Introduction

Petra, the ancient city carved into red sandstone cliffs, is a stunning destination that attracts visitors worldwide. While the famous temple is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Petra, You will be impressed to know that there’s much more to see. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, hiking, or simply taking amazing pictures, Petra has something for everyone.

What are the Pros and Cons of Visiting Petra?

You will see one of the most breathtaking desert landscapes on earth.

It’s so different from everything that you’ve seen before

Rich historical and cultural experience: You can wander around and ancient cities with monasteries carved in sandstones.

The desert climate can be very harsh, with sometimes extremely hot temperatures (depending on the time of the year).

As it’s one of the most popular and famous sites in the world, you’ll always find big crowds of tourists visiting Petra.

Entry fees and the overall expense of visiting Petra might be a concern for budget-conscious travelers, as they aren’t very low.

View from the bottom to the top of a tomb in Petra with a door down and a window above

Brief Summary about Petra

Petra is an ancient city that was the capital of the wealthy Nabataean Kingdom. It is known for its temples carved in the mountains and unique water system. Mountains and canyons surround Petra, and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tallest point in Petra is the Al-Habis summit, which is 1,350 meters above sea level.

 Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. You will be amazed by the iconic Treasury (Al-Khazneh), the Monastery (Ad-Deir), and a complex network of tombs, temples, and other hidden gems it offers.

Al-Habis summit is said to be the tallest point in Petra, with 1350 meters above sea level. There you can find a shire and a chapel where the beduins still go to pray. 

Where is Petra located?

Petra is located in the southwestern region of Jordan. It is approximately 240 kilometers south of Amman (capital city of Jordan), between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, near Wadi Musa in the Ma’an Governorate.

What to bring with you to Petra?

  • Backpack: Small to medium, depending on what you carry and how well you can pack.
  • Passport: They will ask for it at the entrance when buying your tickets.
  • Water & snacks: You can buy water and snacks also inside, but it’s very expensive.
  • Hiking shoes or shoes you feel comfortable walking long distances.
  • Sport clothes: If you have special clothes for hiking (dry fit), you’ll be fine, but if not, be sure to have an extra shirt just in case you sweat a lot.
  • Hat: Bring a hat or cap to cover you from the sun. A winter hat would be a great idea if you do the night climb in late autumn, winter, or early spring.
  • Sunscreen: We already know how important it is to use sunscreen daily, especially in the desert.
  • Cash: There are no ATMs in the ancient city of Petra and cards are mostly not accepted.
View from the mountain of Sinai with the sun starting to rise on the horizon

Is Petra safe to visit?

Yes, Petra is a safe place to visit. Because of its location in the Middle East, some people would think twice before heading to Jordan, but the reality is that it is one of the most well-known visited sites worldwide. It’s always full of tourists walking around at all hours. We always encourage you to check the official sites and the situation in the country and places you will visit before your stay. We recommend you be cautious about your belongings from pick-pocketing and watch out for common scams.

Wadi Musa

Wadi Musa is the nearest town to Petra, where all the hotels are located, around 3 kilometers away. The town is safe to walk around, but you should avoid walking alone at night.

Along the hike in Petra

If you plan to hike off-track to the more remote areas of the site, we recommend not doing so alone, as you might get lost.

Pushy camel riders and vendors will often approach you. Always question the offers you get, as many people are walking around trying to scam you.

What is the best time to visit Petra?

The best time to visit Petra is from September to November and April to May when the temperature is mild. The low season, from December to February, can get cold with a lot of rain. From June to August you’ll be exposed to extreme temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius.

View on sun starting to rise in the top of Mount Sinai

How to get to Petra?

How to get to Petra by air?

The two closest airports where you can fly to get to Petra are in Aqaba (AQJ) and Amman (AMM). We recommend you fly to Aqaba since it’s the closest one.

Once you arrive in Aqaba, you can arrange a taxi to take you to Wadi Musa, the closest town to Petra (3km from Petra). It will take you around 2 hrs to get there. Alternatively, there is also a bus and shared minibusses (the cheapest option).

How to get to Petra by land?

There are different ways you can reach Petra by land. The most common ones are from Egypt or Israel. If you are crossing from Egypt or Israel, we advise you to check out our more detailed article on how to cross from Egypt to Jordan. Both ways, you will usually arrive at the Aqaba border, unless you come from Tel Aviv.

How much does a trip to Petra cost?

The entry ticket costs approximately 70 USD per person for a one-day ticket, 77 USD per Person for a two-day ticket, and 84 dollars for a three-day ticket.

Suppose you purchase a Jordan Pass (which includes the visa costs and the entry to multiple side). In that case, a package is available for approximately 99 USD, including a one-day pass for Petra, 106 USD for a two-day pass for Petra, and 112 USD for a three-day pass. You can purchase the Jordan Pass here. Unless you enter Jordan through the special economy zone of Aqaba by land, we strongly recommend purchasing the Jordan pass if this will overall reduce your costs.

How many days do I need to see Petra?

We strongly recommend taking at least the two-day pass to discover as much as possible of Petra. If you are used to long hikes, it is possible to see the most important sites in one day if you start early in the morning, hike until the evening and plan your route strategically. Still, you will surely miss out on some hidden gems and won’t have the time to actually enjoy the landscapes and the unique architecture.

What is the best route through Petra?

We strongly recommend you to hike through the ancient city of Petra from the back side, usually known as Little Petra. In this way, you’ll hike through Petra from the end to the beginning, and you can avoid the large crowds. This route has become more popular meanwhile, and you’ll see many tourists taking it as well, but it’s still much fewer crowds than starting at the main entrance.

You must first get your ticket from the visitor center in Wadi Musa. Otherwise, you’ll be sent back (also if you have the Jordan Pass). We recommend you start at 6 am when Petra opens.

Afterward, you have two alternatives. The first option is to catch a taxi and ask the driver to drop you at Little Petra. You can also book a taxi from your hotel, but they’ll charge a commission. The ride only takes approximately 15 minutes. The maximum you should pay for the taxi from Wadi Musa to Little Petra is 10 USD. The second option is to take the free shuttle from the Vistior Center in Petra, which leaves every hour from 7 am to 4 pm.

If you are not on a tight budget, we recommend you the first option, since you’ll arrive earlier and enjoy the place with fewer people.

Once you reach Little Petra, you either have to hike around 5 km (flat) to the official back entrance of Petra or take one of the 4WD shuttles for approcimately 7 USD per person. It is challenging to find the back entrance alone, but it’s possible. There are almost no signs until you reach it. You should frequently check your location through GPS on the phone along the way through the desert.

Once you reach it, a guard will check your ticket. As mentioned before, it’s crucial to get it in the beginning from the ticket center. Otherwise, you’ll be sent all the way back at this point.

Continue your hike from the back entrance for another two and a half kilometers, and you will reach the first sight – The Monistery. It’s now easier to find the way since there are more people and signs showing you the way. There is an impressive viewpoint on a hill close to the Monastery. We strongly recommend you hike up there to enjoy the view.

From now on, you can continue the official path leading through all the highlights of Petra. You should sometimes leave the track and hike up some hills to discover some of Petra’s hidden gems.

View on sun starting to rise in the top of Mount Sinai

What are the visa regulations for Jordan?

Currently, there are only ten Arabic countries whose citizens don’t need a visa to enter Jordan. Most countries (including all countries of Europe, North-, Central- (apart from Belize and Cuba), South America, China, Japan, Russia, Australia, and more) are eligible for the Jordan Pass, which you can buy here.

If you plan to visit Petra, the Jordan Pass exempts you from the visa costs and the entry ticket (and for over 40 other historical sites). If you are from one of the countries entitled to the Jordan pass, you can also pay for a visa on arrival instead (about 57 USD), but we recommend not doing so as it will be more expensive altogether. The visa on arrival, which you get for free with the Jordan Pass, is a single-entry visa and entitles you to stay up to 30 days in Jordan.

The costs of the Jordan Pass depend on how many days you plan to visit Petra, ranging between 99 and 112 USD for a 1-3 day Petra pass.

Note: If you want the Jordan Pass, you must stay at least three nights in Jordan. Otherwise, you will be subject to the visa fee.

Exemption: If you enter Jordan by land from Eilat (Israel) via the Wadi Araba Border close to Aqaba, you will be exempted from the visa fee and the departure tax (appr. 15 USD) due to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority if you fulfill the following requirements: You stayed at least three nights, can prove that you visited Petra (by showing the ticket) and leave again through the same land-border (Wadi Araba). We don’t recommend buying the Jordan pass in this scenario, as you are already exempt from the visa fee. But be careful. If you stay less than three nights, you’ll get charged the visa fee and departure tax when you leave.

Do I need a ticket for Petra with the Jordan Pass?

Even though you don’t need to pay for the ticket as it’s included in the Jordan Pass, you still must get it from the visitor center in Wadi Musa before heading to Petra; otherwise you’ll not be allowed to enter.

A path through the deser landscape of Petra

Is it worth visiting Petra?

Petra is undoubtedly worth a visit, with its stunning landscape, impressive architecture, and rich history. It is an unforgettable experience you will remember for the rest of your life. We encourage you to plan your visit to Petra and Wadi Rum for a truly unforgettable trip.

View over the mountains in Petra

Are you also planning to visit Dahab and maybe even work remotely from there? If yes, then we strongly recommend you to read here our full Digital Nomads Guide to Dahab.