Since you found my Petra photo guide, you probably don’t need an introduction to the Rose city, but more detailed information to help you plan your visit.
Well, you found the right place!
This guide, however, is solely focused on showing you the best photo spots in Petra. Since everybody has a camera in his pocket and this ancient wonder is one of the most picturesque sights on earth, I believe it would provide immense value to your adventure.
Now let’s get some things straight:
What is Petra?
No, this photo is not Petra, this is the Treasury (that’s not really a treasury either) inside Petra. Being the most popular construction in the Rose City, the Treasury had become such a significant symbol that millions of people believe this is Petra. It’s not. It’s just a part of it.
Petra is an archaeological city in southern Jordan that used to be (around 6,000 years ago) the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom.
Besides the already mention Treasury, Petra features a dozen other constructions, some Roman ruins, an incredible Beduin cave-homes, and, since it’s situated inside a canyon, stunning natural sights.
Pssst! I have a detailed guide that will take ou around everything inside Petra. Don’t miss it out!
Why do you need a Petra Photo Guide?
Most people visit Petra on a day trip from Amman or Aqaba. Jordan is not that big, so the day-trip is very convenient, but there’s one problem – Petra is not a small place. There is no way you can explore everything in just a few hours during a day-trip.
My Petra photo guide will help to set your priorities and get the exact photo you want. And if you have more time to spend in the Rose City, I’d give you tips about some of the longer paths inside and the photo-opportunities they present.
Now that we got those things cleared, it’s time to start our hunt for the best photo spots in Petra! And we don’t have to search a lot since our first spot is right at the start.
The whole city of Petra is located inside a canyon, and its main entrance – The Siq – is a 1.2km (0.75mi) long gorge. The winding passageway was used as a grand caravan entrance in the past and presents plenty of photo opportunities.
Making your way through the Siq, you’d enjoy a few nuances of pink rocks blended with ancient engravings and small structures. And while you’d probably encounter dozens of beautiful spots, there are two absolute must-haves.
– The Chariot Shot
A lot of people don’t want to walk 1.2 kilometers to get inside Petra, so the clever Beduins found a way to gain profit from it – you can rent a horse or a chariot to take you down the Siq. I don’t suggest you do that since few places on earth can offer a beautiful walk as Petra’s passageway, but I do recommend to keep your ears open for the chariots.
A colorful chariot, combined with the beauty of the Siq creates a fantastic photo op.
The tricky part is, if you use a DSLR, make sure your exposure is well-adjusted. The light in the Siq keeps changing, and you won’t get many shots of the speeding chariot.
– The Crack
The end of the Siq offers one of the most classical Petra pictures. A narrow crack that shows only a part of the Treasury in the background creates an awe-inspiring mystical tease photo that no one can resist.
The tricky part of this shot is its popularity. If you’re on a day-trip, I can guarantee there would be dozens of people standing there and killing all the appeal of the photo. If you have more time in the city, your best bets are early in the morning (6:00-7:00 AM) and in the afternoon (4:00 PM).
The Siq crack is one of the best photo spots in Petra and it is guaranteed to produce one of your favourite photos!
Google Maps coordinates: 30.322085, 35.451873
Ahh, here it is what you came to my Petra photo guide for. Al-Khazneh or the Treasury is the “face” of Petra. The magnificent structure carved out of sandstone rock is one of the most astonishing sights on the planet.
Al-Khazneh is so picturesque you can hardly find a mention of Petra without a picture of the Treasury. There are plenty of photo-ops here, unfortunately some of them are only possible early in the morning.
– Front Shot
A basic shot that creates a stunning image. Not much to explain here, so I’m going to give you a few tips. To get a better shot of you and the Treasury, don’t just stay in front of it. Take a walk around, watch in different directions, check-out the camels. Have someone (or program your camera) to take many photos while you’re walking and pick the most natural afterward.
Make sure you include the camels in your shot too. You can also try to get a close-up on them with the Treasury on the background but try not to irritate them (camels like to bite and spit).
The front shot of the Treasury is possible only in the morning (6:00 – 7:00 AM) since the place gets massively crowded afterward.
– The Side Shot
Around 10 meters to the right, you’d find an opening in the rocks that presents a great photo-op. Part of the rock is sticking out just enough to hide the open area in front of the Treasury. You can lean, sit, or simply stay next to this rock, the Al-Khazneh angle you get creates a beautiful composition and guarantees a great shot.
While this spot kind of hides the tourist masses, I still recommend avoiding it during the rush hours (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM). You’d have to stay in line to use it, and the angles would be limited (due to people everywhere).
Google Maps coordinates: 30.322240, 35.451781
– Elevated Shot
This is one of the best photo spots in Petra and also one of the most underrated ones. It gives you a different perspective of the magnificent Treasury and doesn’t suffer much from the crowd bellow. To get there, you need to climb a donkey-path on the right side of the Treasury canyon. It’s a bit of a tricky climb, so prepare good shoes for it.
There are two natural rock balconies with great views, so don’t stop after the first one but continue climbing a bit more.
Like I already mentioned, this spot doesn’t suffer much from the Petra crowds, however, there are a few negatives.
When I got there, it was around 8:00 AM and I had no trouble climbing up. When I was there on the way back, though, the Beduins were stopping the other people trying to reach the spot. They offer their own “Petra From Above” paid spot and I guess they didn’t want the competition.
You could try to argue with the Beduins, but they kind of own Petra so I don’t think it would be fruitful. From my experience, if you’re there early, when there are no tourists, the Beduins don’t care at all, and you can do whatever you want.
Also, the climb may be short, but it really is a climb and requires at least moderate fitness levels. Don’t attempt it if you don’t feel confident in your abilities!
Google Maps coordinates of the start of the path: 30.322462, 35.451624
– Petra From Above
The Petra photo guide continues with one of the most popular photo spots in the Rose City. Looking down the Treasury from the top of the canyon is a shot made popular by countless Instagram influencers. The good news is you can do it any time of the day, disregarding the tourist masses bellow. The bad thing is, if you are on a day-trip, you’d have to pay to the Beduins to get the photo.
So how to get up there? The first spot is quite easy. Once you reach the opening in front of the Treasury, you’d inevitably be approached by the Beduins offering jewels, camel rides, postcards and…guidance to the photo spot. You can see the rock-carved stairs to the left of the Treasury. It’s quite an easy climb, but you won’t be allowed to do it without a Beduin guide (which would cost around 20 USD).
The other way to get this photo is way more enjoyable, and it’s free, but also requires more time and effort. To find the free route to the top, continue through the main road to go deeper into the city, skip the theatre and look for the Tombs on your right (they’re quite big and easy to spot). At the end of the Tombs starts the Al Khubtha Trail (there’s a sign marking it).
Once there follow the trail up to the mountain until you reach the Treasury again. There is a Beduin hut-cafe in the end that offers the best view of the Treasury. You do need to get a drink, but after that hike, you would want one anyway. Speaking of the hike, it’s not the hardest one to make, but it does require a little bit over the average fitness levels to do it. Make sure you pack enough water, and you have a hat (or a buff) and sunglasses.
Google Maps coordinates of the cafe: 30.322526, 35.451958
You can also find it marked in maps.me
– The Treasury Details
The last photo op presented by the Treasury is a close-up of the fantastic details on its facade. This one won’t be possible with a phone, but if you have a camera, make sure you bring your best telephoto lens. It’s quite astonishing how much detail is preserved even after 2,000 years.
You can also take some photos of the Beduin merchants in front of the Treasury. They have a tradition to put an eyeliner that gives them quite an exotic Jack Sparrowy-look.
The Royal Tombs
The abovementioned tombs are not only your gateway to the “Treasury From Above” shot but also a great photo-opp. There are three big tombs, and each of them is picture-worthy.
– The Urn Tomb
The first one (coming from the Treasury) is called the Urn Tomb. It looks like the entrance to Moria (any Lord of the Rings fans?) although saying “Mellon” didn’t trigger any hidden locks. It has a courtyard, and it’s probably the most instagramable out of the three tombs.
The bad thing is it does attract big tourist hordes, so if you want to get a good photo, you need to prioritize it and get here before the other Instagram enthusiasts.
Google Maps coordinates: 30.327589, 35.449248
– The Corinthian Tomb
The second tomb – the Corinthian Tomb – is my favorite. Way fewer people there, just a few friendly donkeys. The monument itself looks a lot like the Treasury but in way more deteriorating condition. Some mini caves in front of it give you the best photo op of the tombs.
Google Maps coordinates: 30.328388, 35.449382
– The Palace Tomb
The third one – the Palace Tomb – is quite big and wide therefore hard to capture. If you do have a wide-angle lens (or a new fancy phone), you should be able to get it, and even if it’s not as spectacular as the previous two, still makes a great shot!
Google Maps coordinates: 30.328746, 35.449528
Ad-Dei, also known as the Monastery, is the second most famous building of the Rose City and the next stop in my Petra Photo Guide. It looks a lot like the Treasury, but since it’s quite remote, the crowds of tourists are way less. It’s possible to do it on a day-trip, but you need excellent fitness levels to reach it in time.
The Monastery is around 6km away from the visitor’s center, and it requires a climb of about 800 steps. Not impossible, but pretty hard if you’re on the clock. Once you make it to the glorious construction, there are few must-check photo spots.
– The Front Shot
That’s the most popular shot to make. Just stay in front of the grand facade (it’s better if you look at the Monastery, not at the camera) and have someone take your photo. Ad-Dei looks great from both sides so the one you shoot it from will depend on the position of the sun. You want it behind the photographer.
– Cave Shot
Across the Monastery, there is a small cave that is your next stop. It’s really really small, and it gives really really good photo opportunities so you may have to wait on a line to take your shot. If you want yourself inside the picture, you need to use flash to compensate for the little light inside.
The cave also has a small rock balcony overlooking the Monastery. Sit there and have someone take your picture from behind – you won’t be disappointed.
For me, this little cave is the best photo spot in Petra.
Google Maps coordinates: 30.337984, 35.430092
– The Hill
Behind the cave, you’d see some signs showing the way to the best view in the world. Following the path will get you up on a hill where can enjoy a panoramic view of the insanely beautiful area around.
Even if there was no ancient rock-carved structure, this still would’ve been a great spot. With the addition to the Monastery, it becomes nothing less than magic!
Google Maps coordinates: 30.337437, 35.428580
– The Hike
The hike to reach the Monastery would take you between 1 and 2 hours. Climbing the 800 steps won’t be a pleasant task, but Petra will compensate you with stunning views and great photo ops along the way.
Don’t disregard the local Beduins who sell scarfs and other souvenirs around the path. Sometimes they are the photo op!
See Also: Prague’s Ultimate Photo Guide
Spread all around Petra, you’d find small caves that Beduins used to live in (some still do). There are no people around them, and it’s very easy to make a great Bedrock-looking photo (yabba-dabba-doo!)
Petra by Night
Petra may close in the afternoon, but what if I tell you there is a way to take a shot of the Treasury after sunset, illuminated by nothing but candlelight. The “Petra by Night” show happens every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and you can easily get your tickets from almost every hotel in the area.
At 8:30 PM you’d start your journey down the Siq, and I suggest to hurry up a bit so you can be among the first that arrive at the Treasury. Make sure you bring a tripod and take a front-row spot next to the candles. The show is 2 hours long so you’d have plenty of chances to score a beautiful shot.
Petra by Night sounds magical, but it’s not possible on a day-trip, and it’s highly unlikely you’d make a good shot with just your phone.
Petra Photo Map
That’s all from me, I hope my Petra photo guide will help you to make amazing pictures you can brag to your friends about.
If you haven’t planned your trip there yet, find out how I plan my trips!
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