)
NB, returning, there is a tourist tax of 10 JOD on departures from Jordan ($14)
If you are joining any sort of tour group from Aqaba, check if they will pick you up in Tala Bay otherwise, you will need to taxi into Aqaba city centre.
If you are flying into Sharm El Sheikh International Airport (SSH) in Egypt, it’s possible to add a visit to Aqaba and Petra as a side trip. We’d allow a couple of days for this, given the travel times involved.
If you are travelling by road, there is a vehicular ferry, also operated by AB Maritime, that leaves further south than Taba at Nuweiba. It is a much slower and longer service.
- This Sharm El Sheikh tour will take you on a Petra Day trip – 18 hours door to door
Frequently Asked Questions Getting to Petra From Aqaba
Petra is located at a distance of 125 km from Aqaba and 230 km from Amman. Therefore, it is closer to Aqaba, and it takes almost 2 hours to travel between both cities. From Amman, it takes one hour more, i.e., 3 hours, to travel to Petra.
Wearing shorts is not against the law in Jordan. However, short-shorts would be considered a little disrespectful. Therefore, light linen or cotton trousers are a good option to keep you cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
If you’re only visiting Petra, a day is enough to check out the ancient buildings. But, if you want to include other places in your trip, like the Bedouin campsite, Wadi Rum, Amman, and the Dead Sea, you need 3 to 4 days to visit all the places and enjoy the top attractions of Jordan – ideally, we suggest even on a short trip to Jordan you need 5 days.
The best time of the year to go to Petra is during spring and autumn. Because, during these months, the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy a walk through the ruins. If you go during summer, the high temperatures and humidity might come in the way of exploring the city. Similarly, the temperature can be pretty chilly in winter, making it difficult to enjoy your trip fully.
The entry to Petra costs around 50 JD for one day, 55 JD for two days, and 60 JD for three days.
If you visit Petra on your arrival day to Jordan, you will be charged 90 JOD; 40 JOD is refundable if you stay in Wadi Musa overnight and return the following day for your refund.
Where to Stay in Petra – Wadi Musa
If you’d like to make the most of your trip to Petra from Aqaba, we’d suggest, at the very least, spending one night in nearby Wadi Musa. That way, you can enjoy Petra by Night (selected nights only), and prevent spending half your day in a vehicle:
- Best Luxury Hotel in Wadi Musa: Mövenpick Resort Petra
- Closest Hotel to Petra Entrance: Petra Guest House Hotel
- Good Mid-Range Hotel in Wadi Musa: Petra Corner Hotel
More on Visiting Jordan
When planning a family trip to Jordan, you may also want to see our guides to:
- Why families will want to include a side trip to Little Petra (Siq Al-Barid)
- The do’s and don’ts of visiting the Dead Sea with kids
- Where to find the best family-friendly camps in Wadi Rum
- How to dress in Jordan – a tourist guide for men, women and children (includes a printable packing list suitable for family travellers)
Jordan Guide Book
For a first-timer looking to visit Jordan, we can highly recommend you download the Step Into Jordan Guide & Itineraries.
This handy digital guide is just $19.99USD and includes:
- An interactive downloadable map
- 36 detailed pages of planning guidance
- Multiple suggested itineraries (10, 7 and 3 days)
- Tips from an expert
- Accommodation recommendations
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