Visiting Petra, Jordan: Your Ultimate Guide

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Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is a city that was lost to the world for centuries and only rediscovered in the 19th century. Visiting Petra is a chance to step back in time and explore the ruins of an ancient civilization. The city is surrounded by stunning desert landscapes, making it a unique and unforgettable destination.

This is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. This ancient city, carved into the rock, is a marvel of engineering and a testament to the ingenuity of its creators. Visiting Petra is an experience that will leave you in awe.

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We went to Petra during Christmas time – part of a larger trip through Jordan – and we absolutely loved it. It’s just one of those places that you have to see with your own eyes to believe.

At first, I was worried about planning our own trip there, but that was completely unfounded. It’s absolutely easy to do. So to help you plan your own trip, I’ve created this guide to provide you with everything you need to know to make the most of your trip.

Key Takeaways

  • Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.
  • The best time to visit Petra is in the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.
  • Petra is a year-round destination, but it’s important to plan around Ramadan and be prepared for extreme temperatures in the summer.

Why Visit Petra, Jordan

Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks – The Treasury. This millennia-old oversize rock carving looks like something straight out of Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones and will take your breath away.

But Petra is more than just The Treasury. There are hundreds of tombs, temples, and other structures carved into the rock, as well as a massive amphitheater and a Roman-style colonnaded street. The entire city is a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient Nabataean people who built it.

I’d say the main reason to go is to witness this incredible place for yourself. Seeing it in person is the only way to truly appreciate it. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. Up there with the great pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China.

Price to Visit

If you’re staying for at least one night in Jordan:

  • One-day visit: 50 JD (approximately $70 USD)
  • Two-day visit: 55 JD (approximately $78 USD)
  • Three-day visit: 60 JD (approximately $85 USD)

Entry is free for children under the age of 12

If you visit the same day you arrive in Jordan (and you’re staying at least one night): 

  • You will pay the 90JD border ticket fee but can return the next day for a refund of 40JD

If you’re not staying in Jordan at all: 90 JD (approximately $127 USD)

You can buy a Jordan Pass, if you’re planning to see the other big attractions in Jordan. It’s includes entrance to 40 sites like Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum, and much more. It costs just 70-80 JD. Buy it on their website in advance. It includes entrance to Petra, but not Petra by Night.

History of Petra

Petra is an ancient city located in present-day Jordan that dates back to the fourth century B.C. Petra was home to the Nabataean people, an Arab tribe that controlled the trade routes in the region. They established Petra as their capital city and developed it into a prosperous trading hub.

The Nabataeans carved their city into the red sandstone cliffs, creating magnificent structures and tombs. They also developed an elaborate water management system that allowed them to thrive in the arid desert climate. Petra flourished for centuries until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 A.D.

After the Roman conquest, Petra declined in importance, and its buildings fell into disrepair. The city was eventually abandoned and forgotten by the outside world. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that Petra was rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.

Today, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a must-visit destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

Best Time to Visit Petra

petra ruins1

Petra is open all year round, but the best time to visit is during the spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant. During these months, the temperature ranges from around 68-86°F (20-30°C) during the day and drops to around 50-60°F (10-15°C) at night.

If you plan to visit during the summer months (June to August), be prepared for very hot and dry weather, with temperatures reaching up to 105°F (40°C) during the day. It’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.

During the winter months (December to February), the weather can be unpredictable, with occasional rain and even snow. However, the crowds are much thinner, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Petra without the crowds. We went between Christmas and New Years and it was quite cold ( in the morning but very pleasant in the day.

Petra can get crowded, especially during peak season (June to August). If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. No matter when you visit, be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes.

Here’s a summary of the best time to visit Petra:

MonthWeatherCrowdsBest for
March to MayMild and pleasantModerateSightseeing
June to AugustHot and dryHighEarly morning or late afternoon visits
September to NovemberMild and pleasantModerateSightseeing
December to FebruaryUnpredictableLowThinner crowds

How to Get to Petra

Petra is located in the southwestern part of Jordan, near the town of Wadi Musa. Here are some ways to get to Petra:

The nearest airport to Petra is the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Petra. From there, you can take a bus or rent a car to get to Petra. Aqaba Airport (King Hussein International Airport) is 80 miles (130 kilometers) away.

To drive, take the Desert Highway from Amman or Aqaba. It’s very easy, smooth driving in Jordan. The drive from Amman takes about three hours, while the drive from Aqaba takes about one and a half hours. If you’d rather not drive yourself, you can book a transfer.

There are regular buses that run between Amman and Petra, as well as between Aqaba and Petra. The JETT bus company operates daily bus services to Petra from Amman and Aqaba.

By Tour

There are many tour companies that offer guided tours to Petra. I would suggest doing a private tour if you can. You can go from Amman or Aqaba, whichever is more convenient for you.

Visa Requirements

To enter Jordan, most international visitors will need a visa. Visitors from 115 countries can obtain a single-entry visa on arrival for JD40 (US$56) at any major border crossing or airport. The visa is valid for a stay of up to 30 days.

Your passport must have at least six months’ validity remaining from the date of entry into Jordan. If your passport is due to expire within six months, you may be refused entry.

If you’re planning to stay in Jordan for longer than 30 days, you’ll need to apply for a visa in advance from the nearest Jordanian embassy or consulate.

If you’re planning to visit Petra as part of a longer trip that includes Israel, you’ll need to obtain a multiple-entry visa in advance. This is because Jordan and Israel do not have a visa waiver agreement, and visitors are required to enter and exit each country on a separate visa.

In addition to a valid visa, you’ll also need to carry a valid passport with you at all times while in Jordan. It’s a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport and keep it in a separate location in case your passport is lost or stolen.

Where to Stay Near Petra

petra guest hotel


There are several hotels in the town of Wadi Musa, which is the closest town to Petra. Many of these hotels are within walking distance of the Petra entrance. The most popular and convenient hotels are the Mövenpick Resort Petra and Petra Guest House Hotel. These were sold out when we went, so we stayed at the Petra Boutique Hotel, which was close walking distance with very nice rooms for half the price. They also have a restaurant so you can get dinner and breakfast, if you want.

Bedouin Camps & Tents

If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you can consider staying at a Bedouin camp. These camps are usually located in the desert near Petra and offer a unique experience of living in a traditional Bedouin tent, like at Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp. Another option is a tented camp like Petra Bubble Luxotel.

Must-See Sites in Petra

When visiting Petra, there are a few must-see sites that you simply cannot miss. When you get there, you’ll get your tickets at the gate, then walk down a long dirt path that leads into the main site. It’s about 1/2 mile and rather stunning.

If you can’t walk that much, you can get a horse ride to the Treasury. There will be people at the entrance offering rides. There will be a LOT of walking inside, so be aware of that. The whole site is located along the long dirt road.

Obelisk Tomb

obelisk tomb

One of the first things you’ll see is the Obelisk Tomb. The tomb is named for the obelisk-shaped structure that sits atop its facade.

The Obelisk Tomb is carved into the side of a mountain, and its facade is around 66 feet high. The obelisk iis carved from the same rock as the tomb itself. It is thought to represent a stylized representation of a funerary tent, which was a common feature of Nabataean tombs.

The Siq


The Siq is a narrow, winding canyon that serves as the main entrance. It’s about 1/2 mile long and varies in width, with towering cliffs on either side that reach up to 262 feet in height. The Siq was formed by tectonic forces and erosion over millions of years, and it was also artificially widened and paved by the Nabataean people.

This is your first impression of Petra and it’s a stunning one. I was struck by the dramatic beauty of the canyon and the vibrant colors and patterns of the rock formations. The walls of the Siq are composed of sandstone and are richly textured and striated, with layers of red, orange, and pink hues.

You will eventually emerge from the canyon and before you is the dramatic Treasury, one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks in Petra.

The Treasury

the treasury 1

The Treasury is the most famous and photographed site in Petra. Carved into the towering rock face, the Treasury is a stunning example of the intricate and beautiful architecture of the Nabataean people. The Treasury is best seen in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is just right and the crowds are smaller. Be sure to take your time exploring the Treasury and admiring the intricate details of the carvings.

The Monastery

The Monastery is another incredible site in Petra that you won’t want to miss. Located at the top of a steep climb that takes about an hour to do, the Monastery is a massive structure that was once used as a temple.

The Monastery is larger than the Treasury and is equally impressive in its grandeur and beauty. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water as the climb can be quite strenuous with about 800 steps covering a distance of about 1.5 miles. For this reason, we didn’t hike up to the Monastery.

Street of Facades

street of facades

The Street of Facades is a row of stunning tombs that line one of the main paths through Petra. These tombs are carved into the rock face and feature intricate facades with beautiful details and decorations. The Street of Facades is a great place to explore and take in the beauty of Petra. Be sure to bring your camera and take plenty of photos of these incredible structures.

Byzantine Church

byzantine church

The Byzantine Church was built in the 5th century AD and is one of the most important Christian sites in the region. The church was carved into the side of a mountain and is accessed by a steep staircase that leads up to the entrance. The interior of the church is relatively small, and it is decorated with a series of intricate mosaics that depict scenes from the life of Jesus and other biblical figures.

The most impressive feature of the church is its apse, which is decorated with a stunning mosaic of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The Byzantine Church in Petra is a testament to the enduring legacy of Christianity in the region and is a must-see attraction for visitors to Petra.

The Theater

petra theater

The theater was carved into the side of a mountain, and its design took advantage of the natural slope of the terrain to create a tiered seating arrangement. It’s a large semicircular auditorium, which is surrounded by a series of columns and arches, with 45 rows.

The theater was used for a variety of events, including theatrical performances, religious ceremonies, and public meetings. The acoustics of the theater are excellent, and it is said that a person standing on the stage can be heard clearly by someone sitting in the back row.

Petra at Night

petra by night
Petra by Night

Petra at Night is a magical experience where the city of Petra is illuminated by thousands of candles, creating a stunning and otherworldly ambiance that is truly unforgettable.

To attend Petra at Night, you have to purchase a special ticket which you can get at the entrance for , . The event usually takes place on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, (baring any bad weather) starting at 8:30pm from Petra Visitor Center. It ends at 10:30pm. It’s 17 JD, in addition to your entrance ticket.

The event includes a traditional Bedouin music performance, which adds to the magical atmosphere. You can sit on mats and cushions on the ground, and they serve traditional Bedouin tea and sweets.

The Cave Bar

the cave bar

The Cave Bar, in the Petra Guest House, is the oldest bar in existence. It’s housed inside a 2000-year-old cave that was originally constructed by the Nabateans as a tomb. The majority of its original structures are still there, and it’s a pretty unique experience to get a drink or some food inside its ancient walls. I would definitely recommend saving yourself some time to hang out there. It’s right across from the visitor center, so very convenient to stop by.

Cultural Etiquette

When visiting Petra, it’s important to be aware of the cultural etiquette to avoid offending locals and other visitors. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Dress Code – Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and modest dress is expected in public places. When visiting Petra, it’s recommended that you dress conservatively, covering your shoulders and knees. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or anything that may be considered disrespectful to the local culture.

Photography – Avoid taking pictures of people without their consent, especially women and children. It’s also important to be mindful of cultural and religious sites and avoid taking photographs in areas where it’s prohibited.

Packing Essentials for Petra

camel petra

When visiting Petra, it’s important to pack the right essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some items that you should consider packing for your trip:

  • Comfortable clothing and footwear – Petra is an outdoor archaeological site, and you’ll be walking around all day. Comfortable clothing and sturdy footwear are essential. Consider packing lightweight, breathable clothing that will keep you cool in the hot weather. We were there in the winter and needed a coat / rain jacket, gloves and a hat.
  • Sun protection – Petra is located in a desert region, and the sun can be intense. It’s important to pack sun protection to avoid getting sunburned or experiencing heat stroke. Consider packing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Water and snacks – It’s essential to stay hydrated when visiting Petra, especially when the weather is hot. Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks to keep you energized throughout the day. You can also buy water and snacks at Petra, but they can be expensive and hard to find.
  • Camera and accessories – Petra is a stunning archaeological site that you’ll want to capture in photos. Consider packing a camera and accessories such as extra batteries and memory cards. You can also consider a smartphone with a good camera if you prefer not to carry a separate camera.
  • Backpack or daypack – You’ll be walking around Petra all day, so it’s important to have a backpack or daypack to carry all your essentials. Consider packing a lightweight backpack or daypack.
  • Money – While you can pay for some things with a credit card, it’s important to have cash on hand for things like food and souvenirs. Make sure to have both to ensure that you can pay for everything you need during your trip.


That’s about all you’re going to need to know before visiting Petra, Jordan. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
  • You can enter Petra through the Siq, a narrow gorge that leads to the Treasury, which is the most famous monument in Petra.
  • There are several other monuments in Petra, including the Monastery, the Royal Tombs, and the Great Temple.
  • You can explore Petra on your own or with a guide. Guided tours are available at the visitor center.
  • Petra is open from 6 am to 6 pm in the summer and from 6 am to 4 pm in the winter.
  • The entrance fee to Petra is 50 JD for a one-day ticket, 55 JD for a two-day ticket, and 60 JD for a three-day ticket. Children under 12 enter free.
  • You can stay in Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra, which has hotels of all types and budgets, as well as restaurants, souvenir shops, and travel agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the opening hours for Petra?

Petra is open year-round from 6am to sunset. The exact opening and closing times may vary based on the season, so it’s best to check the official website or with your hotel for the most up-to-date information.

Is a guide necessary when visiting Petra?

While a guide is not necessary, it can greatly enhance your experience at Petra. Guides are knowledgeable about the history and significance of the site and can provide valuable insights and information. You can hire a guide at the entrance of Petra or through your hotel.

Where can I find a map of Petra?

Maps of Petra are available at the entrance of the site. You can also download a map from the official Petra website or use a mobile app that provides maps and information about the site.

How far is the Monastery from the Treasury in Petra?

The Monastery is located at the top of a steep staircase and is approximately a 45-minute to 1-hour hike from the Treasury. The hike is challenging but rewarding, and the views along the way are stunning.

What activities are available in Petra at night?

Petra at Night is a popular activity that takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The site is illuminated by thousands of candles, creating a magical atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy traditional music and tea while taking in the beauty of Petra at night.

What is the best way to get to Petra, Jordan?

The most common way to get to Petra is by flying into Queen Alia International Airport in Amman and then taking a taxi or bus to Petra. The journey takes approximately 3 hours by car and 4 hours by bus. Alternatively, you can hire a private car or take a guided tour that includes transportation to and from Petra.

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Visiting Petra, Jordan: Your Ultimate Guide

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