August is, with July, the hottest month of the year, with an average high temperature of 91°F (33°C), but occasionally even rising to 105°F (40°C) or more. In fact, the hottest day of the year is, on average, August 2. Fortunately, the summer air is dry (Petra receives no rain in August) and can still be comfortable. However, if you’re traveling with children (or older people), August may prove to be unbearably hot.
Start your visit early—as soon as the entrance opens at 6 am—to take advantage of the lower temperatures. And do as the locals do: regard early afternoon as a time to relax in the shade, such as the restaurant toward the far end of the ancient city, near the entrance to the uphill hike to the Monastery.
Pack a lightweight, loose-fitting wardrobe that protects against the sun; bring your shade hat, sunscreen, sunglasses; and be sure to drink lots of water.
For more on weather this month, see Jordan in August: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Costs
Most international visitors skip Jordan in mid-summer. Hence, Petra—Jordan’s most popular destination—can be enjoyed in relative solitude without the tour-bus hordes, and you can savor the solitude of the desert on a more personal level.
As this is the middle of low season, airfares and hotel rates hotels are at their lowest, and many local excursions and tour packages are also bargain-priced. However, note that some restaurants and other places that rely on the tourist trade may close for the low season or operate on reduced hours.
What to Do
Jordan is renowned as one of the best stargazing destinations in the world, and constellation-spotters know that August is the best month to be there. Bring a tripod to experiment with nocturnal photography and take advantage of the pitch-black night-sky unblighted by cloud cover to capture the Milky Way and Perseids Meteor Shower.
You’ll need to get well away from any ambient light, such as that of Wadi Musa, so scout out a good location by day. Typically, you'll need to use exposures that run several minutes (f5.6 or f8 is recommended as a default aperture with a DSLR camera). Experiment, learn from your mistakes, and adjust accordingly.
In August, Petra is the unlikely venue for the Petra Latin Culture Festival. Top artistes and DJs across a spectrum of genres—from bachata to mambo and salsa—will perform, while local salsa professionals will teach dance classes as sizzling and sexy Afro-Latin sounds echo through the siqs of Petra. So come prepared to get in the groove.
You won’t need to worry about crowds in July, but it’s still worth seeking out some lesser-visited sites that most visitors miss. For example, most people who visit the Royal Tombs view only the cluster of four main tombs, ending at the Palace Tomb. But about 250 yards (200 m) beyond is the seldom-visited Sextius Florentinus Tomb. It was built from AD 126 to 130 for the eponymous Roman governor of Arabia. You can clearly see the gorgon’s head atop the façade, and the eight graves inside. From here, continue along the Al-Khubtha Trail as it climbs to the top of the plateau and eventually you’ll reach a viewpoint where you can look down on the Treasury. A sublime view!
Muharram: This changeable date (August 20, in 2020) follows the lunar calendar and marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The public holiday is cause for celebration across Jordan. The New Year itself is known to Muslims as Maal Hijra.
Petra Latin Culture Festival: African and Latin music and dance echoes through the siqs of Petra as some of the top names in genres from bachata to salsa perform.