Most visitors to Jordan enter via Queen Alia International Airport and spend at least a night in Amman before visiting Petra, which lies about 4 hours drive south of Amman, Jordan’s capital city. There are a few different ways to get from Amman to Petra, whether rental car, private tour, private transfer, bus or taxi. Whether you are backpacking Jordan on a budget or looking to see the very best from accommodation to amenities, you will find the best ways to get to Petra from Amman below!
So Why Visit Petra? Well if you need some convincing, here you go! The red rose city of Petra is one of the most underrated destinations in the world. While topping lists of “must-visit” places, its visitors are a fraction of what you will see in Paris or Venice or other Western countries. Because of the unrest on the other side of Jordan’s borders, few people put visiting Petra on the top of their lists.
This archaeological marvel, the capital of the Nabataeans, stood hidden for hundreds of years and since its discovery, it has been attracting those who wish to marvel at its ancient grandeur. It is one of the most popular things to do in Jordan for good reason! Whether on a luxury tour, or backpacking Jordan, almost everyone who visits Jordan comes for Petra. Tourism to Jordan has been increasing year after year, this is one of those sights that should be at the top of your list to see before waves of crowds destroy the vibe of having this marvel to yourself!
Petra is open year-round is costs JD50 (USD71) for a one day visit. I suggest buying a Jordan Pass if you are traveling the country independently as it will save you some money during your trip!
There are also evening light shows called Petra by Night. Click the link to get all of the information on visiting the evening show.
Getting to Petra from Amman
Amman to Petra by Rental Car
Many visitors to Jordan intend on self-driving the country and following their own, or a suggested itinerary. While driving in Amman can be chaotic, once you are on the Kings Highway and out of the city, the drive to Petra from Amman is quite easy.
It takes about 4 hours to drive from Amman to Petra. Plan for construction delays due to the highway reconstruction and be mindful of oncoming traffic in construction sections.
Get a quote on renting a car.
Amman Petra Bus
There are two options when it comes to taking a bus from Amman to Petra, either JETT Coach busses or small coaster public transportation.
JETT buses operate once per day and return to Amman in the evening. If you want to see Petra in one day and return to Amman, this is your best option. The bus departs at 6:30 from the Abdali JETT Bus Station in Amman and you can either buy a round trip ticket or buy a one way ticket to Petra. It returns to Amman at 4pm or you can stay the night in Petra. Ensure you arrive 30 minutes before departure to pay for your ticket.
JETT offers air-conditioned coach style busses with plenty of room for luggage. You should buy your ticket the day before to ensure you get a seat. You can buy online but I always find the interface awkward. I have always called and booked a spot or gone into the office.
JETT Tickets cost JD11 one way. The JETT Bus makes one stop along the way to use the bathroom or grab a coffee or tea.
The Coaster buses go from the southern bus station and leave between 9am and 4pm. If you want to do during the day and cannot make the 6:30am JETT bus, these are your only bus option. These minibusses are cheaper than the JETT bus but do not have a schedule. They depart when the bus is full. These busses do not have air conditioning and only have a small amount of room for luggage, so you might end up with it under your feet.
Coaster bus public transport costs about JD3. It makes stops along the way for people who are not going all the way to Petra.
Amman to Petra by Tour
There are plenty of short tours from Amman to Petra. You can even do it on a day tour, although I will warn you that you will be spending a lot of your day in the car (I suggest you at least overnight). Tours can be arranged in advance, and often on arrival. If you have a group with more than 5 people, I suggest you arrange your tour in advance as larger vans are hard to come by last minute in high season!
Here are a few options:
Viator Tours has this one (make sure you read what is included)
Get your Guide has this popular day tour (read what is included so you are not surprised as the entrance to Petra is JD50)
Amman to Petra by Private Transfer
If you do not want a tour, you can also book a private 1 way transfer in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle. Usually a round trip option (like the links above) are more popular.
Taxi to Petra from Amman
A taxi to Petra can set you back over USD100 if you want to use that option. Ensure you negotiate the rate in advance and you do not need to feel obligated to tip above the rate quoted.
More information on Jordan, Petra and Wadi Musa
Hotels Close to the Site Entrance:
Mövenpick Resort Petra
Mövenpick Resort Petra is the most opulent of all the 5-star hotels near Petra. It is also located on the other side of the street from Petra’s entrance, making it a perfectly convenient place to stay. Arguably the best hotel in Petra, the rooms at Mövenpick are exquisite; large and airy, and elegantly decorated. Thanks to the large windows, the rooms stay bright and filled with natural lights. The beds in each room are soft and comfortable, making residents want to spend their days sleeping in them. Even the pull out couches have comfortable mattresses and are perfect for families! The hotel also has a pool, it can be quite cold in fall, winter and spring.
Petra Palace Hotel
The Petra Palace Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from the Petra Visitors Center and the best three/four star option near the site entrance. Its rooms are warmly but simply decorated and some have walkouts to the pool. Every room has a seating area. The rooms also have a well-stocked minibar, a mini-fridge, a television set with cable, and a spacious bathroom that comes with all the necessary toiletries. Breakfast is complimentary and served in the restaurant of the hotel, which is on the first floor.
Petra Moon Hotel
Located just above the parking lot for the Petra Visitors Center, Petra Moon Hotel is one of the best hotels in Petra for travelers with a midrange budget who want to be close to the site. Petra Moon hotel is reasonably priced and is definitely worth the money spent to be very close to the site entrance. The rooms of this 3-star hotel are roomy, excellently cleaned, and simply decorated. The beds are simple and comfortable. Breakfast is served buffet-style in the restaurant and afterward. When you return in the evening, feel free to head up to the rooftop pool, where you can rest and think fondly about your full day of Petra exploration.
If you have just started researching your visit to Jordan and Petra, I have a bunch of posts that will help make your trip memorable!
If you are into photos, read up on the best spots for photos in Jordan.
Are you are souvenir junkie? Read about popular souvenirs from Jordan
5 Things to Bring with You to Petra
I have always been a guide book person and physically having that book in your hand as you plan your day, in addition to blogs like this one, can help immensely. Pick up a Lonely Planet Guide to Jordan (or the kindle version) before your trip to Jordan.
Whether you want to keep the sun off your head or want to show a little modesty, a scarf goes a long way in Jordan any time of the year. You can bring one with you or pick up one when you arrive, but don’t leave your hotel in the morning without it! It can serve as a hat to keep the sun off your head and neck in the summer and can add some warmth in winder and can offer modesty to cover shoulders for women.
A Grayl Water Bottle is something I recommend for every traveller, not just those going to the Middle East. Some people say the water is safe to drink from the tap, others say it is not; it is not something I am going to chance. And Jordan has a HUGE garbage problem. The streets, the forests and even the desert are littered with plastic bottles.
If you consider drinking at least 1-2 big water bottles a day while you are there, think of how much plastic that creates when every visitor and the population’s 9 million people do the same. With a Grayl, you can filter any tap water (or actually any water source) and have clean drinking water in seconds. Since most people travel with water bottles already, consider one like this with a filter so that you are not just pouring from big water bottles to small. It might sound expensive, but when you compare it to spending a few dollars per day on water while you travel (and do not forget how expensive the water is inside airports), you will pay for this very quickly.
An inexpensive Universal Travel Adapter is another must for Jordan. You will find an assortment of 220V plugs, from European 2 pin, another style of 2 pin and UK Plugs. While European 2 pin is most common, it is best to carry one of these adapters with you. With a handy USB input, you do not need to bring your plugs from home.
Kleenex or Wipes are another thing to put on your list. Jordan’s public washrooms (and even restraint or hotel lobby washrooms can often be unstocked. Unless you are good with a bidet sprayer, bring yourself some kleenex or wipes just in case! You will find that most washrooms in tourist sites and rest stops have an attendant that will give you toilet paper and paper towel for a small tip. Usually half a dinar is fine.
In Jordan, the plumbing is not set up to handle toilet paper. Every bathroom (even hotels) you should use the garbage can beside the toilet for your toilet paper and any sanitary products.
Travel Insurance for Jordan
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.