Many travelers visit Jordan mainly to witness the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Petra. But did you know there is another gorgeous site, similar to Petra but smaller in size, called Little Petra? It is an incredible place to see in Jordan and is well worth visiting! And the best part, the site attracts fewer tourists! After reading this article on everything you need to know about Little Petra, you’ll want to include this site in your Jordan itinerary for sure!
If you consider visiting Petra as well, make sure to read
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How to visit Little Petra in Jordan: Everything You Need to Know before Your Visit
Everyone heard about Petra in Jordan but did you know there is a similar site called Little Petra, only 10 km away? As the name suggests, Little Petra or Siq al Barid (the cold canyon) is another ancient city identical to the incredible Petra but only smaller in size. As a result, it is way less demanding, and you don’t need to wake up early to visit it. If you’re curious about this place, here is everything you need to know about Little Petra in Jordan!
History of Little Petra
Excavated in the 1950s, Little Petra is one of the oldest villages in the Middle East and one of the first inhabited in the world. It was occupied from 7200 Bc until 6500 Bc, when it burned down. Although similar in size to Petra, the primary purpose of Little Petra was a different one! It is widely believed that Little Petra was a suburb of Petra itself, developed to house visiting merchants on the Silk Road, as Petra did not have enough space. The buildings were carved into the walls of sandstone canyons.
How to Get to Little Petra
Getting from Wadi Musa to Little Petra takes 15 minutes by car. Just be prepared to stop a few times on the way to snap some pictures, as the landscape is impressive.
If you didn’t rent a car but still want to visit, be aware that there is no public transport to Little Petra. You can check with your accommodation in Wadi Musa to arrange private transportation, but it will come at extra costs.
Another alternative to reach Little Petra is a 6-kilometers long hike from Monastery Ad Deir in Petra. However, you might need a guide for this route, as it’s not signposted, and you might get lost.
If you don’t feel like driving in Jordan, you can always join a TOUR. Day trips to Petra often include Little Petra in their itinerary. I chose a great 3-day tour for you from Amman, with great reviews and great value for money. It includes some of Jordan’s highlights: the rock-carved city of Petra and the small Little Petra, a night at a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, a visit to Aqaba City and a float at sunset at the Dead Sea. Sounds fantastic, right? BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
Why Should I Visit Little Petra?
For some, it makes no sense to visit Little Petra once they’ve seen the incredible Petra. And for sure, you should never compare Little Petra with the famous Petra. On the contrary, I dare to say they complement each other so visiting both is a must! The landscape and the views of the mountains are lovely; the carved rocks amazing and the atmosphere serene. Walking between ancient caves and carved Nabataean temples in total silence is a memory to cherish forever!
Another plus, being smaller in size and less frequented and you’re already in the area, so why not use this opportunity to mark another highlight of Jordan?
When Should I Visit Little Petra?
Many will say that you should visit Little Petra before going to Petra itself, as it might seem less impressive if you see it afterward. I would advise otherwise. After discovering every corner of Petra, head to Little Petra, as you’ll appreciate it more. Due to the lower temperatures, you can do everything from climbing the stairs to trekking through the boulders and exploring every corner.
Do I Need a Guide for Visiting Little Petra?
It’s an easy place to roam and less crowded, so you don’t need a guide to explore the site. A 450-meter canyon connects three more expansive open areas, which makes it easy to ramble.
As soon as we parked the car, a guide wanted to offer his services. After politely saying no, he left us alone so we didn’t feel rushed. I’ve read stories about people having to pay for a guide to get inside, but we didn’t experience something similar.
Entry Fees and Opening Hours to Little Petra
The best part is that Little Petra is FREE to visit, so don’t get in the trap of paying someone who asks you to. Instead, just park the car, take your belongings and step inside the site.
Little Petra is open every day from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm in the summer and from 6:00 am to 4:30 pm in the winter.
How Much Time do I Need to Visit Little Petra?
The best part is that Little Petra is small in size, and you don’t need an extra day to visit it. You only need one to two hours to roam freely and admire the carved structures.
You can do it after visiting Petra if your time allows you. Or you can do it on your way to/from Aqaba or Wadi Rum. But if you want to hike in Little Petra, you should plan more time.
We explored Little Petra on our way to Aqaba early in the morning and were alone the entire time. A few merchandisers were there, offering us some souvenirs to take back home, but not pushy like the ones in Petra. Nevertheless, we managed to see everything in mostly one and a half hours, and we even spent another half an hour having a cup of tea at the panorama terrace.
Where to Stay When Visiting Little Petra?
For a unique experience, Little Petra Bedouin Camp is the best choice. It offers rooms, tents, and a restaurant with a lounge area and terrace. The atmosphere is fantastic! You can check this place HERE.
For a more affordable alternative, head to Wadi Musa, the closest city to Petra and Little Petra. There are many options to choose from, so there is no need to worry.
How To Visit Little Petra. Our Experience
We spent two gorgeous days exploring Petra, which we will never forget. It was time to say goodbye to Wadi Musa, so we drove forward to Aqaba for a well-deserved leisure time at the Red Sea. We couldn’t leave without visiting Little Petra, so we reached the site on a lovely morning, not so hot as the previous days. We were the only ones here and even asked if it was open, but as some guy approached us, willing to offer his services as a guide, we knew we could visit the place.
Leaving the car park behind, we passed several souvenir and snack stalls on each side.
Before reaching the Siq, we noticed the gorgeous Tomb facade 845, created sometime in the first century AD. Unfortunately, the vast tomb was never finished, but it still offers excellent photo perspectives.
We soon reached a small gorge similar to the one in Petra. However, the Siq al Barid leading to the Treasury is much narrow and shorter than Petra’s siq; actually, it only measures 400meters.
Siq al Barid, translated as a cold canyon, is significantly chillier than Petra, mainly because the sun doesn’t reach the Siq due to the towering cliffs edging it.
Here we also found the painted house, one of Petra’s greatest treasures: an exhibition of impressive 2.000-year-old paintings. Only in 2010, this remarkable collection came to life after a massive restoration project.
The stairs at the end of the siq led to the painted house so I couldn’t say no to a morning climb.
The Siq opens to a beautiful wide square with gorgeous views over the small Treasury. While the Treasury is inaccessible, we could enter the caves on the ground floor.
Following the path, we saw different temples and could even go inside and explore. Since we wanted to see everything, we climbed many steps to catch a different perspective.
The stone-carved structures and the landscape were impressive, and we were so satisfied to be here.
Only a few vendors were trying to offer us their merchandise. A dog accompanied us at some point, and an old Bedouin man played his self-made instrument as soon as he noticed.
Once the canyon narrowed down, we had to climb some steep rocks, and this part was not so leisurely.
But, once we reached the top, we discovered a carpeted stall, very neat and with a lovely terrace offering beautiful views over the mountains.
Again, we weren’t hurrying, so we enjoyed a delicious tea at the Bedouin family running this place while admiring the views.
Following the stairs leading down, we reached the neolithic ruins of Al Beidha, a Neolithic village. After some time enjoying the views from several viewpoints, we decided to return.
From here, we walked back along the same path to the car park, meaning we saw everything twice.