Israel holds a place on the bucket lists of archeology buffs and outdoor adventurers alike. Its neighbor to the east is Jordan, a must-visit destination in its own right: from Petra to Wadi Rum, this tiny kingdom has no shortage of natural beauty and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Luckily for anyone looking to experience the best of both, getting from Israel to Jordan is easy. Combining the two unique locales into one unforgettable trip is surprisingly convenient: their excellent diplomatic relationship has fostered a solid tourism infrastructure with plenty of options. Familiarize yourself with the border crossing practicalities ahead of time, and get started on creating your picture-perfect itinerary.
Note: Rules and regulations change frequently and are not always clearly communicated via official channels. If you want to make to avoid surprises during your Israel-Jordan border crossing we recommend organizing your trip with the help of a local specialist.
Getting Your Visas
Travel between Israel and Jordan is fairly seamless for most travelers, starting with procuring your visas. You'll need separate visas for entry into Israel and Jordan; while it's possible to secure them from embassies in your home country ahead of time, the process can easily be completed upon arrival for residents of most western nations, including the United States.
Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv will supply you with a three-month visa at the beginning of your journey. For your Jordan tourist visa, you have a few options. The best and easiest way is to secure your visa at the border, but you can also get one at Queen Alia International Airport if you choose to fly into Amman or at the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv. For 40 Jordanian Dinar (JD) - about $56 USD - you'll receive a single-entry visa, good for one month from the date of entry.
Both nations require your passport to be current, with at least 6 months until the listed expiration date. Double check the expiry against your travel window well ahead of time, so you have plenty of room to renew if necessary.
Crossing The Border
Because Israel and Jordan are both small countries with a reliable system of highways, overland travel between the two is a manageable and popular choice. Touring by car or bus also allows for endless opportunities to customize your journey with stops at landmarks and attractions along the way.
There are three main points of entry on the border, and the one you'll take depends on where you're headed in Jordan, and whether or not you've already been granted a visa. The Sheikh Hussein Bridge, also known as the Jordan River Crossing, is the northernmost point of entry in the country, convenient to the ancient city of Jerash and the country's northern highlands. This is an official border where visas to Jordan are issued so if you don’t have a pre-arranged visa, this is the bridge for you! After completing immigration in Israel, you'll be required to take a shuttle across the bridge to Jordan, which costs JOD 1.6JD / US$2.3 or 10 NIS (luggage is free). Though the 1KM ride itself only takes a few minutes, be prepared for long lines, especially in the high season.
Another busy river crossing connecting Israel and Jordan is the Allenby Bridge, popular for its central positioning near Amman and the Dead Sea. Like Sheikh Hussein, you'll be required to take a shuttle across the river, so the same information about the need for being patient applies. The fees are slightly higher here: JOD 7.00 pp (approx $10) plus JOD 1.50 (approx $2). The most important thing to note about the Allenby Bridge is that Jordan tourist visas are not granted here; because it technically connects with the Palestinian controlled West Bank, it is not considered an official point of entry. If you plan to secure your visa at the border, enter Jordan at one of the other crossings - you can always use the Allenby Bridge on your way out! Only at Allenby bridge are you able to cross over to Jerusalem and return to Jordan on a single entry visa.
Wadi Araba is the third crossing and the furthest south, essentially connecting the Red Sea resort towns of Eilat on the Israel side with Aqaba in Jordan. For travelers interested in beelining to Petra or Wadi Rum, both are less than a two-hour drive away. A particular benefit of entering here is that you pay visa fees and taxes on your exit; and if you spend 3 nights or more you don’t pay any bridge fees (including visa, exit tax or service fees). This assumes you enter and depart via the same crossing.
Unlike the bridge crossings, Wadi Araba does not require a shuttle ride - you can walk the 500 meters from Israel to Jordan, and luggage carts are available at no extra charge.
Regardless of where you decide to enter Jordan, be prepared to have your bags opened and inspected by border security on either side. Also, note that Israel and Jordan both require you to pay an exit tax when you leave the country. Jordan requires a payment of JD 10 ($15 USD) regardless of where you cross, while Israel requires 179 Shekels ($50 USD) at the Allenby Bridge and 105 Shekels ($30 USD) at Sheikh Hussein and Wadi Araba.
If you're pressed for time, you can use the VIP service at Allenby crossing or Sheikh Hussein bridge, which is an expedited service provided and run by the authorities. Travelers wait in a lounge and are offered coffee, tea, and water while fees are paid and documents secured, and a private shuttle will take you all the way to the parking lot on the other side of the border. At both Allenby and Sheikh Hussein, this costs $115 USD PP each way (on top of the entry, exit, and visa fees).
Another way to speed things up is to hop on a plane. Flights do run twice daily between Tel Aviv and Amman on Royal Jordanian, and less frequently on a few other carriers. Aqaba also has a small airport with daily flights between countries. The same rules will apply in terms of visa fees and baggage checks, which you'll take care of during the customs process; exit fees are included in the price of most commercial flights.
Planning Your Trip
A visit to Jordan can be prioritized no matter how much time you can spare in your Israel itinerary. Whether you only have 24 hours or a whole week to spend, it's highly recommended that you book an organized tour for your visit. By sticking with one tour company throughout your time in Israel and Jordan, you'll be able to tailor your trip to your own priorities and preferences. Even more importantly, you'll be guaranteed an easy transition between countries, with elements like transportation on both sides of the border taken care of in advance.
If you are looking for an in-depth exploration of both countries, this well-rounded 9-day itinerary is a great example that includes many of the top attractions in both Israel and Jordan. Fly into Tel Aviv, and head straight to the border where you'll enter Jordan at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge. Your first stop is Jerash, the beautifully preserved two-thousand-year-old city, from which you'll drive to Amman for a tour of its stunning ruins and colorful markets. Then head south to Petra, a sprawling ancient metropolis and must-see attraction, renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Be sure to stop at some of the many notable sites dotted along your route, including the town of Madaba, where you'll find the oldest mosaic map of the Holy Land.
Head to the Dead Sea for a float and some luxe spa treatments before crossing back into Israel, this time utilizing the Allenby Bridge. Spend some time in Jericho, the oldest city in the world, before making your way to Jerusalem for a day of exploring on foot. From incredible views atop the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem has no shortage of beauty or historical landmarks. Spend your last full day hanging out on Israel's Mediterranean coast, including the beautiful gardens of Haifa, before heading back to Tel Aviv to get a glimpse of the Old City before your flight.
A popular option for travelers with an interest in Jordan and limited time is a day trip or quick overnight in Petra. Spend a night in Eilat before crossing into Jordan first thing in the morning via Wadi Araba. Make the ninety-minute drive to Petra, where you'll enter through the dramatic Siq, eventually arriving at the famously intricate facade of the Treasury Building. From there, check all the highlights off your list, including the Amphitheater, Colonnaded Street, and the challenging climb to the incredible Monastery.
Spend the night in nearby Wadi Musa, or better yet, head to the Wadi Rum wilderness for a night under the stars in a Bedouin camp. Save the next day for a 4x4 Jeep tour of the area, or take in the spectacular desert vistas from the back of a camel. Alternatively, you can head to Aqaba for some seaside relaxation before returning to Israel. The Gulf's large coral reef is perfect to explore on a scuba or snorkel outing, and you can peruse the area's cultural offerings like the Aqaba Archeological Museum or the Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque.
- Be mindful of the hours and dates of operation at each of the border entry points. None of the crossings are open to travelers past 8:00 PM, weekend and national holiday hours fluctuate. Yom Kippur is the biggest holiday in Israel, all 3 borders would close. Plan accordingly!
- Make sure you have cash on hand. Visas are paid in the currency of the country you're entering; exit fees are paid in the currency of the nation you're leaving. All out of dinar or shekels? Never fear: there are plenty of opportunities to exchange money at the border.
- Jordan and Israel have peaceful diplomatic relations, but if you plan to visit other Arab countries in the future, an Israeli passport stamp can be problematic. If this is of importance to you, best to start and end your journey at Amman Airport and use Allenby bridge, where the trend is not to stamp passports. You use the Sheikh Hussein bridge to cross, and can ask the immigration officer to stamp a piece of paper instead of your passport, but bear in mind, the trend at Sheikh Hussein is to stamp passports, so you want to be very clear about this.
- Be wary of the taxis waiting to pick up tourists at Jordan's border crossing stations. While they are perfectly fine in terms of safety, prices to popular destinations tend to be wildly inflated. If you need transport, try taking a quick ride to the nearest town (for a price agreed on up front) and getting into another cab from there, or have pre-arranged transport at an agreed upon price.
- If you plan to spend at least three nights in Jordan, you might want to buy a Jordan Pass, a sightseeing package sponsored by the ministry of tourism. It includes admission to more than forty tourist attractions - including Petra - and waives your JOD 40 visa fee. Priced at around $100 USD, it's a deal worth considering.
Thanks to Basma Hayudini for providing up to date information about the latest rules and regulations.