Petra – Jordan

Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and has centuries of rich history woven and carved in to it’s rocky hills. It has been a settlement for hundreds of years but was settled by the Nabataeans in the 4th Century and became a major trading hub on the Middle Eastern trading routes, it later became part of the Roman Empire. It is known as the Red Rose City due to the colour of the rock from which it was carved and was recognised as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Petra is probably the most iconic landmark in Jordan.

The Treasury, Petra

The site of Petra is huge and it could easily take you 4 or 5 days to explore it all. The good news, for those that don’t have 5 days or are travelling with small children who are not fond of hiking large distances, is that you can see the main highlights in one day. Also because there is so much to see and climb on it doesn’t feel like an all day hike.

The Main Trail

From Wadi Musa town you enter Petra through the visitor centre where there are an assortment of cafes and stalls selling souvenirs. This is where the Petra Museum and ticket office are and you can also arrange guides and transport.

The walk from the Visitor Centre first takes you down pass the Djin cubes and the in to the Siq (a 3/4 mile rocky gorge). There is plenty to see in the Siq itself including the water system and carvings. The Siq is impressive by itself as a natural entrance to an ancient city.

If the walk is difficult you have the option of going on horseback from the Visitor Centre to the Siq entrance which is included in your ticket although you do have to tip and should agree this before you set off. There is also a golf cart which you can get down to the Treasury, this is an extra charge.

At the end of the Siq there is the first glance of the Treasury which does not disappoint. The treasury is most famous for it’s role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but even more impressive in real life.

The first glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq.

There is the option to climb up to a view point opposite the Treasury but you need to be with a local guide to do this. Again agree the fee before you set off. As it looks, this is literally a climb up the side of a cliff, Pip managed fine but it may be difficult with smaller children.

From the Treasury the main trail takes you down the Street of Facades, past the Amphitheatre and various other significant Nabataean and Roman structures. There is the option to take a donkey or camel ride down this area, again agree the fee before you set off and whether you are paying for one way or to be brought back again.

There are various other trail options depending on how adventurous you are feeling. You can take a side loop to the Royal Tombs, there is another view point at the end of this track for the Treasury.

At the end of the main trail is the track up to the Monastery. The trail leads you up the mountain and is over 800 steps cut in to the rocks which will take you about 45 – 60 minutes to walk up (I managed it in 25, trying to keep up with Pip who was on a donkey!). The Monastery is bigger than the Treasury and well worth the hike up to see. There is a view point at the top and a cafe and souvenir stand.

The steps up are lined with stalls so if you need a snow globe half way up, that won’t be a problem.

There are various other trails, tracks, caves and tombs to explore and also the option to visit Little Petra. Pip especially enjoyed the areas she could climb and explore rather than the bits when we were being told about the history.


For the adults it was the fascinating history and the epic scale of the whole site. There is nothing modern about Petra and it’s not hard to imagine how it would have looked thousands of years ago when the Nabataeans who lived their were burying their family members in the tombs. For Pip it was the fact that she could climb on to and in to most things and also the fact that she got to ride a donkey and a horse. There are also lots of dogs and cats around the site, all who were very friendly and ready for a fuss.


One day ticket – 50 JD

Two day ticket – 55 JD

Three day ticket 60 JD

Children under 12 are free.

If you are entering the country to visit Petra from a neighbouring country or it is your first day in Jordan then the fee is 90 JD. If you are staying in the country you can return the next day and get a 40 JD refund.

Food and Drink

The photos you see online make it look like there is nothing there but impressive rocks, carvings and caves, however there are lots of souvenir stalls, cafes and even a restaurant. However the choice isn’t brilliant and the food and drink will be more expensive inside than in the shops in Wadi Musa. There’s even a couple of drink stops at the top near the Monastery and the cold drinks are very welcome after you have climbed up over 800 steps.


There are no signs around the site to tell you what everything is or the history so I would highly recommend getting yourself a guide. Our guide was arranged through our travel agent but you can book a guide when you get there and you will learn so much more about the site with someone to guide you around. Having a guide will also stop you from being bothered by the unofficial guides.

There are various guide options:

Main trail – 50 JD

Main Trail and High Place of Sacrifice Monument – 100 JD

Main trail and Monastery – 100 JD

The guide we had was just for the main trail and we then walked up to the Monastery ourselves.


The walk down from the Visitor Centre, through the Siq to the Treasury is mostly downhill and fairly flat. There are options for this bit to go by horse or golf cart. The path through the Siq is flat concrete with some cobbled parts. After the Treasury it is mostly stones and sand underfoot and is harder to walk on. A baby carrier would definitely be the best option for visiting Petra.

When to go

The best time to visit is the Spring and Autumn as the weather won’t be too hot. It has been known to snow in the winter and the summer months are obviously very hot. There is little shade on the site if you are visiting in the hotter months.

There were far fewer visitors than usual when we went due to Covid but we found that the area by the Treasury was much busier in the morning than the afternoon. The sun was also directly on the Treasury in the morning and we got better photos in the afternoon. We found that most of the guides we had during our trip to Jordan were excellent photographers and able to recommend some great shots.

Where to Stay

The modern day town next to the site of Petra is Wadi Musa and there are a selection of hotels and restaurants for most budgets within a short walk of the visitor centre. Many of the hotels are basic and some dated but there is a Movenpick if you would like a bit more luxury. There are several coffee houses, restaurants and cafes as well as small supermarkets.

Turkish Baths

There are a number of Turkish Baths in Wadi Musa and there is nothing nicer after spending the day in hot and dusty Petra than a Turkish bath. We went to Yakhor Turkish Bath which is next to the Petra Palace Hotel. They were able to accommodate Pip (age 9) as well and she had a body scrub and a gentle massage.

Petra by night

If you are visiting Petra on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday then you also have the option of going to Petra by Night and seeing the Siq and Treasury lit up by 1500 candles. The ticket price is 17 JD and kids under 10 are free, you must have a day ticket in order to purchase a night ticket.

Petra by nights starts from the visitor centre at 8:30pm and finishes around 10:30pm.

It’s well worth doing this if you can as walking through the Siq by candlelight is so atmospheric. The evening starts with the group walking down through the Siq to the area in front of the Treasury and sitting on rows of mats on the floor where you are served tea. There is then a traditional musical performance and the Treasury is lit up with coloured lights. The actual show wasn’t that impressive especially as late comers were still arriving and making noise but the experience of being somewhere that was thousands of years old by candlelight was amazing. We stayed a while after the majority of people had left so we were able to take some photos and walk back up the Siq almost by ourselves.

It is worth taking something to sit on as there were far more people than available mats.

Note: there are no transport options on an evening.

We visited in October 2021 when Pip was 9. All prices are taken from the official Petra website and are correct at the time of publishing.

2 thoughts on “Petra – Jordan

  1. Hi, this is incredibly helpful. I’m planning my husbands 50th to Petra in Easter 2023 with our kids age 10 and 7. Anything else you think we need to know? Thanks


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