This Iconic World Wonder Is Even More Beautiful at Night — Here's How to Plan Your Visit

See Petra's famous Treasury facade by candlelight.

Petra seen at night under the starts with candle light
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Jordan

Otherwise cloaked by night, the towering crimson walls of the slot canyon are revealed by the 1,500 flickering candles that flank the footpath leading to the ancient Nabatean city of Petra. As I rounded the bend, a luminous sliver of the Treasury presented itself through a wavy chasm. Upon emerging from the gorge, known as the Siq, I was granted the full, illustrious view of Petra's most famous facade aglow with the light among hundreds of candles blanketing its foreground.

Everyone quickly found a seat on the provided mats and sipped the warm mint tea being served. Traditional music punctuated the atmosphere and we melted into the scene. The show's host told a short story in English about the ancient city during its golden era while a mellow light danced across the iconic carved sandstone. The gravity of finally being here set in and my eyes welled with tears. I would be back in the morning to explore the rest of the city, but I couldn't imagine a better introduction to Petra than seeing it by candlelight, under a starry sky with fewer than a hundred people.

Petra seen at night under the starts with candle light
Courtesy of Visit Jordan

Established in the fourth century B.C., Petra is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was largely forgotten for several centuries until 1812, when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt fooled locals into taking him to the ancient ruins that were rumored to be the lost city of Petra. Today, it's known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is Jordan's most popular tourist attraction. Pre-pandemic annual visits neared a million, so being there without the crowds made it extra special.

Petra by Night tours run from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tickets cost 17 Jordanian dinars per person (about $24 USD) and can be purchased starting at 7:30 p.m. at the visitor center. In order to buy a ticket for the night show, you must also purchase a daytime ticket. Advanced reservations are not available, but tickets are unlimited, so they won't sell out. It takes a half-hour to walk the mostly flat 1.2 kilometers (about three-quarters of a mile) from the visitor center to the Treasury.

There won't be nearly as many vendors as during the day, but you may need to say, "la, shukran" (no, thank you) a few times on your journey through the Siq. There's no need for headlamps or phone flashlights as the path is adequately lit and bright lights diminish the experience for others in the canyon and at the Treasury. Try to stay quiet and only speak in whispers so that everyone can peacefully enjoy the show. Pro tip: Plan to arrive first if you want photos without people in them.

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