The stone city of Petra was carved into Jordan’s red rock cliffs more than 2,000 years ago. Once a Roman trading stop and stronghold of the Nabataean Arab kingdom, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most iconic archaeological destinations.
Petra is a highlight of the Middle East, renowned for its astonishing cliff-bound monuments and Greek-influenced architectural style. Thanks to the city’s Hollywood portrayal in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra rose to international fame and is now one of Jordan’s most-visited attractions. Travelers usually approach the site through the long and narrow Siq, a chasm that opens up on the magnificent Treasury—Petra’s most-photographed building. Within the winding mountain ravines you’ll also find tombs, an 8,000-seat amphitheater, and the triumphal arch of the Temenos Gateway.
While it’s possible to catch Petra’s highlights on a day trip from Eilat, Jerusalem, or Amman, there’s enough to see to warrant a multi-day stay. Petra is often included on longer tours of Israel and Jordan that typically include visits to Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, depending on the length and option chosen. For a personalized experience, opt for a private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Petra is a must-see for adventure travelers and archaeology buffs.
- Visitors can opt for a 1-day or 2-day pass for entrance into Petra.
- It gets hot in the Jordan desert; don’t forget to bring sun protection and plenty of water.
- Remember to dress respectfully in loose-fitting clothing that covers your legs and shoulders.
- Petra tours from Eilat, Jerusalem, and Amman can last up to 12 hours.
How to Get There
Petra is 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Jordan, near the town of Wadi Mousa. It takes roughly 20 minutes to walk from town to the archaeological site. A guided day tour is the most convenient way to get there, but Wadi Mousa can also be reached by JETT bus from Amman or Aqaba. Transportation by taxi is also an option.
When to Get There
Plan to arrive at the main entrance first thing in the morning to explore the site before crowds begin to arrive. Spring and autumn offer the best weather, with warm days and cool nights. Expect temperatures over 100°F (38°C) in summer.
Petra Monastery Hike
While the Treasury ranks as Petra’s most famous structure, the Monastery is just as impressive and often much less crowded, due in part to the strenuous hour-long hike necessary to get there. Those who brave the journey up some 800 rock-cut steps are rewarded with a chance to explore Petra’s largest carved monument. The path up to the Monastery sits mostly in the shade during the afternoon.