Petra is reason alone to come to Jordan. As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Ancient City is a massive complex of ruins and tombs. Famous for the rock-cut stone that still marvels builders today, Petra has existed since 300 BC. It was a major trading hub in the region and was heavily protected due to the site and surrounding mountains.
The site remained under control of the Arab Nabataeans until Romans took control in 106 AD. Declining in power during this time, it was heavily devastated by earthquakes in 363 and 551 AD. It was finally abandoned in 663 when Arabs conquered the region.
Petra is one of the most remarkable places we have been in our last three years of travel. The history is beyond incredible. The Lost City is massive and takes some time to explore, but we loved every minute of it. How the buildings were built will amaze you. Historians still don’t really know how, although there are a few good assumptions. In addition to the amazing city itself, the surrounding mountainous area is beautiful and a great place to explore.
Read on to learn how you can spend a day in Petra with our Petra one-day itinerary. Enjoy!
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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Guide to Petra
How to Get to Petra
Located in Wadi Musa, Petra is three hours by car from Amman and just under two hours by car from Aqaba. The JETT buses prices from Amman start at 10 JD.
Best Time to Visit Petra
The best time to visit is during the spring and autumn when daily temperatures are manageable with warm days and cool nights. Summer temperatures reach over 100° Fahrenheit (40°C). The area also can get very cold in the winter due to the high elevation.
How Much Time Do I Need at Petra?
Our guide provides you with a Petra one-day itinerary, so plan to come for an entire day or even longer, if possible. We walked over 12 miles from the entry to the Monastery and the overlook side hike. For the least amount of crowds, it is best to show up at 7 am. Each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings is the Petra by Night show. The entire Siq is lit up with candles all the way to the Treasury. Give yourself a couple of hours for the night show.
Where to Stay at Petra
Because Petra is at least a full day activity or two days of exploring, it is best to stay the night in the area. We highly recommend getting to Petra as soon as it opens. This allows for amazing photography with little crowds. We stayed two nights at the Little Petra Bedouin Camp which includes dinner and breakfast for $25 USD per person.
Entry Cost to Petra
The entry cost is quite expensive; however, the cost is fully covered by the Jordan Pass. If you are not intending to get the Jordan Pass, there are several other options:
- Jordan Wanderer: one-day entry – 70 JD
- Jordan Explorer: two-day entry – 75 JD
- Petra by Night – 17 JD (in addition to entry pass)
- Jordan Expert: three-day entry – 80 JD
Just a short 15-minute drive from Petra, Little Petra is a smaller version of Petra. It is great to do the day before exploring the main site. Ideally, two to three hours is needed to explore Little Petra.
Petra One-day Itinerary: The 8 Best Things to See
The main sights are in order of how the walking track takes you through this historical city. Along the way, there are many other places to explore. These were ones we felt were the best for photography.
If you are tight on time, you can always pay for a horseback carriage to take you through the Siq or down the colonnaded street to cut out some time. If there are three spots you absolutely cannot miss, they are the Treasury, the overlook of the Treasury, and the Monastery.
1. The Siq
This long walkway starts at the visitor center of Petra and cuts through a narrow gorge. It has an impressive water system running along the side of the gorge. The path is paved so it makes it an easy trail to hike through.
2. The Treasury
The most famous building has a grand entry from the Siq. There are stunning features cut into the stone. The best view is actually from the overlook. It is important to get here as early as possible.
We arrived at Petra as soon as the gates opened and rushed to the Treasury. There were only a few other people there, so we all waited for turns for pictures by ourselves. By the time we were at the overlook a couple of hours later, there were hundreds of tourists and horse carriages in front of the Treasury. If you want some good pictures, make sure to get here right away!
3. Street of Facades
Shortly after the Treasury, there are hundreds of tombs cut into the rock, an impressive view. This area takes some time to explore. Make sure to check every nook and corner! There are hidden caves and some very cool perspectives for photography.
4. The Royal Tombs
Some of the best artwork cut into stone is at the Royal Tombs. This massive complex clearly was important by its size and grandeur. You can walk upstairs and explore the area before heading up to the top of the tombs en route to the overlook of the Treasury.
5. The Overlook
This short hike starts behind the Royal Tombs. Head up the mountain and continue on the path to the end where a small shack has a sign for the “Best View in the World.” Once you go to the age, it is hard to disagree with the sign!
Have a cup of tea or traditional coffee and enjoy the view. Oh yeah, don’t drop your sunglasses over the edge like I did. While I did recoup them from the nice shop owner who climbed down to get them, we could not find one of the lenses which popped out. Then, you have to go the rest of the day walking around Petra with only one lens in your sunnies!
This roman style amphitheater is very large and was the main gathering place. Some sections were carved from the solid rock in the mountainside with many passageways and seven stairways. It can even hold 4000 spectators.
7. Colonnaded Street
These grand colonnades are on the long street that was the main corridor and shopping area in ancient Petra.
8. The Monastery
The furthest site and most difficult to get to, the Monastery is very impressive. It is massive and has beautiful artwork cut into the stone. This is the second most popular building in Petra behind the Treasury. Luckily for those who do make it here, it is usually pretty quiet.
Because of the climb up and long distance from the entrance, not everyone decides to come to see the Monastery. We highly recommend the full experience of Petra, and this cannot be missed. While we do not recommend it, you can take a donkey/mule up to the Monastery. There is also a great little café where you can enjoy a traditional coffee with this view!
That’s it! We hope you found this Petra one-day itinerary helpful. Enjoy your trip to Petra!
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