Things To Do in Petra, Jordan: The Lost City Things To Do in Petra, Jordan: The Lost City

Things To Do in Petra, Jordan: The Lost City

Discover the lost city of Petra – an ancient city carved out of stone that remained forgotten for thousands of years. Hidden in a valley surrounded by desert and mountains, its movie-magic scenery made it the perfect backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters like Indiana Jones and Aladdin. Unsurprisingly, this captivating nature has now earned Petra the title of one of the seven wonders of the world. Explore this 6 km long valley, home to ancient sandstone temples, wall paintings, churches, and tombs, with this complete guide to Petra, Jordan.

Things to do in Petra, Jordan

The lost city of Petra was only rediscovered 200 years ago after being buried due to the effects of a large earthquake in 363 AD. Before that, this prehistoric city lived through many periods (Nabataean, Roman, and Byzantine) and is believed to have existed since the 1st century BC! 

the treasury petra jordan

These days, visitors come to marvel at the ancient structures, churches, tombs, and theatres that have been here for thousands of years, with some only recently uncovered in the last 30 years. In fact, it’s believed just 15% percent of the city’s structures have been excavated, meaning an incredible 85% of buildings still remain underground.

Tip: Although you don’t need a guide to explore Petra, it’s an excellent way to learn more about the fascinating details of the area.

couple petra jordan

1. Siq: Entrance to Petra, Jordan

The beautiful Siq (canyon) is the main entrance to Petra, Jordan; it’s a stunning rose-red 1.2-kilometer-long gorge that leads all the way to the Treasury and other buildings in the lost city. 

Siq petra jordan

Exploring this extraordinary valley is straightforward. Start by taking the one clear walking route that leads from the visitor’s center all the way through the dramatic Siq (canyon). As you go, you’ll see the beautiful canyon walls, which are 80 meters high at some points, and small channels carved out of the side of the rock — showcasing an innovative water management system built by the Nabataean people.

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Things To Do in Petra, Jordan: The Lost City

At the end of the canyon, you’ll lay eyes for the first time on the world-famous Treasury, one of the most iconic sights in the world. 

Siq petra jordan

From the treasury, some trails lead to other incredible buildings in the area, like the Monastery. Along these weaving, ascending trails, discover many detailed, beautifully preserved structures carved out of rose-colored stone — some simple and some more luxurious.

2. The Treasury in Petra, Jordan

At the end of the 30-minute walk through the Siq Gorge, an unreal 40-meter-high structure appears from behind the rocks. The Treasury is the most beautiful and well-known sight in Petra, and it is believed to have got its name because of the ‘treasure pot’ at the top.

treasury petra jordan view from the Siq Gorge

In fact, over the years, the mystery of this pot has made it the setting for many famous movies, and people have even attempted to shoot at the pot to see if any gold would fall out! If you look closely, you can see the gunshot marks.

treasury petra jordan

Viewpoints for the Treasury

For a more unique perspective, hike up to one of the three viewpoints nearby and drink some tea at the top while taking in the most extraordinary views of the Treasury. All of them are good, but the top was our least favorite, simply because the view isn’t much better, and it’s the most challenging climb. 

best photo viewpoint petra jordan treasury

Expect to pay between 3-5 Dirhams to visit the viewpoints (make sure to agree beforehand on the price before you climb). Some will include a cup of tea and a photo opportunity.

viewpoint treasury petra jordan

3. The Monastery of Petra

The Monastery is one of the largest and most beautiful structures discovered in Petra. Originally a Nabataean tomb, this mammoth building (even bigger than the Treasury) is 50 meters wide and 45 meters high. 

Monastery petra jordan

To get to the Monastery, you can take a separate path that leads away from the main Siq trail. Follow the one that leads from the Treasury towards the Monastery (the Ad Deir Trail), which takes 1.5 hours and includes 40 minutes of solid hiking up 800+ stairs. It’s well worth it, though, as it’s a beautiful walk with several panoramic viewpoints over the desert. 

Once at the Monastery, take some time to wander around both the outside and inside, admiring the beautiful detailing and incredible history of this unique building.

things to do petra jordan monastery

Most people only walk to the Treasury and back, but we 100% recommend also visiting the Monastery if you have the energy and the time; not only is the building exceptional, but the hike is worth it alone to see the viewpoints and other interesting sights on the route, like the Roman Theater and caves.

hiking trail petra jordan

Many donkeys will pass you carrying tourists on the way. Please don’t participate in this kind of wildlife tourism; take the walking trail instead of using an animal. There are plenty of shaded spots, and you can buy refreshments once you reach the Monastery.

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all

4. Little Petra (Siq Al-Barid)

As the name suggests, Little Petra is really a mini version of Petra, Jordan. Small but perfectly formed, it consists of three wider open areas connected by a 450-meter canyon. This natural wonder also gives Little Petra its other name, Cold Canyon, known as such because the sun rarely reaches this rock-covered area.

This stunning area is home to a series of tombs, several cave dwellings, and even 2000-year-old Hellenistic wall paintings. You can find these halfway along the canyon, up some stone steps that lead off the path. 

Entrance fee: Just a 10-minute drive from Petra, it’s free to enter with your main ticket and often much quieter than its larger neighbor. We definitely recommend visiting if you have the time, especially as Little Petra is part of the more expansive Petra Archeological Park.

Getting to Little Petra

Little Petra has a separate entrance to the other buildings in the complex, which you can most easily reach by car. Just before you get to the main Visitor’s Center, turn off right and follow the road until you find a car park for Little Petra. Open 6 AM – 6 PM daily.

cave houses petra jordan

Alternatively, for something a little different, start at Little Petra and take the 8 km backdoor trail that leads from the Little Petra car park to the Treasury (avoiding the steps). It’s a beautiful route, over canyons and desert, and it’s also possible to do some of the route with a 4-wheel drive if you’re worried about the distance. We recommend doing this trail with a guide, as the first part isn’t well signposted.

camels petra jordan

5. Petra by Night

Imagine the otherworldly landscapes of Petra, Jordan brought to life with the warm glow of 1500 candles! Placed in front of the rock facades, the thousands of small flames light up the ancient buildings in the most unique way — it’s an entirely different way to experience this fantastic canyon. 

Entry fee and opening times: Tickets cost around 17 JD and can be purchased from the Visitor Center (a valid Petra daylight ticket is required to buy the “Petra by night” ticket. This unforgettable candlelit night show runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week and starts at 20.30 from Petra Visitor Centre.

Tip: We recommend also visiting Petra in the daylight first so you can get a good comparison of the two experiences. 

things to do petra jordan by night

6. Indiana Jones, Petra

The memorable final scenes of the classic blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed at Petra, Jordan! This took place at the most iconic building in Petra, The Treasury (Al Khazneh), a structure first built during the first century as a mausoleum. Many mysteries and legends surround the origin of this building and its name, which adds to the movie-worthy experience of visiting this incredible site.

horses petra jordan

Entrance Tickets Petra, Jordan

The entrance to Petra is 50 JOD (70 USD) for one day. Visiting two days has better value as that will only add 5 JOD. A two-day pass costs 55 JOD (78 USD), and a 3-day pass costs 60 JOD (85 USD). Children under 12 enter for free.

entrance petra jordan

Jordan Pass Online

A better deal is to buy a Jordan Pass online. The Jordan Explorer includes your visa to Jordan (usually 40 JOD), a 2-day entrance to Petra, and 40 other big attractions in Jordan. The cost is 75 JOD (105 USD).

ticket petra jordan

Petra Opening Hours

It is best to visit Petra, Jordan, during the morning and late afternoon for fewer crowds and lower temperatures. The entrance opens every morning at 6 AM, and there won’t be any big tour groups before 8 AM. Petra closes at 6 PM in the summer and 4 PM in the winter.

Tip: A great moment to have the Treasury to yourself is to wait until about 30 minutes before closing time. You might even catch a beautiful sunset!

Best Cafes and Restaurants

Taste some delicious, authentic Jordanian food in one of the area’s many great restaurants and cafes. You’ll find most places to eat in Wadi Musa, although there are also many at the entrance to Petra, close to the visitor center.

  • Falafel Time
  • The Cave Bar
  • Aloe Vera
  • Old Street Cafe
  • My Mom’s Recipe
  • Little Petra Restaurant
Jordanian food

Where to Stay in Petra

All hotels in Petra are in Wadi Musa, a perfect location at the entrance of Petra. Because it’s such a popular site for all types of travelers, you’ll find various accommodations on offer, from budget-friendly hostels to more luxurious hotels.

petra jordan the treasury

How Many Days in Petra, Jordan

Two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Petra. There is a lot to see and quite a distance to cover, but when spread over two days, you can divide the distance into more manageable chunks.

Otherwise, you can visit most sights in Petra in one day, but you’ll need a full 12 hours from 6 AM until 6 PM.

To the Monastery and back from the Siq entrance takes 3.5 hours of walking and hiking upstairs without stopping. So it’s important to remember that you will be walking a lot in one day.

How to Visit Petra in Jordan

The ruins of Petra (also known as the Rose City for the reddish-colored sandstone) are in southwest Jordan in a broad valley. Lying between the Dead Sea and Aqaba, it’s beautifully situated on a terrace in the Wadi Musa Valley (named after Moses). 

Nearby is the modern town of Wadi Musa, which is adjacent to the ancient city and accommodates the many tourists visiting the site.

By Plane

Most visitors arrive in Amman, the capital of Jordan, which has an international airport serving destinations worldwide.

Find flights to Petra ✈️

By Car

Getting to Petra from Amman takes about 3-4 hours by rental car, and it’s an effortless and straightforward drive. Driving a rental car through Jordan is very common; the infrastructure is good, so it’s safe to do so. 

On a Tour

Take the local Jett bus from Amman (get bus tickets here). Alternatively, you can join a multi-day tour, which includes Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea.

Getting Around

Once you are at the visitors center in Petra, Jordan, there are various trails to follow. If you choose to walk on the main trail (a great option to take in the beauty of the landscapes), the monastery is around 8 km from the Visitors Centre (the treasury is situated after the first 2km). 

Alternatively, if you want to visit The Treasury alone, it is possible to get a ride on an electric buggy for 15 JOD one way or 25 JOD for a round trip.  

Best Time to Visit Petra, Jordan

Spring and Autumn are considered the best times to visit Petra, Jordan (October being the busiest generally). If you start early, you will avoid the tour groups and have the sights to yourself. If you can cope with the 40-degree summer temperatures in July and August, you will be rewarded with a less crowded season to visit Petra. 


Tip: The shoulder months of November and March are great times to follow a Jordan itinerary. During this time, crowds are thinner, and mild temperatures make exploring more comfortable.

Is Petra Safe?

Yes! Like everywhere in Jordan, Petra is safe. You don’t need to worry whether you’re a solo female traveler or a big group. Cover up appropriately, but there’s no need to cover your hair.

Make sure to wear good shoes in Petra. The path can be tricky at some point, and flip-flops are definitely a no-go for hiking here.

Blog comments (12)

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  • Lameez

    Hi guys! Thank you for this itinerary it’s been really helpful for us to plan our trip to Jordan. We’d like to combine your Egypt itinerary with Jordan .. do you guys have any trips between travelling between the two?

    • Salt in our Hair

      You’re welcome Lameez. We crossed the border by ferry from Egypt to Jordan. I think the port was called Nuweiba. It was a pretty smooth process. That’s all the experience we have traveling between the two.

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