A visit to Petra, the rose-colored ancient city is on many travelers’s bucket list. Have you seen Indian Jones and the Last Crusade when they enter the temple that houses the holy grail? That is the treasury in Petra. It is a splendid sight. The experience of walking through the siq (narrow canyon of rose-red walls) into the opening, and suddenly seeing the huge facade of the treasury as the glow of the rising sun lights it up, is as magical and mysterious as it sounds. As famous as this tourist sight is, you still feel like you are discovering a secret, holy place. And, yes, you can visit Petra with kids! We did it with children ages 4, 2, and 6 months. I was breast-feeding even and carried the baby in a ergo baby carrier the whole time. (The baby was the best behaved boy actually!)
Tips for Petra with Kids
Go as early as possible to beat the crowds and stay out of the mid-day heat. We visited in October which was lovely weather, hot but not oppressive, few bugs, not too dusty. But still, by mid-day it was toasty. Also in the morning you get a great photo of the treasury as the rising sun reaches just over the canyon walls to light it up.
Walk in. Ride Out.
Have your children walk into the site. This is downhill and their
legs are fresh and they are excited for adventure. Then on the way back out feet start to drag.
This is where I highly recommend hiring the ponies, camels,
carts, and horses to help pull you back. It is very worth it to keep cranky and exhausted children moving. Otherwise bring your sleeping bags! Going to Petra with kids will be a good workout, but there are spots to stop, sit, rest, and buy a cold drink.
I saw some people with strollers, so I guess they are allowed. We weren’t sure, so we didn’t use one. It would have been nice at times, but I don’t think we could have done horse rides out if we had been hauling the stroller. Plus the road in is not smooth.
Don’t Over Do It.
There are so many cool hiking trails that branch off to different sites and vistas. We knew our children could only handle so much walking, so we stuck to the main areas. Families with older children might be able to venture farther, but for those with the babies like us, don’t feel like you have to see absolutely everything.
Let your children explore.
It is fun to sometimes say “Okay – where should we go next?” and let them dictate your next move. My kids
loved scrambling in and out of caves and holes and climbing over rocks.
They also each got a bottle of sand art with a desert scene and camels to take home as a souvenir. We don’t usually go for souvenirs, but these were so cool to watch being made, and cheap, and a nice way to remember a trip. Plus my boys were such troopers!
Hire a guide
At least through the Treasury. We were so happy we did this and felt we really understood so much more about the site, like – what it might have been used for, what the people who created it lived, the religious beliefs they had and how they treated death, etc. Our guide was about $45 for 1.5 hours. He was very knowledge, spoke great English, answered questions, and was patient with our children.
We warned him before hiring him that with children along we might be a bit slower than most other clients. He understood.
Hotel & Food
Stay at the Movenpick Hotel. I am not sponsored in any way to say this. It was just the nicest hotel there and across the street from the park entrance, which made it perfect for an early start and a place to crash afterwards. We also loved the Jordanian/Palestinian restaurant behind the hotel, up the hill and up the side road. Wish I knew the name – it was nothing fancy but so delicious.
Overall Petra with kids is possible…and awesome! Do it – do it now.
Have you been to Jordan and have something to add? Dream of visiting Petra? Don’t be shy – let me know in the comments!
As featured on: