Discover the best way to get to the historic and cultural Petra, in Jordan. Includes travel tips and advice for getting to Petra.
Petra is an archaeological site in the Jordanian desert. It is famous for its age and impresseve preservance and also the impressive nature of the archaeology in that it is cut into the rocks of the valley. Petra is an ancient city carved in Mount Hor's rock in the 3rd century BC by the Nabateans, as the capital of their Kingdom. The inhabitants that once lived there gradually declined over the years, and it remained undiscovered to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812.
Petra, also known as the Rose City and also originally called Raqmu to the original inhabitants, is famous across the globe for its rock-cut architecture and impressive water harvesting and management through its water conduit system. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site is recognised for its impressive nature and historic significance. It is often a destination on many people's bucket list, due to the amazement of the architecutre from such an early date. It is also voted as one of the New7Wonders of the World, as well as being Jordan's most-popular and visited tourist destination. There were around 800 thousand visitors to the site in 2018, showing how popular the site really is.
Petra is located in the desert in the south of Jordan. It is found on the Jabal Al-Madbah slopes, in the eastern flank of the Arabah valley from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
There are two airports which you can choose from to get to Petra. Although the closest airport is King Hussein International Airport (AQJ), in Aqaba, at only 100km away, there is also Amman's airport Queen Alia International Airport (AMM). This airport is around 200 km away, with a 2.5 hour drive but offers a greater selection of flights from around the world, especially from the USA. The Queen Alia International Airport is the largest airport in Jordan and has recently won awards for its state-of-the-art terminal built in 2013, such as "Best Improvement by Region: Middle East" and "Best Airport by Region: Middle East".
Queen Alia International Airport is around a 3 hour drive to Petra. Many people will opt to hire a car for their trip, as the roads to Petra are fairly straight along a highway with English signposts. If you'd prefer not to hire a car, you can opt to get a public bus, or get a taxi. If you opt for a bus, you will need to get to the city centre of Amman first, where you can get the JETT Bus which can be booked online, costing around $10 USD. Taxis are much more expensive, with one-way rates totalling around $120 USD.
There are a few airlines which fly from Cairo (CAI) to Petra, such as Jordan Aviation, EgyptAir and Royal Jordanian. Search for flights from Cairo to Petra using the search bar above to compare prices.
Unfortunately, there are currently no direct flights going from Jerusalem to Petra. Instead, you can get private tours or a bus to get between the two destinations.
You can fly direct from Dubai International Airport (DXB) or Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) (Dubai World Central) to Queen Alia Airport with airlines such as flydubai, Emirates and Royal Jordanian
Fly to Tel Aviv's airport - Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), with Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Fly to London Heathrow (LHR) with Royal Jordanian or British Airways.
This airline provides great connectivity to Petra from multiple destinations in Egypt.
This Amman-based airline provides charter flights to destinations in Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Ukraine and also domestic flights in Jordan.
This airline operates flights from Queen Alia Airport to Baghdad, Basra, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Flying out of Queen Alia Airport, this airline flies to Ankara, Antalya, Izmir and Trabzon, which with a connecting flight can be connected to destinations all over the world.
As the national airline of Jordan, this airline provides flights from Petra to locations around the world, including the USA, Europe and elsewhere in the Middle East.
This low-cost airline flies mainly from European destinations such as Brussels, Budapest, Krakow, Prague and Warsaw.
The best season to visit Petra is during spring and autumn, when the crowds are generally thinner, and the temperatures are not so unbearable. March to May or September to November is the best time to visit, where temperatures average 18-25°C.
It is best to arrive at Petra as early as possible in the day, as the ticket office opens from 6am and the crowds are quieter at that time. Late afternoons are also quieter, but be aware that the ticket office closes at 4pm in winter, and 6pm in summer.
Make sure you take sturdy and comfortable walking shoes, as you will be walking over rocky and sandy terrain. To keep yourself out of the direct sun, you may wish to wear a scarf or hat, sunglasses and plenty of suncream.
Generally, most people will need at least a day to visit Petra, spending 5-6 hours exploring the sights. However, many people opt to spend a couple of days exploring the ancient city.
To get to Petra from the modern town of Wadi Musa, it is around a 10-minute walk. The site itself has an area of 60 sq km, so expect to do a fair bit of walking. However, you will be able to break up the walking by stopping to look at the different sights. However, between the key sights of the Siq at the entrance and the Monastery at the end, it is over an hour's walk one-way, with hundreds of stairs to climb.
If you are staying in a nearby hotel, many of them will prepare a packed lunch for you to take if you ask. However, there are stalls outside the entrance where you can purchase refreshments cheaper than the restaurants inside. Make sure you pack plenty of water - you are entering a desert so don't want to get dehydrated.
Tickets for a one-day ticket to Petra will cost around $70 USD per person. However, this is well worth it for seeing such an amazing and significant place.
According to the UK Government website, Jordan as a country is relatively safe to visit. There are some demonstrations which take place in cities, but these are generally fine if you avoid them. The border with Syria should be avoided. There are currently no travel warnings from the British Foreign Office or the US State Department.
Petra is safe to visit, and there are numerous visits by tourists year-round that are all problematic. Petra has police and security roaming, to help keep the place safe for all visitors.
If you are visiting Petra, you should try your best to see as much as possible of it. However, the key things to see is the entrance through the Siq, the Treasury, the Street of Facades, the Amphitheatre, the Royal Tombs, the Colonnaded Street, the Museum and the Monastery.