Petra Travel Guide Petra Travel Guide (2023): History, Facts, Things to Do, How to Reach, Best Time to Visit

25th February 2024

Petra Travel Guide (2023): History, Facts, Things to Do, How to Reach, Best Time to Visit

Are you ready to uncover the secrets of the mesmerizing Petra archaeological site? Here, we’ve mentioned the complete Petra travel guide.

Did you know that this ancient wonder in Jordan is a treasure trove of history, stunning architecture, and hidden gems just waiting to be explored? If you’re seeking an unforgettable adventure, you’ve come to the right place!

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we can assure you that it is a destination like no other.

As we immersed ourselves in its rich history and marveled at its awe-inspiring sights, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the enchantment that permeates every corner of this ancient city.

Now, we’re excited to share our discoveries and insider tips with you in this blog post.

Why Visit Petra?

Petra, known as the “Rose City,” is a captivating ancient city nestled in the rugged mountains of Jordan. A visit to this city is like stepping into a mesmerizing world of history and architectural marvels.

This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts stunning rock-cut structures, most notably the iconic Treasury, intricately carved into vibrant red sandstone cliffs. Exploring the narrow Siq, a dramatic canyon leading to the city, adds to the sense of adventure and anticipation.

Beyond the Treasury, visitors can marvel at the ancient tombs, temples, and the impressive Monastery, all testaments to the remarkable Nabataean civilization. Petra is a true wonder that leaves travelers in awe of its beauty and rich cultural heritage.

History and Architecture of Petra

Petra, the ancient city of Jordan, has a rich history and awe-inspiring architecture that continue to captivate visitors. Originally established as the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom around 312 BCE, this city thrived as a significant trading hub along the Silk Road.

Its unique location and ingenious water management system allowed the Nabataeans to carve magnificent structures into the rose-colored sandstone cliffs. The iconic Treasury, the most recognizable facade in this city, showcases the fusion of Nabataean, Hellenistic, and Roman architectural influences.

The city also features elaborate tombs, royal palaces, temples, and a vast network of water channels, all reflecting the skill and creativity of its ancient inhabitants.

Petra’s history and architecture make it a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Facts about Petra

  1. Petra is an ancient city in Jordan that dates back to the 4th century BCE.
  2. The city is renowned for its impressive architecture carved into the pink sandstone cliffs.
  3. Petra served as an important center for trade and commerce along the Silk Road.
  4. The iconic Treasury, featured in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” is one of the most famous structures in this city.
  5. This city was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, preserving its historical and cultural significance for future generations.

Things to Do in Petra

1. Hiking in Petra

Embark on a memorable hiking adventure in Petra, where you’ll discover a mesmerizing landscape and breathtaking trails. As you traverse the ancient city, you’ll be surrounded by stunning rock formations and captivating desert vistas.

The trails lead you to iconic sites like the Treasury, the Monastery, and the High Place of Sacrifice, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and historical wonders.

Whether you choose the popular routes or venture off the beaten path, hiking in Petra promises an unforgettable experience filled with awe-inspiring views and a deep sense of exploration.

  • Visiting Hours: The city is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Ticket Price: The entrance fee for Petra varies depending on the duration of your visit and includes access to the hiking trails.
  • Famous For: Petra is renowned for its stunning hiking trails that offer breathtaking views and a unique connection with nature.

2. The Great Temple

Step back in time and uncover the secrets of the Great Temple in Petra. This archaeological marvel was once a grand religious complex dedicated to the Nabataean gods.

Explore its majestic ruins, adorned with intricate carvings and towering columns, and imagine the vibrant rituals and ceremonies that took place within its walls.

As you wander through its courtyards and chambers, you’ll gain insight into the rich history and religious beliefs of the ancient Nabataean civilization. The Great Temple stands as a testament to their architectural prowess and spiritual devotion, offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past.

  • Visiting Hours: The Great Temple can be visited during it’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the Great Temple is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: The Great Temple is famous for its expansive religious complex and impressive architectural elements that showcase it’s spiritual significance.

3. Qasr-Al-Bint

Delve into the ancient past as you visit Qasr-Al-Bint, an impressive temple complex nestled within the heart of Petra. This archaeological site is home to the largest freestanding structure in the city, dedicated to the Nabataean deity Dushara.

Marvel at the intricate stonework and well-preserved elements of the temple, including its grand entrance and sacred altar.

As you wander through the ruins, you’ll sense the religious significance and cultural importance of Qasr-Al-Bint, gaining a deeper understanding of it’s historical heritage and the religious practices of its inhabitants. Exploring this ancient temple complex is a fascinating journey back in time.

  • Visiting Hours: Qasr-Al-Bint can be visited during it’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to Qasr-Al-Bint is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: Qasr-Al-Bint is renowned for its impressive temple complex dedicated to the Nabataean deity Dushara and its intricate architectural features.

4. Petra By Night

Experience the enchantment of the city by Night, a mesmerizing spectacle that transports you to another world. As dusk falls, the ancient city becomes illuminated by the soft glow of thousands of candlelit luminaries.

Follow the candlelit path through the Siq, the narrow gorge leading to the Treasury, and be captivated by the ethereal ambiance. Arriving at the Treasury, you’ll be treated to traditional music and storytelling, immersing yourself in the mystique and charm of the ancient Nabataean civilization.

The magical glow of the city by Night is an unforgettable experience that evokes a sense of wonder and allows you to connect with the historical and cultural significance of this remarkable site.

  • Visiting Hours: The city By Night is a separate event that usually takes place on specific evenings, after the regular opening hours of Petra.
  • Ticket Price: There is a separate ticket price for the the city By Night event, which can be purchased at the Visitor Center.
  • Famous For: The city By Night is famous for its enchanting ambiance, illuminated by candles, leading visitors to the Treasury, and accompanied by traditional music.

5. The Monastery

Venture off the beaten path and uncover the hidden gem of Petra – the Monastery. This awe-inspiring structure, also known as Al-Deir, is located high in the mountains, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

To reach the Monastery, you’ll embark on a challenging hike up a steep staircase carved into the cliffs. The reward awaits at the top, where you’ll be greeted by the monumental facade of the Monastery, adorned with intricate carvings and a sense of grandeur.

Step inside to explore the vast interior chambers and marvel at the craftsmanship that went into creating this architectural masterpiece. The Monastery is a true testament to the ingenuity and artistic skill of the ancient Nabataeans.

  • Visiting Hours: The Monastery can be visited during it’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the Monastery is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: The Monastery is famous for its colossal size, architectural grandeur, and panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

6. High Place of Sacrifice

Discover the mysteries of the High Place of Sacrifice, an ancient ceremonial site in the city. Perched high on a mountain, this sacred location offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

It was believed to be a place where the Nabataeans performed religious rituals and made offerings to their gods. As you explore the site, you’ll come across altars, obelisks, and sacrificial platforms, providing a glimpse into the rituals and beliefs of this ancient civilization.

The High Place of Sacrifice offers not only a unique vantage point but also a deeper understanding of the religious practices and cultural traditions that shaped the Nabataean society.

  • Visiting Hours: The High Place of Sacrifice can be visited during Petra’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the High Place of Sacrifice is included in the general entrance ticket for the city.
  • Famous For: The High Place of Sacrifice is famous for its mountaintop location, offering breathtaking vistas and a glimpse into it’s religious practices.

7. Souvenir Shopping

Indulge in a delightful shopping experience in Petra, where you’ll find a wide array of unique souvenirs and local crafts.

The bustling market stalls are filled with vibrant textiles, intricate jewelry, traditional pottery, and handcrafted items that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Jordan. Explore the vibrant streets, haggle with friendly vendors, and discover treasures to take home as mementos of your visit.

Whether it’s a piece of intricate silver jewelry or a colorful Bedouin scarf, shopping in this city allows you to support local artisans and bring a piece of the city’s vibrant spirit back with you.

  • Visiting Hours: The markets in the city are usually open during the day, within Petra’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: There is no additional ticket price for shopping in Petra’s markets.
  • Famous For: Petra’s markets are famous for offering a wide range of handcrafted goods, including jewelry and textiles, allowing visitors to take home unique mementos.

8. Petra Theatre

Step into the past and relive the grandeur of ancient performances at the Petra Theatre. This ancient Roman-style theater, carved into the cliffs, was a center of cultural and social gatherings in Petra.

Imagine the buzz of excitement as spectators filled the seats to watch theatrical productions, musical performances, and even gladiator contests. As you stand in the well-preserved amphitheater, you can almost hear the echoes of applause and feel the vibrant energy that once filled the air.

Visiting the Petra Theatre offers a unique opportunity to connect with the artistic and entertainment traditions of the ancient world.

  • Visiting Hours: The Petra Theatre can be visited during Petra’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the Petra Theatre is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: The Petra Theatre is famous for its well-preserved Roman-style architecture and its historical significance as a venue for ancient performances.

9. Tomb of Aaron

Discover the Tomb of Aaron, a site of great reverence and spiritual significance. Located atop Mount Hor, it is believed to be the final resting place of Aaron, the brother of Moses.

Pilgrims and visitors journey to this sacred spot, where they can pay their respects and reflect on the religious history of the region. The tomb itself is a simple structure, perched on a hillside and offering sweeping views of the surrounding desert.

As you visit the Tomb of Aaron, you’ll experience a sense of tranquility and contemplation, connecting with the spiritual heritage that has shaped the beliefs of countless generations.

  • Visiting Hours: The Tomb of Aaron can be visited during Petra’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the Tomb of Aaron is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: The Tomb of Aaron is famous for being the believed final resting place of the biblical figure Aaron and serves as a place of pilgrimage and reverence.

10. Temple of the Winged Lions

Marvel at the majestic Temple of the Winged Lions, a symbol of power and grandeur in Petra.

This imposing structure, located in the heart of the ancient city, showcases intricate architectural details and sculptures of winged lions guarding its entrance. It was dedicated to the Nabataean goddess Al-Uzza, associated with power and protection.

As you explore the temple’s halls and courtyards, you’ll be awe-struck by the craftsmanship and artistic mastery that went into its creation. The Temple of the Winged Lions stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and architectural brilliance of Petra, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

  • Visiting Hours: The Temple of the Winged Lions can be visited during Petra’s opening hours.
  • Ticket Price: Access to the Temple of the Winged Lions is included in the general entrance ticket for Petra.
  • Famous For: The Temple of the Winged Lions is famous for its imposing structure, intricate carvings of winged lions, and its representation of Nabataean power and majesty.

Nearby Tourist Attractions

1. Wadi Rum

Nestled a short distance from Petra, Wadi Rum is a captivating desert landscape that mesmerizes visitors with its stunning sandstone formations and vast open spaces.

Embark on a thrilling jeep tour or a camel ride to traverse the rugged terrain and immerse yourself in the serenity of the desert.

Marvel at the majestic cliffs, admire ancient rock art scattered throughout the area, and witness unique natural features that have made Wadi Rum a beloved destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. The ethereal beauty of this desert will leave you in awe of the wonders of nature.

2. Dana Biosphere Reserve

Just a stone’s throw away from Petra lies the Dana Biosphere Reserve, an enchanting sanctuary boasting remarkable biodiversity and natural splendor.

This expansive reserve encompasses diverse ecosystems, including mountains, canyons, and wadis, providing a protected habitat for rare plant and animal species.

Embark on scenic hiking trails that offer breathtaking vistas and opportunities to spot wildlife, or engage in immersive experiences to learn about the rich Bedouin culture and traditions.

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and unforgettable nature experience in Jordan.

3. Little Petra

Located a short drive from the main site, Little Petra offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient Nabataean civilization. Often referred to as Siq al-Barid, this smaller archaeological site boasts remarkable rock-cut facades, tombs, and well-preserved ruins reminiscent of those found in Petra.

Venture through the narrow passage, marvel at the intricate carvings adorning the ancient dwellings, and explore the well-preserved structures.

With fewer crowds and a more intimate ambiance, Little Petra presents a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the history and architectural wonders of the Nabataeans, leaving you with a sense of wonder and admiration.

4. Shobak Castle

Perched atop a hill overlooking the surrounding landscape, Shobak Castle stands as a medieval fortress steeped in rich history. Constructed by the Crusaders in the 12th century, this imposing structure offers panoramic views and transports visitors back in time.

Wander through the well-preserved walls, traverse the walkways, and explore the chambers as you envision the castle’s strategic significance during the Crusader period.

Shobak Castle provides a captivating glimpse into the region’s medieval past, allowing you to marvel at the architectural marvels of that era and gain insights into the historical events that unfolded within its walls.

5. Dead Sea

Although not in immediate proximity to Petra, the Dead Sea serves as a popular day trip destination for visitors to Jordan.

Renowned for its high salt content and unique buoyancy, the Dead Sea offers a truly exceptional experience where you can effortlessly float on its surface.

Indulge in a rejuvenating mud bath, known for its therapeutic properties, and immerse yourself in a blissful spa treatment.

The serene surroundings and natural wonders of the Dead Sea provide the perfect complement to a visit to Petra, offering a chance to unwind and relax amidst the tranquil beauty of this iconic body of water.

How to Get to Petra

1. By Road

One popular way to reach Petra is by road. You can hire a private car, take a taxi, or join a guided tour from major cities in Jordan like Amman or Aqaba. The journey by road offers scenic views of the Jordanian landscape and allows you to make stops along the way to explore other attractions.

2. By Train

While there is no direct train service to Petra, you can take a train to one of the nearby cities such as Ma’an or Aqaba, and then continue your journey by road. Trains in Jordan are comfortable and offer a unique way to experience the country’s picturesque scenery.

3. By Air

The nearest airport to Petra is the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. From there, you can take a domestic flight to the King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba. Once in Aqaba, you can hire a car or join a tour to reach Petra, which is approximately a 2-hour drive away.

Best Time to Visit Petra

The best time to visit Petra is during the spring and autumn seasons, from March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather is mild and pleasant, with comfortable temperatures for exploring the ancient city.

Springtime brings colorful blooms and lush vegetation, adding an enchanting touch to the surroundings. Autumn offers similar pleasant weather, with fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season.

It’s important to note that summer in Petra can be extremely hot, with temperatures reaching well above 30°C (86°F), making it challenging to explore the site comfortably. Winter months can be cool and rainy, so it’s advisable to check the weather forecast before planning your visit.

Where to Stay

Mövenpick Resort Petra: Located just a stone’s throw away from the entrance of Petra, Mövenpick Resort Petra offers a luxurious and convenient stay. With its elegant rooms, excellent amenities, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains, it provides a comfortable oasis for visitors. The hotel also features multiple dining options, a rooftop lounge, and a spa, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable stay.

Petra Marriott Hotel: Situated at the entrance of Petra, the Petra Marriott Hotel combines modern comfort with a touch of traditional Jordanian hospitality. The hotel boasts spacious rooms, a fitness center, and a pool, allowing guests to unwind after a day of exploration. With its prime location and easy access to Petra’s main attractions, it’s an ideal choice for travelers looking for convenience and comfort.

The Old Village Resort: Nestled in the heart of Wadi Musa, The Old Village Resort offers a unique and authentic experience. The resort consists of traditional stone buildings that blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. Guests can choose from a range of comfortable rooms and enjoy traditional Jordanian cuisine at the on-site restaurant. The resort’s serene atmosphere and friendly staff create a warm and inviting ambiance, making it a charming place to stay during your visit to Petra.

Things to Know Before Visiting Petra

  • Entry fees: Petra requires an entry fee, so be prepared to purchase a ticket before entering.
  • Dress code: Respect the local culture and dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees.
  • Comfortable footwear: Petra involves a lot of walking, so wear sturdy and comfortable shoes.
  • Sun protection: Protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
  • Water and snacks: Carry water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during your visit.

Things to avoid at Petra

  • Climbing on restricted areas: Avoid climbing or tampering with the ancient structures or restricted areas in Petra.
  • Touching or damaging rock carvings: Respect the historical site by refraining from touching or damaging any rock carvings or inscriptions.
  • Littering: Keep Petra clean and preserve its natural beauty by not littering and disposing of trash responsibly.
  • Disturbing wildlife: Avoid disturbing or feeding the wildlife in Petra to maintain the natural ecosystem.
  • Disrespecting local customs: Show respect for the local customs and traditions by following the rules and guidelines set by the authorities at Petra.

Conclusion – Petra Travel Guide

In conclusion, Petra is a captivating archaeological site in Jordan that takes you on an unforgettable journey through history and architectural marvels.

From the mesmerizing Siq and iconic Treasury to the majestic Royal Tombs and bustling Street of Facades, every corner reveals the cultural significance and artistic mastery of the Nabataean civilization.

Whether you’re hiking through scenic trails, exploring the Great Temple, or immersing yourself in the magical glow of Petra By Night, this ancient wonder offers a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience.

Don’t miss the chance to take home souvenirs and venture to nearby attractions like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, adding even more depth to your exploration of this remarkable destination.

FAQs – Petra Travel Guide

What is Petra and why is it considered an archaeological marvel?

Petra is an ancient city located in Jordan that was once the thriving hub of the Nabataean civilization. It is renowned for its stunning architecture, intricate rock formations, and rich historical significance. The Siq, Treasury, Royal Tombs, Street of Facades, and the Great Temple are just a few examples of the architectural marvels that make Petra truly extraordinary.

What can I expect to see and do in Petra?

When you visit Petra, prepare to be amazed by the awe-inspiring sights and experiences it offers. You can explore the narrow and captivating Siq, marvel at the iconic Treasury carved into the rose-red cliffs, venture into the Royal Tombs, walk along the Street of Facades, hike through scenic trails, and even witness the magical glow of Petra By Night. Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural significance of this ancient city.

What are some other attractions near Petra?

While Petra itself is a remarkable destination, there are also nearby attractions worth exploring. You can venture into the stunning landscapes and Bedouin culture of Wadi Rum, float effortlessly in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, or immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Amman, Jordan’s bustling capital. These experiences complement your visit to Petra and provide a deeper understanding of Jordan’s diverse offerings.

How can I make the most of my visit to Petra?

To make the most of your visit to Petra, it’s advisable to plan ahead and allocate enough time to explore this vast archaeological site. Wear comfortable shoes for walking and consider hiring a local guide who can provide insightful information and take you to hidden gems. Take breaks to soak in the atmosphere, capture stunning photos, and embrace the complexity and beauty of this ancient wonder.

What is the Best time to visit?

The best time to visit Petra is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant. Avoid the scorching heat of summer and the colder temperatures of winter for a more enjoyable and comfortable experience exploring this ancient wonder.

Are there any restrictions or rules I should be aware of when visiting Petra?

When visiting Petra, it’s important to be aware of certain restrictions and rules to ensure a respectful and safe experience. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Entrance Tickets: Purchase an official entrance ticket at the Visitor Center before entering Petra. It’s mandatory and helps support the preservation efforts of the site.
Respectful Attire: Dress modestly and respectfully, especially when visiting religious sites within Petra. It’s recommended to cover your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect.
No Climbing or Touching: Climbing or touching the ancient structures, carvings, or rock formations is strictly prohibited. Help preserve the integrity of the site by refraining from any physical contact.
Litter-Free Zone: Keep Petra clean by disposing of your waste responsibly. There are designated bins throughout the site, so please do not litter.

Are there any local food and dining options in Petra?

Absolutely! Petra offers a range of local food and dining options that allow visitors to indulge in authentic Jordanian cuisine. You can savor traditional dishes such as Mansaf (a flavorful lamb dish with rice and yogurt), Maqluba (an aromatic rice and vegetable dish), and Jordanian mezze (assorted small plates). There are also local restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy Bedouin-style tea and freshly baked bread. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the unique flavors and culinary delights of Petra during your visit.

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