Visiting Petra is right up there on so many people’s bucket lists. If you’re reading this you’re most likely planning a trip to this amazing place. When I had the chance to visit, I couldn’t wait to tick it off my bucket list!
History Behind Petra
This UNESCO World Heritage site was once the capital of the Nabataean empire and has even featured within Hollywood movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The 2,600 acre site was predominantly carved out of the stone 2,000 years ago. The Nabataean people had a sophisticated water system alongside fantastic stone carvings. The city was annexed by the Roman Empire but ultimately succumbed to an earthquake in 693AD. It was largely abandoned afterwards as far as the West was concerned anyway, until its ‘rediscovery’ in the 19th century.
How to get to Petra
If you’re travelling from outside of Jordan then you’re most likely flying in to one of the two international airports, in Amman or Aqaba. Amman is 230km from Petra and it’ll take around three hours to drive. Aqaba is much closer at 130km and the journey is a little over two hours.
You can also get a Jett bus from Amman, the bus leaves Amman daily at 6.30am arriving four hours later. The bus returns to Amman from Petra at 5pm, or 4pm during the winter months. The cost of the bus is pretty reasonable at 11 JOD (£11 / €13 / $16) each way. You can book the bus in advance directly from Jett here (http://www.jett.com.jo/). The price of private transport and taxis are relatively good value too so you have plenty of options to get to Petra!
The Petra site and the visitor centre opens at 6am every day throughout the year. The site closes at 6pm during the summer months and 4pm during the winter months. Like many of the amazing tourist locations across the world, this site can get very busy during the peak times. I managed to get there at around 7am and there was barely anyone there so I managed to get some amazing photos before the other tourists came in.
Top Tip: Get to Petra early to beat the crowd and get those amazing Instagram photos!
Best Time to Visit
This completely depends on how you handle heat! If you’ve read my Dubai blog post or if you know I’m from Scotland then you’ll realise I’m not good in any sort of heat… During the summer months at Petra it came be 36 degrees. Petra needs quite a long time to get round and it’s a lot of walking out in the open so ideally you want to go when it’s slightly cooler. I went in March and the temperature was around mid 20s which was perfect. Although there is a fair amount of shade throughout the site so don’t worry too much.
Cost of Visiting Petra
Actually getting in to the Petra site is very expensive compared to many of the other bucket list items around the world. To encourage people to stay in Jordan to see more than just Petra, the site entry is discounted for people staying in Jordan for one night or longer.
If you stay at least one night in Jordan then a one day pass for the whole site is 50 JOD (£50 / €57 / $70), a two day pass is 55 JOD (£55 / €63 / $78) and a three day pass is 60 JOD (£60 / €69 / $85). If you’re not staying in Jordan then it’ll be 90 JOD (£91 / €103 / $127) for one day. If you’re taking children along then any child under the age of 12 gets in for free.
If you’d like a tour guide then you can pay an additional 50 JOD (£50 / €57 / $70) for the main trail (4km walk) or 100 JOD (£101 / €115 / $141) for the main trail plus High Place of Sacrifice Monument (6km) or the Monastery (8km).
What to Wear
It is best to be mindful of the Jordanian culture when planning on what to wear when visiting Petra. When I was there I saw a mixture of clothing and outfits but mostly people were not revealing too much. It’s probably best to be more on the conservative side of things by covering your knees and back.
In terms of footwear, make sure that you’re wearing some comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking quite a lot if you want to see as much of Petra as you can.
When you’re visiting Petra you should be prepared to walk a fair distance during your stay. As you enter the site, you can get a map for free which gives you details on the main walks that you can work through. The main trail itself is a 4km walk which you can enjoy at a leisurely pace seeing the Treasury, Royal Tombs and The Girl’s Palace. There are around seven other trails ranging from two hours to eight hours with difficulty gradings.
The Siq is the main entrance to the site and from here it takes approximately 30 minutes to one of the main attractions – the Treasury. It is a further 30 minutes or so to the start of the Monastery trail. From here, it is around 900 steps to the monument. You’ll be kept fit walking around the magnificent Petra site!
Other Things to Note
The Treasury from Above:
You can view the Treasury for above offering some fantastic views. Typically locals will come up to you and, for a fee, offer to take you to above the Treasury to get a great view. The walk up can be quite dodgy at places so be very careful if you do take them up on the offer.
Be wary of people asking you to buy things, take you places or ride camels. These will come at a price so just be mindful of this and you can politely decline by saying no thank you.
There are many children selling their wares around Petra. These children skip school in order to earn some money from tourists so we were strongly recommended by locals buy anything from these children so that they don’t continue to skip school.
Food and Drink:
You’ll find plenty of options for food and drinks throughout Petra with many cafes and restaurants at most monuments.
If you’re needing to get some internet to post photos or chat to people you’ll find most cafes and restaurants have Wi-Fi available.