Petra, also known as the “Red Rose City,” is undoubtedly Jordan’s most popular tourist site. A stunning historical marvel built into the face of red rocks more than 2000 years ago, it’s a sight to be seen – and be seen it must, because you won’t believe it till you’re there.
The area was an important link for silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. The city was carved into the stone by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who are credited with creating this world wonder. Enter the city through the narrow gorge called Siq, which is just over one kilometre in length, and then explore the area that was carved in the early 1st century as the tomb of an important Nabataean king. The formations and intricate handiwork truly represent the engineering genius of these ancient people. When you see the amazing detail of the structure, it becomes obvious why this is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Today it’s a go-to destination, with as many as 5,000 people visiting there every single day in high season (which is usually the springtime).
There’s a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences in and around the town of Wadi Musa, which is located just outside the site of Petra, including excellent 4- and 5-star hotels. Visitors also enjoy the local food scene there, where restaurants are serving up delicious local and Lebanese fare. A must-try: Petra Kitchen, where, under the watchful eye of local chefs, you can actually prepare your own traditional Arabic meal.
Put aside some time for shopping – there’s a variety of local products to purchase, either from the artisans’ stalls inside the Petra site as well as in shops in Wadi Musa. Pick up Nabataean-style pottery, silverware and bead work jewellery produced locally by the Bedouin people. Make sure to visit one of the two craft shops at the Visitors’ Centre too: one benefits the rural women of Jordan and the other the Ladies’ Working Circle of Wadi Musa. Also, seek out the heavy antique necklaces of the Sandcastle Shop in Petra, which generally aren’t on display and come with a pretty hefty price tag but are absolutely stunning. And don’t forget: bargaining is acceptable too.
There are different options when booking your trip to Petra. Once you’ve flown into one of the two international airports in Jordan (Amman and Aqaba – Amman Queen Alia Airport is the main one with a complete flight network and it’s three hours from Petra, and Aqaba King Hussein Airport is about a two-hour drive to Petra), you can book a bus tour through Alpha Daily Tours or JETT. You can also rent a car or call on a taxi to take you there.
Visit international.visitjordan.com for more info.