Once the capital city of the Nabatean people, Petra is a stunning World Heritage Site, cut into the red sandstone of Jordan (and recognizable to many for its appearance in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark). Two- and three-day entrance tickets are available for little more than a one-day pass, and those in the know spend a couple of nights in the area to maximize the experience. It takes an entire day to walk through the main sights at a relaxed pace, including a narrow canyon, stunning temples, and a Roman amphitheater.
Return the following day to explore some of the secondary trails, especially those at the top of the cliffs, which give a birds-eye view into the gorge. Consider visiting Petra at night, when candles light the courtyard of the Treasury and local singers perform, or take a cooking class with dinner at the well-loved Petra Kitchen. It’s also possible to take half a day to visit Little Petra (Siq al Barid), a smaller canyon that similarly opens out onto a temple and has great points for picnicking. For accommodations near Petra (in the town of Wadi Musa), here are our recommendations:
Best Budget Option
Located in the center of Wadi Musa, Al Rashid is conveniently located near the bus station, shops, and restaurants. Petra is a 15-minute walk downhill, and catching a cab back uphill at the end of the day will set you back just two or three dinars, depending on your bargaining skills. Rooms are spacious and clean, and the hotel has its own restaurant if you’re too tired to head out. The staff is helpful with arranging everything from airport pick-ups in Amman to tours to Little Petra. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and those taking an early start can ask for their breakfast (or even a picnic lunch) to be packed to go. Note, rooms on the upper floors are quieter, but the hotel does not have an elevator. Heating is also not always reliable, so if you are planning a winter visit, bring a sweater. Doubles from $49.
Best Mid-Range Option
Perched just 300 feet uphill from Petra’s gate, the Petra Moon Hotel is a reasonably priced hotel in a premier location. The rooms are modern and tasteful, and free WiFi is available in the public areas. The top-floor terrace is ideal for a sunset cup of tea (head to the nearby Cave Bar for an alcoholic libation) or a dip in the pool in the summer, and guests love the rooftop barbecue dinners. Doubles are from $85.
Facing Petra’s entrance, there is no better located hotel in town than the Mövenpick Resort Petra, nor a more luxurious one. Guests feel pampered right from the start, greeted in the marble and sandstone lobby with a glass of cool juice for the grown-ups and a cup of Mövenpick’s famous ice cream for the kids. Skip the buffet dinner in the main restaurant, and head instead to the atmospheric Al Maqa’ad bar with its intricately carved wooden ceiling, where everything from pizza to traditional Jordanian dishes can be ordered a la carte. Rooms have been recently renovated, and amenities include free WiFi and an outdoor pool (just be warned that it’s unheated and can be too cold for swimming even on an 80-degree day). Doubles start at $280, but significant discounts are available if you prepay your room.