The ancient ruins of Petra in southern Jordan were once an elegant metropolis with flowing fountains and bustling streets. Today, visitors come to marvel at the sandstone remains before heading off on a wind-whipped sand dune buggy ride or exploring the desert. You'll find lively restaurants and cafés where you can try traditional sweet treats like umm ali, which consists of filo pastry, raisins and nuts baked in milk.
Most hostels in Petra are within walking distance of the ancient site, and some have desert mountain views. You can stay in a dorm with private Scandi-style wooden capsules or go for somewhere with en-suite rooms. There are luxuries to be had in a few Petra hostels, including rooftop gardens and discounts for Turkish baths. For an authentic taste of the local culture, you could choose a Petra hostel that lays on a Bedouin music party accompanied by mint tea or coffee flavoured with cardamom.
Petra spreads out for over a hundred square kilometres, and there's lots to explore. The town of Wadi Musa is the bustling central hub of Petra where you can eat, drink and shop. It's just a 35-minute walk from the Ancient City. Just outside Wadi Musa is the Siq, a dramatic narrow gorge that you can follow for 1.2km. Further north is Siq al-Barid, also known as Little Petra. In this peaceful archaeological site, you'll find carved facades and breathtaking mountain and city views.
Not surprisingly, the most popular attraction in Petra is the Ancient City, which has everything from temples to stables, all carved out of the cliffs in the 3rd century BC. Within the city is another famed site, the elaborate temple of Al-Khazneh, also known as The Treasury. Legend has it that an Egyptian Pharaoh hid his treasure here. Once you've experienced the historical sites you can get active with an invigorating trek or relax in a hammam.
King Hussein International Airport is the nearest airport to Petra (about 100km and a 2-hour drive). From Aqaba it's 2.5 hours by bus, or from Amman there's a bus once a day from South Bus Station that gets you to Petra in 4 hours. There are also more frequent minibuses from here. As the population is mainly Muslim, there might not be many buses on Friday (the holy day). In Petra, you can easily get around on foot.