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What to wear to Petra

What to wear to Petra

Are you heading to Jordan and wondering what to wear in Petra, one of Jordan’s most beautiful tourist attractions? Then keeping reading to find out about the Petra Dress Code rules and how it affects your Petra outfit. 

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Petra is one of Jordan’s most popular and beautiful tourist attractions. However as Jordan is a Muslim country, there is a conservative dress code. Therefore what should you wear to Petra which requires hiking out in the sun and where you will want to take some photographs to last a lifetime?

In this guide we will give you practical tips on how to dress for the weather, for hiking and other strenuous activities and to respect the local culture.

Note: if you want some outfit guidance on other Jordan attractions such as what to wear to Wadi Rum or have questions about the Jordan dress code please check out our related guides. 

What to Wear to Petra

When putting together your Petri packing list there are a few things you need to consider:

  • the intensity of the sun and the high temperatures in the desert and 
  • the attractions at Petra you want to see i.e. The treasury vs the Monastery
  • whether you want to do any longer hikes,
  • how to respect the local culture.

Therefore when you put together your packing list for Petra you should make sure the clothing you wear be made of natural fabrics and breathable. These will definitely help keep you cool especially when doing the hike.

But before we get into our Petra Packing List we thought it would be good to answer some of your frequently asked questions about the Petra dress code. 

Is there a dress code for Petra?

As with any place in Jordan, Petra like Wadi Rum and Amman, does have a dress code. However this dress code is in relation to Jordan than specifically Petra.

Jordan is an Islamic country and therefore requires a conservative dress code. The dress code in Jordan states that there are four things that you need to keep in mind:

  • Shoulders must be kept covered 
  • Knees must be covered 
  • No Cleavage
  • Clothing should not be too revealing or too tight.

Can I wear shorts at Petra?

Although you will see people wearing shorts at Petra I personally would not opt to wear shorts to Petra.

You will find that tourists will indeed wear shorts to Petra however I do not think shorts, or at least short shorts are appropriate to wear to a Muslim country. Instead we recommend packing some longer length linen ones as the most respectful shorts. 

One of the keys to the Jordan dress code is in keeping knees and shoulders covered at all times. As with many Middle East Countries, Jordan is a conservative Muslim country and this should be remembered and reflected in your dress code wherever you travel in the country even when you are hiking.

Can I wear jeans to Petra?

There are no rules to say that you can not wear jeans to Petra however I would not advise this, especially if you are visiting Petra in Summer.

The desert can get hot especially during the midday sun and therefore jeans can be uncomfortable. We therefore recommend picking hiking trousers or linen/cotton trousers instead.

Also if you do decide to wear jeans in Petra, do not pack ripped jeans that show thighs or your knees as that would be against the Jordanian dress code.

Best Color to Wear to Petra?

Although color is not part of the Jordan Dress code there are colors that we think are better than others. We recommend packing things in beige, browns and colors that don’t hold the heat. We avoid black as this will absorb heat and while white reflects heat it can get dirty really easily in the desert so may spoil your photographs.

Can I wear a dress to Petra?

So long as the dress you are wearing meets the Jordan dress code rules i.e. covers knees, shoulders etc. However it might not ne the most practical for hiking.

If you want to get an iconic Instagram picture of the treasure from above while wearing a dress I would recommend packing a dress in your day pack and chaining into it. Just remember to check it meets the local requirements for dress codes.

What are the best shoes for Petra?

The best shoes for Petra really depend on what you are hoping to do once you get to Petra.

Petra is a huge site. Many people will only visit a small percentage of the Petra sites however even if you only head to the Treasury you can expect to be walking on a variety of surfaces such as sandy trailheads, stony and uneven staircases and some dirt paths. As such you need to ensure you wear robust shoes with a good sole that can handle the variety of surfaces and terrains you will encounter.

Many people who visit Petra are only interested in seeing the Treasury and returning. If this is all you want to see at Petra then you could get away with sneakers. However I would personally opt for a more robust hiking shoe even if this is the only trail you want to do.

If you want to see Petra from above or want to explore the site further i.e. hiking out to the Monastry for instance then hiking shoes are definitely required.

I would never recommend flip flops or even walking sandals for Petra. The trails are uneven and sandals and flip flops do not have much support for walking long distances over uneven surfaces.

Also, the sand at Petra, particularly in the summer can get very hot and you will want to protect your feet from the hot sand.

Overall when visiting Petra I personally would always err on the side of caution and wear hiking boots instead of sneakers as this will provide most grip and protection.

What do you wear to Petra at night?

Petra at night - What to wear to Petra at night
What to wear to Petra at night

Petra is illuminated at night and is an absolutely beautiful site to behold. However if you want to visit Petra at night you will need to modify your outfit for Petra.

Seeing Petra at night is a truly magical experience when the site is lit by over 1500 candles. It is truly a breathtaking experience.

Petra by night doesn’t run every night, currently it is every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday but do check the current times if you want to add this to your Jordan itinerary.

If you want to visit Petra at night my recommendation is to wear the same things that you would wear for spending the day at Petra but with added layers.

Any desert gets cold at night so you will needed added layers for whenever you are in the desert at night.

What to Wear to Petra in Winter

Most people think about the desert when visiting Petra, however deserts are not always warm. If you are visiting Petra in Winter (i.e. November, December, January and February) you will need extra layers with you. We recommend taking a jacket on top of the above for Winter months.

Do I need a poncho for Petra?

It often surprises people that you do indeed get rain at Petra. The rainiest months are between October and March (October and February tend to be the wettest).

The rain at Petra, although rare can come down quickly when it happens so a poncho can be handy.

What to Wear to Petra Packing List 

Long Sleeve Tops 

Although the temperatures at Petra can get into the 40s, we recommend long sleeve tops for day and night.

This reason for this is two fold.

Firstly during the day long sleeves provide added protection against the sun. Also long sleeves are more respectful to to the local Muslim culture.

And finally, if you are in Petra at night, long sleeves provide extra warmth for when the temperatures inevitably drop. And remember, Petra often opens as early as 6am. This time of day can be cool whatever time of year you visit Petra so long sleeve tees are for me an essential.

Cotton / Linen Trousers or hiking trousers

Due to the dress code in Jordan, it is important to have longer length trousers with you. We recommend packing cotton or linen trousers or hiking trousers as the best bottoms for Petra.

These trousers will not only keep you cool due to the natural fabrics while also adhering to the Jordan dress code.

Click here to shop hiking trousers

Fleece Jacket

A fleece jacket is an absolute necessity for those who are heading to Petra first thing in the morning or are seeing Petra at night to see the beautiful candlelit display.

The temperatures in any desert drop considerably at night so we advise packing a fleece or sweater as a nighttime layer or early morning layer.

Closed Toe Shoes Hiking Boots

Although you may be able to get away with wearing sneakers to the Treasury at Petra, we recommend packing closed toe hiking boots as the best shoes for Petra.

These are perfect for dealing with the uneven terrain at Petra and protecting your feet from the hot sand.

Click here to shop desert hiking boots

Hiking Socks

There is lots of walking at Petra, even if you only visit the Treasury. To be sure that you don’t get blisters and uncomfortable feet at Petra be sure to have thick and protective hiking socks with you.

Click here to shop hiking socks

Pashmina / Scarf

Whenever we travel we take a scarf or pashmina with us, but it is an absolute essential for traveling to the Middle East.

They can be used to make outfits more modest, they are a great extra layer if you get cold and can be used to protect your face if there is a strong wind picking up sand.

Sunglasses 

The sun is strong in the desert in Jordan, and Petra has very limit coverage in terms of shade therefore sunglasses are an absolute essential. 

Sun hat 

As I mentioned above there is very little shade at Petra and therefore you need to take lots of steps to protect yourself against the sun in the desert. A sun hat is an absolute essential for this.

Petra Packing List (Non-Clothing)

Now we have covered the best outfit for Petra, we will turn our attention to the non clothing items to add to your Petra Packing List.

Back Pack

I would recommend having a backpack for every member of your party at Petra. There are loads of things that you need to take to Petra that you won’t be using all the time. For instance you will need water and plenty of layers as well as cameras and battery packs. Therefore you need a backpack to store everything in.

Sunscreen

The desert sun is hot and you need to take as many steps as you can to protect yourself from the sun. Packing plenty of high SPF sunscreen in your day pack is absolutely essentials.

Lip Balm with UVA and SPF

As we said above you need to take lots of steps at Petra to protect yourself from the sun. While many people remember sun screen they don’t think about protecting their lips. Remember to pack lip balm with UVA and SPF protection.

Camera

Petra is a wonder of the world. You will definitely want to take lots of photographs while you are there.

Power Pack

You will be using your camera and phone lots at Petra so ensure you have a power pack to make sure you keep everything charged.

First Aid Kit

We always take a first aid kit on our travels where we are going but going somewhere as remote as Petra it is important to take your own travel first aid kit with you.

Water

Although reusable water bottles aren’t hugely useful at Petra due to lack of places to refill it, you will need lots of water with you.

It is easy to get dehydrated in the desert so you need to pack plenty of water with you. You can buy water on site however you will want to take some with you.

Snacks / Energy Bars

There is a lot of hiking to do at Petra and can be a very early start. Therefore we recommend packing some snacks or some energy bars for the hike just in case.

Hand Sanitizer

Have you visited Petra? What did you wear? We would love to hear what you wore and if there were any other things you wish you had added to your Petra packing list.

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