I’m (slowly, thanks to the Pandemic) trying to visit all of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. To date, I’ve managed to make it to three of them – one of which includes the Nabataean tombs and temples of Petra. Read on below to discover my top tips for visiting this incredible archaeological site in Jordan.
1) Arrive early to Petra
An old proverb suggests that ‘the early bird catches the worm’. This saying couldn’t be more true than in relation to a visit to Petra. Before our visit we stayed overnight in the town of Wadi Musa (next to Petra) and we decided to arrive at the Visitor’s Centre/entrance to Petra for about 7AM in the morning. Large tour groups arrive by coach to Petra at around 9AM and so we wanted to take advantage of having the site to ourselves for a few hours.
An early morning walk through the Siq – a narrow pathway spanning a distance of 1.2 kilometres through a gorge with 200m-high rock walls – with very few other people around was incredibly special. However, nothing could be quite as magical as emerging from the Siq onto Petra’s best-preserved ruin, Al-Khazneh or ‘The Treasury’, without a vast number of other tourists around. Instead, there were approximately 10 of us peacefully enjoying daybreak at this incredible Wonder of the World. As evident from my photos above, I was able to take many photos of this remarkable carving without having huge numbers of other tourists in my shots.
2) Explore beyond the Treasury
Petra is an ancient city and so there is much to explore beyond simply just the Treasury, yet many visitors sadly leave the site immediately after checking out arguably the most elaborate and famous of the rock carvings. Those who do so therefore miss out on seeing other parts of the ancient city, such as the Street of Facades (burial interfaces), the Colonnaded Street and the Theatre as pictured below.
The Monastery should not be missed on a trip to Petra. This particular carving is around a two-hour return journey on foot from The Treasury.
3) Check the weather forecast in advance for Petra!
I imagine that, to some people, this tip may seem utterly pointless. However – you wouldn’t believe the number of people that I saw in Petra who had dressed inappropriately for the weather conditions. We visited in February and the weather was a (very windy) 8 degrees Celsius, yet I saw swarms of tourists arriving for day trips who were dressed in shorts, t-shirts and sandals. They looked frozen and had bought waterproof anoraks from the Petra gift shop, in attempt to provide some kind of protection from the cold wind.
Petra is a mere hour and a half drive inland from Aqaba on the Red Sea. On the same day that we visited a chilly Petra, it was 33 degrees Celsius and bright sunshine in the city of Aqaba (according to my weather app!). I imagine that the tourists in their Hawaiian board shorts had travelled up for a day trip to Petra from the warmer plains of Aqaba and had simply neglected to check the weather before embarking on their trip. Therefore, ensure that your choice of clothing doesn’t ruin your day by checking the weather in advance of your visit to Petra and dressing appropriately!
And – as a **bonus tip!** – avoid sandals whatever the weather. It takes half an hour to walk from the Visitor’s Centre to the Treasury and so you certainly want to be wearing sensible footwear, designed for walking, for this journey.
For more tips on visiting Jordan on general, check out my blog here.