12 Insider Travel Tips for Visiting Petra

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Camels in front of Al Khazneh in Petra

“Snakes…why’d it have to be snakes?!” – just kidding. For all those Indiana Jones fans, a trip to one of the new seven “wonders of the world” is a dream come true.

Of course, a trip to Petra is far more than a movie set. It’s home to priceless ancient ruins, thousands of years of world history, and vibrant Beoudin culture.

Ad Deir in ancient city Petra, Jordan. Monastery
navintar / Adobe Stock

However exciting, getting to Petra can be intimidating for even the most experienced travelers. To make your trip go smoothly, we’ve compiled 12 travel tips to ensure your trip to Petra is your greatest adventure yet.

Insider Travel Tips for Visiting Petra

Before exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, let our insider travel tips serve as your guiding light. These tips will surely equip you with the knowledge to navigate the rose-red city with the ease and excitement of a seasoned explorer.

1. When to Visit Petra, Jordan

Tourists exploring Petra, Jordan attractions
Лилия Люцко / Adobe Stock

Whenever you choose to visit Jordan, a stop at Petra must be on your itinerary. The best time to visit Petra is in the spring and fall—specifically, March-May and September-November.

The temperature is comfortably cool during these periods, allowing you to take full advantage of Petra’s jaw-dropping sights without drenching yourself in sweat. The only downside of visiting during the spring and fall is that, for obvious reasons, it is the most crowded time of year to visit.

To fully experience all the area has to offer, we suggest booking a Petra, Wadi Rum, and Dead Sea 2-Day Tour that starts in the capital city of Amman.

2. What to Pack for Visiting Petra

Al-Khazneh rock-cut tombs in Petra, Jordan
truba71 / Adobe Stock

Embarking on a journey to Petra requires thoughtful preparation to ensure a comfortable experience. The ancient city, carved into rose-red cliffs, demands more than just a sense of adventure; it calls for practical packing.

In the following list, we’ll suggest some essentials that will serve as your toolkit for navigating and appreciating this UNESCO World Heritage site to the fullest.

1. Hiking Shoes

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot
Columbia / Amazon

If you’re planning on climbing the 850+ stairs up to the monastery or making your way up any of the advanced routes, you’re going to need a pair of decent hiking shoes. I’ve brought the Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot on dozens of hiking trips throughout the world, and they’ve stood the test of time and terrain. Plus, they won’t break the bank.

If you’re strictly staying on the main trail, you can likely get away with a solid pair of tennis shoes. But who wants to be limited? Whatever shoe you choose, select a boot with good ankle support.

2. Water Bottle

Owala Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Owala / Amazon

Adding a water bottle to your list should be no surprise since you’re quite literally hiking in the desert. While you technically can drink tap water in Jordan, we suggest purchasing bottled water and pouring it into your insulated water bottle. 

Don’t worry about buying water before you get to Petra. The local Bedouin people have countless shops and stalls set up where you can purchase bottled water. Just be sure to have some cash on hand. 

3. A Scarf or Shawl

A woman with a red scarf in Egypt
Cait Kontalis / ViaTravelers

As it is a historic site and not a religious site, technically, there is no official dress code for visiting Petra. That being said, a scarf can serve two purposes.

The first, for both men and women, is using a scarf as head and shoulder protection from the sun. The sun in Petra can get extremely intense, and you need to protect your skin.

Secondly, for women in particular, you may feel compelled to cover up your shoulders. While not a requirement, it may make you feel more comfortable in a primarily conservative and Muslim country.

4. Sunscreen

Woman applying sunscreen on hands
lesterman / Adobe Stock

Sunscreen is an absolute must. Even if you’re not a regular sunscreen user (but you should be!), now is the time to put your skin protection prejudice aside and lather up. Stock up on some travel-size sunscreen before your trip. 

5. Linen Clothes

ANRABESS Women's Linen Palazzo Pants
ANRABESS / Amazon

In a country like Jordan, you want to avoid tight-fitting activewear like yoga pants or leggings. Instead, opt for conservative yet fashionable linen looks.

Linen is a breathable fabric that is perfect for the warm weather in Jordan. In addition to being perfect for hot climates, linen also can keep you cool even in high humidity.

3. Invest in Travel Insurance

Traveler holding a Travel Insurance Brochure
Travel Insurance Brochure

No matter where you’re going or how long you’ll be gone, it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. This will protect you in case of any emergencies that may occur while you’re on your trip. 

I’ve used World Nomads before, and they’ve helped me out a couple of times. I’d also suggest checking out TravelInsurance.com for additional options.

4. How to Get to the Ancient City of Petra, Jordan

Ancient Petra Monastery
zaid / Adobe Stock

Getting to the lost city of Petra is relatively simple. If you’re staying in Wadi Musa, most of the accommodations are within a few minutes walk of Petra’s entrance. 

Walking: To book a stay within walking distance of the Petra Visitor Center, try one of these hotels in Wadi Musa:

Driving: If you’re coming from Amman, it is about a three-hour drive on Desert Highway. Or, you can take the King’s Highway for a more scenic but longer four-and-a-half-hour drive. 

Public Transportation: For those feeling particularly ambitious, the JETT buses connect Amman, Aqaba, and Petra. Bus tickets are around $15 one-way. Expect a round-trip experience to last about 12 hours.

Guided Tour: Lastly, if you want to just turn off your brain, consider booking transfer services or tour packages from Amman or Aqaba. Many options are available, including group tours or a Private Day Trip to Petra with Pickup.

Once you arrive in Petra, there are several options for exploring the trails. You can go on foot or a camel or horse ride. However, the most popular choice is going by foot, allowing you to explore Petra at your own pace while enjoying its beauty.

5. Guided vs. Self-Guided Tours in Petra

Tourists exploring in Petra, Jordan
Mugur / Adobe Stock

Visitors to Petra have the option of either guided or self-guided tours. Guided tours come with the added benefit of learning about Petra’s history from a knowledgeable guide who will ensure you don’t miss any of the most important sites.

Alternatively, self-guided tours give you the freedom to explore Petra at your own pace without being part of a group. To help you navigate the area, you should pick up a Petra map at the visitor’s center. 

While at the visitors center, you’ll also be able to pick up your Petra tickets. The ticket price ranges from $20-$140, depending on how deep you wish to go in the site.

However, it is important to follow the marked paths during self-guided tours, as some areas can be hazardous. If you’re traveling from Aqaba, booking a Private Day Tour to Petra is a happy medium between group tours and self-guided experiences.

6. How to Get to Dana Reserve

Aerial view of Dana Biosphere Reserve
Francois / Adobe Stock

Dana Reserve is located in the south-central part of Jordan. The best way to get there is by car or taxi from Amman. The drive takes about three hours.

If you’re an experienced hiker or outdoors person, you may be interested in the iconic Dana to Petra hike. This 50-mile hike takes four days and leads you to the main sites in the region, including:

  • Wadi Dana Biosphere Reserve
  • Feynan Ecolodge
  • Little Petra
  • Petra

A few hotels and Beoudin camps along the trail welcome hikers. Wild camping is also legal along most of the course. 

That being said, only tackle the Dana to Petra trail if you are experienced. The harsh conditions and isolation along the route can prove dangerous for even experienced hikers. We suggest booking something like the Jordan: Hiking Tour from Dana to Petra to ensure you have an experienced local guide with you at all times.

See Related: A Trek to Petra from Dana Reserve: An Adventure across Jordan

7. How Long Should You Stay in Petra, Jordan?

The Treasury at night in Petra, Jordan
EnricoPescantini / Adobe Stock

The amount of time you should spend in Petra depends largely on your interests and stamina for exploring. For most visitors, allocating two full days is enough. This covers the main attractions like the Treasury and Monastery, lesser-known sites, and hiking trails.

A single day is possible, but it means a very packed schedule and less time to absorb the grandeur of the ancient city. For those avidly interested in archaeology or photography, an additional day can provide a more leisurely pace and opportunities for deeper exploration. Remember, Petra is vast and full of hidden gems that reward those who take the time to seek them out.

We highly suggest a night visit to experience Petra because it allows you to attend Petra by Night. The event only happens on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday nights, so plan accordingly. 

Petra by Night is a mesmerizing old-school light show, including 1,500 candles illuminating the ruins. Plan to stay overnight and book a stay at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp.

See Related: Best Ancient Ruins & Archeological Sites in the World

8. What to Eat When You Visit Petra

Plate of Mansaf Jordan Food
uckyo / Adobe Stock

While exploring Petra, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to sample some of the delicious Jordanian cuisine. From traditional dishes like mansaf (the national dish) and hummus to sweet treats like knafeh, there is something for everyone.

If you’re interested in trying authentic local food, several Bedouin shops and huts are located throughout the area. Just remember to bring some cash with you.

If you’re on a budget or prefer to bring your own food, you can pack what you need for the tour. However, remember that the long hiking trails may make your luggage heavier. As mentioned earlier, staying hydrated is important, so be sure to carry plenty of water with you.

9. Avoiding the Crowds at Petra

The Treasury Al-Khazneh in Petra, Jordan
Jesse / Adobe Stock

As mentioned earlier, some months can be quite crowded with tourists. To avoid the crowds, try to schedule your hike during the off-peak hours.

Touring Petra in the early mornings or late in the afternoon will help you avoid most crowds. Peak hours usually fall between 8:00 AM. and 10:00 AM., so starting your hike and arriving at the site early is ideal.

Lastly, you can choose a more off-the-beaten-path approach instead of following the busy routes taken by most visitors. This way, you can still enjoy all the sites that Petra offers without having to deal with the overwhelming crowds.

10. Where are the Royal Tombs in Petra?

Royal Tombs of Petra, Jordan
Noradoa / Adobe Stock

The Royal Tombs of Petra are a collection of grand funerary structures that have been carved into the western face of Jabal al-Khubtha. It is believed that these elaborate tombs were created for the Nabataean royalty and are known around the world for their impressive facades.

The Urn Tomb stands out with its large columns. Secondly, the Silk Tomb, named because of its rich, swirled coloration of red, pink, white, brown, black, yellow, and orange, is deeply impressive.

Additionally, the Corinthian Tomb, which resembles a miniature version of the famous Treasury, is also worth exploring. Visitors can even climb a series of steps that have been carved directly into the rock to reach these tombs.

11. Can I Visit Wadi Rum from Petra?

Wadi Rum Protected Area & Wadi Rum, land of silence
Hakan / Adobe Stock

Fortunately, Wadi Rum is only a short 65 miles from Petra. Many guided tours, like the Petra, Wadi Rum, and Dead Sea 3-Day Tour, offer the opportunity to visit both sites in one trip. This is a convenient option for those who want to experience both sites without arranging separate transportation.

Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, offers a completely different landscape than Petra. It is a protected desert wilderness with stunning red sand dunes and towering rock formations. 

Visitors can choose to explore Wadi Rum on a jeep tour or even by camel and donkey rides. While Petra may be the more famous destination, Wadi Rum offers an equally unique experience.

See Related: Best Digital Nomad Destinations in the World

12. How Far Away is the Dead Sea?

Dead Sea with palm trees and mountain view
vvvita / Adobe Stock

The Dead Sea, known for its hyper-salty waters and historical significance, is about 125 miles from Petra. This makes it a feasible addition to your Petra itinerary.

While at the Dead Sea, you can enjoy the unique experience of extreme floating thanks to the high salt concentration. Or, take advantage of the therapeutic muds believed to have health-enhancing properties. To make getting to both destinations simple, book the Petra, Wadi Rum & Dead Sea 3-Day Tour.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to know before going to Petra Jordan?

Before traveling to Petra, Jordan, it is essential to plan for hot weather, wear comfortable shoes, and ensure you have ample water and sun protection for your journey through the ancient city.

How many days do you need to visit Petra?

To truly experience all that Petra has to offer, it is recommended to set aside at least two days. This allows ample time to explore the main sites and hidden corners without feeling rushed.

Related Resources

Cait Kontalis
WRITTEN BY

Cait Kontalis

Cait is a Chicago-based Greek-American but spends most of her year floating around the globe. She holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.A. in Nonprofit Management. Her favorite destinations include visiting her homeland in Greece, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and wherever her partner is stationed abroad. Cait is also a powderhound, taking to ski slopes in the Rocky Mountains and throughout the country.

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