Welcome to the ultimate Petra travel guide! Located in southern Jordan, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This ancient city is renowned for its fascinating history, stunning architecture, and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Petra has something to offer everyone.
Known as the “Rose City” due to the color of its sandstone cliffs, Petra was once a bustling trade hub and the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. Carved into the rock by skilled craftsmen over 2,000 years ago, the intricate facades and structures of Petra are a testament to the incredible architectural achievements of the ancient Nabataeans.
Getting to Petra is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available. The nearest airport is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, which is well-connected to major cities around the world. From there, you can either take a domestic flight to the nearby city of Aqaba or arrange for a private car or taxi to take you directly to Petra.
As you explore Petra, you’ll find yourself immersed in a mesmerizing blend of history and natural wonders. The main attraction is undoubtedly the Siq, a narrow canyon that serves as the entrance to the city. As you walk through this narrow passage, marvel at the towering rock formations and the intricate carvings that line the path.
At the end of the Siq awaits one of Petra’s most iconic structures, the Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh. This magnificent building, carved into the cliff face, is breathtakingly beautiful and has been featured in numerous movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Continuing your journey through Petra, you’ll come across the Street of Facades, a row of intricately decorated tombs that were once final resting places for the Nabataeans. Stroll along this ancient street and imagine the bustling city life that once filled these corridors.
Another highlight of Petra is the Royal Tombs, a collection of grand and elaborately decorated burial sites. These tombs offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Nabataean people.
For those willing to venture further, the Monastery, or Al-Deir, is a must-visit site. Located at the top of a steep hike, this imposing structure offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape, making the challenging trek well worth it.
Other notable attractions in Petra include the High Place of Sacrifice, a sacred site believed to have been used for religious ceremonies, and the Byzantine Church, which showcases remnants of early Christian architecture.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Petra at night, be sure to experience Petra by Night, a magical event where the path to the Treasury is lit up by thousands of candles, creating a surreal and enchanting atmosphere.
In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with essential tips, the best time to visit, accommodation options, dining recommendations, safety precautions, and nearby day trip suggestions. So get ready to embark on a journey through time and discover the wonders of Petra!
Getting to Petra
Getting to Petra is relatively easy, thanks to its accessible location in southern Jordan. Here are some transportation options to consider:
- By Air: The nearest international airport to Petra is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, the capital of Jordan. From there, you can take a domestic flight to King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba, which is the closest airport to Petra. Several airlines offer domestic flights between Amman and Aqaba, making it a convenient option for travelers.
- By Land: If you prefer to travel by land, you can hire a private car or taxi from Amman to Petra. The journey takes around three hours, depending on traffic conditions. Alternatively, you can take a public bus from the Abdali station in Amman to Petra. Buses operate regularly, and the journey takes approximately four hours.
- By Tour: Another popular way to visit Petra is by joining a guided tour. Many tour operators offer day trips or multi-day tours that include transportation from Amman or Aqaba to Petra. This option is convenient for those who prefer a hassle-free experience and want to learn more about the history and culture of the region from knowledgeable guides.
Whichever method of transportation you choose, it is important to plan your trip in advance and check the latest travel information and visa requirements for Jordan. It is recommended to have a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining.
Once you arrive in Petra, you have a few options for exploring the site. The main entrance to Petra is at the Visitor Center, where you can purchase your tickets and obtain a map. From there, you can choose to explore on foot or hire a local guide to enhance your experience and provide valuable insights into the site’s history.
It is worth noting that Petra is a vast archaeological site, and you should come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water. The main attractions are spread out, and you can easily spend a full day or more exploring the various sites within Petra.
In summary, getting to Petra is a straightforward process, whether you choose to travel by air, land, or join a guided tour. With careful planning and the right preparation, you can embark on an unforgettable journey to this ancient wonder.
History of Petra
Petra has a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. The ancient city was once the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and served as a thriving center for trade and commerce in the region.
The Nabataeans, an Arab people, established Petra as their capital around the 4th century BCE. They were successful in controlling the major trade routes that connected Arabia, Egypt, and Syria, allowing them to amass great wealth and establish a flourishing civilization.
One of the key reasons for Petra’s prosperity was its strategic location along the spice trade routes. The Nabataeans controlled these routes, which allowed them to benefit from the lucrative spice trade between the East and the West.
Petra’s prosperity is evident in its remarkable architecture and engineering feats. The city was carved into sandstone cliffs, creating breathtaking structures that blended seamlessly with the natural surroundings. Skilled craftsmen chiseled the rock with meticulous detail, creating intricate facades and tombs that still stand today as a testament to the Nabataeans’ artistic and engineering prowess.
During its heyday, Petra’s fame spread far and wide, attracting visitors from different parts of the ancient world, including traders, pilgrims, and even Roman emperors. However, as the Roman Empire grew in power, the importance of Petra diminished, and the city gradually declined.
Petra was eventually abandoned and remained hidden from the modern world for centuries. It was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who disguised himself as an Arab scholar to gain access to the secret city.
Since its rediscovery, Petra has become one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world, and efforts have been made to preserve and protect its unique heritage. In 1985, Petra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its outstanding universal value and importance to human history.
Today, visitors to Petra can immerse themselves in the rich history of the Nabataeans, explore the magnificent structures they left behind, and gain a deeper understanding of this once-thriving city. Petra remains an awe-inspiring testament to human ingenuity and serves as a vital link to the past, offering a glimpse into the vibrant civilization that once thrived in this ancient desert landscape.
Main Attractions in Petra
Petra is home to numerous awe-inspiring attractions that showcase the incredible architectural achievements of the ancient Nabataean civilization. Here are some of the main attractions you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Petra:
- The Siq: The Siq is the main entrance to Petra, a narrow canyon that stretches for about 1.2 kilometers. Walking through the Siq is an enchanting experience, as the towering cliffs create a dramatic entrance into the ancient city. Admire the intricate rock formations and the occasional remnants of carvings that line the path.
- Treasury (Al-Khazneh): One of Petra’s most iconic structures, the Treasury is a magnificent building carved into the cliff face. With intricate details and an imposing facade, the Treasury is a sight to behold. Its name, the Treasury, comes from a local legend that suggests hidden treasures were once kept inside its walls.
- Street of Facades: As you continue through Petra, you’ll come across the Street of Facades, a row of intricate tombs carved into the cliffs. These decorated facades were once burial sites for the Nabataean elite and offer a glimpse into the city’s past glory.
- The Royal Tombs: The Royal Tombs are a collection of grand and elaborately decorated burial sites. These impressive structures reflect the wealth and power of the Nabataeans. Keep an eye out for the Urn Tomb, the Silk Tomb, and the Corinthian Tomb, among others.
- The Monastery (Al-Deir): For a more adventurous experience, hike up to the Monastery. This impressive structure, similar in design to the Treasury, is located at the top of a steep trail. The hike is challenging but rewarding, and the views from the top are spectacular.
- High Place of Sacrifice: Visit the High Place of Sacrifice, a sacred site believed to have been used for religious ceremonies and sacrifices. The rock-altar and panoramic views from this elevated location make it a significant site within Petra.
- Byzantine Church: Explore the remnants of the Byzantine Church, an early Christian structure that offers insight into the later occupation of Petra. The church features well-preserved mosaics and provides a glimpse into the city’s changing religious landscape.
These are just a few of the main attractions within Petra. The ancient city is vast, and one can easily spend days exploring its hidden corners and discovering hidden treasures. Hiring a local guide is highly recommended, as they can provide valuable insights into the history and significance of each site.
With its breathtaking architecture, rich history, and stunning natural landscape, Petra offers an unforgettable journey through time. Immerse yourself in the wonders of this ancient city and witness the extraordinary achievements of the Nabataean civilization.
The Siq is a spectacular natural feature that serves as the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra. This narrow, winding canyon stretches for about 1.2 kilometers, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring path into the hidden city. As you walk through the Siq, you’ll be captivated by the towering cliffs, the vibrant colors of the rock formations, and the sense of anticipation for what lies ahead.
Carved by nature over thousands of years, the Siq was formed by tectonic forces and erosion caused by flash floods. The walls of the Siq rise up to 80 meters in some places, creating a narrow gorge that creates a sense of intimacy and mystery as you journey deeper into Petra.
As you make your way through the Siq, keep an eye out for the intricately carved channels and aqueducts that once carried water to the city. You may also notice remnants of carvings and inscriptions on the walls, providing glimpses into the ancient civilizations that once passed through this very path.
The Siq is not only a stunning natural wonder but also an important part of Petra’s history. It served as a strategic entrance and played a key role in the defense of the city. The narrowness of the Siq would have made it difficult for large armies to invade, providing a natural barrier against potential threats.
One of the most magical moments in the Siq is when you catch a glimpse of the Treasury (Al-Khazneh) at the end of the canyon. As you emerge from the narrow passage, the Treasury comes into view, creating a jaw-dropping moment that leaves visitors in awe.
Exploring the Siq is an adventure in itself, with its changing light, striking rock formations, and hidden surprises. The play of light and shadow on the walls creates a dramatic atmosphere, especially during different times of the day. During the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun’s rays filter through the cracks in the canyon, the Siq becomes even more enchanting.
It is essential to allocate enough time to truly appreciate the Siq’s beauty. Take your time to soak in the surroundings, marvel at the craftsmanship of the ancient rock-carvers, and imagine the bustling city life that once filled these corridors. It is recommended to visit the Siq early in the morning or later in the day when it is less crowded, allowing for a more peaceful and immersive experience.
Walking through the Siq is like stepping back in time, and it sets the stage for the wonders that await you in the hidden city of Petra. Be prepared to be amazed as you journey through this breathtaking entrance and begin your unforgettable exploration of one of the world’s most extraordinary archaeological sites.
The Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and breathtaking structures in Petra. Carved into the rock face, this magnificent facade is shrouded in mystery and has captivated visitors for centuries.
The Treasury gets its name from the local Bedouin belief that it once held hidden treasures within its walls. This legend, combined with its grandeur and impressive architectural design, adds to the air of intrigue and fascination that surrounds this ancient structure.
Approaching the Treasury is an awe-inspiring experience. As you make your way through the narrow canyon of the Siq, the path suddenly opens up, revealing the towering facade of the Treasury. The sheer size and intricate carvings of the Treasury are nothing short of breathtaking.
The facade stands at an impressive height of over 40 meters and is adorned with beautiful decorative elements, such as columns, friezes, and statues. The intricate details showcase the talent and craftsmanship of the ancient Nabataeans, who carefully carved the rock to create this architectural masterpiece.
The Treasury has had a prominent presence in popular culture, with appearances in films such as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Its awe-inspiring beauty and air of mystery have made it an iconic symbol of Petra and a location that sparks the imagination of visitors.
While the exterior of the Treasury is its most famous feature, the interior is relatively small and has little to offer in terms of exploration. However, the outer facade alone is a sight to behold and provides an impressive backdrop for photographs and memories.
For a truly magical experience, visit the Treasury during the early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight hits the rock face, creating a warm, golden glow. There is also an enchanting atmosphere during the Petra by Night events, where candlelight illuminates the path to the Treasury, creating an otherworldly ambiance.
While the exact purpose of the Treasury remains a mystery, it is widely believed to have been a tomb or mausoleum for a Nabataean king or queen. Some archaeologists speculate that it may have served as an important ceremonial or administrative building as well.
Visiting the Treasury is a highlight of any trip to Petra. Take the time to marvel at its beauty, absorb the history and wonder of this ancient structure, and feel the connection to the past that it represents. The Treasury is a true testament to the ingenuity and artistic capabilities of the Nabataeans, leaving visitors in awe of their architectural achievements.
Street of Facades
The Street of Facades is a captivating section within the ancient city of Petra that showcases a row of intricately carved tombs. As you explore this area, you’ll be greeted by a series of facades that once served as final resting places for the Nabataeans.
The Street of Facades is located just beyond the Treasury, as you continue your journey deeper into Petra. It is an impressive sight, with its towering monuments and the fascinating artistry displayed in the rock-carved facades.
These tombs, known as facades due to their elaborate front-facing structures, provide a glimpse into the architectural style and burial practices of the Nabataeans. Each facade is unique, showcasing different intricate designs, patterns, and decorations.
As you walk along the Street of Facades, you can’t help but imagine the bustling life that once filled these corridors. The intricately carved entrances and towering structures evoke a sense of grandeur and reflect the wealth and status of those laid to rest here.
Among the notable tombs along the Street of Facades is the Urn Tomb, named after the large urn-shaped carving on its upper level. This tomb stands out with its intricate decorative details and its prominent location that overlooks the surrounding area.
Another noteworthy facade is the Silk Tomb, named after the brilliant colors that enhance its intricate carvings. The vibrant hues of the rock formations create a striking contrast to the surrounding landscape, making it a favorite spot for many visitors to capture stunning photographs.
One can’t help but marvel at the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail displayed in these tombs. The Nabataeans’ skill in carving rock is evident as you examine the fine inscriptions, delicate reliefs, and complex geometrical patterns that adorn these ancient structures.
Exploring the Street of Facades is like stepping into the past, absorbing the rich culture and history of the Nabataean civilization. It’s a chance to connect with a bygone era and appreciate the artistic legacy left behind by this ancient civilization.
Tip: To fully appreciate the Street of Facades, take your time to admire the intricate carvings and explore the smaller tombs along the way. With each step, you’ll uncover new details and gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship of the Nabataeans.
The Street of Facades is a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of the Nabataeans, and a visit to Petra would be incomplete without experiencing the beauty and mystery of this enchanting site.
The Royal Tombs
The Royal Tombs of Petra are a collection of grand and elaborately decorated burial sites that offer a fascinating insight into the wealth, power, and craftsmanship of the Nabataean civilization. These impressive tombs stand as a testament to the status and importance of the individuals who were laid to rest here.
Scattered above and along the cliffs of Petra, the Royal Tombs are an impressive sight to behold. Each tomb is unique in its design, showcasing the artistic flair and architectural ingenuity of the Nabataeans.
One of the most prominent tombs is the Urn Tomb, named for the large urn-like structure carved into the upper level. This tomb is an imposing sight, with its towering facade and intricate decorative details, including friezes, columns, and ornate reliefs.
Adjacent to the Urn Tomb is the equally impressive Silk Tomb, known for its vibrant coloration and delicate carvings. The use of vibrant pigments brings the intricate designs to life, showcasing the artistic mastery of the Nabataeans.
As you explore further, you’ll encounter other notable tombs, such as the Corinthian Tomb, with its Corinthian-style columns and ornate decorations. The Palace Tomb, with its multiple levels and staircase, stands out as a complex and captivating structure.
Each tomb along the Royal Tombs has its own unique character and charm, offering visitors an opportunity to delve into the rich history and significance of Petra. The grandeur and attention to detail displayed in these tombs reflects the reverence and importance placed on burial practices by the Nabataeans.
It’s important to note that the term “Royal Tombs” is somewhat misleading, as the exact identities of those buried in these tombs remain unknown. While they were likely reserved for individuals of high social and political status, the specific details of their occupants have been lost to history.
Visiting the Royal Tombs is a mesmerizing experience, allowing you to witness first-hand the architectural achievements and artistic talents of the Nabataeans. Take the time to admire the intricate carvings, the majestic scale of the tombs, and the panoramic views that surround them.
Exploring the Royal Tombs is a journey into the past, a chance to immerse yourself in the opulence and grandeur of a bygone era. It is a reminder of the rich history and cultural significance of Petra, and a testament to the timeless allure of this remarkable archaeological site.
The Monastery (Al-Deir)
The Monastery, known as Al-Deir in Arabic, is a striking and monumental structure located in the ancient city of Petra. Similar in design to the famous Treasury, but even larger in scale, the Monastery stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of the Nabataeans and offers a breathtaking experience for visitors.
To reach the Monastery, one must embark on a challenging yet rewarding hike. The journey involves ascending roughly 800 steps carved into the rock face and hiking up steep trails. As you make your way up, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, adding to the allure of the adventure.
Upon reaching the Monastery, you’ll be greeted by an awe-inspiring sight. The Monastery’s facade stands at around 45 meters in height and spans an impressive 50 meters in width. Its size and grandeur make it one of the largest carved structures in Petra.
The facade of the Monastery features intricate architectural details, including columns, friezes, and beautiful carved figures. While less ornate than the Treasury, the Monastery’s sheer size and the remote setting create a sense of awe and wonder.
Exploring the interior of the Monastery reveals a spacious chamber that was likely used for religious purposes, although its exact function remains uncertain. Inside, visitors can appreciate the simplicity of the space and imagine the rituals and ceremonies that may have taken place here.
One of the unique aspects of visiting the Monastery is its serene and secluded location. Unlike the more easily accessible sites in Petra, the Monastery is located further away from the main city area. This adds to the sense of adventure and provides a more peaceful, off-the-beaten-path experience.
For those looking to enhance their visit to the Monastery, there are nearby tea and refreshment stalls where you can rest and enjoy a well-deserved break. These local establishments offer a chance to interact with the hospitable Bedouin community and savor delicious traditional tea or snacks.
Whether you choose to relax and soak in the stunning views, explore the interior of the Monastery, or simply marvel at the architectural marvel of this ancient structure, a visit to the Monastery is an unforgettable experience that showcases the grandeur and enduring legacy of Petra.
Tip: It’s best to visit the Monastery early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun casts a warm glow on the facade, creating a mesmerizing ambiance. Additionally, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, and plenty of water, as the hike to the Monastery can be physically demanding.
Immerse yourself in the majesty of the Monastery, let its monumental presence transport you to a bygone era, and appreciate the timeless beauty that awaits atop the rugged trails of Petra.
High Place of Sacrifice
The High Place of Sacrifice is a significant and sacred site located within the ancient city of Petra. Perched atop a rocky plateau, this elevated platform offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and was believed to have been used for religious ceremonies and rituals by the Nabataeans.
To reach the High Place of Sacrifice, you’ll embark on a moderate hike that winds its way through the rugged terrain of Petra. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic vistas and a sense of serenity as you leave the buzz of the main city area behind.
Upon reaching the top of the plateau, you’ll be greeted by a large open area that serves as the central platform of the High Place. Here, you’ll find a sacrificial altar, as well as carved stone benches that are thought to have been used by priests and worshippers during religious ceremonies.
This sacred site holds great cultural and historical significance for the Nabataeans. The High Place of Sacrifice was believed to be a place where rituals were performed, often involving the offering of animals or other valuable items as a way to honor their deities.
The location of the High Place of Sacrifice is not a coincidence. Its elevated position provides visitors with unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape, creating a sense of connection between the heavens and the earthly realm.
While the exact details and practices of the ceremonies conducted at the High Place of Sacrifice remain a mystery, visiting this site allows you to imagine the spiritual devotion and deep-seated beliefs of the Nabataean people. You can stand in the footsteps of ancient worshippers and appreciate the awe-inspiring natural beauty that would have surrounded these sacred rituals.
For visitors seeking both cultural immersion and breathtaking views, the High Place of Sacrifice is a must-visit site within Petra. The hike to the top may require a moderate level of fitness, but the reward is well worth the effort.
Tip: To enhance your experience, consider visiting the High Place of Sacrifice during sunrise or sunset. The changing colors of the sky will cast a magical glow over the landscape, adding to the mystical ambiance of this sacred site.
Embrace the spiritual aura of the High Place of Sacrifice, take in the awe-inspiring views that stretch as far as the eye can see, and gain a deeper appreciation for the ancient rituals and beliefs that were so integral to the Nabataean culture.
Located within the ancient city of Petra, the Byzantine Church stands as a testament to the complex layers of history that have shaped this remarkable site. Built during the Byzantine period, this early Christian church provides a glimpse into the later occupation of Petra and offers insight into the religious and cultural changes that took place over time.
The Byzantine Church is located near the center of Petra, showcasing architectural elements and features characteristic of Byzantine-era churches. As you approach the church ruins, you’ll notice the remnants of the nave, columns, and stone foundations that once formed the structure.
Exploring the site, you’ll come across remnants of intricate mosaics that adorned the floors of the church. These mosaics display various geometric patterns and religious symbols, providing a glimpse into the artistic and religious practices of the time.
While the exact history and purpose of the Byzantine Church in Petra are not fully documented, it is believed that the church served as a place of worship and gathering for the Christian community that once resided in Petra during the Byzantine period.
Visiting the Byzantine Church allows you to see the layers of history that have shaped Petra. It provides a tangible link to the Christian presence in the region, highlighting both the cultural and religious diversity that existed within the ancient city.
Exploring the ruins of the Byzantine Church is a fascinating experience, allowing you to step back in time and imagine the rituals, prayers, and community gatherings that would have taken place within its walls. Take a moment to reflect on the historical significance of this site and appreciate the interconnectedness of different cultures and beliefs throughout Petra’s long history.
While the Byzantine Church may not be as grand or well-preserved as some of the other structures in Petra, it serves as an important reminder of the evolving religious landscape and the enduring legacy of this ancient city.
Tip: As you explore the Byzantine Church, be sure to keep an eye out for other nearby Byzantine-era structures and remnants, such as the Petra Church and the Petra Garden Temple. These sites provide further insights into the Byzantine influence on the city.
Immerse yourself in the historical tapestry of Petra by visiting the Byzantine Church, and gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse and evolving nature of this captivating archaeological site.
Petra by Night
Petra by Night is a magical experience that allows visitors to witness the stunning beauty of this ancient city illuminated by the soft glow of thousands of candles. This enchanting event takes place on certain evenings, offering a unique perspective and a chance to immerse oneself in the captivating atmosphere of Petra after dark.
The journey begins as visitors make their way through the dark, narrow Siq, guided only by the flickering candlelight lining the path. As you walk through this mysterious canyon, anticipation builds, and the anticipation of what lies ahead intensifies.
Upon emerging from the Siq, visitors are met with a breathtaking sight—the Treasury (Al-Khazneh) bathed in the warm glow of countless candles. The facade of the Treasury shimmers as the surrounding rocks and carvings come alive with soft illuminations, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.
The Petra by Night experience is not solely about the visual display; it’s a multi-sensory journey. As you sit in front of the Treasury, enveloped in the tranquil ambiance, you’ll be serenaded by traditional Bedouin music played on traditional instruments such as the oud. The haunting melodies add to the mystical atmosphere, transporting you back in time.
Among the highlights of Petra by Night is the opportunity to listen to Bedouin storytellers. These skilled narrators spin tales of Petra’s history, legends, and folklore, bringing the ancient city to life through vivid storytelling.
The sense of awe and wonder only grows as the evening progresses. The candles cast a gentle light on the surrounding rocks and pathways, enhancing the ethereal ambiance of the site. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the area near the Treasury and appreciate the exquisite details that may not be as visible during daylight visits.
It’s important to note that Petra by Night is a separate ticketed event and takes place on specific evenings. It is advisable to check the schedule and make reservations in advance to secure your spot.
Experiencing Petra by Night is a truly magical and unforgettable experience. It allows you to see Petra in a whole new light—quite literally—immersing you in the ancient city’s charm and mystique. The combination of candlelit pathways, live music, and enchanting storytelling creates a serene and unforgettable ambiance that stays with you long after the event concludes.
Note: Please be respectful during Petra by Night and refrain from touching or tampering with the candles or any of the archaeological structures. This helps preserve the site and ensures that future visitors can also enjoy this extraordinary experience.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the mystical beauty of Petra by Night, as it truly transports you to a different time and place, capturing the essence and magic of this incredible archaeological wonder.
Tips for Visiting Petra
Visiting Petra, the ancient city of wonders, requires some preparation and planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- Plan Ahead: Before visiting Petra, do some research to familiarize yourself with the site’s layout, main attractions, and opening hours. Consider creating an itinerary to ensure you can explore all the highlights at your own pace.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes: Petra involves a significant amount of walking, so wearing comfortable, sturdy footwear is essential. Choose closed-toe shoes with good traction, as some paths can be uneven and rocky.
- Bring Ample Water: Staying hydrated is crucial due to the desert climate. Carry a refillable water bottle and make use of the available water stations to stay refreshed throughout your visit.
- Protect Yourself from the Sun: Petra can be scorching hot, especially during the summer months. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and consider wearing lightweight, breathable clothing to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
- Start Early: Arrive at Petra as early as possible to beat the crowds and make the most of the cooler morning temperatures. This allows you to explore the site more comfortably and capture stunning photos without the hustle and bustle.
- Engage a Local Guide: Consider hiring a local guide or joining a guided tour to gain valuable insights into the history, culture, and hidden gems of Petra. Their expertise can enhance your overall experience and provide a deeper understanding of the site.
- Take Breaks and Pace Yourself: Pace yourself during your visit and take breaks whenever needed. There are resting spots, shaded areas, and local cafes where you can recharge and soak in the surroundings.
- Respect the Site: Petra is an archaeological site of immense historical and cultural importance. Respect the ancient structures by not climbing on them, touching the carvings, or littering. Help preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site for future generations.
- Be Mindful of Local Customs: Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, so it’s important to dress modestly, especially when outside of the tourist areas. Respect local customs and traditions by covering your shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites.
- Visit Petra by Night: If possible, don’t miss the magical experience of Petra by Night. The candlelit pathways and stunning Treasury under the starry sky create a truly enchanting atmosphere that is worth experiencing.
By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to Petra, ensuring a memorable and awe-inspiring journey through this ancient city of wonders.
Best Time to Visit Petra
Petra can be visited year-round, but there are certain times of the year when the weather and overall conditions are more favorable for exploring this ancient city. The best time to visit Petra depends on your preferences and priorities, but here are some factors to consider when planning your trip:
- Spring (March to May): Spring is considered one of the best times to visit Petra. The weather is generally pleasant, with comfortable temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The desert landscape comes alive with colorful wildflowers, adding an extra touch of beauty to the surroundings.
- Fall (September to November): Fall is another excellent season to explore Petra. The temperatures are mild, ranging from 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F), making it comfortable for outdoor activities. The crowds also tend to be smaller compared to the peak summer season.
- Winter (December to February): Winter can be a great time to visit Petra if you don’t mind cooler temperatures. Daytime temperatures range from 9°C to 17°C (48°F to 63°F), but nights can get chilly. However, fewer tourists visit during this time, allowing for a more peaceful and intimate experience.
- Summer (June to August): Summer in Petra can be scorching hot, with temperatures often exceeding 40°C (104°F). If you choose to visit during this time, it’s essential to take precautions, such as wearing lightweight and breathable clothing, staying hydrated, and starting your visit early in the morning to avoid the peak heat of the day.
Additionally, it’s worth checking the calendar for any special events or festivals that may be taking place in Petra during your planned visit. These events can provide unique cultural experiences and add an extra layer of excitement to your trip.
Regardless of the season, it’s advisable to arrive at Petra early in the morning to beat the crowds and make the most of your visit. This allows you to explore the site more comfortably and capture stunning photos without the hustle and bustle.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Petra depends on your individual preferences, tolerance for hot temperatures, and crowd preferences. Considering the weather, the number of tourists, and any specific events, you can make an informed decision to ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to this awe-inspiring ancient city.
Accommodation in Petra
Petra offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury resorts, comfortable hotels, or budget-friendly guesthouses, you can find a place to stay within close proximity to the ancient city. Here are some options to consider:
- Luxury Resorts: If you prefer a luxurious experience, there are several high-end resorts near Petra that offer top-notch amenities and services. These resorts often provide spacious rooms, fine dining options, swimming pools, spa facilities, and more.
- Hotels: There are numerous hotels in and around Petra that cater to different budgets. From mid-range to more affordable options, these hotels provide comfortable accommodation with varying levels of amenities. Many of them offer onsite restaurants, Wi-Fi, and convenient access to Petra’s main entrance.
- Guesthouses: For a more authentic experience, consider staying at a guesthouse or locally-run bed and breakfast. These accommodations often offer a cozy and welcoming environment, providing a chance to connect with local hosts. They may also offer home-cooked meals, creating a homely atmosphere.
- Campsites: For an adventurous experience, you can opt for camping near Petra. There are designated camping areas that provide basic facilities such as toilets and showers. Camping is a great option for those who enjoy being close to nature and prefer a more budget-friendly alternative.
When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, proximity to the entrance of Petra, reviews, and the specific amenities that are important to you. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the peak travel season, to secure your preferred choice.
Wadi Musa, the town closest to Petra, is a popular area to stay due to its proximity to the entrance. Here, you’ll find a range of accommodation options, as well as restaurants, shops, and other conveniences.
If you prefer a more immersive experience, you may also choose to stay in a Bedouin camp in the nearby Wadi Rum desert. This allows you to experience the Bedouin way of life and enjoy the breathtaking desert landscapes.
When researching accommodations, make sure to read reviews, check for amenities that are important to you, and consider the overall value for your budget. It’s worth noting that some accommodations may offer shuttle services to and from the Petra Visitor Center, which can be convenient for transportation.
Regardless of where you choose to stay, remember that the main highlight of your visit is Petra itself, so selecting accommodation that meets your needs for comfort, convenience, and affordability will ensure a pleasant stay as you embark on your Petra adventure.
Dining Options in Petra
Exploring Petra can work up an appetite, and luckily, there are several dining options available within and near the ancient city. From traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to international dishes, you’ll find a variety of dining experiences to satisfy your cravings. Here are some dining options in Petra:
- Local Restaurants and Cafes: There are several local restaurants and cafes in the town of Wadi Musa, near the entrance of Petra. These establishments offer a range of dishes, including traditional Jordanian cuisines such as Mansaf (a rice and lamb dish), Mezze (an assortment of small dishes), and fresh falafel and hummus. Enjoy local flavors and immerse yourself in the vibrant dining scene.
- Hotel Restaurants: Many of the hotels near Petra have their own restaurants that offer a mix of local and international cuisines. These hotel restaurants are convenient options for those staying in nearby accommodations. They often serve buffet-style meals, making them suitable for larger groups or those seeking a variety of dishes.
- Bedouin-Style Dining: For a unique culinary experience, consider trying Bedouin-style dining. Some local tour operators organize special dining events in the Wadi Rum desert where you can savor traditional Bedouin dishes cooked over open fires. Enjoy the rich flavors of Mansaf, Zarb (a slow-cooked meat and vegetable dish), and refreshing mint tea while sitting around a campfire under the starlit sky.
- Street Food Stalls: While exploring Petra, you’ll also come across street food stalls that offer quick and tasty bites. Grab a falafel sandwich, shawarma wrap, or freshly squeezed fruit juices to fuel your adventures. It’s a great option for those on the go or looking for a quick snack.
- Picnic-style Meals: If you prefer a more casual dining experience, you can bring your own food and have a picnic in one of the designated areas within Petra. Pack a lunch with local delights or purchase provisions from markets in nearby towns. Enjoy your meal amidst the ancient surroundings, taking in the breathtaking views.
It’s worth noting that some accommodations near Petra also offer in-house dining options. If you’re staying in a hotel or guesthouse, inquire about their restaurant facilities and the types of cuisines they serve.
When dining in Petra, be open to trying local specialties and experiencing the flavors of the region. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from locals or fellow travelers. Jordanian hospitality is renowned, and you’re likely to receive warm and friendly service wherever you choose to dine.
Remember to stay hydrated as you explore Petra and consider carrying a refillable water bottle to quench your thirst throughout the day. International and western-style fast-food chains can also be found in some areas near Petra for those seeking familiar options.
Whether you’re a food enthusiast eager to explore local cuisine or prefer international flavors, you’ll find dining options in and around Petra to suit your taste buds and keep you energized for your unforgettable journey through this ancient wonder.
Safety and Security in Petra
Petra is generally a safe destination with a low crime rate. However, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while exploring Petra:
- Stay Hydrated: Petra is located in a desert region, and temperatures can soar, especially during the summer months. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illnesses. Carry a refillable water bottle and take advantage of the water stations available throughout the site.
- Wear Appropriate Clothing: It’s important to dress respectfully and appropriately when visiting Petra, especially when outside the tourist areas. Jordan is a conservative country, and modest attire is expected out of respect for local customs and traditions. Keep your shoulders and knees covered.
- Stay on Designated Paths: Petra is a vast archaeological site with rugged terrain. To ensure your safety and preserve the integrity of the site, stay on designated paths and follow signage. Venturing off these paths can be dangerous and may result in injury.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: While Petra is generally safe, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas. Avoid displaying valuable items or carrying large sums of cash.
- Use Trusted Transportation: When traveling to and from Petra, use trusted transportation options such as licensed taxis or reputable tour operators. Avoid accepting rides from unlicensed individuals or unmarked vehicles.
- Follow Local Customs and Rules: Respect local customs and adhere to the rules and regulations in place at Petra. Do not climb on or touch the ancient structures, as this can cause damage and is strictly prohibited. Respect any designated areas or closures for preservation purposes.
- Stay Informed: Stay informed about current travel advisories and follow any guidance provided by local authorities or your embassy. It’s advisable to register your travel plans with your embassy or consulate before visiting Petra.
- Travel Insurance: It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and personal belongings in case of unforeseen circumstances.
As with any travel destination, it’s recommended to exercise caution and use common sense while visiting Petra. By being mindful of your surroundings, following safety guidelines, and respecting local customs, you can enjoy a safe and memorable experience in this ancient wonder.
Note: The information provided here is to serve as a general guide. It’s always advisable to check the latest travel advisories and consult official sources before your visit to Petra.
Essential Items to Pack for Petra
When preparing for your visit to Petra, it’s important to pack essential items to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some important items to consider including in your packing list:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Petra involves a significant amount of walking, often on uneven and rocky terrain. Pack sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction to ensure comfort and safety throughout your exploration of the site.
- Sun Protection: The desert sun can be intense, so be sure to pack sun protection essentials. Include sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face and neck from direct sunlight, and sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.
- Layers of Clothing: Depending on the time of year, temperatures in Petra can vary. It’s advisable to pack light and breathable clothing, but also include a light jacket or sweater in case of cooler weather, especially in the mornings or evenings.
- Water Bottle and Snacks: Staying hydrated is crucial in the desert climate. Carry a refillable water bottle to keep hydrated throughout your visit. Packing some snacks, such as energy bars or trail mix, is also advisable to keep you fueled during your exploration.
- Day Pack or Backpack: A small day pack or backpack is essential for carrying your water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, camera, and other personal items. Opt for a lightweight and comfortable option that allows you to have your hands free while exploring Petra.
- Camera or Smartphone: Petra is a photographer’s paradise, so don’t forget to pack a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning vistas and architectural wonders. Make sure you have enough memory card space or cloud storage to store your photos.
- Portable Charger: Ensure you have a portable charger or power bank to keep your electronic devices charged throughout the day. This is especially useful if you plan to use your smartphone for navigation, taking photos, or staying connected while exploring Petra.
- First Aid Kit: It’s always a good idea to carry a small, basic first aid kit containing band-aids, pain relievers, blister pads, and any personal medications you may require.
- Cash and Identification: While some establishments in Petra may accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry some cash in local currency for small purchases and tips. Also, keep your identification (passport, driver’s license, etc.) handy for verification purposes.
- Travel Adapter: Jordan has Type C, D, F, and G power sockets. If you’re traveling from a country with a different socket type, be sure to pack a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices.
Remember to check the weather forecast before your visit to Petra to ensure you pack accordingly. It’s also a good idea to bring a small, foldable umbrella or rain jacket in case of unpredictable weather conditions.
By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for your adventure in Petra, allowing you to have a comfortable, safe, and unforgettable experience in this extraordinary ancient city.
Nearby Day Trips from Petra
While Petra is undoubtedly the main attraction in the region, there are also several exciting day trip options in the vicinity. If you have extra time to spare, consider exploring these nearby destinations to enhance your overall experience:
- Wadi Rum: Embark on a day trip to Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon. This stunning desert landscape offers breathtaking scenery of towering sandstone cliffs, vast sandy valleys, and unique rock formations. You can enjoy a jeep tour, experience camel trekking, or even spend a night in a Bedouin camp to truly immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of this renowned desert.
- Dead Sea: If you’re looking for relaxation and rejuvenation, consider a day trip to the Dead Sea. This iconic saltwater lake, famous for its unique properties, allows you to effortlessly float on its surface due to its high salt concentration. Additionally, indulge in mineral-rich mud treatments and take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Little Petra (Al-Beidha): Just a short drive from Petra, you’ll find Little Petra, also known as Al-Beidha. This lesser-known site features narrow rock-cut passages, tombs, and facades similar to those in Petra, albeit on a smaller scale. Explore this fascinating archaeological site and appreciate the impressive rock carvings and cave dwellings.
- Dana Biosphere Reserve: Take a day trip to the Dana Biosphere Reserve, a diverse nature reserve located near Petra. This vast area encompasses stunning landscapes, including mountains, canyons, and wadis, along with a rich array of flora and fauna. Explore the hiking trails, learn about conservation efforts, and enjoy the breathtaking views over the reserve.
- Karak Castle: Located in the town of Karak, Karak Castle is an impressive Crusader-era fortress that showcases the region’s ancient history. Explore the maze-like corridors, admire the sturdy walls, and learn about the castle’s fascinating past. The panoramic views from the top of the castle are also breathtaking.
- Aqaba: For those seeking a beach escape, consider a day trip to Aqaba, Jordan’s coastal city. Relax on the beautiful sandy beaches, indulge in water sports activities such as snorkeling or diving in the Red Sea’s crystal-clear waters, or explore the vibrant markets and enjoy the local cuisine.
These nearby day trip options showcase the natural beauty, historical significance, and cultural diversity of Jordan. Plan your itinerary accordingly to make the most of your stay in the region and to create a well-rounded experience that combines the wonders of Petra with the unique offerings of these neighboring destinations.
Petra is a truly remarkable destination that captivates visitors with its awe-inspiring beauty, rich history, and cultural significance. Exploring this ancient city allows you to step back in time and marvel at the architectural marvels created by the Nabataean civilization.
From walking through the dramatic Siq to standing in awe before the iconic Treasury, each step in Petra brings you closer to understanding the ingenuity and creativity of the ancient world. The Street of Facades, the Royal Tombs, the Monastery, and other breathtaking sites within Petra all offer unique glimpses into the past and remind us of the enduring legacy of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When planning your visit to Petra, consider the best time to go, the essential items to pack, and the range of accommodations and dining options available. Prepare to be enchanted by Petra by Night, as you witness the site illuminated by candlelight and enveloped in storytelling and music.
Take advantage of nearby day trips to immerse yourself further in the wonders of Jordan, whether it’s exploring the magnificent desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, floating effortlessly in the Dead Sea, or experiencing the unique cultural heritage of Little Petra.
As you embark on your journey through Petra, remember to stay hydrated, dress appropriately, and be respectful of the site and local customs. Practice responsible tourism by preserving the integrity of the ancient structures and ensuring the sustainability of the destination for future generations.
Petra promises an unforgettable experience—one that combines natural beauty, historical significance, and the sense of wonder that comes from standing amidst the remnants of an ancient world. So, get ready to embark on an extraordinary adventure through time as you immerse yourself in the wonders of Petra.