Year after year Jordan remains one of the most popular destinations in The Middle East for travellers, especially those interested in history, photography, culture and adventure! Thanks to it’s rich history and it’s reputation as one of the safest Middle Eastern countries, not to mind that it has some of the most Instagrammable places in the whole region, visitors just love this country. And with both natural and ancient man-made wonders Jordan really has some fantastic places to photograph. Let’s take a look at the best photography spots in Jordan as well as how to get to them!
MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES IN JORDAN
Petra, also known as The Lost City or The Pink City, is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. It has several beautiful photography locations but The Treasury and The Monastery are the most famous and impressive ones.
Known in Arabic as Al Khazneh, The Treasury was built over 2000 years ago and is the most photographed place in Petra and probably in the whole of Jordan. It is the first main site you will see on your walk through The Ancient City of Petra and it is still unclear what it’s original purpose was.
The Treasury of Petra is one of those places that takes your breath away: it is truly stunning! However it is also the busiest place in Petra and so it gets absolutely packed in the day with tourists! If you want to get pictures here without other people in you MUST VISIT EARLY! Petra opens at 6am and closes at 6pm (4pm in the winter). By 9am Petra is pretty busy (with the tour groups from Amman arriving) so definitely get here before this. I would just aim for 6am when it opens, if it’s possible for you to get there at this time. This will mean you’ll have to stay overnight. Click here to view accommodation options for Petra.
Another reason you should get to Petra when it opens at 6am is because there will most likely be shadows on the façade of The Treasury later on in the morning, which can look quite harsh in your pictures (although some of my pictures have them and it doesn’t look too bad!). By afternoon these shadows disappear behind the mountains, however it is very busy at this point. Therefore most people prefer to take their pictures in the morning here.
There are a few popular Instagram photos you can take of The Treasury. Let’s take a look at them below.
The first Instagram spot is actually just before you reach The Treasury – on the path leading up to it. This path is known as ‘The Siq’ and is the ancient main entrance to the city of Petra. It is a long winding canyon caused by a rock split in an earthquake, and is 1.2 kilometres long and at the end the canyon walls are as high as 80 metres! This means just even to get to see The Treasury from The Visitor Centre will take you about 20 minutes to walk. This is how the walk starts off like:
As the path goes on it gets quite windy, the rock becomes quite jagged and the canyon walls get higher. Just before the end of The Siq you can get a picture of the canyon walls and The Treasury in the background. The Treasury is partly obstructed by the rocks for this picture, however it actually makes it look really mysterious and exciting in photos!
There are always people coming and going through The Siq and you’ll often see a horse and carriage going past. This makes for a great picture if you can catch one in time! This first glance of The Treasury from The Siq is a popular photo spot, however it is easy enough to get pictures here without anyone in if you get here early.
The colours of the rock edges here in The Siq have several different shades which come out really beautiful in photographs. Also because of the twists of the path and the angles of the rock there are a few nice angles you can take photographs at. You’ll notice that the rock appears quite pink, thus giving Petra the nickname of ‘The Pink City’.
The second photo spot is at the Treasury Viewpoint to the right of The Siq. As you emerge from The Siq follow the wall along to the right and you’ll see a rocky ledge where you can stand or sit on. There’s usually some donkeys nearby in the stable if you’re having trouble spotting it. This is a bit further back and you’ll be able to get the whole of The Treasury in your picture. This however means that you’ll also get any people in your picture that are standing in front of The Treasury, therefore it is best to get this shot as early as possible. In the whole of Petra this is probably the trickiest photo to not get other people in. Click here to find the exact location of this photo spot on Google maps: it is known as Treasury Viewpoint.
Infront of The Treasury
A picture of the camels in front of The Treasury is also a common photo you will see here. If you arrive early usually the camels aren’t there when you first arrive. If you would like them in your shot, don’t worry they will be there a little bit later. In the meantime you can climb up to the viewpoint mentioned below then come back later if you wish.
If you want a picture of you sitting on a camel you will have to pay one of the local people. Some of these ‘locals’ look like Jack Sparrow. More about that later.
Bear in mind that The Treasury is almost 40 metres high and it will be hard to get the whole of The Treasury in the picture if you are standing too close to it or don’t have a wide angle lens. Note you are no longer allowed to go inside The Treasury.
Above The Treasury
Another really popular photo spot in Petra is seeing The Treasury from above. To get up here there are two paths – one to the left of The Treasury (not recommended) and one to the right. The one on the left is quicker to get to the top (about 20 minutes each way) but it is a lot steeper and fairly dangerous to climb. Plus you cannot go up alone. You’ll need to ask a local bedouin who will guide you up (remember to tip him afterwards). The path on the right is longer (about 45 minutes each way) but it is easier, and it is safe to walk up alone. It is known as the Al Khubtha Trail.
Al Khubtha Trail
To reach the start of Al Khubtha trail, continue along the path past The Treasury. Walk for about 20 minutes along the path, known as the Street of Facades. On this main path you’ll see the impressive sites of Tomb of ‘Unayshu on your right and the Nabatean Amphitheare on your left. Remember that there is so much more to Petra than just the main photo spots, so keep your eyes open all the time – the whole site is incredibly impressive and there are photo opportunities around every corner!
A couple of hundred metres after the Tomb of ‘Unayshu you’ll see one or two jewellery stalls on your right. Next to them you’ll see the start of the Al Khubtha trail: one of Petra’s most popular trails. You climb up the back of the mountain, so you won’t be able to see The Treasury at all until you reach the top.
Once you reach the top the view is incredible, making for some great Instagram photos! The people at the bottom look so tiny! If you go near the edge please be VERY careful as the cliffs are of course very steep! If you don’t want to go near the edge you can still get some great photographs of some of the cliffs in the foreground and The Treasury in the background.
At the top there is a little Bedouin coffee house. The locals who run it are really friendly and will let you take a picture on their carpet looking down onto The Treasury below if you ask nicely and buy something to drink! There is actually a little ledge you can climb down onto to get your pictures, so you are not actually sitting on the edge of the cliff, but the pictures make it look so.
You can see bullet holes in the facade of The Treasury, especially in the urn above it, where hundreds of years ago bedouin tribesmen tried to find riches that they thought were kept inside. As mentioned before, the later in the morning you are there, the more chance that the harsh sunlight will hit the facade of the building. Therefore if you want to avoid this take these photos first as soon as you can, then you’re free to relax and roam around Petra at a slower rate later! That being said, I was lucky – these photos were taken around 10am and came out okay!
Whilst The Monastery is absolutely stunning it is a LOT further to walk to than The Treasury (several kilometres!) plus the path can be quite challenging with a fair bit of climbing involved so there are far fewer tourists here. This actually makes the vibe here a lot more relaxing (and a lot easier to get pictures!). A nice photo spot (although I don’t have a picture of it) is if you are standing with your back to The Monastery, look diagonally across to your right and you’ll see a little cave where you can sit in to get a nice picture with the rock framing The Monastery.
There is a nice tea shop here selling bedouin tea, and like The Treasury the lighting is better in the afternoon when there are no shadows on the facade. Also carved out of a cliff face, The Monastery facade is shorter but a lot wider than The Treasury and many people actually prefer it over The Treasury especially because of the chilled vibes (and way less Jack Sparrow lookalikes around!).
On the path to get to The Monastery you’ll see some Bedouin women selling souvenirs. They’re a good price, plus the ladies are really sweet. I stopped and talked to them for a bit and ended up buying an Aladdin lamp from one of them (which I totally didn’t need!) just because I wanted to help her. The lady almost cried and gave me the biggest hug it was so heartwarming. So try and buy something from them if you have any spare cash :).
The path to get to The Monastery is fairly uphill, and if you’ve walked up to the viewpoint above The Treasury too you’ll have certainly done your steps for the day! Remember also that you need to walk all the way back to the entrance too! Many people walk all the way to The Monastery and then get a horse and carriage ride part of the way back as they are tired, plus it saves time if you have a tight schedule. Beware the locals don’t treat their horses particularly well, but it’s the only way to get back if your legs are killing. By the way, the locals will ask if you want a lift on their Ferrari or Mercedes. Know that these are names for the horses! There are absolutely no cars here in Petra!!
Important things to bear in mind at Petra:
Jack Sparrow ‘bedouins’
Do NOT trust the guys who look like Jack Sparrow. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you get there. They have the thick kohl eyeliner and long hair and pry on Western women, especially if you are alone or there are just 2 of you. They’ll give you compliments and tell you you’re the most beautiful woman in the world and that you’re different. This is the line they use with everyone. Don’t fall for it. And NEVER go back to their cave. All they want from you is sex and money – they do this to countless girls. Whatever compliments they give you, don’t believe them. They do not care about you.
‘But they’re so nice!’ you say. I get it. In the West we aren’t used to guys being so forward and charming. But it’s not charming. It’s sleazy. Many Arabic guys act like this to get Western girls into bed. And it works. Just ignore these guys and do not be alone with one. I’ve lived in The Middle East for almost 4 year so please trust me on this one. Even Jordanians are terribly embarrassed to call these gypsies Jordanian. These Jack Sparrow lookalikes are not bedouins like they will make you believe. They are not the original people of Petra, they are gypsies. End of.
The best thing to do is just ignore them. If you start talking to them and then say no, they can be quite rude and intimidating. Don’t let these guys ruin your day.
Meeting the local people
On our way back down from the Al Khubtha trail we stopped at one of the jewellery stalls and sat chatting with the lady and playing with her baby. She was incredibly kind and humble – the complete opposite to these Jack Sparrows! Don’t let the Jack Sparrows put you off from speaking to the other local people here at Petra. These moments with the locals always touch my heart the most when I’m travelling and pictures with the locals always trump any Instagram location spots for me.
Petra Entrance Fee
A day pass to Petra costs a whopping 50JD (70USD). You can pay this at The Visitor Centre, or to save time and money you can buy the Jordan Pass beforehand online. Buying a Jordan Pass covers your visa fees into Jordan (which is 40 JD) as well as all the major tourist attractions in Jordan. The regular Jordan Pass (called the ‘Jordan Wanderer’) costs 70JD, so already you are making a substantial saving even if you only visit Petra and no other tourist sites!
Petra By Night
If you are at Petra on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday I really recommend to book tickets for Petra By Night (not included in the regular Petra entrance fee). Petra By Night costs 17 JD and it runs from 20.30 until 22.00 hours.
Petra By Night is definitely something worth experiencing! 1800 candles are laid on the ground and your walk from The Siq to The Treasury is guided only by a few candles along the side of the path (so bring your own flashlight or use your phone torch so you can see better!). The path is quite bumpy and uneven, so be careful when you are walking as it is really dark and easy to trip. You only walk as far as The Treasury – where hundreds of candles lay, and The Treasury is lit up in different colours.
You sit amongst the candles as the bedouins tell you stories and play you their local music. It sounds quite romantic, but in reality there are hundreds of tourists here and it is getting more and more popular! Just take a look at the picture on the left below to see how busy it gets – and I was quite near the front, there’s still so many people behind me!
It can be really hard to get a good photo here, firstly because of the low level of light, and secondly because of all the other people. All of my pictures were taken on my phone and didn’t come out too bad, however if you have a manual camera, use a low exposure and you’ll get a much better shot! To try and get a picture without other people in you can either be amongst the first to rush there, or stay til the end once people start to leave, like I did. Personally I think the latter one is better as you have time to sort out your camera and everything whilst you’re still waiting for people to leave. At the beginning it will be very rushed and you’ll only have a couple of seconds before other people come into your shot (and that’s only if you’re the first to arrive in!).
Tickets for Petra By Night cannot be purchase online. You can buy them from the Visitor Centre, local tour companies or hotels in Petra.
The Visit Petra website has lots of useful information about other activities and events happening at Petra.
An hour and a half drive will take you from Petra to Wadi Rum: “Valley of the Moon”. Wadi Rum is another really Instagrammable place in Jordan where you can get some impressive photos. It is truly magical and mysterious here – it really feels like you are on Mars! It has been the setting for many films including Transformers, Aladdin and Lawrence of Arabia.
You’ll need to do a jeep tour to truly experience Wadi Rum. There are 2 hour and 3 hour jeep tours or even better if you have the time you can do a whole day jeep tour. Sunset and sunrise are great times to photograph Wadi Rum, so try and time your jeep tour with the sunset. If there are some parts of Wadi Rum you would particularly like to see, check what places the tour stops at before you book one. For example, the rock bridges are becoming an increasingly popular place to photograph here in Wadi Rum.
There are a few rock bridges in Wadi Rum all of which make for some incredible photos: Little Bridge is as it’s name suggests, one of the smaller rock bridges at Wadi Rum at around 4 metres wide. It is still very impressive though, and definitely not little in my opinion! It is easy to climb and this is actually my favourite one out of the three rock bridges. Um Frouth Rock Bridge is a lot bigger than Little Bridge: it’s 15 metres above the ground and takes a few minutes to climb (it’s fairly steep!). Burdah Rock Bridge is the biggest one at 35 metres high and is one of the highest rock bridges in the world!
Of course the views from all of them are stunning, whether you admire the views from the top or just admire the bridges from the bottom (climbing isn’t really advised if you suffer from vertigo!). The rock bridges are all just a few kilometres apart from each other and can easily be reached on jeep tours. If you would like to visit all 3 rock bridges, Wadi Rum Nomads does a great 1 day jeep tour that visits them all plus several other really interesting places.
Sunrise here is totally amazing, so you’ll need to stay overnight here if you wish to experience this. You can even do a camel ride at sunrise like we did, which I really recommend! If you would like to stay overnight in one of the famous Wadi Rum Bubble Tents, click here to read more and to find out which are the best ones!
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth, is a really popular place for getting some fun photographs for your Instagram! The northern part of The Dead Sea has several resorts, including Crowne Plaza, Ramada and Marriott. Some of these hotels can be quite expensive to stay in, but you can buy a day pass to one of the hotels if you’re not staying there and want to spend a couple of hours on the beach. The day pass will give you access to use the facilities (including the Dead Sea mud!) and float in the sea.
Be careful to always stay on your back and don’t splash. The water will sting your eyes so much if it gets in! Be careful if you have any cuts too – they will really sting in the water.
If you drive further south along The Dead Sea this is where you’ll see more of the salt formations along the edge of the sea. The road runs parallel to the sea so it is easy enough to pull over when you wish. Note if you are looking to find The Dead Sea tree you won’t find it here: you need to be on the Israel side of The Dead Sea. Click here to discover exactly how to get to it if you’ll be visiting Israel too!
Whilst sunset is a great time to take photographs of The Dead Sea, pictures taken at any time of the day look great here. Just bear in mind it can often be quite hazy here.
The Amman Citadel is a historic fortress and is a really popular place for photography in Jordan. It is located on the highest hill above the city (there are 7 hills in total) and so the views from here are incredible. You can see the whole city including the impressive amphitheatre down below. Amman Citadel is right in the centre of downtown Amman and so can be reached easily by foot if you are staying in the old part of town. Entrance is 2 JD (or free with the Jordan Pass).
The most significant structure here at the Citadel is the Temple of Hercules, almost 2000 years old. This is also a popular place to take photos. If you go behind some big rocks in front of the Temple you can get the famous shot of them framing the monument nicely. I however opted for these shots instead:
Inside the Citadel is also the Umayyad Mosque built during the 8th Century, which is also a really nice place for photographs. There is not much space inside the mosque so you’ll need a wide lens to fit it all in if you want to include the dome in your pictures. See the picture below right to see how the mosque looks from the outside.
Other Places to visit in Jordan:
Wadi is the Arabic name for a canyon or valley, often with water flowing through it. The Siq trail at Wadi Al Mujib is a popular place for people to go hiking – you actually go hiking through the water! The Siq trail is supposed to be one of the easiest hikes in Wadi Mujib whilst still providing stunning views. And it’s the only trail at Wadi Mujib where it is not compulsory to have a guide – perfect if you are an independent traveller!
The hike takes a couple of hours to complete and starts with you walking ankle deep through the water in the canyon. Eventually it gets to your knees and your waist and then you’ll need to swim parts. If you’re not comfortable swimming or don’t have the time to complete the hike you can of course turn back at any point.
You do need to go through the Activity Centre to get here (and pay the entrance fee of 21 JD) and they’ll give you a compulsory lifejacket to wear. You can also opt to hire a waterproof bag, waterproof shoes or a guide. You don’t necessarily need a guide as you won’t get lost (there’s only one route!), or if you only plan to go part of the way. However a guide will come in very handy if you choose to go deeper into the canyon as you’ll have to climb across waterfalls, use ropes to pull yourself up and all sorts. The guides know the easiest and safest ways to get around. Plus they can take some great pictures of you!
I recommend buying a waterproof bag online such as this one for only $10 that doubles up as a backpack too. They take up little space and come in so handy in times like this! If you don’t have a waterproof place for your camera/phone and you want to complete the hike you should to leave them in the lockers in the Activity Centre as there are parts of the hike where you’ll need to get wet and swim. Otherwise you will only be able to do the first bit of the hike if you don’t have a waterproof place for them. The first bit of the hike is the best part for pictures though in my opinion! So if you’re only here for pictures and aren’t really fussed to get completely wet and go swimming and finish the hike, you should be fine bringing your camera without a waterproof bag.
When to visit Wadi Mijub
The hiking season is open from April to October, when the trail is open from 8am – 3pm. It is wise to get there early so you’ll have the whole place to yourself before the day trip tour groups from Amman arrive. However even if you’re there during the heat of the day, the canyon walls are pretty narrow so the sun cannot come in so you’ll be protected from the sun’s rays. It makes for a cool relief from the heat if you’re here during the summer months!
If you would like to do some world-class diving and snorkelling head to Aqaba, about 1 hour drive south of Wadi Rum. Aqaba is located in the very south of Jordan on the Red Sea (named so because of the colour of the rocks at the bottom of the sea). If you look out to the Red Sea from Aqaba you can see Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt! Pretty cool huh?
The Israeli town of Eilat is right next to Aqaba and so if you are planning to visit Israel after Jordan you can do the border crossing into Israel here. You can take the bus from Eilat to Jerusalem instead of going back on yourself up to Amman and then crossing at the Allenby Bridge border crossing.
Aqaba Port is a nice place to wander round, and you’ll even see signs for the Saudi border nearby.
50 km north of Amman is Jerash – the largest of Jordan’s Roman sites. It is a popular archeological site for tourists to visit and is the best preserved Greco-Roman City in the whole of The Middle East. The site is pretty big so give yourself at least half a day to explore the Old City, being sure not to miss Hadrian’s Arch and Corinthian columns. There aren’t many signs explaining things here though, so if you would like to go as part of a tour you can check out some tours from Amman to Jerash here.
Things to bear in mind when visiting Jordan:
Please remember Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country. If you are a female please dress appropriately out of respect, but also to avoid any unnecessary male attention. Click here for advice on What To Wear In Jordan.
It is advisable to bring a scarf with you, or if you want to buy the Jordanian scarf (red and white checkered) that I was wearing for some of my Petra pictures, you’ll see it everywhere available to buy – especially at Petra! Get a local to put it on your head properly if you don’t know how!
Check the weather before you go! Jordan gets really hot in the summer, but also really cold in the winter (even snowing sometimes!) so pack your clothes accordingly!
Things to bring
Remember to bring water with you (preferably in a reusable water bottle) on any day trips. In places like Petra or Wadi Rum, whilst you can buy water it might not always be available at that moment when you really need it! Tap water is not drinkable.
Carry some tissues or toilet paper with you as toilets aren’t always stocked up (or you’ll need to pay the attendant a small fee to use some toilet paper). And don’t forget toilet paper here in Jordan goes in the trash bin, not down the toilet.
Bring sunscreen – it gets very hot here especially in the summer! If you are at Petra there is minimal shade and you’ll be under the sun for several hours.
Comfortable shoes – especially at Petra you can be walking for 6 hours or so! Personally I wore sandals and was fine, but I do recommend to bring a spare pair of shoes just incase they break or become uncomfortable.
Consider bringing lunch or a snack with you especially at Petra as options might be limited and you’ll get hungry with all the walking you’ll be doing!
Visit with a driver/guide
I have been to Jordan twice now, both times with my tour guide/driver (and now friend) called Mohamed. He is the most professional Arabic guy I think I have ever come across (I used to live in The Middle East so I’ve met a lot!). He has been running his tour guide company for a few years now along with his brothers and I definitely recommend you book him to travel around Jordan if you don’t want to visit alone. I have recommended him to several friends and family members who all had great things to say about him once they did a trip with him.
I am not normally someone who ever books trips with a guide, but his prices were very reasonable and he gave me so many tips and local knowledge that I was so glad I used him. Whilst Jordan is a fairly small country it’s a lot of driving, and as my schedule was quite packed I preferred someone else to do the driving. Drop me a comment below or send me a message and I’ll pass his number onto you as he doesn’t have a website yet!
Driving in Jordan
Public transport around Jordan is very difficult and just far too time consuming. So if you want to visit Jordan independently without a guide you’ll want to rent a car. Driving round Jordan is not too bad as the roads are pretty good. The only thing is when you get to Amman – the traffic is insane! I definitely wouldn’t want to drive round this city!
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