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Petra, Jordan

Petra and The Kings Highway

Lining both sides of this 280-kilometre thoroughfare is a rich chain of archaeological and religious sites – prehistoric villages from the Stone Age, biblical towns, Crusader castles, some of the finest early Christian Byzantine mosaics in the Middle East, early Islamic towns, and the rock-cut Nabataean capital of Petra.

The 280 kilometre long King’s Highway is the most ancient and scenic route in Jordan and of great historical and religious significance. It winds its way through forested highlands, open farmland plateaus, deep ravines, the edge of the desert, and the warm Gulf of Aqaba. It is also the back door route to Petra. Not to be overlooked for the more modern Desert Highway which marches through Jordan’s sandy core.

Undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Jordan and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. From here they dominated the trade routes of ancient Arabia, levying tolls and sheltering caravans laden with Indian spices and silks, African ivory and animal hides.

The Garden Hall, Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan
Local Bedouin Women and children, Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan

The Magic of Petra

The kingdom endured for centuries and became widely admired for its refined culture, beautiful architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. By the 16th century, however, Petra was completely lost to the western world and remained so for 300 years until it was rediscovered by a Swiss traveller in 1812. Today you can see literally hundreds of buildings, facades, tombs, baths, funerary halls and temples. Our selection of elite guides will make your experience of this impressive sight, one of the most memorable experiences of your visit to Jordan.

Kerak Castle, Kings Highway, Jordan
View from the Kings Highway, Jordan
View from Mount Nebo, Jordan
Amman, Jordan

Travelling the Kings Highway

The King’s Highway starts a short distance outside of the capital sprawl of Amman, at Madaba. Eight kilometres west of Madaba is Mount Nebo, where, in the Old Testament, Moses saw the Promised Land from its peak. The view stretches over the Dead Sea to Israel. Further south is the mighty Crusader castle of Kerak and just short of reaching here is the fabulous lookout over Wadi Mujib Gorge on the way.  Shobak Castle is another Crusader masterpiece just ahead of the modern town of Wadi Musa, on the doorstep of Petra.

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Jordan holiday ideas.

Our Jordan experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.


Petra by Night

Explore the site of Petra both during the day and at night when it is all lit by candles.

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King’s Highway

Drive along the King’s Highway dropping down into Wadi Mujib — Jordan’s Grand Canyon.

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Petra Monastery

Hike the 850 steps up to the monastery. Built in the 3rd century BCE as a Nabataean tomb, the monastery is one of the legendary monuments of Petra.

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Crusader Castles

Visit the Crusader castles of Karak and Shobak on the King’s Highway.

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Rise early and visit Petra just as the sun comes up with beautiful views without the crowds.

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Mount Nebo and Madaba

Visit the ancient Christian sites of Mount Nebo and Madaba, home to a beautiful 6th-century mosaic.

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Cooking Lesson

Join in an interactive cookery session before dining on your creation.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Tom Frost

Having travelled to different parts of the world over the years it never ceases to amaze me how you constantly learn and evolve from the adventures you experience. I adore working in an environment where I can share my passion for the world and discuss fascinating stories both from my experiences and that of our clients. In the past year I’ve delved into the wintery beauty of St Petersburg, trekked through the colourful desert in Jordan and sailed down the iconic Nile in Egypt.

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Katie Benden

The excitement of travelling the world has always hugely appealed. Largely cemented from my first solo trip to Egypt and the Middle East. The crazy hustle and bustle of Cairo was a huge assault on the senses, scrambling through the claustrophobic tunnels of the Great pyramid took me out of my comfort zone and I was left humbled by the warm hospitality of the Nubian people in Aswan as we shared dinner together.

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Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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