Things to do in Petra and Wadi Musa

by | Jun 1, 2018 | Jordan, Latest Posts | 3 comments

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The ancient city of Petra, surrounded by the town of Wadi Musa, was carved into the rock face by the Nabataean civilization and is one of the most incredible sites we’ve ever visited. Home to sites including the iconic Treasury, the Siq and the Monastery there are lots of things to do in Petra as well as the town of Wadi Musa. After exploring Petra on our Jordan road trip we’ve put together our sightseeing guide to Petra and Wadi Musa: it’s our guide to the best things to see and do in Petra and Wadi Musa. Enjoy!

 

Petra and Wadi Musa

Located in the south of Jordan, Petra is an ancient city which was carved into the rock face by the Nabataean civilization, a nomadic Bedouin tribe who roamed the Arabian Desert and who established Petra as a major trading hub. It became the capital of the Nabatean around the 6th Century BC but was hit by a major earthquake in the middle of the first century before being abandoned by all but the Bedouin who inhabited the caves and tombs of Petra and a few of whom remain today. It’s a Jordan icon and the Treasury is an iconic symbol. The city was immortalised in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the lost city in Indiana Jones’ hunt for the holy grail. Petra is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Wadi Musa is the town surrounding Petra and serves the tourists who flock to the ancient city with its array of shops, restaurants and hotels.

Where to stay in Petra

  • Marriott Petra – We stayed at this fantastic hotel located just a few minutes drive from Petra and loved the panoramic views across the Petra Mountains. The highlight of our stay was a traditional Jordanian meal served in a Bedouin tent overlooking the Petra Mountains – check prices here!
  • Candles Hotel – a great budget-friendly option just a few hundred metres from the entrance to Petra – check prices here!
  • Mövenpick Resort Petra – Located right at the entrance to Petra, the Movenpick Resort is an excellent choice for those without their own transport and boasts good rooms and an impressive breakfast spread – check prices here!

Click here for the best Petra Hotel prices

 

Pool views at the Marriott Petra

Things to do in Petra

1 | Treasury at Petra

Carved out of a sandstone rock face, the Treasury is the most elaborate ruin at Petra. It’s the first sight to greet visitors as they emerge from the long and narrow gorge which marks the entrance to the city and it took our breath away.

Best things to do in Petra and Wadi Musa tip: If you have time be sure to make the hike to the viewpoint above the Treasury which is accessed by following the path around the Royal Tombs. Keep left of the tea shop as you approach the later stages of the hike and ask the staff to point you in the right direction. The view and the pics are absolutely worth the hike!

2 | Monastery at Petra

The Monastery, Petra’s largest monument, dates from the 1st century BC. It’s a long hike from the entrance but seeing the Monastery in all its grandeur is ample reward!

 

3 | The Siq

The Monastery, Petra’s largest monument, dates from the 1st century BC. It’s a long hike from the entrance but seeing the Monastery in all its grandeur is ample reward!

4 | Petra Theatre

The impressive theatre was built into the rock of Petra during the first century. Only the facade remains of the tombs visible at the back of the theatre as they were destroyed to allow construction in the theatre.

5 | The Royal Tombs at Petra

The Royal Tombs consist of the Urn, Silk, Corinthian and Palace Tombs and each took their name from the tombs decor. The Urn Tomb is the most distinctive and was named due to the urn adoring its facade. The Silk Tomb neighbours the Royal Tomb and takes its name from the colour of the rich sandstone. The Corinthian Tomb is next and, although badly damaged, resembles a small version of the Treasury. It takes its name from the Corinthian style columns and facade. Finally, the Palace Tomb is said to resemble a Palace. It is three stories high and the widest of the Royal Tombs.

View of the Royal Tombs from the Street of Facades

Urn Tomb with the colourful Silk Tomb to its left

The Palace Tomb

The Palace Tomb

6 | The High Place of Sacrifice

Located at the very top of a trail, the High Place of Sacrifice is the most accessible of the dozens of Petra’s High Places. It is thought the altar was used for animal sacrifices and this is supported by the drains which would have carried blood down the valley. It’s an 800 step climb and the views are incredible over Petra below.

The view en route to the High Place

7 | The Street of Facades

The Street of Facades is lined with impressive Nabatean tombs with large facades which were carved into the southern cliff face immediately after the Treasury.

 

8 |  Petra by Night

Petra by Night is a candlelit visit to the Treasury building. The ancient ruins of the rose red city are illuminated by candlelight and it’s incredible to experience Petra after dark. Some visitors feel the experience is very contrived but we loved walking through the Siq guided by candlelight and seeing the Treasury illuminated.

Visit Petra tip: Petra by Night is not included in the standard ticket admission to Petra and only runs on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursday nights. The tour takes around 2 hours and departs at 8.30pm from the Wadi Musa entrance to Petra.

Read more about our visit to Petra by Night!

The Treasury at night

Lanterns guide the way

Things to do around Petra and Wadi Musa

1 | Little Petra

Little Petra, a much smaller and quieter version of the main Petra site, has buildings carved out of the sandstone rock. It’s a nice alternative to Petra when you want to explore somewhere quieter and off the beaten track. While it lacks the headline buildings of Petra it’s still worth a visit and a highlight is the Nabatean painted interior of the Painted House which has managed to survive the test of time.

Little Petra poses!

The landscape is beautiful

The rock carvings at Little Petra

 | Admire the views of Petra from afar

There are some incredible views of Petra from the surrounding hilltops. Our favourites were the sweeping view of the valley from a spot between the Movenpick Hotel and Little Petra and the view of the Petra Mountains from our hotel, the Marriott Petra – check prices here!

The view from our hotel, the Marriott Petra

 

3 | Go for a drink in the oldest bar in the world

Occupying a 2000-year-old Nabataean rock tomb, the Cave Bar in Petra is considered the oldest bar in the world. Sipping a cold drink in an ancient cave really is the perfect end to those perfect Petra days.

Drinks at the Cave Bar

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3 Comments

  1. Taste of France

    I spent a couple of days in Petra, with and without a guide. It certainly is worth more than one day, although most people arrive by bus and stay only for a couple of hours, visiting just the same few spots near the entrance. That means you can hike a little and be completely alone. Just have a map and plenty of water.
    A guide is good for learning about the history and pointing out details you might otherwise miss. But some time alone is good, too, for reflection and appreciation.

    Reply
  2. Jessica Roy

    This has been on my bucket list for many years and I was certainly not disappointed, a truly amazing magical experience.

    Reply

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