Wadi Musa and Petra are inseparably related: the former is the small town that serves as the “base camp” for exploring the latter, as it is located next to it. Therefore, it is a must-stay place for those who wish to explore this marvelous tourist site for more than a day: here you will find the main hotels, restaurants, and establishments offering services for that purpose.
However, on this page, we focus on the tourist attractions located in Wadi Musa, not in neighboring Petra. Many of them provide interesting additions to the visit of the so-called “Rose City,” while others are small surprises that may appeal to certain profiles, especially religious and sports travelers.
Wadi Musa, as a settlement, has a relatively recent history. However, this place has witnessed significant events since ancient times. Specifically, in the 13th century BC, with an important protagonist: the prophet Moses. According to Jewish and Christian beliefs, in the surroundings of Wadi Musa, Moses miraculously discovered a spring with his staff, providing water for his followers. In fact, the very name of this town and valley, Wadi Musa, literally means “Valley of Moses.” However, it is worth noting that there is another possible location for this episode, also in Jordan, near Mount Nebo.
Water from this spring was channeled by the Nabateans to their city, Petra, as visitors can still see the carved channels in the rock during their visit.
Much later, Petra in turn facilitated the modern establishment of Wadi Musa: since the 19th century, after the rediscovery of the Nabatean city by Western travelers (1812, Jean Louis Burckhardt), Wadi Musa became the service town for those who traveled here, initially explorers and treasure hunters.
In the early 20th century, Wadi Musa also played a significant role in a chapter of Jordan’s history: the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans, whose troops attacked this town in 1917 but suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of the locals, who ultimately prevailed in the conflict.
Today, Wadi Musa is a small town that lives to the rhythm of Petra, its main source of income. In fact, among its population of around 15,000 inhabitants, one can find Bedouins who settled here from 1985, when Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the last inhabitants of that historic place had to leave.
Wadi Musa may not be particularly monumental, but if you’re planning to visit Petra for several days, here you will find a must-visit place to better understand that hidden city carved into the rock. We’re talking about the Petra Museum, inaugurated in 2019 next to the visitor center. It’s a small building that, however, features a modern and updated museographic proposal, with audiovisual resources and accessibility solutions so that all visitors can properly interpret the information about Petra.
The collection of the Petra Museum is full of archaeological pieces of enormous value, totaling about 280, recovered from the various archaeological works carried out there. Thanks to them, properly contextualized, visitors can understand the way of life of the Nabatean people who created Petra, how they settled here, their relationship with the new Roman rulers, and how Petra remained hidden from the world after its decline with the fall of that empire. Guided tours are organized, and there are also spaces for conferences and other events, as well as an official gift shop.
And if we set aside the theme of Petra, Wadi Musa offers another attraction, in this case for those interested in religious tourism: the Spring of Moses, the place that gives its name to this town. It’s a natural spring located in a rock from which water still flows, now protected by a small modern structure with three domes. It’s a discreet place that is often visited by pilgrims, especially Jews and Christians. Souvenirs are also sold in this small structure.
In addition, there are other entertainment options in Wadi Musa for those who spend several days here. This includes Turkish baths, ideal for relaxing after an exhausting visit to Petra. Some restaurants also offer cooking classes, where you can learn to cook and taste the delights of local cuisine. Moreover, this town comes alive in the late afternoon, after Petra visitors drop by its bars, some with an Arabic character and others with a more international vibe.
Wadi Musa is located on the King’s Highway, making it easily accessible from other parts of the country. Private vehicle, such as a taxi or rental car, is the most convenient way to reach this town. However, please note that there are no major car rental offices in Wadi Musa, so you won’t be able to return the car there if you plan to come this way. Here are the distances and durations to consider:
Bus is another viable option, as there is a JETT company stop that connects Wadi Musa directly with Amman (Abdali and 7th Circle), Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. There are also minibuses from these two cities, but with less frequent schedules, as they only depart when they are full.
As a primarily tourist destination, Wadi Musa is relatively well-equipped with information and assistance for travelers. The Petra Visitor Center (Tourism St.) is the main point of reference in this regard, providing information, maps, and other useful resources for those visiting the historic city.
In addition, there is a tourist police station in Wadi Musa, which is located within the visitor center complex. This is the place to go if you have any complaints or have experienced any incidents during your stay in this town.
Furthermore, on the way out of Wadi Musa, on the King’s Highway towards Al Tayyibeh, you’ll find the Queen Rania Hospital, which can provide emergency medical care to visitors. It also has a pharmacy to dispense medications.