The Ancient City of Petra: A Guide for Self-Driving Tourists

July 2nd 2024 in Explore
The Ancient City of Petra: A Guide for Self-Driving Tourists

Petra, nestled amidst Jordan's rugged desert landscapes, stands as a testament to ancient engineering and culture. This UNESCO World Heritage site beckons adventurers and history buffs alike with its awe-inspiring rock-cut architecture and rich historical significance. Here’s your ultimate guide to exploring Petra on a self-driving tour, ensuring you make the most of this remarkable destination.

Introduction to Petra

Petra, known as the "Rose City" due to the colour of its sandstone cliffs, was once a thriving Nabatean capital dating back to around 300 BCE. Its impressive structures, including the iconic Treasury (Al-Khazneh), tombs, and temples, were carved directly into the rock face, showcasing the ingenuity of its ancient inhabitants. Today, Petra remains one of the Middle East's most iconic archaeological sites, drawing visitors from around the globe.

Planning Your Visit

Before setting off, ensure you have a detailed itinerary and map. Petra is expansive, and planning ahead ensures you can maximise your time exploring its numerous sites. Start early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and crowds, and allocate ample time to fully appreciate Petra's wonders.

Must-See Attractions in Petra

1. The Treasury (Al-Khazneh)

Petra's most famous facade, carved into the sandstone cliff, is a marvel to behold. Admire its intricate details and imagine its historical significance.

2. The Siq

This narrow gorge serves as the main entrance to Petra, offering a dramatic introduction with its towering cliffs that lead towards the Treasury.

3. The Monastery (Ad Deir)

A challenging but rewarding hike leads to this massive monument, offering panoramic views of Petra and the surrounding desert.

4. Royal Tombs

Explore the intricately carved tombs of Petra's ancient rulers, showcasing the Nabateans' mastery of rock-cut architecture.

Exploring Petra

Upon arrival, park your rental car at the visitor centre and purchase your entry tickets. From there, follow the well-marked paths or hire a local guide to enhance your experience with insightful commentary. As you wander through Petra, take in the surreal beauty of its surroundings and marvel at the historical legacy preserved in stone.

Practical Tips for Self-Driving Tourists

Comfortable Footwear: Petra involves considerable walking, so wear sturdy shoes suitable for uneven terrain.

Water and Sun Protection: Carry sufficient water and sun protection, especially during hot weather, to stay hydrated and shielded from the desert sun.

Photography: Capture Petra's beauty with your camera, but be mindful of respecting the site's historical integrity.

Cultural Insights and Local Cuisine

Immerse yourself in Jordanian culture by sampling local dishes at Petra's restaurants or nearby Bedouin camps. Try traditional Jordanian cuisine like Mansaf (a lamb dish with rice) or indulge in sweet treats such as knafeh (a cheesy pastry soaked in syrup).

Additional Attractions Nearby

Extend your trip beyond Petra by visiting other notable sites in Jordan, such as Wadi Rum's desert landscapes or the Dead Sea's therapeutic waters. Your rental car provides the flexibility to explore these destinations and experience the diverse offerings of Jordanian tourism.

Renting a Car in Jordan

To start on your Petra adventure with flexibility and convenience, rent a car in Jordan. Having your own vehicle allows you to explore at your own pace and reach Petra from major cities like Amman or Aqaba. Navigate the desert terrain comfortably and enjoy scenic drives through Jordan's captivating landscapes en route to Petra.


A self-driving tour of Petra promises an unforgettable journey through time and culture. From the intricacies of its rock-cut architecture to the natural beauty of Jordan's desert landscapes, every moment at Petra reveals the enduring legacy of the Nabateans. Rent a car, plan your itinerary, and set off on a transformative adventure to Petra, where history and wonder converge amidst the desert sands.