Ad Deir Monastery of Petra from a desert cave, Jordan

Things to do in  Petra

The ultimate desert star

Rising from south Jordan’s deserts, rose-red Petra bridges the millennia like nowhere else. This ancient city transports travelers back to the Nabataeans, who carved it around 2,300 years ago. There are plenty of things to see here—among them, the ethereal Treasury (al-Khazneh), rock tombs, amphitheater, and monastery. Many visitors come on private Petra day trips from Amman, Aqaba, Israel, and Egypt’s Red Sea. Other travelers choose multi-day tours to pack in other Jordan treasures, including Wadi Rum, Little Petra, and the Dead Sea.

Top 10 attractions in Petra

Petra

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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.More

Little Petra (Siq al-Barid)

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A northern satellite of Petra, Little Petra centers on a narrow canyon known as Siq al-Barid. With its water cisterns, carved houses, and rock-cut stairs, it has more of a lived-in feel than Petra proper. Its signature site, the Painted House, is home to one of the only surviving Nabatean painted interiors, which features jaw-dropping frescoes.More

Treasury (al-Khazneh)

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First approached by way of a deep, narrow gorge known as the Siq, the Treasury (al-Khazneh) is one of the most dramatic and iconic monuments in the ancient city of Petra. At 131 feet (40 meters) tall, this towering ancient tomb has lost none of its power since Nabatean times.More

Petra Royal Tombs

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Situated close to the Roman Theater, the Petra Royal Tombs are carved dramatically into the cliffs above the city, and their facades reveal many Roman and ancient Greek influences. Notable tombs include the vast Urn Tomb, later used as a church, the three-story Palace Tomb, and the Silk Tomb, with its natural swirls of color.More

Siq

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The signature sight of Petra, Jordan’s signature sight, the Siq is a geological wonder: a stark rift in the land, smoothed by time into a scenic swirl of sandstone. The walls reach more than 500 feet (150 meters), while the path narrows to just 7 feet (2 meters), and the view of the Treasury at the end is one of the world’s great reveals.More

Shobak Castle (Krak de Montréal)

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This ruins of Shobak Castle (Krak de Montréal) date back to AD 1115 when they were built by Baldwin I of Jerusalem as a way to control the caravan and pilgrimage routes between Syria and the Arabian Peninsula.Today much of the original fortifications lie in ruins. Calligraphic inscriptions on the exterior of the remaining walls date back to the thirteenth century, and within the castle, visitors will find remains of a small chapel, the original gatehouse and several Ottoman cottages. Two large buildings with arched entrances date back to the time of the Crusaders but were later used by the Mamluks as a school.More

Monastery (Ad Deir)

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Set in the hills above Petra, the Monastery (also known as Ad Deir or al-Deir) is this ancient city’s most recognizable monument after the Treasury. Carved out of sandstone during the 3rd century BC, the Monastery was built as a Nabatean tomb, but takes its name from the crosses etched into its walls during Byzantine times. It’s 148 feet (45 meters) high.More

King’s Highway

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Winding through some of Jordan’s most stunning scenery, this ancient trading road runs south from historic Madaba to Wadi Musa, your base for exploring Petra. While faster routes exist, the King’s Highway offers majestic crusader castles at Karak and Shobak, the spectacular Wadi al-Mujib canyon, the Dana Nature Reserve, and more.More

Petra Roman Theater

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Despite its name, Petra Roman Theater was actually built by the Nabataeans over 2,000 years ago. This massive and impressive theater in the ancient city of Petra was carved out of rock into the side of a mountain, destroying existing caves and tombs in the process, though you can still see some tombs above the theater.More

Byzantine Church (Petra Church)

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Located within the ancient city of Petra, the Byzantine Church (or Petra Church) was first constructed in the fifth century AD, on top of Nabataean and Roman ruins, and expanded in the sixth century AD before being destroyed by fire and earthquakes. It’s still being excavated, but visitors can view its well-preserved mosaics.More

All about Petra

When to visit

Petra is open daily, year-round, but visiting in March-May or September-November avoids Jordan’s roasting summers and often wet winters. Petra is busiest in these periods, but you'll miss the main crowds if you arrive when it opens (6am) or toward closing time (6pm summer, 4:30pm winter). If you’re happy to sample Petra’s atmosphere without seeing everything, book a Petra night show (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) to experience the Siq entrance canyon and Treasury (al-Khazneh) in the glow of candlelight.

Getting around

The only way to explore Petra is on foot independently or by guided tour. Most travelers choose private or small-group tours, usually including admission and a guide to walk you from Petra’s entrance to the Siq—the narrow canyon that winds to the Treasury—and onward from there. Some tours offer an optional golf buggy or horseback ride to the Siq. Travelers already in Wadi Musa—the tourist town neighboring Petra—usually get to the gates by foot, cab, or hotel shuttle.

Traveler tips

If you want to relax and refuel after a hot, dusty tour of Petra, make tracks for My Mom’s Recipe Restaurant, around a 5-minute walk from Petra Visitor Centre on Tourism Street. Hunger-busters come thick and fast at this Bedouin-style rooftop eatery, from juicy lamb kebabs to sumptuous moutabel (eggplant dip), served up with a side of far-reaching views over the Petra hills.

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People Also Ask

Is Petra worth visiting?

Yes, Petra is worth visiting. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this rock-cut city has substantial historical importance. Its 2,300-year-old ruins and facades offer a unique window into the lives and ingenuity of the ancient Nabataeans.

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What is Petra best known for?

Petra is best known for its Treasury (al-Khazneh), which visitors first glimpse when emerging from the narrow Siq entranceway. It’s also famous for its hand-hewn Nabataean water channels and the pink-red hues of its sandstone. Poet John Burgon dubbed it a "rose-red city half as old as time" in 1845.

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How many days do you need for Petra?

While you can see Petra’s highlights in a day, two or three days is ideal. Showpieces like the Treasury (al-Khazneh), royal tombs, amphitheater, and monastery could be crammed into a day or even a brisk half-day, but experiencing all the trails and harder-to-reach sights requires more time.

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Does visiting Petra involve a lot of walking?

Yes, Petra involves significant walking. The main trail extends 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from the entrance, and walking back again to complete the entire loop is about a 5-mile (8-kilometer) walk. There are rest stops, the terrain is generally flat, and you can turn back at any point.

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Can you visit Petra without a guide?

Yes, you can explore Petra independently. However, a guided tour is strongly recommended to help you get maximum value from your visit. A guide will shed light on Petra’s history, reveal details you might not spot otherwise, and enable you to navigate the trails so you don’t miss anything.

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Is there a dress code for Petra?

No, there is no official dress code at Petra. However, it’s important to dress respectfully. Both women and men should avoid shorts and revealing or sleeveless tops, and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Conservative dress will help women avoid unwanted attention.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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