The Rose City of Petra is a wonderland of an ancient civilization. Carved into the rock face by the nomadic Bedouin tribe, it remained hidden from the West until 1812. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the Modern World. With so much history and architectural wonders, Petra deserves a spot on any Jordan itinerary. Here’s my guide to visiting Petra!
What to Expect in Petra
Opening Hours: From 6 am to 7 pm in summer and 5 pm in winter. Check the official Jordan tourism site for details.
Entrance Fee: The longer you stay in Petra, the better value you’ll get for your money. A one-day ticket costs JD50 ($70) per person, but a two-day ticket is JD55, and a three-day is JD 60. You can buy your ticket at the visitor’s center when you arrive. Be sure to withdraw enough cash before you arrive. There are also maps and guidebooks you can buy and tour guides are available for JD 50-100.
If you’re planning on visiting Jordan, I would highly recommend getting the Jordan pass as it offers discounts to some major sites, including Petra.
How Long to Stay: With so much to see in Petra, I recommend staying at least two days to see everything. It will give you enough time to explore the Lost City at your own pace, and you won’t have to worry about rushing between sites. Depending on your energy levels, one full day and one night in Petra are ideal.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Petra is during Jordan’s cooler spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) months. The temperatures are cool, and you won’t have to worry about the unpredictable winter rains. But if you can handle the summer heat or the freezing winter, you’ll have the incredible Lost City all to yourself.
Once you arrive, try to plan your visit around the early mornings or late afternoons. You’ll avoid the heat, and there won’t be crowds of people in front of top sites like The Treasury and the Royal Tombs.
Getting Around Petra
Petra is a massive site that stretches over 60 square kilometers. It’s going to take some time to get from each of the main sites. The most popular ways to get around Petra are:
Walking: Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes and explore all the amazing trails around Petra. It’s free, and you’ll get to wander around at your own pace.
I don’t recommend riding a camel, a donkey, or taking a carriage ride. Safety is always my number one priority on a trip, and these animals are tired and hot. I can’t attest to how well they are taken care of. If you are physically-abled, plan to walk a lot in the hot sun. If you want a photo with a camel—go for it, but I would suggest posing with it instead of riding one.
Every time I’ve visited Petra, I’ve spent a minimum of 8 hours there. It’s a long day.
Popular Route: One of the more popular paths to take in Petra is through the Siq to the Treasury through the site to the Monastery and then returning to the Treasury via the Royal Tombs. This is about 20,000+ steps and a minimum of eight hours. If you have time, you can spread it over 2 days, but just the walk through the Siq to the Treasury is about a mile. There’s really no quick way to do Petra. That said, definitely wear sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing.
Petra Guest House
The Petra Guest House is a four-star hotel that is steps away from the entrance of Petra. It boasts stunning views of the nearby mountains and is known for its popular Cave Bar, a restored 1st Century Nabatean house.
Location: Wadi Musa
Price Range: $$
Movenpick Resort Petra
This is where I stayed when I visited Petra and loved the luxurious Arabic-style hotel. Though it is a bit pricier than some other surrounding hotels, you’ll have close access to the ruins, a serene pool area, an extensive morning buffet, and dining options.
Location: Wadi Musa
Price Range: $$$
Head to the Red Cave if you’re after traditional Bedouin cuisine. The restaurant is located next to the entrance of Petra, making it the perfect pit stop after a long day of exploring.
What to Order: Try one of the traditional local stews and don’t leave without trying their hummus!
Al Wadi Restaurant
Located in the center of town, Al Wadi’s menu features delicious local and international cuisine. Sit on the patio and watch the sun go down while enjoying one of their famous pasta dishes.
What to Order: Get a delicious shawarma with a side of hummus and freshly baked bread.
The Cave Bar is the best place in Petra for sundowners. The drinks menu is robust, and there is a selection of light meals if you get hungry.
What to Order: Grab a buy one get one free cocktail from 3 pm to 4 pm every day.
If you’re after something sweet, make your way to Sanabel. It’s an adorable bakery that makes some of the best baklava in Jordan!
What to Order: Stop here in the morning and try some of their traditional Arabic breakfast foods.
The Siq is a dramatic passageway that is the entrance into Petra. Carved by nature and the Nabataeans, it’s an awe-inspiring natural wonder that sets the tone for the rest of the site.
Petra at Night
For a unique experience, go on a tour of Petra after dark. The ancient walls of the Siq are lit up by 1,500 candles every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Along with the dramatic views, you’ll have the chance to listen to traditional Bedouin music while listening to the folklore of the local people.
It’s really popular, so I’d recommend hanging back so you can walk down slowly and experience the Siq away from the crowds. Tickets cost 17 JD ($24) per person.
The Monastery is one of Petra’s top attractions, but it’s not an easy place to reach. You’ll need to climb 800 flights of stairs, which can take 45-minutes to an hour before you make it to the top.
The Royal Tombs
Along the Street of Facades, you’ll find the ancient Royal Tombs. The most famous is the Urn Tomb, which was used as a place of worship during the Byzantine Empire.
The Treasury is the most famous site in Petra. The monument was built as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III and is believed to have held hidden treasures.
Built in the 5th or 6th century, the church was abandoned after a fire and earthquake hit the city. During excavations in 1993, over 150 papyrus scrolls were discovered, making it the largest find of it’s kind in Jordan.
If you want that iconic photo of the Treasury from above, hike up the Al-Khubtha trail. It starts by the Royal Tombs and will take you up a long rock staircase to the plateau. Follow the path, and you’ll eventually get to the edge of the cliff face with an incredible view of the Treasury below.
THE HIGH PLACE OF SACRIFICE
For the best views of Petra, climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice. It’s a 45-minute hike, but the alter boasts 360-degree views of the Rose City.