A FULL TRAVEL GUIDE FOR PETRA
If you’re planning to visit Jordan, then keep in mind that the Lost City of the Nabateans, the legendary Ancient City of Petra should absolutely be included in your must-visit list. I recently visited Jordan and I got literally charmed. So, I’m here to share my Jordanian experience in full detail!
What’s the best season to visit Petra? What’s the entrance fee to one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World? Do you need to hire a guide? How much will a guide cost you? What clothes should you pack? What about the time needed for a Petra Tour? How can you easily reach Petra and what about the name the origins of Petra's name?
These are only a few questions that you might have as you’ re trying to organize such a trip. The following full guide about Petra is like a Q&A, with 20 questions and full answers, for you to have all necessary information.
20 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING PETRA
1. WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT PETRA?
The Ancient City of Petra, also known as the Rose Red City, is a treasure city that was sculpted in the deep desert of Jordan by the Nabateans. The Arabic tribe of the Nabateans inhabited the area nearly two million years ago. The first residents of Petra were closely connected to the stones’ worship as well as the spirits. Petra was also the meeting point in the trade of silk and spices.
It was discovered by the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt back in 1812. He was disguised as an Arab and entered the place. Curved in rocks and stones, Petra is considered as one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World and has also been honoured as a World’s Heritage Monument by UNESCO.
2. HOW DID PETRA GET ITS NAME?
According to the Mesopotamias’ civilizations, Petra’s name was “Raqmu” which means “Rock with colorful stripes”. The exact name of Petra was “inherited” by some Greek traders. The current residents’ spring celebration of a god spirit to which they offered several goods as a sacrifice on a rock gave the idea to the Greek traders. This is what you will find in Wikipedia too, but as a Greek, it wasn’t difficult to interpret the name. Petra stands for Petra in greek and it actually means rock.
3. HOW WILL I GET TO PETRA?
If you choose to travel on an organized tour, you will have your guide with you. If you choose to travel on your own, you have the opportunity to get to Petra by car, local means of transport or by taxi.
Starting from Aqaba, you can take the bus which departs from the central market of the city (Public Buses Station/ Mojamaa Albassat ). Then, you take the JETT Bus from Amman, which departs from the Abdali Station at 6:30 am and arrives in Petra at around 10:30. Finally, it comes back to Amman at around 5:00 pm.
BY CAR OR TAXI
On your departure from Amman, you will choose the new “Desert Highway” or the traditional King’s Highway which is a beautiful route but it usually takes longer. So, you leave Amman from the 7th Circle and then, you follow the brown signposts to Petra. The route from Aqaba is much easier and quicker, following once again the signs to Petra.
Find HERE all the information you need.
Petra’s Visitor Center is daily open from 6:00am to 6:00pm in summer and from 6:00am to 4:00pm in winter. You can buy your tickets there and find any information you may need as well, such as to book a guide or get yourself a map. At 7:00pm and 5:00pm in summer and winter days respectively, you need to already leave Petra unless Petra By Night is in your plans.
5. WHAT IS THE BEST HOUR FOR VISITING PETRA?
The early morning or a late afternoon would be the best time-choice to explore Petra. The colors in the rocks can reflect amazingly and leave you speechless depending on the hour you will visit the Ancient City. You can also, book a hotel next to Petra in order to experience both of these day times.
6. HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY IN PETRA?
The truth is that there is no exact answer to this question. If you are fond of exploring ancient cities and Petra is the reason you are there, then I recommend you spend at least 2 days. On the other hand, if you are in Jordan only for three days for example, the best thing you could do is to arrive in the afternoon and spend the night there, experience Petra By Night and have the next day dedicated to several points of interest. Six hours would be great.
7. WHAT’S THE ENTRANCE FEE FOR PETRA?
The entrance to the Ancient City of Petra is about 50JD; that is 62,00EUR. If you would like to stay more than a day at Petra, you should go for the two or three-day ticket of 55JD and 60JD respectively. You can also pay either in cash or by card at the entrance of Petra Visitor Centre. Keep in mind though, that if you pay in cash you need you need to have the local foreign currency. There is no charge for the children under 12 years old. Finally, you will need your passport or a local residents special ID in order to get into Petra.
8. HOW MUCH DOES A PRIVATE TOUR IN PETRA COST?
That depends on how you wish to organize your tour and how much time you want this to last. In any case, you should have in mind that the price would be around 50JD if the tour is arranged by the Visitor Centre or it can be a little bit more, if you organize a private tour with your hotel.
9. IS A VISIT TO PETRA REALLY SAFE?
Absolutely - by following your common sense. Petra is Jordan’s most touristic sight, with thousands of visitors coming every week. So, you realize that stealing is likely. But, this could happen in any other place anywhere in the world. Petra is as safe as Colosseum or Eiffel Tower; it’s you that you need to be careful in any case.
10. WHAT ARE THE MOST WORTH-VISITING SPOTS?
Let me give you a tour. The best-maintained buildings of Petra is the popular street Siq, The Treasury with the beautiful, 40 metres high façade, the Monastery, the Roman Theater with 6,000 seats, the Sea Resorts, the Royal Graveyard, the Tomb of the Roman Soldier, Petra’s highest mountain Umm-Al-Biyara where the Nabateans offered their goods to worship the season of spring and finally, the Royal Catacombs. If you have planned to visit them all, you will need at least 2 days.
There are a lot of hotels in the area while most of them are very close to the Visitor Center. You can choose which is the most suitable to your own budget, taking also into account the distance from the entrance so you won’t need a car or a cab.
12. WHAT IS PETRA BY NIGHT? IS IT WORTH IT?
Of course it’s worth it! A visit to Petra can only be considered complete if you experience Petra By Night. But what is it after all? It’s an amazing event which is more like magic rather than reality under the light of the candles! Petra By Night starts with a walk from the legendary Siq to the hilarious Treasury where you will meet around 1,500 candles!
Read MORE HERE.
13. HOW FAR AWAY FROM THE ENTRANCE IS THE FAMOUS TREASURY?
Starting from the Petra Visitor Center, you will go along the Siq, the famous red canyon that will drive you to Petra’s “Treasury”. The distance is around 1,2 km while in a normal pace and without many stops, the route will be about one hour and a half.
It’s around 1,30 hour from the Treasury. Well, if you want to reach the latter though, you will have to go up 800 steps.
15. WHAT SHOULD I HAVE WITH ME?
You should have cash, in the local currency, your passport, water, snacks, bars or nuts (if you’re going to spend the day there), sunscreen, a hat and maybe, a bandana for your hair with local, warm colors! If you need a map, you can get it at the Visitor Center. Last but not least, don’t forget your camera; these pictures are going to be your ever lasting memories!
16. IS THERE WiFi IN PETRA?
Yes, but only in the areas around the Visitor Center.
17. SHOULD I TAKE A CARRIAGE, A HORSE OR A DONKEY FOR A RIDE? HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
Actually, I didn’t go for none of them for two reasons: firstly, I love walking along the city streets and explore every place at my own pace and secondly, I am very sensible to the animals’ touristic exploitation – no matter how well they are treated - . If there is any health issue, then this might be okay. But in any case, it’s still my own personal opinion on this topic.
My journey in Jordan was a once in a lifetime experience. I promised to myself that I would come back only to explore more about this unique land! Read here about MY SAFARI IN WADI RUM DESERT or my night at the SUN CITY CAMP at an oasis in the magic middle of nowhere!
Translation: Andrianna Argyropoulou
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